51 House Democrats have asked Governor Larry Hogan to provide rent and mortgage relief to Marylanders that have been effected by COVID-19. Read the letter below:
On March 30th, 2020 Governor Larry Hogan announced a new “Stay at Home” order. This is not a shelter in place. Below are some the guidelines.
- Effective at 8PM on 3/30, everyone must stay in their homes except for essential activities, travel to work, performing services related to work
- Businesses can remain open if they are considered an essential service
- Businesses can deliver goods still
- Businesses that are non-essential can remain open for minimal operations (more info below)
- Fitness centers, theaters, golf courses, senior centers, and other recreational establishments must remain closed
- Tattoo parlors, barber shops, salons, etc should be closed
- If you are a victim of domestic violence or your living situation is unsafe you are allowed to seek a safe space
- If you are experiencing homelessness you are allowed to seek a safe space
- If you violate this order you can be charged with a misdemeanor and/or receive a $5,000 fine
What is considered essential?
- Obtaining supplies (food, medicine, other groceries) for you, your family, and pets
- Going outside for activity (walking, walking pets, jogging, riding bikes, hiking)
- Caring for a family member, friend, pet in another household or location (this includes providing transport to an essential service like medical care)
- Travel required by law enforcement or court order
- Travel to a federal, State, or local government building for a necessary purpose
Non-Essential Business Guidance
- You must close to the general public
- Staff and owners can work but only on minimal operations
- Minimal operations include: facilitating remote work, maintaining property, preventing loss or damage to property (including ensuring perishables do not spoil)
- Caring for live animals
- FOR RETAIL: you can continue to sell products on a delivery basis
Restaurant and Bar Guidance
- Restaurants and bars will remain closed to the general public except for pickup, carryout, drive-through, delivery
- Must follow social-distancing recommendations
Social distancing guidelines have been extended through the end of April, according to Pres. Trump. However, Maryland is following guidelines that lean more towards shelter in place. Governor Hogan has been reluctant to call the actions he and his administration have taken shelter-in-place.
How will this impact MoCo? Most existing Maryland guidelines from the governor have also extended to the end of April so this won’t change what we are doing.
Governor Hogan stated state officials expect an increase of cases in Maryland in 2-3 weeks. Models for Maryland suggest similar results using the restrictions and closures that Hogan implemented.
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.
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.
- Montgomery County Food Council has a list of ways you can volunteer to help the community if you aren’t high risk
- As of 10AM EST on Monday there were 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland. I stated on Sunday night that these numbers weren’t going to be reliable because not everyone is going to get tested and testing isn’t widely available. A new study was released that shows most transmissions of the virus are “stealth transmissions” meaning most people had no idea they had the virus and showed little to no symptoms when they transmitted it to other people.
- A Metro Transit Police Officer has tested positive for coronavirus
- You may see tents going up near hospitals. It’s expected so don’t be alarmed if you come across them. Holy Cross in Silver Spring has started putting some up.
- The County Executive released his operating budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021. It calls for an increase in property taxes. You can play around with the proposal here.
- Some members of the County Council released a joint statement about the proposal.
- Councilmember Will Jawando released an additional statement on Twitter to further explain his position.
- Councilmember Gabe Albornoz released a statement with additional information
- Late last night HB 1300 – Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, aka the Kirwan bill, passed the Senate 37-9
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
- Restaurants Are Fucked — Unless They Get a Bailout
- Business plunges as restaurants cope with Maryland shutdown
- Small business owner Julie Veratti, who co-founded Denizen’s, is posting a series of tweets that outlines why small businesses need help
I don’t have words to describe this chart showing how dramatic the change in U.S. restaurant customers is.
The data doesn’t look better when you add some color to it.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).