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Maryland Senate leaders fast-track legislation on economic aid to employees, businesses impacted by Key Bridge collapse

Hannah Gaskill, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

“It’s always nerve wracking these days when you have to rely on Congress to solve an issue,” Ferguson said ahead of the bill’s hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Though it’s closed to vessels, the Port of Baltimore is not fully closed. According to Ferguson, some workers are still performing certain port-related jobs. Those who rely on the flow of ships in and out of the port will be most affected by the bridge’s obstruction to the channel.

Ferguson and his cosponsor, Baltimore County Republican Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, met with members of the International Longshoreman Association on Monday as its members were briefed by the governor and federal officials about a timeline for the port to fully reopen. Ferguson said he saw “fear in the eyes” of workers when they discovered that a timeline for a return to normalcy is not clear.

Both Ferguson and Salling represent areas directly impacted by the bridge’s collapse.

“It’s such a horrific incident, but it’s good that it happened during session so we can respond quickly and do what we need to do to help the workers and businesses,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Pam Beidle, a Democrat representing Anne Arundel County.

The legislation would also provide Moore, a Democrat, the latitude to amend the budget to move money from the state’s Rainy Day fund to aid individual workers, the Department of Commerce for small businesses and trade associations, and the Economic Development Opportunities Program Account for diverted businesses.

 

The Rainy Day Fund is a pot of excess cash that the state saves to use in emergency situations. It currently holds more than $2 billion.

Several amendments were tacked onto the bill before it left the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday afternoon, including a measure to create a scholarship for the children of transportation workers who have died on the job. The legislation will now head to the Senate floor for approval before it’s ushered through the House chamber.

The House version of the bill sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Luke Clippinger, a Democrat who represents the same South Baltimore neighborhoods as Ferguson, will be heard Thursday.

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©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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