He also announced a state spending freeze, hiring freeze.
Annapolis, Md (KM). As a way to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Larry Hogan on Friday announced that voting for the June 2nd Maryland Primary will be mostly conducted by mail.
During a news conference in Annapolis, Hogan said the State Board of Elections was tasked with coming up a plan after he changed the date of the Primary from April 28th to June 2nd. The Board came up with a proposal to require most ballots be cast by mail which would help reduce the spread of the coronavirus among voters inside polling stations. “We’re joining them in strongly urging every Marylander who can vote by mail to cast their ballot by mail,” he said.
The Governor said accommodations will be made in rare cases where voters cannot cast their ballots by mail. They will be allowed to vote in person. “We want to stress that in these rare cases where people must vote in person, significant social distancing practices must be implemented by the state and local election board officials,” he said.
“Free and fair elections are the very foundation of American Democracy,” he said. “And our ultimate goal must be to do everything possible to ensure that the voice of every Marylander is heard in a safe and secure manner.”
In another announcement, the Governor said he has ordered a spending freeze, except for COVID-19 expenses, and payroll to support the state’s employees. . Also, there will be a hiring freeze to begin immediately. He said the coronavirus emergency has almost completely shut down the economy. As part of the spending freeze, Hogan said the Department of Budget and Management will be looking at options and making recommendations for cuts in state agencies.
Citing Comptroller Peter Franchot, Governor Hogan said the state is projected to lose $2.8-billion in revenues before fiscal year 2020 ends on July 1st.
Speaking with reporters, Hogan said this spending freeze also includes “so-called mandated spending.” He noted that a number of spending bills have come to his desk from the General Assembly. “While the Executive Branch has not yet had any time to review any of this proposed legislation, I want to be clear that it is very unlikely that any bills that require increased spending will be signed into law,” he said.
He also said the state will be taping into the Rainy Day Fund. “Responding to this crisis will likely create a multi-year budget issue which will require further, substantial budget actions,” says the Governor.
With all the bad new and painful actions that need to be taken, the Governor did announce that the Easter Bunny is considered an essential worker and will be free to hop around Maryland delivering candy to children.
By Kevin McManus