March 27, 2023
It is hard to believe that there are just two weeks left in the 2023 Legislative Session. After a flurry of activity leading up to the crossover deadline, it was a comparatively quiet week in Annapolis last week. Committees began hearing bills from the opposite chamber that had crossed over before the cutoff date. At the same time, the Senate is continuing to work through important outstanding issues like cannabis legalization, forest conservation, and mandating that hospitals test for fentanyl when conducting drug screenings. 

The next two weeks will be anything but quiet as the State’s fiscal year 2024 operating budget goes to conference committee and the chambers reconcile differences between bills that have passed so far. I hope you will remain engaged in our legislative process until we adjourn Sine Die at midnight on April 10. One thing is for sure–this will be another historic Session for our State thanks to collaboration between the Senate, House, and Moore Administration.
FY 2024 Operating Budget Passes the Senate
The core role of the Maryland General Assembly in any legislative session is passing a balanced State budget for the next fiscal year. I’m incredibly proud of the product that passed unanimously out of the Senate last week. The Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget that the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee produced fundamentally reflects our State’s values.

We make key investments in our State’s public education systems with $8.78 billion allocated for our pre-k to 12 public schools, along with an 11.1% increase in State support for Maryland’s public four-year colleges and universities. As a result, college tuition will only increase by 2% for in-state students. 

Equally as important, the Senate is committed to a responsible approach to spending that recognizes the inherent economic uncertainty we face as a state and country. Revenues are expected to exceed spending by $145 million with an additional $3 billion set aside in cash resources through the Rainy Day and General Funds.

I look forward to finalizing the State’s Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget in the coming days as the conference committee completes its report.
First Citizen Awardees
Last week, the Senate honored two former colleagues with the prestigious First Citizen Award. The distinction is bestowed on Marylanders who have been dedicated and effective participants in the process of making government work for the benefit of all.

Senators Addie Eckardt and Paul Pinsky served the people of Maryland for decades in both the House and Senate. They have been architects of transformative legislation and are respected leaders in Maryland. I was proud to honor their service and commitment to our State with this honor. Both continue to serve our State’s residents with distinction as Senator Addie Eckardt is now the Director of Nursing at Eastern Shore Hospital Center, and Senator Pinsky is now the Director of the Maryland Energy Administration.

You can watch the entire Senate First Citizen Award presentation here.
Apprenticeship 2030 Commission
Meeting the demands of a 21st century economy means developing alternative pathways to our State’s workforce through opportunities. Our economic future depends on Maryland employers' ability to build a dependable and skilled labor force. The Senate firmly believes that one of the most robust opportunities for workforce development is through scaling up registered apprenticeship options, both for individuals after graduation from high school and those currently disconnected from work. 

The traditional method of workforce development heavily relies on school-based learning, which often leaves students with burdensome college debt and a lack of practical on-the-job experience. Apprenticeships shift our workforce training paradigm to allow individuals to earn a living wage while they learn their necessary trade skills. Marylanders need more than a job after school–they need accessible and sustainable careers. 

Senate Bill 104 creates the Apprenticeship 2030 Commission, similar to the Kirwan Commission, which will determine strategies to grow our current apprenticeship amount from 12,000 to 60,000 by 2030. This is critical to meeting the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future goal that 45% of high school graduates by 2031 will have completed the high school level of an apprenticeship. Creating more apprenticeships also helps the State meet Governor Moore’s goal of ending child poverty by filling existing high-paying, family-sustaining jobs.
More News
The online service for replacing stolen Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits is now live! Please join the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) as we work together to help families and adults with stolen EBT benefits. Anyone who reported their EBT benefits stolen between October 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023 can have their funds recovered in three simple steps: 

  1. Clicking the link to view the EBT Fraud Claim Attestation form;
  2. Completing the form; and
  3. Typing their name on the signature line of the form before clicking the submit button.

Thanks to Jamie DeMarco and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network for your letter to the editor in The Baltimore Sun last week, recognizing my work alongside Senators Hester and Feldman, and Delegate Charkoudian to prioritize the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy (POWER) Act. 

The Lyric Baltimore is accepting submissions to the 6th Annual Dream Big Contest, and the application deadline is March 31. All Baltimore City and Baltimore County students in grades 5th-12th at any school are eligible to participate. Students can submit an essay, video, poem, or visual artwork representing their big dream for a better world and earn the opportunity to win up to $500, a laptop, and appear on WBAL-TV. More information about the contest can be found here

Community activist Daniel Burgess has created an app to provide support and resources to young people across the City of Baltimore. With the support of the Mark Pappas Foundation, Burgess launched PAPP, the Parenting, Academic, and Public Service Partnership app, which offers resources for families in need of mentoring, public safety, counseling, and other community programs. Although still in the pilot phase, the app provides incentives and rewards for students who complete certain tasks and challenges. 

On April 2, the Baltimore Farmers’ Market returns to its spot under the JFX. Maryland’s largest market will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. every Sunday from April to December. The Market is a gathering place where Baltimoreans can connect, shop for fresh produce, enjoy delicious food, and support local businesses, organizations, and performers. 

Spring Break Skate comes to Hopkins Plaza from March 31 until April 8. Residents can rent roller skates or bring their own for various theme nights, including Family Skate, Slow Jam Sunday, ‘90s Night, and Skate with Pride. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Skate rental is $5. Purchase in advance as space is limited per session. 

I encourage Baltimore’s young people to check out the YouthWorks Program if they want a unique and exciting job this summer. The Program offers opportunities at more than 440 businesses and nonprofit organizations across the City. This year's program runs from July 10 to August 11, and participants can earn the State minimum wage, which is currently $13.25 an hour. Participants can work up to 25 hours a week for five weeks, earning over $1,500 over the summer. City officials report that many young people have started their applications but have yet to upload the required documents! Please make sure to apply by April 7.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email,, or by phone, 410-841-3600.