September 3, 2021
My two children put on their masks and headed back to school on Monday, as did thousands of other students across the State. As buildings open back up, we must do everything possible to keep kids safely in the classroom so that the deep educational, emotional, and social effects of the pandemic can be addressed and reversed.
I applaud the State Board of Education’s decision this week to require masks in all Maryland schools. It is a common-sense and proven way to stop the spread of COVID-19—critical for keeping kids healthy and in school. Another benefit: the CDC has ruled that quarantining is not necessary when students maintain universal masking along with social distancing—which means only the sick student has to stay home. This drastically limits quarantine-related learning loss and reduces the hardship on working parents, a point brought home in Frederick County when  600 students had to be quarantined by the end of the first week of classes.
The Joint Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee will have a hearing and vote on the emergency regulation to require masks on September 14. It is clear that masks provide low-cost and proven protection for students and staff and should be embraced by everyone committed to keeping kids in the classroom. 
As we all continue to develop and adapt to new routines for school, work, and family, I hope you each find time to enjoy this holiday weekend and the last few weeks of summer.
New Schools and New Backpacks
We celebrated the opening of not one, not two, but three brand new school buildings here in Baltimore City last week! It’s hard to overstate just how special it is to begin the past few school years with the opening of newly constructed and renovated buildings that implicitly tell students: We believe in you. We believe in who you will become. We believe in your ability to maximize your potential.
The 21st Century Schools Act, passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year, invested $1 billion to make ribbon cuttings like these possible. That commitment to Baltimore’s students, families, teachers, and staff is unwavering.
In anticipation of the new school year, Team46 (Delegate Luke Clippinger, Delegate Robbyn Lewis, and Delegate Brooke Lierman) and I joined to help the many backpack giveaways throughout the Fightin’ 46th Legislative District. Look out for more Team46 backpacks to be distributed through Comité Latino de Baltimore and Graceland Park/O’Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle School in the coming days.
Eviction Decision and Rental Assistance
I was deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court blocked an extension of President Biden’s eviction moratorium this week, potentially affecting nearly 26,000 families in Baltimore who are behind on their rent. Maryland’s eviction protections ended last month and Baltimore’s Black and Latino residents will be hit the hardest. Without the nationwide moratorium, courts can immediately begin hearing cases against renters who were protected from eviction if they can prove they lost income due to COVID-19.
Federal dollars from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are available but distribution has been slow--often tied up in red tape and confusing restrictions. With the Delta variant raging, we cannot push families into homeless shelters and other congregant settings when we have resources at our disposal to prevent it. It is critical that our State and local agencies get eviction prevention dollars out the door.  
If you or any landlord or tenant need assistance, you can apply for help through the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success.
Blueprint Accountability Board
This week, the Blueprint and Accountability Implementation Board Nominating Committee announced the names of nine nominees to oversee the landmark education reform plan passed by the General Assembly last year. I appreciate the Committee’s hard work to review and vet the pool of qualified applicants for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve Maryland students and families. 

The nominees represent an impressive group of educational experts. Each has a demonstrated commitment to public service, educational equity, and broadening opportunities for Maryland’s young people.
This is just one step on the decade-long path to building a world-class public school system that enriches all students’ ability to maximize their potential. I look forward to an expedient decision on the nominees by Governor Hogan so the Board can begin its work to close student achievement gaps and to transform the State’s education system.
Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission
The first meeting of the bipartisan Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission was held this week to begin the daunting but critical job of using the 2020 Census date to redraw our State’s congressional and legislative maps. Karl Aro, former executive director of the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services, will chair the commission.
Speaker Jones and I are deeply committed to a fair and transparent redistricting process that leans on input from the many public hearings we have scheduled across the State. We ask all Marylanders to attend a hearing, write us letters, and provide input and ideas. Your participation is absolutely essential for this effort to reflect the demographics of our City and State.
More News
Earlier this week, I had the honor of swearing in Senator Ron Watson to represent Maryland’s 23rd Legislative District. A former member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, Senator Watson is committed to educational equity and ensuring every student has the opportunity to maximize his or her potential.
Baltimore’s two wastewater treatment plants have illegally discharged millions of gallons a day of partially treated sewage into the Chesapeake Bay. The emissions can fuel algae blooms that cloud waterways and eventually create “dead zones” in the fragile bay. Fecal bacteria also can sicken anglers, swimmers and boaters.
Maryland’s top court ruled last week that State law protects citizens not only against debt collectors who resort to harassment but also those who knowingly or recklessly seek amounts or interest rates beyond that authorized under statute or court decisions.
Baltimore’s Office of Promotion & The Arts announced that “Baltimore’s End of Summer Extravaganza” will take place on Sunday, September 5. The celebration at the Inner Harbor Amphitheatre & Promenade is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and end with fireworks at 8:30 p.m.
Baltimore City is awarding $2 million of grant funds to 69 Baltimore nonprofit organizations to help them rebound from COVID-19. The grants will be used to reimburse unexpected costs incurred due to the pandemic, as well as to address future needs related to responding to the virus.

The American Visionary Art Museum and the Maryland Food Bank each received $10,000 thanks to comedian John Oliver’s “Masterpiece Gallery” contest. Oliver asked each museum that entered to team up with a local food bank in need of help due to the pandemic. 

Maryland’s economy gained 22,200 in jobs in July and the State’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.2% to 6%.
The Hogan administration announced yesterday that $3.7 million in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is being awarded to 37 sites across the State and will be paid for with funds from Maryland’s settlement with Volkswagen for air pollution violations.
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.