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Maryland Gov. Hogan to deliver State of the State speech Wednesday evening by video due to coronavirus precautions

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan plans to deliver his State of the State speech by video on Wednesday night because of precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Typically, governors give the annual address to a joint session of the General Assembly, with delegates, senators and dignitaries crammed into the House of Delegates chamber at the State House in Annapolis.

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But with lawmakers doing much of their work remotely and large gatherings discouraged due to the pandemic, this year’s speech will look different.

Hogan, a Republican, will deliver the speech live but “virtually,” without an in-person audience at the governor’s reception room in the State House. It will be streamed on the governor’s social media channels and shown on Maryland Public Television. It will also be made available for television stations and other news organizations to carry.

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The Baltimore Sun will livestream the speech at baltimoresun.com.

The timing of the speech is changing, too: Instead of the typical midday speech, Hogan is electing to give his remarks at 7 p.m., “to reach more Marylanders,” according to the governor’s office.

“While we honor the historic and constitutional significance of this annual tradition, it is important we follow the proper health protocols,” Hogan said in a statement Monday. “This address provides a chance to reflect on the unprecedented challenges we have confronted together over the last year, and the opportunities for recovery that lie ahead.”

The Maryland constitution requires only that a governor “shall, from time to time, inform the Legislature of the condition of the State and recommend to their consideration such measures as he may judge necessary and expedient.”

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The State of the State gives governors the opportunity to discuss state issues broadly, as well as a chance to champion their initiatives.

For Hogan, the speech comes as his signature initiative — a pandemic financial aid bill called the RELIEF Act — is being debated in the Senate. Hogan has said the bill is his priority, aside from a constitutional requirement to pass a balanced budget.

Senators last week tacked on more than $500 million worth of funding for various grants and programs, in addition to the governor’s proposal of direct payments to low-income Marylanders, a tax break on unemployment benefits, and tax relief for businesses. The additions were proposed by Democratic leaders, but have gained bipartisan support.

The House has yet to act on a version of the RELIEF Act pending in that chamber. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in the House.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan delivered his sixth State of the State address to a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly at the State House on Feb. 5, 2020.

Last year — about a month before the coronavirus was detected in Maryland — Hogan used his State of the State speech to press lawmakers to act on “out-of-control crime” that he said was “destroying Baltimore City.”

Hogan found traction for some of his crime-fighting ideas in the Senate, but a package of bills passed in that chamber failed to win approval in the House as the pandemic forced an early end to last year’s legislative session. Hogan vetoed other Democratic-sponsored crime bills that would have sent millions to Baltimore.

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