December 11, 2021
This week, senators and delegates from across the State came back to Annapolis to meet for a Special Legislative Session to address three constitutional imperatives before us: consideration of nearly two-dozen bills passed by the legislature this year and vetoed by Governor Hogan; passage of a once-in-a-decade Congressional map; and the election of a new State Treasurer

I am deeply proud of the work we did this week, heartened by the rigorous and respectful debate, and grateful to every member of the Senate for bringing their perspective, energy, and passion to this important Special Session. 
Moving Maryland Forward - Veto Overrides
While much of the attention was focused on Congressional map-making this week, the legislature also debated whether to override Governor Hogan’s veto of dozens of bills last spring. These newly passed laws support our deep commitment to building back a prosperous Maryland by strengthening the middle class through providing much-needed tax relief, supporting small businesses, and addressing the current and future impact of climate change to promote a healthier and more sustainable Maryland. A few highlights of the bills overridden this week:
Building a Strong Middle Class

  • SB 746: Strengthens community colleges in the State by providing collective bargaining for certain employees. Maryland’s Community Colleges serve the core of the middle class, providing opportunities for worker training at a critical time in our labor markets.

  • HB 933: Allows Anne Arundel County to ensure there is affordable housing for lower to middle-income households by establishing the Housing Trust Special Revenue Fund to provide affordable housing to moderate- and low-income individuals.

Removing Politics from the Parole Process 

  • SB 202: Ensures a professional commission makes parole decisions rather than the sitting Governor. The current process lacks transparency and leads to inequality in the outcomes of parole decisions.

Protecting our Neighbors 

  • HB 16: Protects those who are voiceless in our communities by ensuring unjust detention practices that profit off of incarcerating immigrants without just cause does not occur in Maryland.

  • HB 23: Requires the State to deny inspection of certain records and facial recognition searches by a federal agency seeking access to certain immigration enforcement matters. ICE uses Maryland’s second-tier driver’s licenses to conduct warrantless immigration enforcement, often resulting in the deportation of Marylanders and the break-up of families in our State.

Tax Relief to Combat Inflation

  • SB133/HB319: Protects low- and middle-income families who are often hit the hardest by inflation by allowing jurisdictions to impose the county income tax on a bracket basis.
New Congressional Map

This new map provides cleaner lines and more compact districts while keeping a significant portion of Marylanders in their current districts, ensuring continuity of representation. It also demonstrates our steadfast commitment to the Federal Voting Rights Act by ensuring that minority voters retain their ability to elect their preferred candidates. 
I am extremely appreciative and proud of the work undertaken by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission over the past several months to ensure the proposed maps were fair and a robust representation of residents of all backgrounds. I also applaud the many Marylanders who added their diverse and unique voices to the dozens of hearings held across the State. Their participation was critical in order to create a map that is competitive and fair.
New State Treasurer Elected
I want to congratulate Delegate Dereck Davis on his election to be the next Maryland State Treasurer. He will follow Treasurer Nancy Kopp, one of the finest public servants to ever hold the position. 

I am confident that Treasurer-elect Davis will bring his almost 20-years of experience as Chair of the House Economic Matters Committee to elevate and protect our State’s fiscal health. I look forward to working with him in the years ahead as we move Maryland forward.
The Holidays are Here!
‘Tis the Season for Holiday celebrations in our beautiful City! For the tenth year running, the Cherry Hill Eagles organization ran an amazing Thanksgiving giveaway in Cherry Hill for the elderly and those in need. Incredibly, at least 600 people were served!  

Last Sunday my family and I enjoyed the 7th Annual Winter Lights at the Observatory in Patterson Park to listen to live music and eat great food, shop for local gifts, and—of course—visit Santa! On Monday, the Riverside Neighborhood Association held a happy hour and Gazebo Lighting. As always, on the top of our list will be a visit to the Authentic German Christmas Market at West Shore Park in the center of the Inner Harbor--open now through December 24th.
COVID-19 Cases on the Rise
As the world waits for more information on the strength and transmissibility of the new omicron variant, COVID-19 cases in Maryland are on the rise. Colder weather and Thanksgiving gatherings have contributed to the State’s climbing positivity rate. More than 1,800 new cases were reported last week, marking three consecutive days of more than 1,000 new infections. More alarming, hospitalizations have spiked 18 percent in just five days–the highest number since early May. 
These numbers should alarm us all. They should also prompt those who are on the fence about getting vaccinated to run–not walk–to roll up their sleeves and get the original shot and/or the booster. Seventy-six percent of the State’s population has been at least partially vaccinated and over 1 million boosters have landed in arms. Although these numbers are promising, we must continue to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.
Howard Street Tunnel Expansion
The Port of Baltimore is a bedrock economic engine for Maryland. Last week we broke ground on the Howard Street Tunnel expansion---the key to unlocking the Port’s full potential. The expansion involves lowering rails and carving out portions of the existing 126-year-old structure. This will allow for double-stacked rail travel to and from the Port, eliminating a problematic bottleneck and enhancing productivity and access to the Port.
With this $466 million project, the General Assembly and our federal partners are positioning Maryland to lead in the reformation and enhancement of our nation's transportation network.
Baltimore to Expand Internet Access
Nearly 100,000 households in Baltimore lack reliable access to the internet, creating a digital divide that disadvantages the most vulnerable among us. I applaud Mayor Scott’s recent announcement that he will devote $6 million in American Rescue Plan funds to address this critical issue. 
The five-year initiative includes running fiber inside and outside 23 recreation centers, allowing residents to access the internet from parks and transportation hubs in the surrounding areas. An additional 100 community Wi-Fi hotspots will be spread across the City. Ten underserved neighborhoods in West Baltimore will receive additional service. The funds will also go toward hiring a digital equity coordinator and staff experienced in Wi-Fi deployment in the Mayor’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity.
More News
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg came to Baltimore to promote a $22 million federal investment in public transit that will start with 10-miles of dedicated bus lanes. The next phase will incorporate ADA upgrades, updates for shelters and benches, and real-time digital signage. 
As grocery stores and restaurants struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of food-insecure Marylanders nearly doubled to more than 1 million. The Maryland Food Bank increased its food distribution by 88%, according to a report that tracked changes from before the pandemic through July of 2022.
Baltimore Sun Media is considering moving the printing of its newspapers from Baltimore to a printing plant in Delaware. The move is proposed for the end of January and would likely result in the loss of more than 100 jobs, most of them full time. 
Maryland has become the latest state to file a lawsuit against Monsanto to force the agrochemical company to provide compensation to clean up toxic industrial chemical pollutants that have accumulated in plants, fish, and people around the State and the world. 
Citing “gross and systemic” failures at the Department of Labor, a group of Marylanders has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. Plaintiffs in the suit claim that lengthy delays and interruptions of benefits violate federal law. The group is also seeking an injunction to force the department to speed up its handling of ongoing unemployment claims. 
Three universities in Maryland will study why there are so few women and people of color in leadership roles at universities across the country. Aimed at promoting more diversity in those top jobs, the research will be conducted by faculty at the University of Maryland in College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Morgan State University.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email, [email protected], or by phone, 410-841-3600.