Friday Five | August 14, 2020

Each Friday, the Maryland Chamber will bring you the top five news stories from the intersection of business and government. Here are this week’s top five stories.


1. Advocacy groups pushing for special session

A group of 80 progressive advocacy groups are mounting a campaign to pressure the Maryland General Assembly into convening a special session before the regularly scheduled January 2021 start date. The organizations, including Progressive Maryland, the Maryland Center for Economic Policy, SEIU, and CASA of Maryland, want the legislature to address the following:

Despite several consistent calls for a special session since the early adjournment of the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly’s presiding officers have resisted convening the legislature.


 2. Trump signs executive orders to aid unemployment

On Saturday, August 8, President Trump signed four executive orders aimed at providing continued relief to those struggling during the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. In one order, the President extended additional unemployment relief of $400 a week, but states must commit to providing $100 of that amount. It remains unclear if the President has the authority to extend additional unemployment benefits without congressional approval, but with so many unemployment funds in poor fiscal health, many states may not be able to participate.

Governor Hogan has not signaled if Maryland would participate in the program or not. Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said, “We are currently reviewing the legal ramifications of the order, as well as its potential impact on the state budget,” when responding to Sun reporters Monday.

The President’s second executive order gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to defer collection of payroll taxes for individuals making less than $100,000 a year from September 1 to December 31. Since this is a tax deferral, individuals qualifying would then need to pay the tax at the end of the deferral period, however, there is language that allows the Treasury Department to look for ways of forgiving that tax debt.

Trump’s final two executive orders included one addressing evictions and another extending deferrals on student loan payments through the end of the year on loans held by the U.S. Department of Education.


 3. Maryland judge orders Purple Line contractors to stay on job

A Maryland judge in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City issued a temporary restraining order until September 14 requiring contractors to stay on the job site and continue work. The order was issued in response to a suit brought by the Maryland Transit Administration against the companies managing the construction of the Purple Line alleging the Purple Line Transit Partners consortium are in breach of contract.

The consortium and the state are currently arguing over hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns and the state is alleging in the suit that the construction management group planned to end its 36 year public-private partnership agreement and allow a construction contractor to walk off the job site this coming August 22nd.

The judge issuing the order agreed with the Maryland Transit Administration that the state would incur inestimable amounts of additional damage if the contract were to be broken.

Read more here.


 4. Maryland Chamber Foundation webinar recap and upcoming events

Webinar Recap | Maryland’s Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program: A guide for employers

On Thursday, we were joined by the Maryland Department of Labor a webinar on the Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Program. During the webinar, DOL officials reviewed the benefits of participating in this program and how to get involved. This critical program has helped businesses avoid layoffs by preserving jobs for current employees and helping those that already laid off workers to gradually bring them back.

View recorded webinar


UPCOMING EVENTS


 Webinar | Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion

On September 2, at 11 a.m., the Maryland Chamber Foundation in partnership with BGE will host the second installment of the series promoting equity and inclusion in the workplace.

In our second webinar, “Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion,” we will be joined by a panel of Comcast representatives including Mary McLaughlin, regional senior vice president, Comcast Beltway Region; Kelli Hill, regional president customer care, Comcast; and Loren Hudson, regional vice president human resources, Comcast. This 60-minute webinar will consist of a 45-minute panel discussion and a 15-minute Q&A session moderated by Christine Ross, President & CEO, Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Attendees will learn how companies focus on reducing bias in the workplace and create inclusive cultures that support retention and employee engagement. Resource materials will be provided to participants after the program.

Register here

To view the first installment and to get more information on this series, click here to view the Foundation’s program page.


 2020 Congressional Roundup – virtual

On September 9th, starting at 10:00 am, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Congressional Roundup. Do not miss the opportunity to hear directly from policy experts and Maryland’s congressional delegation regarding the current legislative and electoral landscape and how it intersects with the challenges presently being faced by the business community. Through this virtual event, attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and to convey their concerns directly to lawmakers.

Register here

Current confirmed speakers of Maryland’s congressional delegation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce include:

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD4)

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD1)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD8)

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2)

Rep. David Trone (D-MD6)

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy expert, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thank you to the Maryland Chamber’s Trustee sponsors:

Thank you to our supporting sponsor:

Thank you to our federated partner sponsor:


If you have any questions, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Whitney Harmel at wharmel@mdchamber.org or (410) 269-0642, ext. 1117. For more information on upcoming webinars and other events, please visit our events page.


 5. 2020 Census date changed

Maryland Planning Secretary Robert McCord is asking the business community to help spread the word by asking their employees and customers to complete the census. The date to complete the 2020 Census has been bumped up to September 30, 2020 from the end of October. Census data is important beyond simply determining congressional lines and it may play a factor in federal COVID-19 vaccine distribution to states when one is developed. Make sure you’re doing your part by filling out the census and encouraging others to do so as well.

You can find more information at www.census.maryland.gov.

Click here to take the 2020 Census


 Upcoming calendar of legislative briefings and hearings

Thursday, August 20, 2020


 Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.

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