Post-Session News from Annapolis
Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
May 5, 2020: Issue # 15

Thoughts on the COVID-19 Crisis:

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The Plight of the Small Business
Throughout my six years in the General Assembly, I have fought against bill after bill that slapped more and more restrictions, responsibilities, and regulations designed to control perceived 'bad acts' committed by big businesses. Unfortunately, these bills have had a disproportionate and negative impact on small businesses. The Sick & Safe Leave Act and the $15 Minimum Wage bill are the most egregious of this type of bills.
Unfortunately, this COVID-19 crisis continues to discriminate against the owners of small businesses. Here, in this issue of the Newsletter, are some of the thoughts and concerns of the owners of small businesses.

" Most businesses plan for rainy days and have access to capital of some kind to smooth over those lump cash flow crunches. Very, Very few have the capacity to survive--even for a few weeks--if their revenue goes to a fraction of what it once was, without warning and all at once. And without any certainty about when demand may return ."
"New Data: What COVID-19 is Doing to Main Street SMBs",, March 30, 2020
When will it END?
When the Governor declared a state of emergency back on March 5th, we understood and we began to wash our hands more frequently and to learn the practice of "social distancing." On March 12th, the Governor issued an Executive Order telling us not to congregate in groups of more than 250; we were happy to comply. The March 16th Executive Order reduced the size of gatherings to 50 and explained that in order to save lives, only "essential" businesses could keep operating. We could no longer go out to dinner, or to the movies--or to church.

As the number of people infected continued to rise, along with the death rate, an Executive Order issued on the 23rd of March reduced the size of gatherings to 10 and closed all non-essential businesses. This time, we were all directly affected, including our access to recreation. It hurt, but, again, most of us complied with the Executive Order because we knew these restrictions were temporary and were necessary to curb the spread of this deadly disease. Moreover, we were subject to a $5,000 fine and one year in jail if we did not follow the orders.

It was the March 30th Executive Order that gave us pause. This time, the Order said "All persons living in the State of Maryland are hereby ordered . . . to stay in their homes or places of residences," except for essential travel such as to the grocery store.

That was five and a half weeks ago. During that time, much has been learned about this COVID-19. "When the news first broke about COVID-19, we were hearing estimates of a death toll of 2 million-plus for the United States. There was great fear of waves of casualties, and of hospitals without space and equipment to deal with patients. Under these emergency circumstances, many were open to compromising their freedom and agreeing to lockdown policies.

Now we have better data. We know that the original predictions of between 200,000 and 2 million deaths was wrong. The number of deaths from the virus are less than half of the 200,000 originally predicted. Now, hose who are likely to succumb to the virus can be identified and isolated:
  • In New York, those who died from the virus were people with underlying condition or a compromised immunity -- by a ratio of 100 to 1.
  • Almost half of the COVID-19 deaths in Maryland occurred in Nursing Homes
  • Two-thirds of those who died were over age 70.
  • New York coronavirus cases make up almost 35 percent of the nationwide total
  • More than 70% of New York state's COVID-19-related deaths are in New York City.
  • New York's death rate is 513 deaths per million; California's, 17 deaths per million. According to one of my constituent experts in the field, this data, tells us: "In New York, the high level of contagion is due to packing people into mass transit for long durations of time, and into elevators in confined spaces for long rides up and down together to unduly tall building."

With such a clearly identifiable class of people at risk, our constituents are asking us, WHY:. .
WHY have the State restrictions been getting more restrictive?
WHY can't government provide the evidence basis for current restrictions and explore less restrictive alternatives to many of the shut-down and lock-down requirements,
WHY can't I go fishing ? I ride in my own car; park where there are almost no other cars; get in my boat, all alone, can catch (if I'm lucky) fish! There is NO chance of transmitting the disease
WHY can people go to Walmart, stand in a line of 50 people waiting to get in because only 10 people are allowed in the store -- but small businesses with very few employees who can conduct curbside business with no human interaction -- why are we forced to be closed? .
WHY is my business labeled "non-essential" when "bicycle shops" are called "essential?
WHY is it I CAN'T go to CHURCH, but I CAN go to a liquor store?
WHY have huge subsidies have gone to large corporations while, small businesses are faced with cutting salaries, laying off staff, or closing their doors?
WHY do the rules always disfavor the working family?
" it is quite clear that the 'collateral damage' of the lockdown varies greatly by class. If you are high-education and high-income, it is quite likely that you are able to maintain your standard of living, work from home, and even keep your kids up to speed with online learning technology. If you are a single mom who has been working paycheck-to-paycheck waiting tables, your experience of this lockdown is wildly different." ( Maryland Public Policy Institute), "One Plolicy Does Not Fit All, Stephen Walters, April 28, 2020)
Partial List of "Essential Businesses" allowed to stay open
Janitorial firms
“Big box” home improvement stores
Sellers of maintenance materials
Laundromats, dry cleaners, laundry
Construction companies
Self-storage facilities
Banks & credit unions
Non-bank lenders
Payroll processing companies
Payment processing companies
Armored car companies
Spas (one on one servicing)
Insurance companies
Securities & investment companies
Accounting and bookkeeping firms
Convenience stores
Liquor stores
Pet supply stores
Support or Manufacture-paper products
Lawyers & law firms
Court reporters
Lessors of transportation assets
Transportation parts suppliers
Automotive supply & repair shops
Auto & truck dealerships
Barber Shops, hair salons (one on One
Bicycle shops
Private security firms
Day cares
Moving companies
Printers & sign shops
Engineering, surveying, architectural & interior design firms
Title companies
Motorcycle parts stores & repair shops
Rental companies
Companies that provide portable equipment
Greenhouses & nurseries
Waste management, pic
As the graph above shows, both week to week data and year to year data show the dramatic difference in performance between those businesses required to close and those allowed to remain open. " The government has provided a lifeline to what are defined as essential retailers which can remain open during the crisis. . . . "As for non-essential brick-and-mortar retailers that sell everything else, they are left out in the cold."
"List of Retail Companies on Bankruptcy Watch is Growing Fast Amid Coronavirus Crisis," by Pamela N. Danziger, April 3, 2020
Financial help is available...
. . . but hard to access
There are many government grants & loans available until they run out of money . . .the overriding fear is, that there simply isn't enough money to sustain the economy.

Carroll County Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund. Carroll County has offered emergency grants to small businesses on several occasions. There is a limited amount of money and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfortunately, the grants are snapped up within minutes of the site opening for applications. This last offer was gone in 11 minutes.
Unemployment Insurance "Yesterday was the first day he could apply. He lost 95% of his business with the courts closed. He went on the unemployment website . . . When he got on at 3PM yesterday he was over 174,000 in line! He stayed on and up all night and was cleared at 4AM That’s 13 hours on line. When you are notified you have 10 minutes to apply or you lose your turn."
Clearly, the most frightening issue is the failure of the State to process unemployment checks. " American consumers are also facing the crisis in a weakened state. Their credit cards are maxed out and savings non-existent as they live paycheck to paycheck with nothing to fall back on." (Bankruptcy article)
Maryland Small Business Grants. We cannot get any answers as to what the status is other than go to the website. It was announced by Mr. Hogan on the 23rd that it would take 2-3 days to get the money to the businesses. The 27th was the first day you could fill out the application however and still nothing and we are almost 5 weeks in. The business has been around since the early 80's and is extremely close to having to shut it's doors forever just for doing what the state government asked."
Getting paid by the state has proved difficult. "The daycares are supposed to be getting paid by the state but have yet to receive a dime. They are also being told they will be punished (aka take their license)if they take money from the “essential employees” for watching their kids. It doesn’t make any sense they are forcing ppl to do something then they aren’t even getting paid for it. This has gone to far. The daycare providers still have expenses and aren’t receiving any cash flow."
Governor Hogan suspends cumbersome regulations
  • Extending License Expiration Dates -- lifting expiration dates of all licenses, permits, registrations and other authorizations, including drivers' licences, vehicle registrations and professional licenses, to 30 days after the date the state of emergency is terminated
  • Child Care Regulations:  To the extent necessary, and upon a finding that the suspension will not endanger the public health, welfare, or safety, a significant number of child care regulations may be suspended, including permitting family and friend child care providers to provide care to up to five unrelated children in the provider's home.   
  • Zoning
  • Building, use, and occupancy permitting to remove limits on the use of a building based on a child's age; 
  • Fire inspection; and 
  • Testing (water, sewers and sewage, drainage, sanitation, refuse, disposal, or pollution on private property)
  •  Health:
  • "The Secretary is authorized to suspend the effect of any statute rule or regulation administered by the Maryland Department of Health related to licensing, oversight, and inspection of health care facilities
  • The Maryland Board of Physicians may suspend any provision of Titles 14 (Physicians)and 15 (Physicians Assistants) of the Health Occupations Article and their implementing regulations.
  • Maryland Board of Nursing may suspend any provision of Title 8 (Nurses) of the Health Occupations Article and it's implementing regulations
  • Emergency Medical Services Systems The Executive Director "may suspend the effect of any provision of the Emergency Medical Services,Ambulance services; Emergency medical services; Board; license or certificate, Automated External Defibrillator Program in the Education Article of the Maryland Code.
  • Residential Services & Late Fees: "It is necessary to protect the public health, welfare, or safety to suspend the effect of statutes, rules, or regulations regarding termination of residential services and authorized the use of private property
  • Elections:   
  • An Order charging the State Board of Elections to prepare and submit to the Governor a Comprehensive Plan for the conduct of the Primary Election. "The effect of any statute, rule, or regulation of an agency of the State or a political subdivision inconsistent with this order is hereby suspended."
  • Enabling Municipalities to postpone elections, the effect of any statute, rule, or regulation of an agency of the State or a political subdivision inconsistent with this order is hereby suspended.
  • Motor Carrier Transportation: "Waiver of all or part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations." 
  • Alcohol Beverage Delivery and Carryout Services: "To protect the public health, welfare, and safety, it is necessary to suspend the effect of certain statutes, rules, or regulations of agencies of the State or political subdivisions relation to alcohol delivery and sales.
  • Laboratory Testing: Any statute, rule or regulation that would prevent laboratories in Maryland from developing and performing testing for COVID-19 in accordance with any directives issued by the Secretory and any statute, rule or regulation of an agency of the State or a political subdivision inconsistent with this order is hereby suspended.
  • Large Gatherings and Stay-at-Home Orders: 
  • To protect the public health, welfare, and safety, prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus, control the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, it is necessary to control and direct the movement of individuals in Maryland, including those on the public streets.
  • Maryland Children's Health Program. "It is necessary in order to protect the public health, wealth and safety to suspend the effect of State statutes requiring parents or guardians of MCHP eligible individuals to agree to pay a family contribution premium to enroll and participate.
  • Notaries Public.  "It is necessary to protect the public health, welfare, or safety to suspend the effect of statutes, rules, or regulations that require personal interactions to complete original notarial acts.
To the left are the last five WHEREAS clauses of the March 5th Proclamation establishing the existence of a "catastrophic health emergency" requiring the Governor to exercise emergency powers. T hrough the use of Executive Orders, the Governor was able to suspend the rules and regulations listed above that otherwise would have handcuffed every department and severely impeded the state's ability to respond to the immediate needs of its citizens. The critical clause is as follows:

"The person-to-person spread of COVID-19 indicates that extensive loss of life or serious disability is threatened imminently in all of Maryland” thereby requiring the State “to deploy resources and implement the emergency powers of the Governor to protect the health and safety of Marylanders."
Issues of Constitutionality
Most of us accepted the orders and restrictions, understanding that little was known about this new virus and recognizing that this new concept of "social distancing" was an important tool in preventing the virus from spreading. As time passed and more restrictions were imposed, however, concerns began to arise questioning the depth and length of the emergency powers. The same question was being considered by the U.S. Attorney General who issued a memorandum to all United States Attorneys, as follows.
" The current national crisis related to COVID-19 has required the imposition of extraordinary restrictions on all of our daily lives. Millions of Americans across the nation have been ordered to stay in their homes, leaving only for essential and necessary reasons, while countless businesses and other gathering places have been ordered to close their doors indefinitely. These kinds of restrictions have been necessary in order to stop the spread of a deadly disease -- but there is no denying that they have imposed tremendous burdens on the daily lives of all Americans. . . .
.....Now, I am directing each of our United States Attorneys to also be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens."
Here are some of the issues that prompt constitutional review.

  • Privacy: In Connecticut, the use of drones to surveille citizens in fight against coronavirus came under fire. The drones being used "can accurately detect infectious conditions from a distance of 190 feet as well as measure social distancing for proactive public safety practices." In the city of Westport, the serious concerns about privacy from the ACLU and the public caused the city to abandon the use of drones. In Meridian, Connecticut, however the city has been "using standard drones to monitor visitors to parks and trails to ensure they are not gathering in large groups. That effort has not been met with as much resistance.

  • Freedom: The Executive Orders issued by Governor Hogan contain the following rationale:"To protect the public health, welfare, and safety, prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus, control the spread of COVID-19, and save lives, it is necessary to control and direct the movement of individuals in Maryland, including those on the public streets."

  • Free Speech: In California the California Highway Patrol said it will "no longer issue permits for events at any state properties, including the Capitol." The very foundation for protecting free speech was to be able to tell the government what you think! The decision to quash the citizens right to gather near the capitol in protest of the Governor's stay-at-home order came after one such gathering was held. 

  • Free Speech & "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Three days ago, an organization called "Reopen Maryland" planned a protest of automobiles to go from Frederick to Ocean City protesting the continuing restrictions. Congressman Andy Harris, Delegates Dan Cox, Warren Miller, and Neil Parrott were part of the protest and planned to speak. As a courtesy, Delegate Cox advised the governor's office of the planned protest. Instead of a 'thank you,' delegate Cox was warned that if he spoke (before more than 10 people) he was subject to being arrested, fined $5,000 and/or jailed for one year. Delegate Cox, along with 17 other plaintiffs, filed suit against Governor Hogan over the constitution-ality of the state's stay-at-home order and the order banning gatherings of more than 10 people. The lawsuit was filed last Saturday in the U.S. District Court of Baltimore.

  • Religion. In Maryland, religious worship has been categorized as "non-essential," and only 10 people may attend an indoor service, with a 4-hour window between services in order to thoroughly clean the premises. A similar restriction in Kansas prompted a lawsuit. The judge in that suit signaled he believes "there’s a good chance that Kansas is violating religious freedom and free speech rights with a coronavirus-inspired 10-person limit on in-person attendance at religious services or activities and he blocked its enforcement against two churches that sued over it."

  • General Executive Orders: Article 44 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights reads, "the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, apply as well in time of war, as in time of peace; and any departure therefrom or violation thereof, under the pleas of necessity, or any other plea, is subversive of good Government, and tends to anarchy and despotism."
Below are just a few of the many stories of the hardship the continued shutdown has created. Several are from constituents and others are stories from articles dealing with the ravages of the coronavirus.
Port Deposit . There is an owner of a restaurant and bar in Port Deposit who is facing those penalties even though he believed he was in complying with Governor Hogan's regulations for social distancing and crowd size "to the letter of the law." Nonetheless, on a recent Sunday, fifteen uniformed officers from four different law enforcement agencies showed up at the restaurant. They said there were about 70 people on the 'boardwalk' portion of the business some of who were eating and drinking. I don't understand. The way I read the Order is that there was a ban on gatherings which would include the dining rooms of restaurants. Why is the business owner responsible for people who decide to congregate outside of the restaurant, on the boardwalk? I just don't want to do anything wrong. But my business is dying.
Out of work; Out of money; out of time
"I am the owner/operator of a small entertainment company that uses contract (1099) musicians. I usually employee 4-6 musicians per on and as-needed basis. ... “In-season” these talented men and women are roughly $200 per night on weekends and around $150 per night during the week. Most of them hustle 7 nights a week and some will play “two-a-days” in the summer to earn more.

" These musicians have been completely shut out of the unemployment benefit website They have been told for over a month that they were going to be eligible for benefits beginning today and this morning not only have they been met with numerous technical errors but also insane amounts of red tape.

"These men and women are not playing simply for “beer money”. These are professionals who work hard and pay their bills and feed their children and support the state economy with their talent."
It's Unfair
"Would someone like to explain to me why pet grooming services are non-essential?! Grooming is not just so a dog can look pretty, they need it. If their nails aren't cut, they can curl into their paw pads, and cause them to walk on their toes. It is NOT okay. My poor baby's nails are getting long, and we can't do anything. Seriously, since when did we the people let the government decide what was essential for us?"
Alone . . .
"I find myself alone, at home, parked in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, with just the company of my cat. I am disoriented, unfocused, lonely, sad and worried. I don't deal well with the unknown so I feel that I have control of nothing. The future does not exist."
Victim of government protections
"With recent protections for tenants for non-payment of rent, what resources are available for Landlords depending on rent payments to meet mortgage obligations, pay taxes, and have money to live? I am referring to Mom and Pop landlords for whom this is their only business/job?"
Silver Linings
In light of the horrors of this coronavirus pandemic, the many lives it has taken, the number of businesses it has destroyed, and the number of jobs it has eliminated, it is important to search for and appreciate the few positive things that have occurred. To wit:
  • American workforce shifted to telecommuting almost overnight
  • Regulators have found a way to shorten decisions that once took months and years into hours and days."
  • In health care, many positive -- now everyone knows what "telehealth" is
  • "When consumers experience better (faster better health care using digital access) they learn to want better ..."
  • Everyone now knows what "telehealth" care is and will be more likely to make use of it rather than endure a five hour wait in a crowded ER.
  • If we're open to learning from the crisis, it gives us the opportunity to change what has been a very laggard health care industry in terms of providing care and handling administrative processes.
  • For those who are not experiencing the financial or medical effects of the virus, the "opportunity" -- whether forced or voluntary-- has given most of us a time to slow down and "smell the roses."
We all need a reason to smile . . .
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building * 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401 * 410-841-3556
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane, West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344 *
Administrative Aide: Chelsea Leigh Murphy
Lowe House Office Building
Suite 20210 Bladen Street
Annapolis, MD 21401