October 18, 2021
Last weekend, the incredible Erica Green of the New York Times featured a sobering story on Dr. Andrea Kane, the former Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools. Dr. Kane was driven out of her job due to parental backlash from a letter sent to parents after the murder of George Floyd affirming that Black Lives Matter. The article details the unrelenting campaign to harass and ultimately remove from her position by those outraged over her willingness to publicly highlight and address racial disparities.
What happened to Dr. Kane is unacceptable, and unfortunately part of a larger story around the politicization of education over the last few years. We’ve seen disorderly school board meetings consistently erupt across the country, including instances here in Maryland. Decisions around keeping school communities safe through COVID-19 mitigation strategies and how we teach our nation’s history have become steeped in broader culture wars that have nothing to do with benefiting our children.
It is critical that curriculum-based decisions be left to educational experts who are best suited to determine what meets the needs of our students. We are in an increasingly perilous place when politics become interwoven into school board decisions. That is why so many school boards are moving away from an elected model where politics drives decision-making. Maryland must move towards a place where school leaders are insulated from politics when making decisions in the best interest of school communities.
Climate Action
One of our top priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session will be to aggressively address the climate crisis with a multifaceted and comprehensive approach. The Climate Solutions Now Act, passed by the Senate last Session, would have taken bold and immediate steps to address the increased threats we face and will serve as a starting point for action in January.
Last week, the governors of the six Bay watershed states and the mayor of D.C. signed a regional climate change pact that addresses Chesapeake Bay restoration, clean energy, land conservation, as well as other measures. Although I am happy to see Governor Hogan taking steps to address the daunting and alarming progression of climate change in our region, I am committed to the more robust efforts of the Maryland General Assembly and look forward to working with the Governor on its implementation.
Upcoming Redistricting Hearings
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission met in Baltimore City earlier this week as we continue to seek public input into the once-in-a-decade redrawing of our State legislative and Congressional districts. The Commission serves as the General Assembly’s vehicle to hear from Marylanders to ensure the process is conducted in a transparent manner.
The level of participation from across the State will ultimately help guide our process. I encourage all Marylanders to participate in this critical part of our democracy. Please visit the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Committee website for more information on upcoming hearings, as well as how to submit testimony.  
All redistricting public hearings will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and will be streamed live on YouTube. The upcoming schedule is:

  • Monday, October 18, 2021: Eastern Shore Hearing
  • Thursday, October 28, 2021: Southern Maryland Hearing
  • Wednesday, November 3, 2021: Baltimore County Hearing
  • Friday, November 5, 2021: Montgomery County Hearing
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2021: Howard County Hearing
  • Monday, November 15, 2021: Virtual Statewide Hearing
  • Thursday, November 18, 2021: Harford and Cecil County Hearing
State and Federal Indictments
This month, federal and state indictments were served on Roy McGrath, Governor Hogan’s former chief of staff, regarding his conduct as a Maryland public official. These charges sadly confirm what the legislature learned during hearings held last year organized by the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight, chaired by Senator Lam and Delegate Barron. McGrath faces more than 30 criminal allegations related to his tenure at the Maryland Environmental Service, including wire fraud and embezzlement that misled officials into paying him a six-figure severance payout.

As a result of those rigorous and comprehensive oversight hearings, we passed Senate Bill 2 during the 2021 Session. The bill implements strict compensation protocols and accountability measures to reform the Maryland Environmental Service. I hope that this legislation, coupled with the judicial process, ensures a similar situation can never happen again in Maryland.
Remembering Colin Powell and Ted Venetoulis
I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of both former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Baltimore County Executive Theodore G. “Ted” Venetoulis.

After a career in the U.S. Army that spanned 35 years, Secretary Powell served as the first African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then as the first African American Secretary of State. He was a long-time American statesman and advisor to multiple Presidents of the United States.

Secretary Powell helped steer our nation for decades amidst complicated and complex times, all the while leading with integrity and a sound moral compass.

Ted was a long-time county resident, but more recently an active constituent of the 46th District. Ted was a true confidant who offered invaluable advice based on his experience as a political insider, author, and lecturer. 
Ted’s love for Baltimore was readily apparent in every one of his actions. The entire region has lost one of its most vocal advocates.

On behalf of the entire Senate of Maryland, I send our deepest condolences to their families .
More News
The General Assembly will hold hearings this fall after an independent review found irregularities in billings from the E-ZPass system. In the meantime, users should check their account statements to ensure they were not over billed.
I want to congratulate Delegate Erek Barron for his confirmation by the U.S. Senate earlier this month to become the first black U.S. attorney in Maryland’s history.

Baltimore City has received a $750,000 grant to fund domestic violence awareness and prevention. Intimate partner violence accounts for 20% of the City’s violent crime this year. The grant will support life-saving interventions, victimization education, and service delivery. 

Baltimore is one of four cities chosen to participate in a pilot program by the U.S. Postal Service to offer its customers financial services. The post office at 900 E. Fayette Street will provide residents ATM access, check cashing, bill paying, money orders and wire transfers. The effort is meant to support the struggling Postal Service and make government-based services more accessible to middle- and low-income Americans.

Governor Hogan announced the creation of the new Employer Incentive Plan last week, a $3 million investment to encourage nonprofits and businesses to register new apprentices and grow the state’s Registered Apprenticeship program.
Three casinos have been qualified to win a sports betting license by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. The applications now go to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission as the applicants hope that legal bets can be placed by the NFL playoffs.
The Department of General Services is currently soliciting proposals to help plan, design, and construct the new Baltimore Therapeutic Treatment Center. The facility, located on East Eager Street, will provide substance abuse services and mental health treatment to nonviolent offenders when they enter the criminal justice system. 
Two wastewater treatment plants in Baltimore have been releasing millions of gallons of partially untreated sewage into the Chesapeake Bay. An environmental watchdog group has sent the City a notice that it may file a lawsuit to force improvements.
Governor Hogan’s plan to use the State’s $2.5 billion budget surplus provides few concrete details. It is critical that we make strategic investments in Maryland’s economic future and find ways to strengthen our support of vulnerable Marylanders across the State.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email, [email protected], or by phone, 410-841-3600.