November 22, 2022
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am deeply grateful that you, the amazing residents of the Fightin’ 46th Legislative District, voted to send me back to the Senate of Maryland to continue advocating on your behalf. November 8th was an historic day in our State. Voters voted to fill every statewide elected position with a woman or person of color, something that has never happened before, and it’s about time. I am thankful that Maryland is now entering a new era of leadership that more accurately reflects the growing diversity of our State!
Governor-Elect Wes Moore
Governor-elect Wes Moore made history when he received a mandate to become Maryland’s first Black Governor, one of only three Black governors ever elected in the history of our nation. Lt. Governor-elect Aruna Miller will become the State’s first immigrant and woman of color in her new role. Last week, the Governor-elect announced several key members of his leadership team, saying he wants to ensure his new administration will hit the ground running this January. 
  • Fagan Harris, President and CEO of Baltimore Corps, will serve as Chief of Staff; 
  • Tisha Edwards will become the Secretary of Appointments upon confirmation by the State Senate;
  • Helene Grady will serve as the Secretary for the Department of Budget and Management, also upon Senate confirmation;
  • Amanda La Forge will become the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel; and 
  • Delegate Eric G. Luedtke will serve as the Governor’s Chief Legislative Officer.
I am excited to work with the new Administration as we begin a new chapter in Annapolis!
Comptroller-Elect Brooke Lierman
Congratulations to my dear friend and our very own Delegate from the 46th Legislative District, Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman, who shattered a glass ceiling when she won her race as the first woman to hold the post in Maryland. She will be advised by a group of seasoned leaders throughout the transition process, including Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, State Senator Susan Lee, and outgoing Comptroller Peter Franchot. Brooke brings a deep understanding of Baltimore to her new role, as well as a commitment to fostering more equitable and climate-conscious policies.
Attorney General-Elect Anthony Brown
Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown will be the State’s first Black Attorney General this January, marking yet another milestone for Maryland following the November Election. Congressman Brown has named key leaders to his transition team to focus on civil rights, consumer protection, the environment, equity and ethics, labor, procurement, and public safety. I look forward to working with the Attorney General-Elect on the many pressing issues facing Baltimore and Maryland, most notably our mutual priority of reforming the juvenile justice system.
What's Next for Legalized Adult-Use Cannabis
Marylanders voted overwhelmingly this Election Day to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis. Now the work begins to craft a regulatory framework for this emerging industry that prioritizes equitable ownership, affordability, and safety before the July 1, 2023 enactment date. It is critical that legislation establishing the legalization process also addresses the legacy of incarceration that ravaged Black and Brown communities through the failed “War on Drugs,” such as providing opportunities for those whose housing and employment opportunities were directly impacted by the specter of a marijuana arrest.
Last Session, the General Assembly passed a measure in anticipation of the statewide referendum that draws from the lessons learned from the passage of medical marijuana.
A few of the key aspects of the bill include:
  • Initiating a racial and gender disparity study on the medical cannabis industry to assist in crafting the new licensure process;
  • Providing automatic expungements for all cases where possession of cannabis is the only charge in the case;
  • Creating the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund to help small, minority and women-owned businesses enter the marketplace;
  • Establishing a public health advisory council; and
  • Directing a portion of marijuana sales revenues to the newly created Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund to benefit communities hardest hit by cannabis arrests.
Details of the legislation can be found here.
Failed Oversight Will Cost Millions
The Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee met last week to seek answers from Maryland Department of Health officials who failed to oversee a vendor hired to administer the State’s behavioral health and substance abuse programs for Medicaid patients and pay providers.

Officials told the Committee that they declined to pursue severe damages against Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, because they feared litigation and the potential for the contractor to walk away. The Department also failed to properly vet Optum and their subcontractors. The amount of taxpayer dollars lost to overpayments to providers and the failure to collect federal funds could drastically rise.
Grasmick Leadership Award
It is an honor to receive this year’s Grasmick Leadership Award from the Maryland Family Network. Investing in Maryland’s children and families to improve outcomes has been my top legislative priority since joining the Maryland Senate Democrats.
We’ve passed transformational legislation in recent years including the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, paid medical and family leave for all Marylanders, and historic funding for early childhood education and maternal health. I look forward to building on that momentum.
Baltimore's Skyline Relit as Rain Forest Reopens
The National Aquarium is integral to the 46th Legislative District, Baltimore City, and the entire State of Maryland. I’m immensely proud of the State funding we’ve secured in recent years to ensure this vital institution continues to be the jewel of our Inner Harbor. The Aquarium is an important model for the critical role anchor institutions play in our State.
Last week, I was thrilled to participate in a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of a $7.75 million renovation to replace 684 glass panes in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. The rooftop exhibit is an immersive re-creation of a South American rain forest. The new glass is “bird-friendly,” marked with a ‘frit’ pattern designed to prevent birds from flying into it.
As I said at the event, what's really amazing are the experiences that young children will have as they walk up the exhibit’s platform and see something they will have never seen before. That experience will allow them to dream and think differently about the world, and that's what this project is really about.
More News
Baltimore City Public Schools is updating its COVID-19 protocols. Before going on vacation November 23, students and staff members will receive an At-Home test kit to use prior to returning on November 28. Anyone testing positive must continue to isolate for at least five days after a positive test and is asked to call the school's tracing team at 443-984-1200 or email No further test requirements are expected after the New Year.

The Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service recently announced that it will receive a $15 million gift from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the largest single donation the organization has ever received. The money will fund programs aimed at transforming the lives of refugees and immigrants, including workforce initiatives, support for unaccompanied migrant children in foster care, refugee resettlement services, and welcome centers for families seeking asylum.

I was saddened to learn that former Delegate Sheila Hixson passed away earlier this month. As the longest-serving woman in the history of Maryland’s House of Delegates, Sheila had many “firsts”, including becoming the first woman to chair the House Ways and Means Committee. Her legacy will live on through the many generations of talented legislators whom she mentored and befriended over 42 years of talented and tireless leadership.
The Maryland Department of Transportation announced last week that it will not seek approval of a multibillion-dollar contract to build toll lanes on Interstates 270 and 495 until after Governor Hogan has left office.

Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes announced draft legislation this week to create a Chesapeake National Recreation Area. The proposal would meld a series of National Park Service-owned and operated park areas and visitor centers with iconic Bay properties to create a unified national recreation area. If passed, much-needed federal resources would be awarded to the region to celebrate its diverse cultural and economic history, spur economic growth, and foster public access to the Chesapeake Bay.

Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen have announced a visa program for the 2023 fiscal year to temporarily aid the staffing shortage in Maryland’s important crab and seafood industry. The Department of Homeland Security will provide additional visas in the 2023 fiscal year, while a more permanent solution addressing the lack of visas in the H-2B program is in the works.

Now entering its 9th season, this year’s Christmas Village in the Inner Harbor will be the biggest ever, with over 50 local and international vendors selling toys, apparel, jewelry, decorations and more. The indoor and outdoor German Christmas Market at West Shore Park will officially kick off on Thanksgiving and run through Christmas Eve.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email,, or by phone, 410-841-3600.