ANNAPOLIS — More than 400,000 Marylanders are set to receive stimulus money.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday discussed details of the Relief Act of 2021, a stimulus and tax relief package that will provide $267 million in direct payments to Marylanders in need.
Families that filed and qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit will receive an additional $750, and individuals will receive $450.
No applications will be necessary for the checks, which will be sent out as soon as the act is passed by the legislature and Hogan signs it into law.
“Every day that goes by without passing stimulus and tax relief packages means more jobs that will be lost, more families who will lose their homes and more businesses who will go out of business and more people that suffer,” Hogan said.
Overall, the act will provide more than $1 billion in immediate and targeted financial relief and tax cuts for Maryland working families, small businesses and people that have lost their jobs and are suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation is funded through the remaining surplus at the end of Fiscal Year 2020, budget reductions and a small portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
It also builds on the more than $700 million in emergency economic relief that the governor announced earlier.
“With the start of the new 2021 legislative session beginning on Wednesday, we are now asking the legislative branch to assist by immediately passing this stimulus and tax relief package to help even more struggling families and small businesses across our state,” Hogan said.
By repealing state taxes on unemployment benefits, the act commits another $180 million in relief for Marylanders that lost jobs.
The act also provides $300 million in immediate tax relief to help 55,000 Maryland restaurants and small businesses by allowing them to keep up to $12,000 of sales tax over the next four months, Hogan said.
The governor also provided an update on the new federal COVID-19 relief bill.
“Beginning this month, Maryland SNAP recipients will now receive an additional 15% increase in their benefits,” Hogan said. “We also are able to provide another $400 million in rental assistance, which we will be able to use to help further immediate relief for rent and utility bills.”
Businesses will receive an additional $7 billion through the federal bill, including another round of the paycheck protection program.
The federal bill also includes $925 million for K-12 schools, $130 million for child care, $336 million for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, $75 million for vaccination programs, $257 million for transportation and $58 million to expand broadband access.
“This is critical, much-needed funding and once we receive all the federal guidance which is required we will work to get these funds out the door as quickly as possible,” Hogan said.
Latest virus cases
The Maryland Health Department Monday reported 3,012 new cases of COVID-19, 29 additional deaths and seven more hospitalizations across the state in the past 24 hours.
Garrett County topped the state’s daily positivity rate of cases per jurisdiction at 16.64%, Washington County was second highest at 16.3%, and Allegany County was close to the 8.56% statewide average.
The statewide seven-day moving average case rate per 100,000 people was 50.46, with Allegany County at 49.7, Garrett County at 58.1 and Washington County at 98.83, which was the highest number in Maryland.
On high alert
Hogan also discussed Maryland’s help to secure the nation’s capital for the 59th inaugural ceremonies on Jan. 20 when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in.
Maryland sent 500 National Guard members to Washington, D.C., after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the capital last week to disrupt the certification of Biden’s election.
The incident left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, and many others injured.
Since that time, right-wing extremists have threatened to return with weapons to Washington for the inauguration.
Trump supporters have also gathered at various state capitals across the country, causing them to be on high alert.
“In addition to the start of the legislative session and massive vaccination rollout, and dealing with the COVID numbers, we’re also dealing with tons of security issues both here in the state and in our nation’s capital,” Hogan said. “We’re going to be continuing to work on that day and night between now and probably the inauguration.”
Maryland police and National Guard members are typically involved in the presidential inauguration, but the upcoming event is “obviously a much more heightened situation,” Hogan said.
“We’ve beefed up our police presence and I think we’re going to be increasing several hundred more Guard members after we finish our discussions,” he said. “There’s now a lot of talk and coordination between all the federal agencies and all of the regional partners, so, hopefully, everybody will be able to be prepared.”
On Monday afternoon, chief executives of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia held a joint call to discuss planning for the inauguration.
The regional leaders issued a statement that said “January 6, 2021 is now a seminal moment in American history. We are grateful for the courageous efforts of every law enforcement officer, Guard member, and first responder who heroically worked to secure the Capitol and ensure our nation’s democracy prevailed.”
Regional forces will work together to ensure safety for the upcoming transition of power, the statement read.
“Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually.”