WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF MARYLAND DEMOCRATIC SENATOR ARTHUR ELLIS - PROUDLY SERVING CHARLES COUNTY!

 

2020 Interim & Covid-19: 

What Have I Been Up To?

**Details TBA**


Prescription Drug Affordability Town Hall Forum - Wednesday, September 23 (6-7 p.m.)

Join us for a forum discussion on rising drug prices, learn about Maryland's new Drug Prescription Affordability Board, and share your experience with high cost prescription drugs.  

This event is brought to you by the Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative Education Fund. 

Panelists include: 

• House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer 
• Maryland Senator Arthur Ellis
• Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk
• Charles County Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins
• Prescription Drug Affordability Board Member Professor Ebere Onukwugha
• Maryland AARP Advocate Jim Gutman
• Prescription Drug Affordability Board Chair Van Mitchell

**Registration is required for the public. Use this link to RSVP:

https://ccplonline.libnet.info/event/4541942

 

Senator Ellis Selected to Serve on New Senate President's Advisory Workgroup on Equity and Inclusion

- August 14, 2020 -

To ensure the Senate of Maryland has a focused and thoughtful strategy to continuing its work on racial inclusion and equity, Senate President Bill Ferguson announced that he has created the Senate President’s Advisory Workgroup on Equity and Inclusion. The workgroup will focus on addressing health care disparities, wealth and economic opportunity, and environmental justice for Black and brown Marylanders as it conducts a review of previous legislation and task forces that have addressed issues of equity and inclusion. He has also asked that the workgroup consider diversity and inclusion within the Department of Legislative Services, as well as the General Assembly, as it is crucial that we lead by example.

President Pro Tem Melony Griffith has agreed to chair the workgroup. President Pro Tem Griffith is respected by all members of the Senate and has been a passionate advocate on behalf of all Marylanders, especially those who have seen systemic issues through the laws passed in our state. The following Senators were asked by President Ferguson (and have agreed) to serve on the workgroup:

 Senator Delores Kelley

 Senator Chris West

 Senator Addie Eckardt

Senator Arthur Ellis

 Senator Sarah Elfreth

 Senator Obie Patterson

 

 

2020-21 Senatorial Scholarship Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our 2020-21 Senatorial Scholarship. Congratulations and best of luck to all! 🎊

(Listed as first-year applicants, returning undergraduate and graduate students as well as their chosen college/institution.)

La Plata High School:

Makayla Kret of La Plata (University of Maryland College Park)
Jordan E. Homan of Bel Alton (University of Maryland College Park)
Taylun Sanders of La Plata (Bowie State University)
Maria Schroeck of Waldorf (Slippery Rock University)
Sierra Sanderson of La Plata (Frostburg State University)
Lauren Ware of La Plata (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Brandon Luton of Waldorf (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Alexis Johnson of La Plata (College of Southern Maryland)
Kristof Lile of White Plains (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Arden Waldow of La Plata (College of Southern Maryland)
Margaret Stine of La Plata (Mount St. Mary's University)

Thomas Stone High School:

Adebola Akinwale of Waldorf (Johns Hopkins University)
Liliana Sachsel of Waldorf (Salisbury University)
Kiyah Hall of Waldorf (Bowie State University)

Westlake High School:

Jordan Bellamy of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Jayda Smith of Waldorf (Mount St. Mary's University)
Mya Cantillano of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Jenelle M. Fields of Waldorf (Hood College)
Kathleen Martinez of Waldorf (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Xavier Collier of Waldorf (Towson University)

North Point High School:

Aliah Brown (University of Maryland College Park)
MaryAnne Onianwah of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Devin E. Proctor of Waldorf (College of Southern Maryland)
Chandler Bell of Waldorf (Morgan State University)
Mekayle Powell of White Plains (Morgan State University)
Jaryn Griggs of Waldorf (College of Southern Maryland)
Gavin Phillips of Waldorf (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Taylor Edwards of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Dorian Cheney of Bryans Road (Goucher College)
Tania Frederick-Allen of La Plata (University of Maryland Eastern Shore)
Deborah Dwomoh of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Caitlyn M. Ulmer of Bryans Road (University of the Sciences in Philadelphia for Pharmacology and Toxicology)
Amanda Ihama of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
Trinity Mays of Waldorf (Towson University)
Kristof Lile of White Plains (Rochester Institute of Technology)

St. Charles High School:

Caleb Quick of White Plains (Bowie State University)
Valine Uzoukwu of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)
McKenzie Curtis of Waldorf (Goucher College)
Abiola O. Ojo of Waldorf (Towson University)
Alaina Portluck of Waldorf (College of Southern Maryland)
Shane Wood of Waldorf (Morgan State University)
Jaida Jernigan of Waldorf (University of Maryland College Park)

Maurice J. McDonough High School:

Alana Zimmerman of White Plains (University of Maryland College Park)
Michael Horace of White Plains (University of Maryland College Park)
Morgan E. Krauel of La Plata (College of Southern Maryland)
Jaydon West of White Plains (Salisbury University)
Demetrius Salley Jr. of White Plains (Stevenson University)
Jake Burgess of La Plata (University of Maryland College Park)

Henry E. Lackey High School:

Faith Dobry of Nanjemoy (College of Southern Maryland)
Katelyn Welch of Indian Head (College of Southern Maryland)
Mya N. Johnson of Bryans Road (University of Maryland Eastern Shore)

Bishop McNamara High School:

Adriana Imes of Waldorf (Towson University)

Other First-Year College Students:

Nicholas Jordan of Waldorf (McDaniel College)
Jariah Russell of Waldorf (College of Southern Maryland; graduate of Southern Maryland Christian Academy)
Lawrence Sapp of Waldorf (University of Cincinnati)
Tatiana Williams of Waldorf (Towson University; graduate of Grace Christian Academy of MD)
Carmelo Torres of Waldorf (Towson University; graduate of The Field School)
Nidra Hayes of Waldorf (College of Southern MD)
Jamie Kost of La Plata (Salisbury University; graduate of St. Mary's Ryken High School)
Lauryn Lewis (University of Maryland College Park)
Amy Chen (University of Maryland College Park)

Returning Undergraduate Students:

Malcolm I. Anderson (University of Maryland College Park)
Dominique Collins-Johnson (University of Maryland Global Campus)
Seth A. Morrison (Frostburg State University)
Kylie Wade (Salisbury University)
NaShay Green (College of Southern Maryland)
Hannah Gates (Stevenson University)
Adara Griggs (Stevenson University)
Quenlyn Moore (College of Southern Maryland)
Haniah Barnes (Bowie State University)
Timothy Staudmyer (Salisbury University)
Jordan Carter (Bowie State University)
Rigel Kaye L. Siaotong (University of Maryland College Park)
Kativa Butler (Coppin State University)
Alanna Imes (University of Maryland College Park)
Kaitlyn Sheckells (College of Southern Maryland)
Monique Ford (Stevenson University)
Joseph Sanchez (University of Maryland College Park)
Josephine Hunter (Stevenson University)
Jenna Purdy (Towson University)
James Tabourne (University of Maryland College Park)
Brenee Butler (University of Maryland College Park)
Deja Williams (Towson University)
August Clayton (Towson University)
Miranda Higdon (Towson University)
Joel Deloatch (College of Southern Maryland)
MyKaila Alexander (Morgan State University)
Echo Downs (Stevenson University)
Eric Dwomoh (Towson University)
Imani Ford of Bryans Road (Capitol Technology University)
Nicholas Jordan (McDaniel College)
Nathaniel Milam II (College of Southern Maryland)
Avani Hall (Capitol Technology University)
Erica Newman (Towson University)
Anastasia Allen (Washington Adventist University)
Jarred Walker (University of Maryland College Park)
Amaiya McNeil (Morgan State University)
Jamari Morgan (Frostburg State University)
Kiarre Sherman (Towson University)
Tiffany Young (Towson University)
Tieler King (Towson University)
Damian Shaw (University of Maryland College Park)
Rachelle Wakefield (University of Maryland College Park)

Graduate Students:

Kristinee Tate of Waldorf (Loyola University Maryland)

 

TERMS OF OFFICE FOR STATEWIDE AND LOCAL BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

Interested in public service and want to serve in one of these gubernatorial capacities?

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/Pubs/LegisLegal/2020RS-gubernatorial-appointments-expiring-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0gk4lS1RIbOcE9ZdpJH3SqOTORhxM0--cB73suBtvIjF15AY5v003KILI

These offices, also known as 'appointments' which expire in 2020, include only those that require confirmation by the Senate of Maryland. Our office will work with Governor Hogan's office accordingly with the application and related process moving forward.

If interested, please email us at: arthur.ellis@senate.state.md.us

 

**UPDATE as of Sunday, April 5, 2020: Governor Larry Hogan announced that he has enacted an emergency order to protect residents and staff at Maryland nursing home facilities, as well as bolster the state’s mitigation and suppression efforts amid outbreaks of COVID-19.

Details here: https://governor.maryland.gov/2020/04/05/governor-hogan-takes-aggressive-action-to-protect-nursing-home-residents-and-staff-amid-covid-19-outbreaks/

 

Update as of Wednesday, April 1, 2020: Governor Larry Hogan has signed TWO new COVID-19 emergency orders today. The first order expands the use of TELEHEALTH beyond audio-only methods to include email:

https://t.co/TlFc9DXjQr

The second order ensures that any 
workers who provide important support services to the disabled will be treated as health care providers under the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

https://t.co/1Pcq49orFR

--For additional information, please visit: https://governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus/

 

Update as of Monday, March 30, 2020: Effective 8 p.m., all Marylanders must adhere to Governor Larry Hogan's new STAY-AT-HOME executive order as a result of the worsened COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health crisis. You should not be leaving your home unless it is for essential purposes such as work duties, seeking urgent medical care, picking up food or prescription medicine. Failure to comply is considered a misdemeanor and may result in jail time and/or a hefty fine.

Essential activities include:

  • Obtaining necessary supplies like groceries and products to maintain personal safety;
  • Seeking medical and behavioral health care;
  • Caring for and transporting family, friends, and animals;
  • Traveling to and from schools for meals and instructional materials;
  • Engaging in outdoor exercise as long as it adheres to social distancing guidelines;
  • Travel required by law enforcement, or court order; OR
  • Traveling from government buildings for necessary purposes.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Charles County Public Schools is offering free WiFi 'hotspots' in parking lots of local schools including Piccowaxen Middle, Matthew Henson Middle, Mt. Hope Nanjemoy Elementary and T.C. Martin Elementary. 

"Use of hotspots for distance learning is permitted under Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order issued on Monday, March 30."

Read more here:

https://www.ccboe.com/pr/school-system-prepares-for-laptop-distribution-distance-learning/

Watch a video from the CCPS Safety & Security Office here:

https://www.ccboe.com/ccboetv/?videos=free-wifi-hot-spots

 

A statewide alert system is in place for all Marylanders via phone/mobile device. If you haven't signed up to receive alerts, text "MdReady" to 898211. "Only essential businesses are allowed to remain open in Maryland, and those businesses must make every effort to scale down their operations in order to reduce staff, limit interactions with customers, and institute telework as much as is practical."  -Governor Hogan (via Twitter post: https://twitter.com/GovLarryHogan/status/1244662937005871104?s=20)

 

A new drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 opened on Wednesday, April 1, 2020  at the VEIP Waldorf station, located at 28 Henry Ford Circle. Other sites opened in Glen Burnie and Bel Air. New screening and testing site at FedEx Field in Landover opened to the public as of March 30. Testing at these sites, however, is strictly limited to those who have (1) a referral from their healthcare provider and (2) an appointment. Learn more here: https://www.google.com/…/coronavirus-testing…/2257839/%3famp

*Be sure to also check out daily podcasts from Charles County Government officials here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/209287/3190210

*Click this link to visit the county government's YouTube page: https://youtu.be/NFNVOWKqSW8

 

FEELING SICK? ...CLICK ON THE WIDGET TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR SYMPTOMS USING CLARA, THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL'S (CDC) NEW CORONAVIRUS SELF-CHECKER, WHICH WILL HELP YOU DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD CALL YOUR DOCTOR.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html?deliveryName=DM25059#cdc-chat-bot-open

 

FYI regarding the UM Charles Regional Medical Center

As of Monday, April 6, 2020, every person who walks into the Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata, or any other University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) facility, is required to wear a face mask at all times. This is for the safety of its staff, patients and community at large. 

To learn more, visit:
https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/temporary-visitor-restrictions/patient-and-community-faqs?utm_content=buffer55dcd&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND LINKS ON COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS 

 

Live updates on total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/

We are living through an extraordinary public health event with the spread of COVID-19. It is a scary time for many, but we must remember that together we can and will get through this moment.

There are many families, businesses, cultural centers, and institutions that are struggling through the drastic impacts of these necessary preventative physical distancing measures. The State of Maryland is leading the way to provide support where possible. 

Please remember to stay home, stay safe, stay aware and most importantly, stay calm. We will continue to find light in the darkness - our work together through this crisis will build a stronger foundation for our future on the other side. Below, you will find aggregated information about the impact of COVID-19 on Maryland families and resources to help community members find relief. 

Despite the hardship, I am confident that we will overcome this moment because of the ingenuity and passion each of us is bringing to the effort to support one another. Please help us share all of the information below via social media, as well as through your networks to connect Marylanders with available resources.

If there is anything that I can do to help, please don't hesitate to reach out to my office. For all questions, comments, concerns and requests, email them to: arthur.ellis@senate.state.md.us

You can also reach my Chief of Staff, Johnathon Clinkscales, at (240) 515-8786 or via direct message on Twitter: @JClink_CoS28. We're always ready and willing to assist our Charles County constituents!

Sincerely yours in service,

 

In Case You Missed It!

As of Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Maryland State Department of Education has decided to extend school closures through at least April 24th. 

I know that this creates challenging situations as students transition to distance learning, for parents who are still essential employees and require childcare services, and for families who rely on school meals each day for nutrition. Despite childcare centers closing to the public, they are still operational for children of essential employees.

 

2020 AP At-Home Exams

In response to COVID-19, all 2020 Advanced Placement (AP) exams will now be available for students to take at home during May 11-22 and June 1-5.

The exams will be:

🔹 45 minutes long
🔹 Open book/open note
🔹 Online (or a photo of handwritten work)
🔹 FRQs only

For more info, visit:

https://t.co/fLceq8Sllr

 

Childcare for Essential Personnel

Although schools may be closed, essential businesses are still up and running. It is vital that parents who are essential personnel receive support and care for their children when they go to work. Families looking for childcare can find options by calling 1-877-261-0060, or visiting bit.ly/MDChildCare.

 

Meal Distribution Sites for Children

Schools are not just a place of learning, but also where many of Maryland’s children receive food and nutrition each day. The State and City have worked tirelessly since the beginning of this public health emergency to build out a network of food distribution sites so access to meals is uninterrupted. To find the closest meal distribution site to your home, please visit MDSummerMeals.org to search by address, or baltimorecityschools.org/meal-sites to search by area of the city.

 

FYI: Available State Resources

"If we rely on and help each other, together we will get
through this crisis." -Governor Larry Hogan

Maryland Unemployment Insurance

If you, or someone you know has lost their job as businesses have been forced to temporarily close, Maryland’s unemployment insurance program is here to help pay the bills and keep families on their feet. Thanks to legislation passed in the Maryland Senate, beginning March 20th, Maryland has temporarily waived the work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Additionally, Maryland does not require a lapse between unemployment and eligibility for benefits. Please use this link to view and call the UI center closest to your area/district: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/officenum.shtml

 

Small Business Emergency Relief Programs

The Maryland Department of Commerce has rolled out three distinct programs for small businesses and nonprofits facing hardship during this unprecedented time totaling $130 million, thanks to budgetary actions taken in the recently completed legislative session. These funds can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. Additional information on these programs is provided below.

  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund: This loan fund is  only available to for-profit businesses. It offers loans up to $50,000 (not to exceed three months of cash operating expenses) with no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months. After 12 months, the loans convert to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum.  Businesses must have 50 employees or fewer and demonstrate financial stress or disrupted operations.
  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund: This grant program is only available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees.  It offers grants up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020.
  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund: This incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) which is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.
 

COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund

In an effort to help businesses keep employees on the payroll as social distancing and teleworking is implemented, the Department of Labor has created a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund of up to $50,000 per applicant. That funding can be used to cover the costs of purchasing remote access equipment and software, sanitization services to enable small businesses to keep employees at work on site, liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery, and more.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loans

The federal government is beginning to announce programs to further support workers and small businesses and legislation works its way through Congress. The Small Business Administration (SBA) currently has two disaster loan programs available to all small business owners. See below for more information.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: This program provides targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans: This program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS/RESOURCES CONCERNING VITAL COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS

**NOTE: Governor Larry Hogan has mandated that all non-essential businesses close as of 5 p.m. Monday, March 23, 2020.

**FYI: Maryland does not have a delay period before a person can apply for Unemployment Insurance.

 

 

2020 Legislative Session Highlights: Senate & House

COVID-19 Emergency Package (SB1079 and SB1080) - The Maryland General Assembly has worked in lockstep with Governor Hogan as the State responds to the unprecedented public health and economic emergency posed by the spread of COVID-19. Senate Bills 1079 and 1080, as well as House Bills 732 and 932, will provide Governor Hogan’s Administration with over $240 million to support Marylanders through this crisis. This legislation  also authorized the Governor to require the State to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests, established telehealth protocols to facilitate the treatment of COVID-19, and authorized unemployment benefits for individuals whose employment is impacted from the health emergency. 
 

Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (HB1300) - After three years of intense research and building consensus around recommendations to transform Maryland’s public education to become a world-class system, the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations passed the Maryland General Assembly. The funding and policy codified in HB1300 passed with a bipartisan vote of 37-9 in the Senate and fulfills the Maryland General Assembly’s constitutional responsibility of providing a thorough and efficient system of free public education. This investment in Maryland’s children will help to close the achievement gap and ensure our students graduate college and career ready to compete in a 21st century economy.
 

Built to Learn Act (HB1) - The buildings and environments our students learn in can be equally as important as the instruction that happens in the classroom. There are school buildings that need to be renovated, or replaced to meet 21st century standards in every single Maryland jurisdiction. That is why the General Assembly passed House Bill 1, the Built to Learn Act, to invest $2.2 billion in school construction. This funding will go to schools and jurisdictions with the greatest need, while also providing aid in every single part of the state.
 

Historic Funding for HBCUs (HB1260) - One of the most important issues coming into this Legislative Session was supporting Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These institutions play a vital role in our state, preparing generations of students as they have made invaluable contributions to our state’s history and economy. House Bill 1260 will provide Maryland’s HBCUs with $577 million over the next ten years, distributed based on each institution’s enrollment, if the litigation that has been pending for over a decade is finally settled. 
 

Saving Maryland Racing (SB987) - Legislation to invest $389 million into Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, and Bowie Race Track passed the Maryland General Assembly this Session. The package is the product of months of negotiation and would allow the Preakness to remain in Baltimore, as it has for the last 144 years, while ensuring Laurel would remain a year round training and racing facility. Most importantly, the bill is a community development tool that incorporates meaningful neighborhood input throughout the state’s investment.

 

Closing the Wage Gap (HB123) - Maryland faces an urgent problem when African American women in Maryland are paid only 69 cents on the dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men and Latinas are paid only 46 cents. Senate Bill 217 recognizes that salary history is not an objective or accurate measure by which to set pay or evaluate an applicant. This is especially true for those who temporarily leave the job market to care for children/parents, or those transitioning from the public to private sectors. By banning questions on wage history and allowing applicants to ask for the salary range of a position, the playing field will be leveled as the hiring process moves forward. Equally as importantly, this effort will support businesses in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce.

 

Public Safety Package (SB35, SB64, SB708, SB907, and SB929) - The current level of crime in Baltimore City and across Maryland is unacceptable and demanded immediate action. The General Assembly passed a number of bills to demand real accountability, deploy smarter resources, and ensure fewer illegal guns are on our streets. Together, Senate Bills 708, 907, and 929 will ease prosecution of witness intimidation, assist Baltimore Police so officers can focus on community safety, and deploy intensive resources to Maryland’s highest needs communities. In addition, the Senate worked with the Governor to pass legislation to increase penalties for the most violent offenders, but that legislation stalled in the House of Delegates.
 

Protecting the ACA (SB124 and SB872) - With the continued attacks against the Affordable Care Act at the federal level, it is incumbent on states like Maryland to defend our residents’ access to affordable healthcare. Our State has made great strides in ensuring more people have health insurance, and it is critical, especially in times of public health crises, to continue that expansion. In the case that the ACA is struck down by federal courts, Senate Bills 124 and 872 will help to answer the question around if a statewide insurance market is viable to maintain the hard-fought progress Maryland has made.

 

Prescription Drug Affordability Board (SB669/HB1100) - The Maryland General Assembly created the Prescription Drug Affordability Board in the 2019 Legislative Session to study how Maryland can effectively lower the cost of prescription drugs for our residents. As the Board’s work is getting off the ground, the General Assembly renewed efforts to reduce the burgeoning cost of lifesaving medication by infusing the board with necessary resources to get the job done. 

 

Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform ( SB970, HB315, and HB1222) - The General Assembly is doing everything it can to demonstrate a commitment to transparency, accountability, and principled behavior. House Bill 1222 provides funding to the State Board of Elections’ to hire staff to enforce campaign finance violations and ensure compliance with campaign finance law. In addition, the Senate passed SB970, which would have increased penalties and increased transparency on interactions between lobbyists and lawmakers. Unfortunately, the bill did not cross the finish line in the House by the end of the shortened session. Finally, HB315 passed, which will increase penalties for bribery and expands lobbying prohibitions on former cabinet Secretaries.

 

Balanced Budget (SB190 and SB191) - Our budget is a reflection of our values and for yet another year, the budget passed by the Maryland General Assembly reinforces our fundamental beliefs. The FY21 operations budget (SB190) passed in a bipartisan fashion this Session solves a $37 million structural deficit left by the Governor while making critical investments in programs like Medicaid, COVID-19 response, our K-12 education system, Maryland’s higher education institutions, and our tireless state employees who make daily operations possible. The budget passed with over $250 million as cash balance, and a 6% Rainy Day Fund balance, ensuring the state’s finances are in the best position possible to handle any potential financial crisis related to the COVID-19 health emergency. This year’s budget will also include:

 

A record $7+ billion in total public education funding including higher funding for special education services, teacher salaries, pre-K services for low income families, tutoring services for elementary school students who need help to get caught up to their peers, and additional funding for schools in areas with concentrated poverty.

  • Over $300 million for school construction, which will help build schools in every corner of our state, in addition to the Built to Lean Act
  • Over $350 million in community college funding
  • Nearly $6.6 billion in higher education funding
  • A cap on in-state college tuition increases, guaranteeing that tuition does not go up by more than 2%
  • More than $11.8 billion for the state’s Medicaid program
  • $160 million to fight the COVID-19 virus
  • A 4% increase for behavioral and mental health providers
  • A 4% increase for providers serving the developmentally disabled
  • $1.9 billion for public safety in our communities, including needed funds in Baltimore for technological and other upgrades for policing
  • $2.4 billion spent on transportation projects across Maryland
  • $9.5 billion sent to local jurisdictions for aid to local governments

 

HOME Act (SB530/HB231) - Access to good housing is a fundamental right and the state has a responsibility to ensure that no one is discriminated against when seeking housing. This Session, Senate Bill 530, the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act (HOME Act) was introduced and passed to address issues of inequality and fairness in the housing rental market. The HOME Act requires landlords to view all prospective renters equally – regardless of the source of income. If signed by the Governor, this legislation will create more mixed-income housing and ensure greater economic opportunity for all Marylanders. 

 

Hate Crime Legislation (SB606) - After the heinous murder of Richard Collins III outside of College Park, legislation was introduced to broaden the definition of a hate crime in Maryland. Despite Collins’ murderer having a clear history of racist images on his phone and participation in a racist group on Facebook, the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict on hate crime charges. Senate Bill 606, expands what’s determined to be a hate crime and will help make cases around racially motivated crimes easier to convict.

 

Closing Long Gun Background Check Loophole (SB208/HB4) - Senate Bill 208 will require background checks for all purchases and permanent transfers of long guns in Maryland. Tens of thousands of guns are sold or transferred each year without background checks in Maryland through private transactions. This legislation closes this background check loophole. 

 

Sports Betting (SB4) - After several years of debate, the Legislature took steps forward on this issue by authorizing a referendum on the November ballot to allow Sports Betting in the state. While the Senate unanimously passed legislation to implement the program, the House passed just the authorization, leaving the locations to be determined in the next legislative session. The legislation also includes a Minority Business Enterprise Disparity Study to provide the Legislature with the best tools to ensure all communities have equitable opportunities to participate in the marketplace.

 

Court Dog & Child Witness Program (SB101) - SB 101 passed to establish a statewide Court Dog and Child Witness Program to provide a therapy dog to a child witness in any circuit court proceeding. The program is voluntary for each circuit court, but is meant to help relieve the anxiety of children who are taking part in a court proceeding, or interview. The statewide rollout was passed after successful pilot programs in Anne Arundel and Harford Counties.

 

Absentee Voting (SB145) - With at least one Special General Election for the 7th Congressional District seat planned for April 28th as a complete Mail-In election, the Legislature took strong actions in clarifying the terminology around Mail-In Ballots (changing from the term “Absentee”) and requiring all ballots to be pre-paid to ensure all Marylanders can fully participate in their Democracy.

 

Study on Health effects of Air Traffic Noise (SB184) - In several areas around Maryland, people are losing sleep and having harmful health effects from low-flying airplanes. SB184 will provide funding for a study on these health effects so policymakers are in a better place to recommend adjustments to flight patterns in Maryland’s skies.

 

Addressing Human Trafficking (SB206) - Victims of human trafficking are too often penalized from crimes outside of their control. Senate Bill 206 expands the eligibility for a motion to vacate a judgement, as well as expungement of previous convictions if the person charged is a victim of human trafficking. This is a common sense approach to ensure that victims are not penalized for committing crimes outside of their control.

 

Protective Orders for Sexual Assault Victims (SB210) - SB 210 extends the opportunity for sexual assault victims to file for protective orders against their alleged attackers in civil court. The measure helps to clarify who has access to seek a protective order to better protect Marylanders who fear abuse. 

 

Strangulation (SB212) - Experts on domestic violence often cite strangulation as a sign of a perpetrator’s potential to take lethal action. Senate Bill 212 recognizes the seriousness of strangulation by expanding the crime of felony first-degree assault to include the commission of an assault by intentionally “strangling” another. This bill will better protect domestic violence victims and enhance penalties against those convicted of such heinous crimes. 

 

State Employee Accommodations on Pregnancy & Childbirth (SB225) - State Government must continue to lead by example. SB225 requires that state government employers in all branches of government provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have restrictions or temporary disabilities for pregnancy or childbirth related causes, and makes certain that an employee cannot be required to take leave if such an accommodation occurs.

 

Suspension of Driver’s License or Registration – Unpaid Citations or Judgments (SB234) - Nationwide, there are over 11 million license suspensions, including almost 300,000 in Maryland for a variety of reasons. License suspensions disproportionately impact people of color, the poor, and ex-offenders. In partnership with Maryland’s Attorney General, the General Assembly passed SB234 to reduce the opportunities to suspend a license for failure to pay fines. SB 234 also helps create a payment plan to assist debtors pay off their fines over time.
 

Renewable Energy Development & Siting (SB281) - A result of the Governor's Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, SB 281 will establish a fee waiver for participating in the state’s Voluntary Cleanup Program by building a facility on a brownfield site. The bill also creates a franchise tax exemption for public-private partnership facilities if at least 30% of the energy is bought by the public partner, and is built on a rooftop, parking lot, landfill, or other distressed site. This legislation will increase the locations for clean energy around the state.

 

National Guard Tuition Assistance (SB282) - This Administration bill increases the percentage of in-state tuition that the Military Department may reimburse from 50% to 100% for an eligible active member of the Maryland National Guard. The bill also expands eligibility to include any member who holds a commission in the Maryland National Guard.

 

Pedestrian Access Act of 2020 (SB285) - Pedestrian safety is a critical issue in Maryland, with Maryland being ranked as the 14th deadliest state in the country for pedestrians. SB285 requires those permitted to do work within one mile of WMATA or MTA rail or bus rapid transit stations, including MARC stations to maintain a safe alternative pedestrian path at the work site. SHA must adopt regulations governing the maintenance of pedestrian access to the maximum extent practicable in those areas where construction or maintenance work is permitted with specifications listed in the bill. SHA must also compile an inventory of best practices used to maintain pedestrian access in areas where construction or maintenance work is performed in State highway rights-of-way. SHA must publish and make available the inventory to any interested party. 

 

Prohibition on Chlorpyrifos (SB300) - While the Obama Administration started to go down the road of reducing the use of Chlorpyrifos, the Trump Administration revoked those recommendations in 2017. In response, the Legislature passed a reasonable approach to this chemical, by phasing out the ban in a reasonable manner as recommended by the State’s Department of Agriculture. In addition, the legislation creates a Pesticide Transition Fund to help farmers transition from Chlorpyrifos, and creates a larger Pesticide Task Force to study the larger issue. Lastly, the ban sunsets in June of 2024, after the ban has been fully implemented.

 

Maryland State Agency Transparency Act (SB363) - For the past several years, the General Assembly has pushed for increased access and transparency for all state agencies. SB363 takes the next step, requiring several state independent agencies to expand public access to operations, including the Stadium Authority, State Board of Elections, Emergency Numbers Systems Board, Public Service Commission, and Maryland Transportation Authority.

 

Expanding Access to Telehealth (SB402 & SB502) - This Session, the legislature passed two bills to expand access to telehealth services. Senate Bill 402 creates  a consistent regulatory framework in Maryland for telehealth across all healthcare professions, authorizing the use of both synchronous technology -- which means two-way “real-time” online communication like a chat -- and asynchronous technology -- one-way electronic messaging. Senate Bill 502 increases access to telehealth by requiring Medicaid and insurers to cover mental health services, chronic condition management, and to study the applicability for substance abuse disorders.

 

Senior & Vulnerable Adult Asset Recovery Unit in the OAG (SB407) - Crimes of all sorts affect a wide variety of Marylanders, but Seniors are especially vulnerable to theft and fraud. SB 407 requires the state to fund Attorneys General who are specifically focused on these crimes to help our Seniors continue to be safe.
 

Minority Business Enterprises Program Study (SB442) - Senate Bill 442 will improve inclusion efforts and competitiveness for Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) in the state of Maryland by serving as a mechanism to re-establish a minority business enterprise procurement authority that is consistent with the State’s MBE participation goals. As passed, SB442 will reestablish a clause that the Board of Public Works may not approve a public private partnership until the reporting agency works with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs to establish appropriate MBE participation goals for the project. 

 

Small Business Development Center Network Fund (SB493) - Senate Bill 493 established a minimum funding level for the Small Business Development Center to promote, inform, and support new and existing small businesses across the state. Strengthening Maryland's small businesses contributes directly to the growth of local, state, and national economies. This in turn creates jobs, contributes to enhancing quality of life, and expands the local tax base – enabling counties to better provide core services for Maryland families and businesses.

 

Special Education Ombudsman (SB504) - Special education continues to be a place for great improvements to be made. While it is well known that there is a provider capacity issue, there is no statewide data to show the extent of the problem. Without this information, it has been very difficult to strategize possible solutions with state and local partners. Senate Bill 504l establishes a Special Education Ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General to serve as a resource to collect that necessary information regarding special education rights and services so relevant partners can respond appropriately. 

 

Lifelong Library Learners (SB524) - Research consistently shows that children having greater access to books and other library materials makes them better learners for life. Unfortunately, increased library fines can make accessing some of these materials cost-prohibitive. SB524 limits the ability for libraries to charge these fees, and phases them out by July of 2021. Until then, libraries must wait three weeks before charging fees, and cannot charge a fee if the materials are returned. 

 

CROWN Act (SB531) - For many Marylanders, their hairstyle is part of their racial and cultural identity, but there are no protections against firing people for wearing those hairstyles. SB531 protects this right, but includes hair texture, afro hairstyles, and protective hairstyles (including braids, twists, and locks) in the definition of race for the purposes of discimination.

 

Prostate Cancer Screening Services – Prohibiting Cost–Sharing (SB661) - Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in America, but deaths have dropped significantly due to increased screening and detection. SB 661 increases the likelihood of this screening, by removing deductibles, copays, and coinsurance fees for preventive care screenings. 

 

Textbook Transparency Act of 2020 (SB667) - The price of textbooks for higher education is excessively prohibitive - adding extra costs to already struggling students. SB 667 eases this burden by requiring public colleges in Maryland to denote on their course catalog which classes have either free or low cost digital materials available. 

 

Prerelease Facility for Women (SB684) - Ensuring that all Marylanders are prepared to re-enter their communities after a period of incarceration is a critical piece of the State correctional system.  Although men have a separate free-standing prerelease facility, women in Maryland have received all prerelease programming in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women facility since the dedicated facility for women in Baltimore City closed a decade ago.  Senate Bill 684 ensures gender equity in Maryland’s prerelease services by requiring the State to operate a comprehensive rehabilitative prerelease unit for women.  The unit must be a separate structure in which specified services are provided, have security features for specified female inmates, and match security level on a validated gender-responsive risk measure.  The new or renovated facility must be open by June 1, 2023.

 

Maryland Department of Health – Pay Rates and Staffing Requirements (SB693) - Those who work as caretakers and security personnel at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital are doing incredibly important and at times dangerous work on behalf of the state. SB 693 makes sure that these critical employees are paid properly, and ensures a proper ratio between security personnel and patients to make sure patients and employees are properly protected. 

 

Property Tax Credit for Disabled Military Personnel and Surviving Spouses (SB700) - Maryland continues to lead in honoring our military personnel. SB 700 expands a property tax credit counties can currently offer. The legislation expands current law to allow a local government to enact a law that creates a property tax credit for disabled retirees and active-duty members of the uniformed services, military reserves, or national guard regardless of age, as well as a surviving spouse who is not remarried.

 

Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Funding (SB708) - The MD Violence Intervention and Prevention Program was created during the 2018 Legislative Session, but has not received adequate funding for critical public safety programs. At the same time, violence has become an epidemic in Baltimore City and the state of Maryland. The need for current and future funding to reduce and prevent the devastating consequences is urgent. SB 708 mandates $3 million in annual funding for these evidence-based programs and makes policy changes for existing programs to operate more effectively.

 

Apprenticeship Start Up Act (SB751) - Apprenticeships are an important economic tool for training the next generation of skilled workers for jobs which are generally difficult to fill. To help incentivize apprenticeships, SB 751 expands eligibility for the state income tax credit for employers who hire apprentices through registered apprenticeship programs to include youth apprenticeships and further defines eligibility criteria by hours worked in a tax year. SB 751 increases the tax credit amount from $1,000 to $3,000 per registered apprentice and prohibits an entity from receiving more than $15,000 in credits in a single tax year.

 

Maryland Corps (SB845) - Established in 2016, the Maryland Corps Program was created to provide at least 100 young people with meaningful service opportunities, equip corps participants with skills that will enable them to successfully transition from high school to an institution of higher education, and provide scholarships to corps participants who have completed the program. Since inception, though, Maryland Corps has never received funding.  SB 845 expands the purpose and authorized uses of the Maryland Corps Program Fund and requires the Governor to include at least $150,000 in funding beginning in fiscal 2022.  Program monies will be able to be used to enhance the role the program can have in expanding workforce development opportunities across the State.

 

PROTECT Act (SB929) - Senate Bill 929 establishes the Public Resources Organizing to End Crime Together (P.R.O.T.E.C.T.) Program to address crime in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland.  The program maximizes the use of State, local, and community resources to combat neighborhood decline in Baltimore City and throughout the State, supports comprehensive strategies to reduce crime and fear in those communities, and ensure that Baltimore City Police Department sworn officers are utilized in direct public safety roles.  As a part of the program, the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services must select 10 high-crime micro-zones within the State and create, as a civilian position, an “End the Violence” P.R.O.T.E.C.T. coordinator position for each high-crime micro-zone to coordinate and facilitate crime prevention and youth programs and grants.

 

Health Insurance Updates for In Vitro Fertilization (SB988) - SB 988 is a critical bill that updates Maryland’s law regarding insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) so that it matches our beliefs regarding equity as well as current medical standards. SB988 ensures that all women, regardless of their marital status, are able to avail themselves of insurance coverage for IVF procedures. Currently, the law is restricted to married individuals only, ignoring that couples, particularly those who have been previously married, may wish to start a family together without entering into a new marital relationship, or that single individuals may not wish to wait until marriage before having children. It also addresses the length of time a patient must wait before accessing IVF coverage from 2 years to 1 year, to match current clinical guidelines.

 

Balancing the State Budget (SB1028) - Maryland's budget process is unique. Its unusual executive-dominated model of budgeting allows the legislature only to reduce or restrict funding. Both the governor and legislature could do a better job of setting priorities and making important investments in the state’s economy and quality of life if the state adopted significant changes to the annual state budgeting process. SB 1028 creates a constitutional amendment to go on the 2020 ballot to modify Maryland’s budget process by strengthening the fiscal capacity of the General Assembly while providing the Governor with the ability to use a line-item veto. These reforms would put the public good ahead of politics and increase accountability.

 

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Sustainability (SB1065) - Last year, the BSO’s fiscal troubles and operating deficits led to conflicts between management and musicians, and forced the BSO to cancel its summer series and delay the start of the 2019-2020 season. After months of hard work by the BSO Board, management, musicians, community members, and civic leaders, the BSO has created a clear vision and strategic five-year plan. Senate Bill 1065 requires the Governor to include an appropriation to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in the annual budget from fiscal year 2022 through fiscal year 2026. The bill also requires the BSO to report annually on the effectiveness of the funding provided by the State, including a complete statement on the financial condition of the BSO and an accounting of all financial receipts and expenditures.

 

Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program (HB748) - House Bill 748 codifies the state’s Bikeways Network Program and renames it the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network program after Kim Lamphier, a bikeways advocate who passed away from cancer last year. It requires the MD Department of Transportation to establish application and eligibility criteria for the state-funded grant program which supports a wide range of bicycle network development activities, including connecting bicycle-friendly trails and roads, and improving last-mile connections to work, school, shopping and transit. The bill also requires that each year the Governor include an annual appropriation of at least $3,800,000 from the Transportation Trust Fund for the operation of the program.

 

Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (HB425) - For the last several years, the General Assembly has striven to close loopholes and other issues regarding sexual assault evidence kits. This year, the General Assembly passed HB 425, which will reduce the information a qualified health provider or hospital is required to provide when seeking reimbursmeent for performing a sexual assault forensic examination.

 

Child Support Guidelines (HB946) - Low-or-no-wage workers are paying 35% or more of their income to comply with child support orders, compared to only 12% for higher-income obligors. House Bill 946 is a means to eliminate the criminalization of poverty on low wage workers by reducing the impact of child support related fines and fees in a plethora of ways. First, it would take into account an obligor’s overall potential employment profile: age, literacy rate, physical and behavioral condition, residence, employment availability, etc. Second, it allows for a self-support reserve clause which is vital to the survival of the obligor. Lastly, HB946 would allow a court to deny a child support claim based on a potential obligor’s living condition.

 

Office of the Attorney General Firearm Audit (HB1629) - In order to address violent crime throughout the State, the General Assembly has sought comprehensive and scientific data about gun violence and crimes to inform its decision-making.  House Bill 1629 requires the Office of the Attorney General to study information regarding firearm crimes committed in the State since August 1, 2015 and identify specified information for each 9-1-1 request for emergency assistance involving a firearm crime.  Understanding what happens from beginning to end when there is a call for service involving a firearm crime will help the General Assembly develop effective programming and laws that target violent offenders and firearm trafficking.  The Office of the Attorney General must submit its report and findings to the General Assembly before December 1, 2020.

 

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one."
-Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SB 77: Important Documents and Identification Cards - Inmates

Thrilled to announce that prior to Sine Die adjourning abruptly on March 18, 2020, this key criminal justice reform bill which I sponsored - that will grant state issued identification cards & other important documents to inmates - PASSED UNANIMOUSLY in both the Senate and House!

SB 77, formally named "Important Documents and Identification Cards -- Inmates," derives from a criminal justice reform meeting with U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer. It seeks to solve the problem around incarceration by requiring the state motor vehicle department to provide ID cards for individuals whom are not only in custody, but also those being released back into society.

I strongly believe in giving second chances and, thus, put forth this bill with the hopes that it'd change the narrative around incarceration as well as the racial makeup of that particular demographic. State IDs are a no brainer solution in terms of procuring housing, employment and using most forms of transportation. Without them, newly released citizens are more likely to face barriers which may inhibit their adjustment/transition to normal life.

I am optimistic that SB 77 will not only spark national change, but will also be used as a model of equality for all.

 

 

 

PAST IN-SESSION EVENTS

 

'AME Day'

On Feb. 18, I spoke to constituents during AME Day in Annapolis. Distinguished guests included Adrienne Jones (see first photo), the first-ever African American and female elected to serve as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates!

 

'Environmental Education Day'

Local students from STEAM ONWARD spent some time with me on Feb. 12 while visiting Annapolis! The organization's mission is to increase the number of minority and underserved youth, in Charles and Prince George's counties, pursuing higher education in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

 

 

Take a Peep Inside of Our Newsroom!  

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Check out my interview with Jill Horner from Comcast Newsmakers via our newly created Newsroom/Press Coverage page! I spoke to Jill on February 12, 2020, about bringing light rail transit to Southern Maryland and improving the safety of children who walk to school, both of which are addressed in Senate Bill 105 and Senate Bill 65, respectively. I have sponsored and testified on both bills in January 2020 before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

"A proposed light rail for Southern Maryland aims to relieve some of America's worst traffic"  

This informative piece from Greater Greater Washington speaks about light rail transit and what it seeks to do for constituents in Southern Maryland, specifically those from Charles and Prince George's counties.

There's also a note and detailed map regarding the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit (SMRT) project, as well as comments from my lead transportation advisor, Gary Hodge, who is a former Charles County commissioner and longtime SMRT advocate.                 

Read it here:

https://ggwash.org/view/76169/southern-maryland-traffic-prince-georges-charles-county-light-rail-smrt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANKS FOR VISITING! WE HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN

Keep checking this page every week to stay abreast of all that we're doing for the great constituents of Charles County! Let's stay in touch.

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*This page was last updated on Monday, April 6, 2020*
 
 

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