As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
The Montgomery County Delegation to Annapolis released a Public Service Announcement reminding everyone to wear a mask: #MasksOnMD #MasksOnMontgomery
Montgomery County is decoupled from the statewide changes to what is open and what is not to deal with the public health crisis. You can track the current rules in Montgomery County here. The County's COVID-19 data dashboard can be viewed online as well. There is also a state dashboard online.
Many of you are trying to navigate the state's unemployment system, which was simply not equipped for the volume or complexity of the current caseload. The Department of Labor website is your entryway for unemployment benefits. If you are having trouble with unemployment and live in District 16, you can fill out our District 16 constituent service Google form for assistance here. The District 16 Team has been in regular contact with the Department of Labor to try and resolve individual cases.
Inspired by Admiral James Stavridis' book The Leader's Bookshelf, Senator Cory McCray and I have crafted a recommended reading list for those in and around the Maryland General Assembly. Read the complete list and explanation here. Senator McCray and I also recorded a podcast on the project. Additionally, it was covered by Maryland Matters in two stories.
Recent transportation news has been troubling to say the least.
First, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) recently released an audit regarding the Rail Operations Control Center, the nerve center of the Metrorail system. I was part of the effort to establish the WMSC as an independent safety investigator and they are carrying out their work, but it is disappointing to see these Metro issues continue. I questioned Metro's General Manager about the ROCC earlier this year and his answers do not suggest the urgency the audit requires.
Second, the Purple Line project continues to face difficulties as a judge ruled that the private sector vendor may walk off the project. The Secretary of Transportation described how the state may proceed with the project at a recent briefing, which begins around 1:25:00 at this link.
The Comptroller's office has released close-out figures for fiscal year 2020 (which ended June 30, 2020). My main takeaway is that the 2020 numbers are not as bad as some of the doomsday predictions but we are still in the midst of a health, economic, and budgetary crisis.
There is $585.8m in "fund balance" (unspent money) and $1.2b in the rainy day fund, which can be helpful for fiscal year 2021 (the current budget year) to balance the budget--which Maryland is constitutionally required to do. Tax revenue held up better than many expected, although close-out focuses on so-called General Fund dollars. Many special funds have also been hit hard, likely harder than in typical recessions. This includes the Transportation Trust Fund and revenue generated by the state's casinos. The Comptroller's Statement of General Fund Balance is here and the Bureau of Revenue Estimates close-out memo is here.
The Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel has been investigating the circumstances around the Governor's former Chief of Staff taking a significant severance payment for a lateral move within state government. I joined the Senate Chair of the Committee, Clarence Lam, to discuss the situation and what we have learned thus far on the A Miner Detail podcast.
You can read further background from the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun.
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