January 23, 2023
Last Wednesday, Marylanders welcomed our new Governor, Wes Moore, and Lieutenant Governor, Aruna Miller, in a truly historic inauguration. It’s an incredible honor for the Senate of Maryland to host the official swearing-in of the new administration, as has been the case since the establishment of the Office of the Governor. Governor Moore and Lt. Governor Miller’s backgrounds are inspiring, their words are motivating, and our collaborative work will begin to transform our State to better all Marylanders. 

Throughout his inaugural speech, Governor Moore laid out his commitment to promoting a competitive and equitable economy, improving public schools for all, shrinking the racial wealth gap, and developing strategies to increase the accountability of our police forces while making our communities safer from violence. That vision aligns with the policies advanced by the Maryland General Assembly in recent years to create a safer and more just Maryland that lifts up our most vulnerable residents. 

I would be remiss not to thank outgoing Governor Larry Hogan for his many years of service to Maryland. Although there were clear areas of disagreement over the years, he was deeply committed to improving our State. Public service, especially at the highest level of our State government, is not for the faint of heart, and we owe him a debt for spending eight years working on behalf of Marylanders.
Comptroller Brooke Lierman
Congratulations to my friend and former 46th District colleague, Brooke Lierman, on becoming Maryland’s first woman to serve as State Comptroller. Brooke’s passion for public service is second to none. Her shattering of this glass ceiling is a historic milestone that should be celebrated throughout the State. 

Brooke brings an unrivaled tenacity to whatever she puts her mind to, and all Marylanders will now benefit from her fiscal expertise and dedication. The City of Baltimore has been the fortunate beneficiary of her passion for improving the lives of those she touched over the last eight years. I have been privileged to work alongside her in our work to represent the 46th District, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in her new role.
$69M in Legislative Priority Funding Released
On his first full day in office, Governor Moore released $69 million in funding authorized last year by the General Assembly but withheld by former Governor Hogan. That funding was reflective of Marylanders’ priorities, and the mandate to govern by our majority has been repeatedly given. Specifically, it includes: 

  • $3.5 million to train healthcare providers to expand abortion care access;
  • $9 million for various clean energy projects in the Climate Solutions Act of 2022;
  • $10 million for the Department of Labor to set up a program to implement the Time to Care Act, establishing paid family and medical leave; and
  • $46.5 million to develop the framework for the legal recreational marijuana industry, with $40 million set aside for grants and loans to minority-owned firms.

In the Governor’s words, releasing these funds symbolizes a “fundamental shift” in the relationship between the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office. The new administration is already proving to be a more cooperative and decisive partner as we work jointly to leave no Marylander behind.
A Cabinet Takes Shape
Governor Moore announced the appointment of several new cabinet members this week to serve in his new administration. Among those awaiting confirmation are the following:

  • Dr. Laura Herrera Scott was chosen to be Maryland’s next Secretary of Health. She most recently served as executive vice president of population health at Summit Health and as vice president of clinical strategy and product at Anthem.
  • Portia Wu, selected as the next Secretary of Labor, has been the managing director of U.S. public policy at Microsoft since 2017.
  • Rafael Lopez, named the next Secretary of Human Services, served as senior advisor to the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Vincent Shiraldi, selected to be the next Secretary of Juvenile Services, worked at Columbia University School of Social Work as a senior research scientist and co-director of the Columbia Justice Lab.
  • Anthony Woods was tapped to be the State’s Secretary of Veteran Affairs. He is a West Point graduate who served two tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded the bronze star. 

You can read more about Governor Moore’s other recent appointments here.
Pre-Filed Legislation
As the 2023 Legislative Session continues to warm up, 130 pre-filed bills were introduced to the Senate and sent to their committees for consideration last week.

Among that list are Senate priorities, including a bill to end a statute of limitations on child sex abuse lawsuits, sponsored by Senator Will Smith, Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Another critical key issue this Session will be the “Gun Safety Act of 2023”, sponsored by Senator Jeff Waldstreicher, Vice Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The legislation responds to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision that has led to a proliferation of wear and carry permit applications by placing appropriate guardrails regarding sensitive locations, training, and license renewals.
More News
Communicating what the Maryland Senate is doing over our 90-day Session is critical to maintaining an informed electorate and soliciting feedback. That’s why I have started weekly Friday press conferences to talk about what we’ve accomplished during the week and the work left to complete, and take questions from our Annapolis press corps. You can tune in every Friday at 10:00 am through this link. The last two press conferences can be found here and here.

Governor Hogan pardoned John Huffington as one of his final official decisions in office. Huffington was released from prison in 2013 after serving 32 years. Since his release, he has worked as a manager at Second Chance, a nonprofit that helps people with barriers to employment, and as the chief operating officer of a charitable foundation that promotes income equality in Baltimore.

Although eviction numbers were at an all-time low throughout the pandemic due to federal and local moratoriums, evictions statewide are once again on the rise. Keeping Marylanders housed will remain a top priority throughout the 2023 Legislative Session. 

Kennedy Krieger will open a new early childhood learning center in Northwest Baltimore this July. The Kennedy Krieger Integrated Early Learning Center will offer an all-day, year-round program for up to 40 children, ages three to five, from under-served communities with or without disabilities. 

I encourage you to check out the six new public art installations recently unveiled on Howard Street initiated by The Current Gallery and Artist Collective–an artist-run gallery and studio space celebrating local talent.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email, bill.ferguson@senate.state.md.us, or by phone, 410-841-3600.