November 20, 2021
The last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy, as several momentous occasions took place in the Fightin’ 46th Legislative District. I was excited that President Biden visited the Port of Baltimore to promote the passage of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation, which provides critical funding for bridges, highway and airport construction, water pollution control, broadband expansion, and public transportation projects. 


  • Approximately $4.1 billion for highway aid and $409 million for bridge replacement and repairs;
  • An estimated $1.7 billion over the next five years to improve public transit systems;
  • $200 million to expand access to high-speed broadband in underserved areas. The legislation also extends the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which discounts monthly broadband bills for low-income households;
  • $844 million over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state to ensure clean, safe drinking water.
  • A $238 million investment for the health and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay;
  • $158 million for Maryland's airports;
  • $63 million for electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • At least $15.9 million to prevent cyberattacks in the State.

The President rightly called this effort “a once-in-a-generation investment” to strengthen the long-neglected infrastructure of our country and our State that will eventually ease supply chain congestion and boost the nation’s economy. The opportunities the infrastructure bill provides Maryland are numerous and I am proud President Biden chose Baltimore’s port as the backdrop for his announcement—one of the largest and most dynamic in the nation.

Yesterday, we also celebrated the opening of the Maryland Science Center’s newest exhibit, You – The Inside Story, presented by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The new interactive 10,000 square-foot exhibit will allow children and adults alike to explore the human body. This sort of experiential learning will be a tremendous asset to the Science Center and the District.

With all that is going on, I hope you each have a chance to pause and reflect on the last year and all that it has brought as we enter this Thanksgiving season.
Special Session of the General Assembly is Coming Dec. 6
Last week, the Maryland Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC) released four draft concept maps aimed at drawing the State’s eight congressional districts to reflect population changes over the last decade. We are pleased that this release allows several weeks for the public to provide input and reaction, and we encourage all Marylanders to participate in this important and critical process.
 
Two public hearings happened this week, including a state-wide virtual hearing on Monday to discuss the conceptual drafts. The public can submit comments via email to testimony_LRAC@mlis.state.md.us. The General Assembly will be convening in a Special Session on December 6 to decide the final congressional map for Maryland.
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Speaker Jones and I will continue our open and transparent process and we encourage Marylanders to provide testimony and feedback. For general questions, email redistricting_LRAC@mlis.state.md.us.
COVID-19 Cases Rise, Booster Shots Approved
Daylight Savings time ended on November 7th, and the early darkness combined with cooler temperatures has pushed many of us inside. As a result, COVID-19 cases are up 31% over the last two weeks, a notable increase after having level case numbers throughout most of October. 
 
In better news, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just recommended anyone over the age of 18 get a booster shot. The CDC noted that booster shots are an important tool to fight the spread of COVID-19 and maintain protection against the virus. In addition, last month, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for all children over five-years-of-age.

The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup, which has been convening since January to ensure an efficient, accessible, and equitable vaccine program in Maryland, received a briefing from the Maryland Department of Health to receive updated information on case data and vaccine efforts. During the meeting, we explored the State's plans to vaccinate children equitably. According to the Maryland Department of Health, ample vaccine supplies should be available to healthcare providers and other immunization sites across the State. 

As the holidays approach, this is not the time to let down our guard. Get a booster if you are eligible. We urge you to consider vaccinating your school-age child now that it is authorized. Wear masks when you feel it is necessary and prudent given your setting.
Rash Field Park Opens
I had the pleasure of helping to open Rash Field Park alongside Mayor Scott and many other champions of our City. The $16 million renovation is the beginning of a renaissance for the Inner Harbor and will be enjoyed for years to come by residents and visitors alike.
 
The first phase of the 2.5-acre project, led by the Waterfront Partnership, includes a skate park, a nature play area, and an adventure playground. The park along Key Highway features a beach volleyball area and a field for sports leagues and other activities.

This is what we can do when we dream big and make a major investment in our downtown area. It is critical that we create a thriving, upbeat, energetic City core to attract residents and tourists to enjoy the harbor and support local businesses. This investment at Rash Field represents everything that is good with this City.

I look forward to the realization of the second phase of the park, which will expand it to seven acres. It will include walking and jogging paths, exercise equipment, a game lawn, and butterfly and bird gardens.
State Leaders Meet to Discuss Service Program Maryland Corps
I had the privilege to meet with leaders from Maryland’s civic, business, public health, education, and environmental sectors yesterday as we discussed the future of service in our State through Maryland Corps.

In 2016, I worked with Senator Shelly Hettleman and Delegate Sandy Rosenberg to create Maryland Corps as a mechanism for expanding opportunity, repairing our civic fabric, and meeting our State’s workforce development needs. Nearly six years later, we are poised to modernize service opportunities by reshaping and expanding Maryland Corps – my top personal priority for the 2022 Legislative Session.

Maryland has the potential to be a national leader in making service accessible to young people in every corner of our State by breaking down barriers to entries, and strengthening local capacity of community partners and large scale employers. Our democracy hinges on bringing people together across lines of difference with a shared vision of community impact. We must take that step forward in the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session.
More News
Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, announced that she is not seeking reelection in a heartfelt guest commentaryChairwoman McIntosh has been a dedicated partner, one of Baltimore’s most ardent champions, and is a teacher at her core. I am deeply thankful to have had the privilege to work alongside her, and to call her a true and genuine friend.

Beginning this month, young adults in Maryland can enroll in a health insurance program through the State’s public health benefits exchange platform for as little as $1 a month. The program will allow low-income adults aged 18 to 34 earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level to receive the reduced rates.
 
An excellent column by Dan Rodricks in the Baltimore Sun explores the myriad benefits of providing educational opportunities to inmates, including stemming recidivism and easing the transition to employment. 
 
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, among many others, celebrated the grand opening of Maryland’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center, which was established through a five-year SBA grant awarded to the University of Maryland. As of 2017, the mid-Atlantic region had a combined market of more than 200,000 existing veteran-owned businesses and a total veteran population of more than 2 million.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has released a report that it says will be a road map for updating storm water management practices to address more frequent and intense storms and flooding events related to climate change
 
The Too Good To Go app has come to Baltimore! The initiative allows restaurants to offer leftovers  at a reduced-cost while also reducing food waste. More than 50 Baltimore restaurants and food service businesses are participating. 
 
Baltimore is one of nine cities who will receive funding for career and technical education programs thanks to a $25 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The nonprofit organization Baltimore’s Promise will receive nearly $4 million to grow their Grads2Careers program, an initiative to help students find jobs in growing industries. 

A recent report by an environmental watchdog group revealed that 84-percent of poultry farms in Maryland failed their first state inspection over the last several years, most due to inadequate waste management and failure to keep records.

An alarming editorial by education expert Kalman Hettleman reveals that Maryland’s lagging efforts at early childhood literacy have long-term effects. Evidence shows that children who do not master foundational reading skills in early grades almost never learn to read proficiently.
 
Maryland’s Purple Line is expected to restart full-scale work on the stalled light-rail project this springThe project will connect neighborhoods, metro lines, and MARC commuter rail stations.
 
The Enoch Pratt Free Library recently submitted a $6.3 million proposal to the City of Baltimore for American Rescue Plan Act funds to implement a two-year plan to provide more digital services and help close the City’s digital divide.
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.