February 3, 2021
Dear Friend
I hope this email finds you well.

The Maryland General Assembly's 2021 legislative session began on January 13th. I have been busy researching policy, writing legislation, presenting testimony, reading reports and listening at public hearings. My staff has been working hard keeping our virtual office running smoothly, fielding a large volume of correspondence and assisting constituents with casework.

I wanted to give a brief update about the status of legislation, vaccine availability, Delegate scholarships and a few other miscellaneous issues.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance. As always, I welcome your input and hope to hear from you

Sincerely,
Delegate Al Carr
COVID 19 Vaccine Update
My office has been hearing from many constituents expressing frustration or requesting information about the process for getting vaccinated. We share your frustration. My colleague Delegate Ariana Kelly recently sent a newsletter that explains how the vaccine is being allocated and distributed at the state and county level. https://conta.cc/3o99Wq2

For those who are 65 years old or older (Phases 1B and 1C), you can pre-register with Montgomery County Department of Health for a vaccination appointment here. Some of the other locations currently offering vaccines in the area are:


There is no good answer why there are so many separate registration systems or why the communication is so poor. Those problems are unrelated to the bigger challenge of an inadequate national supply. For those interested in the data or other information, the state Department of Health maintains this site: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/#Vaccine

You can watch a replay of a 2/2/21 briefing on this topic in the Maryland House of Delegates' Health and Government Committee: https://youtu.be/PH0wUaH9las
Unemployment Insurance Update
Many of you are trying to navigate the state's unemployment system, which was simply not equipped for the volume or complexity of the current caseload. The Department of Labor website is your entryway for unemployment benefits. If you are having trouble with unemployment, live in District 18, and want to request assistance, you can send us an email message at alfred.carr@house.state.md.us with your full name, address, telephone number and a brief case summary . The District 18 Team has been in regular contact with the Department of Labor to try and resolve individual cases.
Applications being accepted now for 2021 Carr Scholarships

If you reside in District 18 and plan to attend a Maryland* College or University during fall 2021 or spring 2022, you can apply for a Delegate Al Carr Scholarship. To apply, please click this link to fill out the online form. Follow the instructions to submit the required short essay. The deadline is April 30, 2021 and to be considered, you must have completed a FAFSA.

District 18 residents attending an out-of-state College or University must fill out a "unique major" application and be approved by MHEC as studying a unique major that is not offered in Maryland:

Questions? Call my office at 301 858-3638 or email us at alfred.carr@house.state.md.us

Congratulations to the all of the District 18 college students who were awarded Delegate Al Carr Scholarships this past summer for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Veto Overrides

Under the Maryland Constitution, overriding a veto requires a three-fifths majority vote of both chambers. Last week The Maryland Senate voted to override 16 vetoed 2020 bills. The Maryland House of Delegates is expected to take up veto overrides starting on Monday, February 8th.
Committee Work Begins

Public hearings for bills in standing committees began on Thursday, January 14th. One silver lining of the pandemic is that watching or participating in the legislative process does not involve driving to Annapolis. All committee hearings and other meetings are conducted virtually and streamed on YouTube. Around 1,700 bills have been introduced so far. Follow the progress of legislation by visiting the Maryland General Assembly's website: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite

You can follow local bills, that only affect Montgomery County, on the Montgomery County Delegation's website: http://montgomerycountydelegation.com/
Status of my Action Plan

Last week, three of the bills I am personally championing received a favorable committee vote: HB251 (state spending website), HB311 (Don't Block the Box), and HB346 (ICC toll debt reform).

Earlier, the Montgomery County Delegation unanimously approved two of my bills that will improve transparency and accountability at public agencies: MC 7-21/HB769 (HOC - Montgomery County's housing agency) and MC/PG 101-21/HB464 (Mandatory Referral requiring MDOT, MCPS and other agencies to submit a complete application so that their projects can be publicly reviewed).

I withdrew MC 10-21/HB431 the bill that would have restored the ability of Montgomery County and its municipalities to regulate utility tree trimming. I plan to continue to work on ways to protect the tree canopy.

I have added several new bills to my action plan. HB920 improves the Open Meetings Act by addressing a longstanding gray area. Another bill will help preserve historical African American cemeteries across the state.

Redistricting Update

After the completion of the 2020 census, the process of redrawing Congressional, State and local districts will proceed.

Detailed census data will not be available from the federal government until later this year. Maryland is expected to retain its eight congressional seats but other states may gain or lose seats due to population shifts. The Maryland General Assembly will likely take up redistricting for Congressional, Legislative and School Board Districts in a special session in late 2021.

At the local level, the County Council has appointed an 11-member, bipartisan redistricting commission to recommend district boundaries for the 7 council districts in advance of the 2022 gubernatorial election. Congratulations to District 18 residents Keshia Desir, Nilmini Rubin and Sam Statland who were appointed to the commission.
Ways to make ends meet during tough times
 
Assessment Appeals - Homeowners in "Group 3" (In D18, green area above bounded by Veirs Mill Rd, Rockville Pike and Rock Creek Park including Garrett Park, Garrett Park Estates, Randolph Hills, etc) should have received their triennial assessment notice around the first of the year. If you believe that your property is assessed at greater than its market value you might benefit by appealing your assessment. The deadline is 45 days after the notice date (around February 12). Click here to learn about the assessment appeal process.

Maryland Energy Assistance - This program can give eligible Marylanders a break on their electric and/or natural gas as well as water bills. Renters whose heat and/or electric utilities are included in their rent may also be eligible. Click here to learn more or apply for energy assistance

Homeowners Property Tax Credit - Are you a homeowner with a household income of $60,000 or less? Consider applying for the Homeowners Tax Credit to get a break on your tax bill. It has state and county components. Eligibility for the companion county and senior tax credits will be automatically determined from the same application. The state component was made more generous recently. The credit must be requested annually. If you apply by May 1st, the credit will be reflected on your July 1 property tax bill. Seniors age 70 and older may apply retroactively up to 3 years. Click here for more info and to apply.

Renters Tax Credit - This credit requires an annual application. Renters have until October 1 of the year in which the credit is sought to apply, but it is advantageous to file as early as possible. The Maryland Renter’s Tax Credit is available to qualified renters who meet specific eligibility requirements: 
  • Renter’s total gross household income does not exceed $30,000/year
  • Renter’s total assets do not exceed $200,000
  • Renters must either be Seniors aged 60 years or better or are 100% disabled or have a dependent and receive no housing subsidies 
Meet my Staff
David Hondowicz serves as my chief of staff. A resident of Silver Spring, David formerly worked for a member of the Montgomery County Council.

Kia Smith joins my office during the 2021 session as an intern. She is a Junior at the College of Southern Maryland, majoring in nursing. Read more about Kia here.
Contact my Office
We are operating remotely but are accessible via phone and email. We are happy to meet via phone or virtually. Let us know how we can help.

Delegate Al Carr
Maryland's 18th Legislative District
 
6 Bladen St Room 222
Annapolis, MD 21401
 
(301) 858-3638 - office voicemail
alfred.carr@house.state.md.us
Al Carr - Maryland House of Delegates