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County Council Government State Yesterday's News

Yesterday’s News, Today – 3/17/2020

The past few days have been a jumble. I’m not sure what time it is and I keep checking the calendar to make sure I have the right day. It’s stressful, but I’ve seen the community come together and that gives me hope.

There was a lot of news to digest yesterday so here is a condensed version. New updates will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

How to help MoCo during the state of emergency

We are all in a tough spot, but none are getting hit as hard as small businesses and folks that work in the service industry. We’ve put together some ways that you can help them.

News Roundup

Coronavirus

County

State

State of Emergency

Governor Hogan issued new orders for the State of Emergency:

  • ordered bars, restaurants, gyms, and theaters to close as of 5PM on 3/16. Restaurants can still offer drive-thru, carryout, pickup, and delivery.
  • prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people but the CDC now recommends that gatherings be kept to fewer than 10 people
  • the Maryland Department of Health is working on adding an additional 6,000 beds
  • the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps have been activated
  • health practitioners with licenses in other states are now allowed to practice in Maryland
  • utilities are prohibited from being shut off and providers cannot charge late fees: this includes gas, electric, water, sewer, phone, cable, and internet
  • evictions are halted during the state of emergency
  • schools can now provide three meals and a snack to each student per day
  • the National Guard has been moved to a higher state of readiness

During the State of Emergency you can request a 30-day refill on your prescriptions. Health insurers are required to cover them and have to waive restrictions on time-limits.

Maryland Business Express released a list of resources for business

A special enrollment period has been opened for the Maryland Health Connection so if you need health insurance, sign up now

Business

I don’t have words to describe this chart showing how dramatic the change in U.S. restaurant customers is.

U.S. Restaurant Diners Disappear With Virus’s Social Distancing

The data doesn’t look better when you add some color to it.

Reminders

It’s important to take time for ourselves so we can reset. Delegate Eric Luedtke shared his experience with anxiety disorder and it was a reminder, to me, to take a few deep breaths.

Categories
Opinion

OPINION: Maryland’s General Assembly Needs to Act Now to Avoid Economic Nightmare

Facts are stubborn things, once quipped the bard Shakespeare. And so they are. There are two important, stubborn facts facing Marylanders today. First is that a global pandemic has reached our shores, and we are now in a state of emergency, both in Maryland and nationwide. The second is that, whether we like it or not, our citizen-legislature has less than a month to pass law before their work comes to an end for a year. 

The first fact is avoidable, but with our federal government response in disarray, likely all the same. The second one is inevitable; we do not as a state have a full-time legislature, and so must reconcile to the fact that our laws are passed and reviewed for only a short window every winter by part-time elected officials with skeletal staffs. But a third fact has yet to indeed become one: an impending economic crisis unlike anything we have seen in recent times.

Another fact: Maryland’s economy is about see a period of slow or reversed growth in the near-term, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Large retailers have already begun curtailing hours of service, and some have announced eventual plans to shut down operations completely. Small restaurants, cafes, and other service-oriented businesses will soon need to suspend operations, or involuntarily weigh lay staff to deal with decreased revenue. In turn, local business owners and their employees will have significantly less cash in their pocket, if any at all. 

What this means in a society governed by debt and where debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry, is that everyday Marylanders will face eviction, the cutoff of utilities, foreclosure, car repossession, and derogatory credit reports very, very soon for no fault of their own. The only thing standing in the way of such economic ruin is the General Assembly doing its actual job (less selfies and self-promotional social media posts, please), and passing emergency legislation to enact an automatic stay against debt collection into law. Such a stay has historic precedent in American legal tradition: it is standard with every bankruptcy petition filed with a court. But bankruptcy isn’t really an effective way to deal with the current crisis (and it ruins a person’s financial life for at least seven years). The only real solution available is for the state legislature to admit facts are indeed stubborn things, and get to work right now on emergency legislation to protect Marylanders from predatory collection schemes by creditors whose bottom line is not safeguarding our economy, but maximizing returns for their unscrupulous investors (who else buys the stock of a debt collector?). This isn’t rocket science: the Maryland General Assembly needs to protect our citizens from an economic nightmare. 

Hamza Khan is a local activist based in Potomac, Maryland.

Opinion pieces do not represent the views of MoCo Local. We pride ourselves on publishing content that represents a diverse set of ideas and backgrounds. If you would like to have a piece submitted to to our Op-Ed section, please see more details here.

Categories
Government State Transportation

Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot announce agreement on adding toll lanes

@GovLarryHogan

Governor Hogan and State Comptroller Peter Franchot announced an agreement on adding additional toll lanes to local highways. The deal did not include local officials. Instead of adding lanes all around the Capital Beltway, Hogan and Franchot plan to approve adding lanes to the American Legion Bridge and I-270 up to Shady Grove.

According to MCM, Rockville Mayor Bridgett Donnell Newton was blindsided by the deal. The deal would involve snatching up homes and land along I-270 in Rockville.

While the agreement does include handing over some of the toll revenue for public transit, it did not address environmental concerns that were voiced by advocates opposing the plan. Local advocates are organizing under Maryland Advocates for Sustainable Transportation (MAST).

Categories
County Council Government

Montgomery County Council passes bill to allow tenants to terminate lease

The council passed Bill 6-19, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Termination of Lease – Tenant Health and Safety, today. This bill requires that every rental lease allows the tenant to terminate the lease without any penalties if the landlord does not correct health and safety violations withint 30 days of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) orders them to.

Some violations that would trigger this protection in a lease include: rodent or insect infestations, extensive or visible mold growth, lack of utilities, and pervasive and recurring water leaks.

Click here to find out more.

Categories
Government

Total Revenue in MoCo projected to increase

The Council will vote on a resolution to approve the Tax Supported Fiscal Plan Summary for the Fiscal Years 2020-25. Revenue is projected to increase in each fiscal year–2.0% in FY21, 2.5% in FY22, 2.9% in FY23, 3.2% in FY24, and 3.0% in FY25–while resources available to agencies still remain below pre-recession levels.

Categories
Government

County Executive Marc Elrich and Council President Nancy Navarro release joint statement on Immigrant Support

Montgomery County values its diverse community that is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and nations. We want to assure our residents that the County will continue to be a welcoming community for all.

Joint Statement from County Executive Marc Elrich and Council President Nancy Navarro on Immigrant Support

The full statement can be viewed here.

Categories
Government

MoCo Council to vote on amendment allowing development in areas under moratorium

Moratorium areas within Montgomery County, MD
Moratorium areas within Montgomery County, MD (courtesy of WUSA9)

The Council is looking to vote on a resolution that would amend the 2016-2020 Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP), which placed a moratorium through 2020 on developing in certain parts of the county where public schools were at capacity. The amendment would now allow development in these areas if the development fixes or replaces a condemned or blighted property/structure or where 50% or more housing units would be considered affordable housing for families that earn 60% or less are area median income (AMI) (Council Coming Attractions).

As of 2018, the AMI in MoCo was $117,200 for a family of four (MoCo DHCA – 2018 Rent and Income Limits).

AMI by Family Size and % of AMI (MoCo DHCA – 2018 Rent and Income Limits)
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MoCo Local

Welcome to MoCo Local

Your stop for local politics, government news, and pizza reviews.

All politics is local.

— Former U.S. Rep. Tip O’Neill.

MoCo is at an important step in its existence and I’m excited to be a part of it. There are so many issues that need to be addressed and one of the ways that I process information is by talking it over with other folks, particularly people that have a greater understanding of what’s going on. I am not an expert on local politics, but I’ll talk to folks who are so that I (and hopefully you) can get a better understanding of what’s going on and how that impacts us.