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Amendments from Kach, Marks to limit State of Emergency, allow for in-person religious services fail to pass

PERRY HALL, MD—At Thursday morning’s meeting of the Baltimore County Council, Councilman David Marks and Councilman Wade Kach supported legislation to limit the State of Emergency to two weeks and restore religious services, with medical safeguards.

Both amendments failed by a vote of 5 to 2. Only two of the three Republicans on the council supported the amendments.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s State of Emergency will now be in effect for an additional 45 days.

“There is nothing wrong with the County Council reevaluating the state of emergency on a short term basis,” said Councilman Marks.

“Religious liberty is fundamental to our Constitution, and Baltimore County should follow Governor (Larry) Hogan’s directive,” added Councilman Kach.

At Thursday’s meeting, which was open to the public via WebEx, Council Chairperson Cathy Bevins stated that County Executive Olszewski’s decision to limit religious services to ten individuals or less, whether indoors or outdoors, was in-line with restrictions imposed by Governor Hogan.

“That is not an entirely accurate statement,” said founder Chris Montcalmo, who also directs contemporary music groups at two churches in Parkville. “On May 13, Governor Hogan stated that churches in the state of Maryland could begin holding religious services at 50 percent of capacity.  I see no reason why churches in Baltimore County should not also be allowed to do so in a safe and responsible manner.”

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“I support extending the State of Emergency so that first responders receive essential duty pay,” Montcalmo added.  “It’s a shame, though, that the County Council wouldn’t approve Councilman Marks’ motion to extend it for just two weeks as opposed to 45 days.”

Councilman Marks and Councilman Koch have strongly supported a reopening of businesses, and voted for the State of Emergency to allow flexibility in procuring medical supplies and paying first responders to fight the coronavirus.

On Thursday morning, data released by the Maryland Department of Health showed that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maryland have fallen on consecutive days for more than one week.  Additionally, 75% of all COVID-19 deaths in Baltimore County have occurred in nursing home communities.

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