July 19, 2022
Today is Maryland’s Primary Election Day, a crucial part of our democratic process where we each go to the polls to vote for our candidates of choice. This election cycle, there are several statewide races that will be on the ballot - Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, and U.S. Senator. In addition, members of the Maryland General Assembly are up for reelection, including myself, as well as other local officials like the Baltimore City State’s Attorney.

As we all have watched over the last few weeks, State and local governments will have an important role in upholding basic human rights. The Supreme Court’s rulings stripping a woman’s right to make medical decisions for her body and limiting states’ abilities to protect their citizens against gun violence underscore this critical moment in time.

If you haven’t voted already, please visit your local polling place today to vote. If you requested a mail-in ballot, please remember to drop it at one of the drop box locations by 8pm. It is important that your voice is heard - ballots received after today will not be counted.
Also remember that election results likely will be delayed. Governor Hogan vetoed legislation that would have allowed local election boards to start counting mail-in ballots when they received them. Our local boards of elections will be working as quickly as possible, but it could take several days for the boards to count several hundred thousand ballots. I am extraordinarily thankful for all of our election judges and staff for their work to make this Primary Election day possible.
Protecting Marylanders and Women's Rights
This Fourth of July, my family and I watched as the sky over the Baltimore harbor exploded in a spectacular display of red, white, and blue pyrotechnics, our chests gleefully absorbing the deep thud of explosions meant to symbolize America’s triumph over tyranny and oppression fought centuries ago. As I watched my daughter’s upturned face light up with the spectacle, my heart was heavy. 

The Supreme Court’s recent decisions have trampled on basic human rights and a woman’s right to choose; increased access to guns, especially assault weapons, at a time when we are suffering from a gun epidemic; and hindered our ability to protect our environment for the future of our children.  
The Maryland General Assembly acted this year to address these very issues. Anticipating that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, we passed a law to expand access to abortion care in our State and overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the legislation. 

The Abortion Care Access Act ensures that Maryland women will still have timely access to care by allowing other practitioners, who regularly provide pregnancy care, to provide abortion care. It also ensures equity so that abortion care is covered like any other health service. This was the first time in 30 years the General Assembly passed legislation to further reproductive and abortion care access. In the State budget, we added $3.5 million to train additional healthcare workers to ensure equitable access to legal and safe reproductive care in Maryland.
Understanding the need to reduce gun violence, we passed legislation that requires personal identification numbers for all firearms and unfinished frames and receivers, effectively making so-called “ghost guns” illegal in Maryland. The General Assembly also passed sweeping climate change legislation that committed Maryland to the most ambitious greenhouse gas reductions of any state in the nation.

Please know that I am committed to protecting the health and safety of Marylanders and will work tirelessly to ensure that we move forward—not backward—as we live up to the promise of this incredible country and State.
The Blueprint Moves Forward
One of my proudest moments as a senator was when the General Assembly passed landmark legislation in 2021 to make our schools the best in the country. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will transform Maryland’s schools in critical ways: hiring more teachers at professional salaries, expanding early childhood education, developing forward-thinking career and technical education, and investing in special education and mental health resources—just to name a few.
Recently, the Maryland State Department of Education and the Leads Program announced it will provide $169 million in grants to school districts throughout Maryland. The money will be used to develop and implement programs to narrow opportunity gaps and enhance support for underserved students. Grant recipients will base their efforts on key research that reveals what yields the highest results for students, including staff retention, reading instruction, and transforming neighborhoods through community schools.
This exciting program represents a key component of the Blueprint’s goal of providing quality education for all our students. Their future is our future, and this investment represents an important step toward ensuring quality, equitable, and forward-looking education for all students in Maryland.
Baltimore City Resumes Street Sweeping
The Baltimore City Departments of Public Works and Transportation resumed residential street sweeping on July 13. The Department is asking residents to prepare for the return of mechanical street sweeping by following the “No Parking Signs” which provide information about area parking restrictions. 
A 30-day grace period (July 13 – August 12) is being implemented, allowing residents and visitors to re-adjust to the street sweeping schedules. Residents have until August 12th before parking citations are issued. 
In addition to creating a cleaner Baltimore, street sweeping helps to ensure that debris does not pollute local waterways or clog storm drains causing flood conditions. You can find your neighborhood’s “sweeping days” on the 2022 DPW calendar or by calling 311.
More News
Kudos to Stephen and Renee Bisciotti—owners of the Baltimore Ravens—for their generous grant of  $4 million dollars in scholarships to Maryland’s four HBCU’s. The newly created Ozzie Newsome Scholars Program will provide selected Baltimore City School graduates with $10,000 per year for four years.  
June 28th marked the 4th anniversary of the deadly mass shooting that took the lives of five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis. Last week, the city held a wreath-laying ceremony and unveiled artwork at City Hall to honor the victims.  

A new ordinance banning toxic chemicals from being sprayed in Baltimore’s parks went into effect on July 1. The ordinance, passed last fall by the City Council, bans harmful chemicals from being used on both private and public properties. The goal is to improve public health and protect the Chesapeake Bay from harmful runoff.

Roy McGrath, Governor Hogan’s former chief of staff, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for forging a memorandum that gave the go-ahead for a six-figure severance payment from the Maryland Environmental Service. McGrath, who denies the charge, is facing a slew of State and federal charges, including wire fraud and embezzlement.
The barbaric practice of locking public school students who “misbehave” into closet-sized, padded rooms ended last week, thanks to a law passed this year by the General Assembly. Maryland is one of only a handful of States that prohibit the practice in public schools.
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.