April 11, 2022
Today is the last day of the 2022 Legislative Session, and I spent the weekend thinking about the monumental achievements the Maryland General Assembly has accomplished on behalf of our residents. The historic tax relief package's bill signing on April 1st was symbolic of the successful cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of government. The bills signed provide financial relief for the most vulnerable Marylanders and those who have especially experienced the most instability during the pandemic.

On Saturday, we also voted to override vetoes of critical legislation, including establishing a system for paid medical and family leave, expanding reproductive healthcare access, and ensuring protections for working families. As we enter the final hours of this Legislative Session, I am deeply appreciative to everyone who has helped make this our 444th Session a success.
Veto Overrides and Enacted Priority Legislation
Over the course of 89 days, the Maryland General Assembly has passed truly transformative bills that will move Maryland towards its promise of being better State for all of our residents. As I said when I was sworn in as President of the Maryland Senate three years ago, our most important commitment is solving problems today that will expand opportunity tomorrow. That's why we have been intensely focused on enhancing community safety, improving the health of our residents, protecting the State's environment, and bolstering Maryland's economy. 

Unfortunately, Governor Hogan vetoed several vital pieces of legislation on Friday of last week. Maryland’s Constitution is built on checks and balances to ensure parity between the branches and this year, democracy did not falter.

On Saturday, the Maryland General Assembly took up those overrides and ensured the following bills will be enacted: 

  • Senate Bill 275 to establish a system for paid medical and family leave;
  • Senate Bill 53 to protect children's due process rights;
  • Senate Bills 1 and 259 to broaden and enforce prevailing wage laws;
  • Senate Bill 514/House Bill 778 to expand MARC rail service;
  • House Bills 90 and 580 to allow more Maryland employees to collectively bargain;
  • House Bill 609 to protect local health officers from retaliation;
  • House Bill 937 to modernize Maryland's approach to reproductive healthcare; and
  • House Bill 1021 to ensure gun dealers take proper precautions

Several other bills were enacted without the Governor’s signature, including:
 
  • Senate Bill 387/House Bill 425 to ban untraceable ghost guns;
  • Senate Bill 528, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, to combat the climate crisis;
  • House Bills 1 and 837 to place the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis on the November ballot and set up a framework for implementation;
  • Senate Bill 541, the Great Maryland Outdoors Act, to invest in our State parks; and
  • Senate Bill 228, my legislation to expand service year opportunities through Maryland Corps.

Here are links to the full list of Senate and House bills that were enacted without Governor Hogan's signature.
Community Safety
Over the last week, my top priority has been the Senate's community safety package. Last Sunday, there were two senseless murders in Westport and Lakeland. This past weekend, the Baltimore Police Department's Southeast district saw an increase in non-fatal shootings in the Baltimore Highlands neighborhood. We have seen a rise in violent crime, not only in Baltimore, but throughout the State of Maryland.

I remain committed to integrating long-term solutions through a holistic approach that protects our communities and address the root of the problem. At the same time, we must take immediate action, like scaling up warrant apprehension efforts, increasing coordination when individuals charged with violent offenses are released before trial, and enhancing the work of the Division of Parole and Probation. As I've said since the beginning of Session, we must reduce violence and enhance safety through prevention, intervention, criminal justice, and rehabilitation.
Redistricting Updates
Congressional Redistricting

With the Maryland Primary Election only three months away, voters, candidates, and election officials need to have certainty about what the Congressional districts will look like. To achieve this, all parties of the litigation surrounding Maryland's new Congressional map reached a compromise, and last Monday, Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 1012 into law, the second legal Congressional map we put forward. 

Fundamentally, it is the job of the General Assembly to craft new maps after each Decennial Census that complies with the law. We believe we have now done that with the Congressional map twice. The continued delays and lack of clear direction in the appeals process, due to trial judge’s novel interpretation of the Maryland Constitution's applicability to the Congressional map, were not in the public’s interest. I am pleased that we were able to bring certainty to the new congressional districts and reinforce the legislature's expertise in drawing constitutional and legal maps.

State Legislative Redistricting

Last week, the judge in the State legislative map recommended denial of all challenges to the State map. I am not surprised by Judge Wilner’s reasoning in recommending denial, as we closely followed the legal standards that have been developed by the State’s highest court over the last three redistricting cycles.  

Although I am pleased with these findings and recommendations, I recognize that the Court of Appeals must still weigh in on the report. I thank Judge Wilner for his diligence and time throughout this process. I also appreciate the Court of Appeals’ prompt responsiveness ahead of the upcoming primary election. I look forward to getting on with the 2022 election with certainty, using a fair and legal State legislative map that accurately reflects Maryland’s diverse population.
More News
If you or someone you know is seeking financial support for tuition and is a 46th Legislative District resident who will be attending a Maryland institution for college, graduate school, or trade certification programs, I encourage you to apply for my annual senatorial scholarships. The application is live and can be accessed at bit.ly/SBFScholarship22. Applications are due on May 1, 2022, but students must have completed the 2022-2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1, 2022 to be considered. Last year, my office awarded nearly $100,000 in aid to 30 students. I look forward to announcing awards for the next school year in the coming months.

The Brew at the Maryland Zoo event is coming up soon! The Maryland Zoo is having their annual fundraiser, inviting all Marylanders to imbibe, partake in food, and support artisan vendors. It’s the most important fundraiser of the year to support the Maryland Zoo. For more information please visit this website. 

Enjoy play, learning, and family fun for just $2 per person during Port Discovery’s $2 Community Day presented by Ports America. Come play and learn while exploring Port Discovery’s three floors of interactive exhibits including The SkyClimber, The Port, Tiny’s Diner, Wonders of Water, and more! This event begins from April 6 to June 1. For more information, click here.

Last Thursday was a proud and historic day for the United States as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Judge Jackson’s accession to our nation’s top court is a monumental and long-awaited moment highlighting our nation's ability to live up to our highest ideals.

I also want to take a moment to recognize all of our senators who will be retiring this year. I honor our retiring Senators whose contributions leave a legacy for us to remember. Thank you, Senators Delores Kelley, George Edwards, Obie Patterson, and Ron Young, for your dedication to the people and Senate of Maryland. I also want to recognize Senators Cassilly and Hough who will be pursuing other opportunities. Congratulations on your exemplary service and upcoming retirements from the Senate.
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.