It's tempting to quote A Tale of Two Cities to describe the month that just ended:
“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness, . . .
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair . . .
Two weeks after the horrific storming of our nation's Capitol by insurrectionists hoping to overturn the election, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were inaugurated on January 20. If their first two weeks in office are any indication, they will restore integrity, competence, and compassion to the White House. The Biden Administration seems to be laser-focused on organizing a national response to COVID-19 and the ongoing economic crisis it caused.
At the same time, the pandemic is still claiming many lives, hurting businesses, and keeping many people out of work. Since last March, the District 11 legislative staff have assisted close to a thousand constituents who had trouble receiving their unemployment insurance benefits. The process has often been painfully slow for these constituents, many of whom became unemployed in March and continue to be without jobs.
In Annapolis, as we started our new legislative session on January 13, the pandemic was, and will remain, top-of-mind. The legislature is working on a relief package that will provide benefits to businesses, payments to low- to moderate-income Marylanders, and other assistance. We’ll also consider protections for front-line workers and tackle major issues on education, law enforcement, and the environment.
And we’ll do all of this in a setting that is completely different from any in history. COVID has changed most workplaces, and Annapolis is no exception. All of our committee hearings are taking place on Zoom--witness testimony and all--and when delegates return for floor session in a week or so, we’ll be located at two different sites with our desks physically distanced (see above photo). The House Office Building and State House—usually humming with activity, group visits and chatter—are eerily quiet and practically empty these days.