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. State school superintendent to allow flexibility in school re-opening
At Governor Hogan’s press conference on Wednesday, July 22, state school superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon announced that MSDE will give local school jurisdictions the flexibility to determine how best to re-open schools in the fall. However, certain guardrails and protocols must be in place if in-person instruction resumes.
If a jurisdiction chooses to resume in-person instruction these requirements must be met:
School systems have until August 14th to develop and submit their education and recovery plans for MSDE to review. So far, these jurisdictions have announced their plans:
Additionally, the governor announced several key COVID-19 related updates such as Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to remain low and stable. The statewide seven-day positivity rate is now 4.49%, a decline of nearly 83% since it peaked at 26.91% on April 17. Also, Maryland has now conducted 1,000,179 COVID-19 tests and is consistently reporting roughly 20,000 tests every day. 20 out of the state’s 24 jurisdictions have met the goal of testing at least 10% of their population.
Finally, the governor addressed concerns over his recent announcement to hold regular in-person elections for the November general election. He stressed that election officials will be following CDC guidance and will be offering voters as many options as possible to cast their ballot. The governor strongly encouraged voters to consider voting by mail by requesting an absentee ballot.
You can view the entire press conference here.
#2: Senate GOP Reaches consensus over next COVID relief package
As of Thursday morning, the Senate GOP has reached consensus on their version of another relief package, which Majority Leader McConnell has announced will be capped at $1 trillion. Additional spending was creating dissent within the Senate GOP, as some members are pushing for further fiscal restraint in the face of an increasingly mounting national debt.
The agreement includes additional direct payments to citizens. Although details are slim, eligibility for the direct payments is likely to be curtailed to a smaller population than the first round. President Trump continues to push Congress for a payroll tax cut for the employee portion to put more money in the paychecks of working Americans, although that provision does not seem to be in the current Senate agreement.
Additionally, Senator McConnell has indicated that roughly $105 billion of the aid will be marked specifically to help schools reopen as well as provide more help to families and struggling small businesses. Another $25 billion is expected to be proposed to help beef up testing across the country. The final piece of the puzzle which still seems to go unresolved is what to do over the expiring $600 federal unemployment benefit. Some Republicans want to see the benefit expire as others want the amount lowered. Democrats have made it clear they want an extension of the current benefit.
As Senate Republicans begin negotiations with Democrats, the final version of a Senate bill will stand in contrast to the relief package passed by the House which totals roughly $3 trillion. The timing of this effort is also important since this is likely the last economic relief attempt Congress will get before the November elections.
Maryland Chamber of Commerce staff continues to monitor these negotiations and will provide a bill summary as soon as legislative language becomes available.
3. U.S. Chamber launches interactive map showcasing COVID-19 clinical trials
This week, the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) unveiled its new interactive map—Innovation Enlisted in the Coronavirus Fight: A State-by-State Analysis—which breaks down COVID-19 clinical trials to date by state and congressional district. With COVID-19 clinical trials being conducted in all 50 states and 85% of congressional districts, this new resource provides an in-depth analysis of the methods scientists, universities and innovative companies are using to identify COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, diagnostics, and cures.
Roughly 14% of all U.S. clinical trials are taking place here in Maryland. The most clinical trials have taken place in Maryland’s 7th and 8th congressional districts (primarily Montgomery County and Baltimore City).
Click here to view the interactive map and see if trials are taking place near you.
4. Maryland Chamber Foundation webinar series recap and upcoming events
This past Monday, July 20, the Maryland Chamber Foundation hosted the first installment of the new series, “Promoting Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace.”
In the first webinar, “The Business Imperative for Equity and Inclusion”, BGE representatives discussed their two programs that have helped the company focus on diversity. They shared their best ideas and practices to help build an environment that unlocks the full potential of a diverse corporate culture. View the full webinar here.
As we move forward with our “Promoting Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace” series, we’d like to highlight the initiatives also taking place at the U.S. Chamber. They recently released their Equality of Opportunity Initiative Agenda proposing data-driven public policy and private sector solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in our society. The agenda includes more than 30 policy recommendations and private sector solutions across the four key areas of Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Criminal Justice Reform. Click here to learn more about the broader initiative.
2020 Congressional Roundup – virtual event
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.
Current confirmed members of Maryland’s congressional delegation include:
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD4)
Rep. David Trone (D-MD6)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD8)
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2)
All other members of Maryland’s delegation have been invited.
Thank you to our supporting sponsor:
If you have any questions, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Whitney Harmel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 269-0642, ext. 1117. For more information on upcoming webinars and other events, please visit our events page.
5. Take the COVID-19 Impact Survey
NEXT WEEK IS THE LAST WEEK. If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to complete our COVID-19 Impact Survey. We will use this survey data to support our ReNEW Maryland initiatives, which are intended to help put businesses and employees back to work. Please take the survey here.
Also, please share the survey with your membership and other business partners. Your responses will play a vital role in advancing the Chamber’s advocacy efforts at the federal level and help us better prepare for the 2021 state legislative session.
Upcoming calendar of legislative briefings and hearings
Monday, July 27, 2020
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.