October 29, 2021
The political landscape of Maryland suffered what felt like a major earthquake last week after Attorney General Brian Frosh and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp both announced that their long and exemplary years serving the citizens of Maryland are coming to an end.
Brian embodies what it means to be a dedicated public servant, fierce advocate, trusted advisor, loyal Marylander, and honest friend. He has fought to protect the most vulnerable and often overlooked communities in our State. The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Rodricks said it best in the title of his op-ed titled: “Marylanders should take pride in Brian Frosh’s righteous battles on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.” After winning my first election in 2010, Brian was the first member of the Senate to visit me and explain the winding road ahead. He has been a trusted and generous confidant, colleague, and mentor.
State Treasurer Nancy Kopp announced last week that she plans to retire at the end of the year after forty years of public service. As Treasurer, she has been a steward of Maryland’s fiscal health, navigating multiple crises including a recession and global pandemic. As a delegate in the General Assembly, Nancy served as chair of the Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee where she exemplified what it meant to be a champion for equitable access to high-quality education for all of Maryland’s children.
These two exemplary public servants deserve Marylanders’ deep gratitude and appreciation for their work to make our State a more equitable and compassionate place in which to live. I wish them both a healthy and fulfilling retirement. They will be greatly missed.
Panel Recommends Approval of COVID Vaccine for Children
The fight against COVID-19 continues in Maryland as an advisory panel of FDA vaccine experts this week determined the benefit of vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 against COVID-19 outweighs potential risks. If the Centers for Disease Control approves the data next week, approximately 515,000 Maryland children immediately could become eligible for a vaccine.
Since the start of the school year, a total of 10,800 students have tested positive for the coronavirus and 49,300 students have been quarantined from the classroom. The anticipated approval of the vaccine for younger students will do much to keep kids in school as we continue to address the learning losses caused by the pandemic. The State is set to receive an initial allocation of 180,000 doses for young children.
I was excited to learn that an overwhelming majority of residents intend to get the booster as soon as they are eligible, according to a recent Goucher College survey, and I plan to do the same. The CDC has approved boosters for all three vaccines, approving additional Moderna and J&J doses this week. Those eligible for the booster include Marylanders 65 years and older, those with underlying conditions, and those who live or work in high-risk settings. To see if you’re eligible, click here.
Public Schools to Get Much Needed Cash Infusion
This is an exciting time for Maryland students and families. The State’s schools will soon receive a much-needed stream of federal and State dollars to address pandemic-related learning losses and to begin the important work of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to create a world-class education system in the State. Although the Governor’s veto delayed increases in State funding by another year, federal funds are flowing to school systems in the meantime.
The American Rescue Plan will provide $3 billion to upgrade school ventilation systems, support COVID-19 testing, increase access to tutoring, and to fund summer school programs, among other initiatives. These critical funds will support and elevate the priorities of the Blueprint, from early childhood education to career and vocational offerings in high school, as well as provide support for students in the State’s poorest neighborhoods.
Progress on Health Equity
The pandemic has starkly illustrated how social, economic, and environmental factors determine health outcomes across our City and State. During the 2021 Session, the legislature passed several key initiatives aimed at identifying and remedying these disparities, especially in black, brown, and underserved communities.
The Maryland Commission on Health Equity was created to help the State set health equity goals and provide advice on issues related to existing disparities. The Commission, which held its first meeting last week, will identify how to measure health inequity and explore and implement a health equity framework that seeks to improve health outcomes in the most vulnerable neighborhoods.
The Pathways to Health Equity Program was also created last Session to identify Health Equity Resource Communities —geographic areas with at least 5,000 residents that have poorer health outcomes compared to the rest of the State. Almost $13 million in grants will be awarded to support programs that reduce disparities by improving access to primary care, promoting preventative health programs, reducing the cost of medical services, and lowering hospital admissions. Applications are due by December 7 and will be awarded in early February 2022.
Patterson High School Visit
I want to thank Patterson High School and Ms. Blankenfeld for inviting me to speak to their U.S. government students last week about my role as Senator for the Fightin’ 46th District and President of the Maryland Senate. The students clearly care deeply about the issues facing our State and country from immigration to education to climate change. This new facility, with its state-of-the-art auditorium, is a testament to what can happen when we invest in our City’s young people and help them maximize their potential for success.
More News
Today, I had a great visit to Herrington Harbor which highlighted the threat we've seen across Maryland, from Edgewater to Fells Point. Despite efforts to shore up our coastline, flooding is increasingly common and disruptive to Marylanders' daily lives due to the climate crisis. The Senate will be taking bold steps this upcoming session to address climate change through the Climate Solutions Act.

A promising new diversion program meant to prevent potentially deadly encounters between law enforcement and people threatening suicide or undergoing crisis has diverted over 400 calls to mental health professionals instead of police since June.
A new all-digital news outlet is coming to Baltimore in 2022. The Baltimore Banner will be overseen by The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism, a nonprofit news organization founded by Stewart Banium, Jr., and will employ nearly 50 journalists to report on the City’s diverse communities.
The State Board of Education will take a fresh look at quarantine and masking policies at its next meeting in early December. The Board promulgated an emergency regulation requiring masking in September after the Senate advocated for increased mitigation efforts to keep our kids learning safely in classrooms.
For the first time, the Maryland Department of Environment has announced a fish consumption advisory after detecting levels of “forever” chemicals present in Maryland waters.
Governor Hogan’s former chief of staff Roy McGrath appeared in U.S. District Court last week to face federal charges of wire fraud and misuse of government funds while he was head of the Maryland Environmental Service.

Senator Chris Van Hollen announced Tuesday that he is seeking to expand access to health insurance to millions of Americans by introducing a bill that mirrors a Maryland law allowing citizens to enroll through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange by checking a box on their tax returns.
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.