Friday Five | November 12, 2021

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Biden to sign bipartisan infrastructure bill Monday 

The White House announced that President Biden will sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill, passed by the House last Friday, into law at a ceremony on Monday. Members of Congress from both parties that helped get the bill over the finish line are expected to attend the ceremony, marking a victory for President Biden with this bipartisan accomplishment during his first year in office. Meanwhile, a separate $1.75 trillion climate and social spending package is making its way through the House, and a final vote may take place as early as next week. If a bipartisan deal cannot be reached, Democrats intend to pass it without Republican support through budget reconciliation.

Read the full story here.

2. What’s in the federal infrastructure bill for Maryland? Roads, bridges and funding for the Chesapeake Bay 

The infrastructure bill, expected to be signed into law next week, contains several provisions that address the long-overdue investment needed for Maryland’s crumbling infrastructure, which in 2020 received a “C” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The state will receive as much as $6 billion from the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package to improve roads, bridges, transit systems, broadband and support Chesapeake Bay restoration. In a statement last week, Governor Larry Hogan applauded the bipartisan effort and highlighted some of the benefits for Maryland, which include:

“This bipartisan bill will put America’s infrastructure on the right track to grow jobs and make our economy competitive for the twenty-first century without raising taxes or adding to the debt,” said Hogan.

To read the full story and access the full list of Maryland-specific details about the bill click here.

3. Legal battle over Biden’s vax-or-test mandate for businesses is just beginning 

Some states and private companies are challenging the Biden administration’s new rule that requires companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations or require weekly coronavirus testing and masks for those who work on-site. Last week, a U.S. federal court of appeals ruled to temporarily halt President Biden’s mandate, marking the beginning of a legal battle that could end before the Supreme Court as early as next week.

Opponents argue the federal government has overstepped its authority and should not be allowed to coerce Americans to get vaccinated. On the other side, the Biden administration estimates the new ruling will save more than 6,500 lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over six months. But the final say will come from a supreme court ruling, perhaps before the policy is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 4.

Read the full story here.

4. Treasury issues state small business credit initiative program implementation guidance 

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released new implementation guidance for the $10 billion State Small Business Credit (SSBCI) Program, expanding capital access to small businesses emerging from the pandemic. This guidance will ensure that programs available under SSBCI will be available for small businesses in underserved areas where capital is particularly scarce and will focus on key features to promote economic resiliency and create new jobs and economic opportunities.

“America’s economic competitiveness is built on our innovation and on the entrepreneurs who have been able to turn their ideas into successful businesses,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “For too long, those in underserved communities have not had equal access to capital and the opportunity to pursue their visions. The pandemic only deepened that divide, hitting small businesses owned by people of color especially hard. The SSBCI program seeks to change that by providing capital for investments in small businesses across the country, creating jobs and giving small business owners in all communities a chance to compete and thrive.”

To read the full press release click here and view the SSBCI Program guidelines here.

5. Maryland lawmakers unveil their proposed new congressional districts 

On Tuesday, leaders of Maryland’s General Assembly released four proposed maps for the state’s new congressional districts that could shift the political advantage for the state’s eight U.S. representatives in the upcoming election. The current Maryland congressional map has been criticized as one of the most gerrymandered in the nation. Last week, Governor Larry Hogan challenged to veto any unfairly drawn maps by the General Assembly. Democrats, however, hold a majority in the House and Senate, giving them the final say on the maps. The General Assembly will hold a special legislative session next month to debate new congressional maps and encourage residents to offer testimony and feedback on the proposals until then.

Read the full story here.

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