June 21, 2022
It was a bittersweet long weekend as we marked the end of the 2021-2022 school year for City Schools students, and celebrated Juneteenth. It’s been a remarkably challenging year for students, teachers, and staff as we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who has gone above and beyond to support kids this school year and am hopeful that the next few summer months are rejuvenating. On a personal note, starting each day walking my kids to school is something I’ll sorely miss.

At the same time, we celebrated Juneteenth on Sunday and the true emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation this Session to officially declare Juneteenth a State holiday in recognition of the progress made in achieving equality, while providing space for somber reflection as to how far we still have to go as a nation. We must continue the fight to ensure we reach our highest ideals, something I’m confident is achievable through collective action and an unwavering commitment to service.
National Leadership Needed on Gun Safety
America has endured over 250 mass shootings this year, including the brutal massacre of 19 children in Texas last month by an 18-year-old who legally purchased two assault weapons. Ten people in a Buffalo supermarket were gunned down in the middle of the afternoon because of the color of their skin. More than 122 people have been killed by guns in Baltimore City so far this year. This carnage must stop. It will take strong leadership on both the National and State levels to address this crisis head on.
During the 2022 Session in Annapolis, crime was our top issue, and we worked tirelessly to pass a package of public safety bills that approached rampant crime and violence in Maryland through prevention, intervention, criminal justice, and rehabilitation.
This month, one of those measures went into effect across Maryland. The new law requires all firearms to have a serial number before being sold or transferred—effectively making the untraceable and prolific “ghost gun” illegal in our State.
Last week on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative agreement on new gun safety legislation, the first substantive federal effort in over three decades. The agreement would provide funding for states to pass "red flag" laws, support mental health programs, provide capital for school safety resources, and tighten laws to prevent straw purchase and gun trafficking.  
I don’t believe these measures go far enough but I feel a glimmer of hope that it may be a sign that times are changing. As we wait for stronger federal action, we will continue to do everything we can to make Maryland safer and more responsive to the issues driving gun violence. If you, like me, are struggling to figure out how to talk to your children about the horrific shootings of the past few weeks, I found this guide helpful: How to talk to kids about School Shootings.
Expanding the Circulator
Baltimore City has proposed eliminating the Charm City Circulator’s Banner Route for a new route in the Cherry Hill community. I have long advocated for adding a Circulator line in Cherry Hill, as well as to other underinvested neighborhoods; however, taking away the Banner Route, one that many of you rely on, isn’t the answer. We should work to expand transportation services in the City, not strip it from one neighborhood to serve another. The Circulator can easily operate in both neighborhoods in an efficient and reliable manner so that residents can travel easily to work, shopping, and for medical care.

In 2022, the General Assembly passed legislation to drastically increase transportation funding for Baltimore City. In two years, the amount of State funds for Baltimore transit will increase by over 250%; in five years, it will have increased to nearly $110 million per year. That is enough money to allow Baltimore City to maintain its roads, invest in and expand multi-modal transportation options, and ensure a robust Circulator to Cherry Hill, Locust Point, and numerous other communities.
Mourning Corporal Hilliard
I was deeply saddened by the killing of a Wicomico sheriff’s deputy on Sunday, June 12. Corporal Glenn Hilliard, a father of three, was shot while attempting to arrest Austin Davidson, who was wanted for several felony warrants in multiple jurisdictions while on probation.
This tragedy could have been prevented had Mr. Davidson been adequately supervised and immediately picked up for even one of the crimes he committed that violated his probation. In February, he plead guilty to drug possession. In the spring, he was charged with assault, burglary, destruction of property, possession of a shotgun, and stealing $25,000. It was until May that a warrant was issued for his arrest.

In 2022, the General Assembly identified a robust and well-funded probation and parole effort as a key part of a package of safety reforms necessary to address violent crime in Maryland. The tragic death of Deputy Hilliard resulted from the failure of a system that must have the resources, staffing, and leadership to ensure the safety of our communities.
More News
Congratulations to Senator Barbara Mikulski for having a room named in her honor in the U.S. Capitol building. In a resolution honoring her 40 years in Congress, Barbara was called the “Dean of the Senate” for fostering bipartisan support among the women of the Senate.
I am proud of the tireless work of the Senate and the General Assembly to ensure that Maryland retained its AAA bond rating, one of only 13 states to receive the distinction. The money saved directly affects Maryland’s economic needs and fiscal responsibility, ensuring our State’s future financial health.
Despite quite a bit of nail biting, the Orioles have announced they “will never leave Baltimore”. The Orioles have agreed to extend their lease at Camden Yards through 2023 as negotiations progress to keep the beloved Birds here for the long term.
In late May, Governor Hogan vetoed 18 bills in the final legislative action of his two terms in office. Measures vetoed include bills providing guidelines for counting mail-in ballots, the establishment of a Baltimore regional transit system, critically needed tenant relief, and a key tax break for union workers.
Congratulations to the University of Maryland’s men’s lacrosse team for holding off a late rally by Cornell to secure a 9–7 win in the national championship game, capping off a dominant undefeated season. Go Terps! In other sports news, The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will stay in Baltimore for at least another two years, bringing much-needed economic support to Baltimore as well as a lot of fun!
Happy Pride Month! This month is more than just changing your profile picture for the next 30 days. It's about recognizing how far we've come as a society in uplifting and protecting our LGBTQ friends and family. It is also about ensuring those protections remain a lived reality in every part of our community. You can find a list of celebrations and activities here. 
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is charged with reforming Maryland’s education system by expanding early childhood education and support, increasing pay and career opportunities for teachers, investing in college and career preparedness for students, and providing more support to high-poverty schools. The Board is seeking applicants to advise them on key policy areas. To apply to be on an advisory committee, click here.
Swabs collected from eight needle-exchange programs in Maryland have revealed a new scourge in the long-running drug epidemic - xylazine, an animal tranquilizer. Federal officials have said that the specialized program is providing unique and detailed data to help identify future areas of concern for public safety.

After a two-year absence, Fourth of July fireworks are coming back to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The city has organized a day of activities to mark the holiday, starting with a Pet Parade at the American Visionary Art Museum at 9 a.m. and culminating with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

The Artscape festival won’t return this year, according to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, but plans to be back in 2023.
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.