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Council President Introduces Bills to Provide Premium Pay to Essential Workers and Expand Internet Access for Students

Council President Introduces Bills to Provide Premium Pay to Essential Workers and Expand Internet Access for Students

Baltimore City Council Votes to Immediately Adopt Resolutions Calling for Veto Overrides on Public Safety, HBCUs, BSO, and Prescription Drug Affordability

BALTIMORE, MD (May 18, 2020) — At today’s meeting of the Baltimore City Council, Council President Brandon M. Scott introduced a series of bills, including an ordinance that would provide premium pay to essential workers during the COVID-19 state of emergency, a resolution to expand internet access for Baltimore’s students, and a package of resolutions calling on the Maryland General Assembly to override Governor Hogan’s recent vetoes. 

“Our essential workers continue to put their lives on the line every day to ensure Baltimore continues to run during this pandemic,” said Council President Scott. “That is an extra risk to the health and safety of these workers and their families, and it should be compensated as such.”

COVID-19 Relief - Premium Pay for Essential Workers (Ordinance 20-0535) would require large employers to pay premiums to certain essential hourly workers. Employers would be required to pay an additional $30 for a shift under four hours, $60 for a shift between 4-8 hours, and $75 for a shift over eight hours. The obligation would end when the state of emergency is lifted. This ordinance was assigned to the Labor Committee. 

The Council President introduced a resolution (Resolution 20-0229R) to expand broadband internet access to Baltimore’s students. The resolution calls on all wired and wireless internet service providers, non-profits, the business community, Baltimore City Schools, and the City of Baltimore to accelerate expanded broadband availability programs to students to support online distance learning during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This resolution was approved for immediate adoption. 

“Last week the Board of Estimates approved a $3 million transfer of funds to address the digital divide in Baltimore and provide students with laptops and internet access during this period of distance learning. These resources will be of no use to our students if they do not have access to reliable WiFi,” said Council President Scott. “We do not know how long this pandemic will affect us, but with summer school starting in a matter of days, it’s crucial that our students have all of the tools needed to succeed.”

The Council President also introduced a package of resolutions tonight calling on the Maryland General Assembly to override Governor Hogan’s May 7 vetoes on legislation that would provide funding to HBCUs and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, increase prescription drug affordability, and provide resources to aid in Baltimore’s efforts to fight crime. All of the resolutions were taken up for immediate adoption. 

  • Resolution 20-0225R ⁠— Requests state action to override vetoes of Senate Bill 929 and Senate Bill 708, which aimed to create better cooperation between the City and State, provide more resources to target crime, and expand the Safe Streets program which has proven to reduce shootings and homicides. It would also implement evidence-based programs that would help make Baltimore’s communities safer.
  • Resolution 20-0227R — Requests state action to override the veto on House Bill 1260, which would provide $580 million in critical funding to the State's four historically Black universities, two of which are located in Baltimore. As Maryland has underfunded and failed to support its HBCUs for generations, this legislation was an opportunity to begin to right some historical wrongs through much needed funding. 
  • Resolution 20-0228R — Requests state action to override the veto on Senate Bill 669, which would fund the work of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which has a mandate to examine prescription drug costs and affordability in the state of Maryland in order to make prescription drugs more affordable for all residents. This legislation would levy a fee on pharmaceutical corporations, pharmacy benefits managers, and insurers. 
  • Resolution 20-0226-R ⁠— Requests state action to override the veto of Senate Bill 1065, which would provide funding to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Over the last few years, the  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has had financial and organizational difficulties. In the past year, the BSO has worked diligently to turn the organization around for the better. This bill would provide the recommended State support to ensure the continued stability and success of this important institution.

Members of the public and members of the press are encouraged to view the archive of the City Council Meeting on CharmTV’s YouTube page or on the Council President’s Facebook page.





Candance Greene
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby

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