January 16, 2023
Happy New Year, Baltimore! Last Wednesday, we gaveled in the Maryland General Assembly’s 445th Legislative Session in the nation’s oldest State House still in use. I was humbled to once again be unanimously elected as President of the Senate of Maryland by my colleagues and remain inspired by the opportunities we have before us over the next 85 days.

The 2023 Session is poised to be transformative for our State, thanks to an historic election that provided a mandate to carry out bold action on issues that deeply impact the lives of every citizen. I am excited to begin work with a newly elected, diverse, and talented slate of top officials who reflect the broad diversity of our great State. 

This week we will inaugurate Wes Moore, Maryland’s first Black governor and the third ever elected in the history of our country. By his side will be Aruna Miller, the first immigrant and Asian American lieutenant governor. They will be joined by the first Black attorney general, Anthony Brown, and Brooke Lierman, the State’s first female comptroller.
I encourage each of you to reach out with your input and thoughts on the critical issues facing our great State. Your voice is essential to our work here in Annapolis. The Senate will remain a thoughtful, deliberative, and responsive chamber.
Preview of the 2023 Legislative Session
As I noted in my last newsletter, we have made changes to our Senate committee structure and leadership team to ensure a sharp focus on the critical priorities and issues confronting Marylanders. Committees will also allow for hybrid (in-person and virtual) testimony throughout Session. We are still in early days, but the four standing committees are already hard at work preparing for what ahead.

For the last three years, the Senate and Maryland General Assembly have led on core issues ranging from funding historic economic stimulus to supporting vulnerable Marylanders to combating climate change and demanding educational equity to bolstering our healthcare system.

This year will be no less consequential as we focus on issues like tackling gun violence, ensuring abortion care access and protections, building workforce development opportunities to increase economic mobility, and funding a new and improved Red Line in Baltimore City. You can read more about our work ahead through The Washington Post here.
Portrait of Justice Thurgood Marshall Unveiled
Before the beginning of Session, I was deeply honored to join Senator Will Smith, Jr., chair of the Judicial Proceedings (JPR) Committee, for the unveiling of a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The portrait depicts Justice Marshall as a young lawyer immediately after learning he won Murray v. Pearson, the case that desegregated the University of Maryland School of Law.
Baltimore artist Ernest Shaw’s portrait will grace the antechamber of the storied JPR Committee, serving as a strong symbol of the ongoing need to fight for racial equality and inclusivity. Senator Smith, who led the effort to commission the painting, said he wanted visitors, particularly persons of color who have been disproportionately impacted by many state laws, “to feel more connected to government and to the change we are implementing in our Committee.”
Senator Lee Appointed as Secretary of State
Congratulations to Senator Susan Lee, our fearless Majority Whip, for being selected by Governor-elect Moore to serve as the new Maryland Secretary of State. Senator Lee has been a true leader on critical issues, including reducing domestic violence and data privacy, during her time in the Senate. She has been an important part of my Senate leadership team, helping secure critical votes for landmark pieces of legislation. I am happy to see her ascend to this new role within the Moore-Miller administration and will miss her fervent advocacy in our chamber.
New Laws Take Effect in Maryland
A slate of new laws passed by Maryland’s General Assembly last spring took effect this January. The State’s minimum wage rose to $13.25 an hour for businesses with 15 or more workers, $12.80 per hour for companies with fewer employees. It is scheduled to rise to $14 an hour in 2024, though that timeline could be accelerated in the coming weeks.

As of January 1st, the cost for a 30-day supply of insulin will be capped at $30. The Insulin Cost Reduction Act provides relief to almost 600,000 Marylanders with diabetes who often struggle to afford the life-saving medication. Another law passed last year will expand Medicaid coverage for dental services, including diagnostic, preventive, restorative, and periodontal services for adults in low-income households.
More News
I had the distinct honor of running into the SGA from Commodore John Rodgers in the 46th District today as they toured our State House. Hopefully they didn’t mind the interruption as I brought them in the Senate Chamber to talk about the history that’s been made in this room.

The majority of Maryland’s Universities and Colleges have agreed to work with parents who have been unable to fully access their children’s 529 College Investment plans to pay for non-tuition related expenses. The move comes after a bi-partisan group of 26 State senators, led by Senator Sarah Elfreth, asked the institutions to consider the financial hardship the calculation error has created for families and delay billing or provide alternative payment options for the spring semester.

I was thrilled to join as Anthony Brown was sworn in as Maryland's 47th Attorney General, ushering in a new era of perspective, justice, and hope. I look forward to working with Anthony to ensure Maryland continues to strive for a more equitable and progressive place for Marylanders to call home. I am confident we will see an era under Attorney General Brown’s tenure in which justice for all is a top priority.

My friend Ivan Bates was sworn in as the new Baltimore City State's Attorney at a critical time for our City. Ivan is the right person at the right time to help create safer communities through a commitment to collaboration and restorative justice. He will be a true partner at the City, State, and federal levels.

Baltimore's Youthworks program is now accepting applications. The summer youth workforce initiative, run by the Mayor’s Office of Employment, offers children and young adults 14 to 21 real-world work experience by pairing them with nonprofits, private companies, and city agencies. The five-week program helps young people gain workplace experience, teaches financial literacy, and increases skills training. 

The Board of Public Works voted unanimously to approve a new lease for the Baltimore Ravens, guaranteeing the team will play at M&T Bank Stadium for at least the next 15 to 25 years. The stadium authority will work with the Ravens to upgrade the facility to enhance safety, amenities, and fan experience.
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.