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General Assembly Passes Measure In Response To Coronavirus

March 18th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

The Maryland General Assembly passed emergency legislation Wednesday in response to the coronavirus, as lawmakers planned to adjourn the legislative session later in the day. The measure includes provisions to pay for virus testing and to prevent price-gouging for critical items like food, water, medical supplies and cleaning products. It prohibits employers from firing employees who need to be quarantined or isolated. The measure extends unemployment benefits to people who are ill longer than sick leave allows or for people who are caring for a family member. It also enables someone to receive unemployment benefits, if an employer shuts down.

The bill was one of the top priority measures lawmakers expedited to prepare to end the session 19 days before the regularly scheduled adjournment on April 6 due to the virus. Legislative leaders said Sunday they hope to reconvene in a special session in late May.

The Senate is expected to take a final vote later Wednesday on the state’s $48 billion budget for the next fiscal year. It includes extra money for the governor to take action in response to the virus.

The General Assembly also passed legislation Wednesday to let voters would decide in November whether to allow sports betting in the state. The measure simply puts the question on the ballot for voters to decide. The bill leaves details about how sports betting would be implemented until another time, if voters approve.

On Tuesday night, the House gave final approval to a far-reaching education measure projected to cost billions of dollars over the next decade.

The education measure was a top priority in the General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats. It was the product of a state commission that spent three years working on recommendations in five major policy areas for K-12. They include expanding early childhood education like pre-K and increasing teacher salaries. The policy areas also include college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability in implementation.

Concerns about how the new coronavirus will affect the economy has had an effect on the bill. The Senate changed the legislation so that if revenue estimates in December are more than 7.5% below revenue estimates made in March of that year, per pupil increases in major education aid required under the bill would be limited to the rate of inflation.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly also passed a measure to require background checks on all rifle and shotgun sales in Maryland. Under current Maryland law, sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check. The bill was changed so that loans of rifles and shotguns will be exempted from the background check requirement.

2 Responses to “General Assembly Passes Measure In Response To Coronavirus”

  1. March 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm, Welchy said:

    Kirwin is going to be a disaster. Very disappointed in George Edwards voting for it, I’m sure Garrett County got something in exchange for his vote

    Reply

    • March 18, 2020 at 6:12 pm, Jay said:

      That remains to be seen. Public education in the US lags behind much of the world. This is another attempt to improve the system through expanding early childhood education like pre-K and increasing teacher salaries. The policy areas also include college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability in implementation. I’m not necessarily in favor of throwing money at the problem but if you keep doing the same thing you generally get the same results.

      Reply

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