Through all the challenges, many important pieces of legislation were passed this year, this letter will share with you some of the legislative highlights.
For the first time in many years, the State has a Structural Surplus, this surplus is projected to continue for the next few years. Because of this, we were able to give $350 million in tax relief to retirees, our first responders, spouses of our veterans, and tax relief for baby diapers and other products.
· Increases the Rainy Day Fund.
· Fully funds the Blueprint for Maryland’s public schools.
· Increases funding for higher education, including a 20% increase for our Community Colleges.
· Includes $210 million to improve the State government cybersecurity which protects all of us.
Maryland continues to be a leader in providing health care to our residents. Medicaid provides $14 billion allowing the State to provide health care to 1.5 million residents. We also added $27 million to expand dental care coverage to adults.
A lack of childcare options has negatively affected our working families. We passed a number of bills that remove barriers by improving the childcare scholarship program (SB920/HB995), allocate $50 million in childcare stabilization grants for providers who have faced financial hardship (SB480/HB89), create a $35 million revolving loan fund for critical renovations (SB919/HB993), and provide $16 million to support hiring new employees and retaining existing employees through bonuses (SB806/HB1100). Finally, an additional $3.7 million is provided to support specialized child care and education to young children with developmental delays and physical disabilities (SB506/HB725).
Thanks to our Senate Budget and Tax Committee and the House Appropriations Committee for your work to provide a budget that helps our citizens in so many ways.
We advanced a comprehensive public safety package aimed at addressing every stage in the justice system including prevention, intervention, criminal justice, and rehabilitation. In addition to a $148 million increase in crime prevention and victim services funding in the State budget, that package included:
· Scaling up funding for warrant apprehension efforts throughout the State (SB585);
· Establishing a Maryland State Police Gun Center to track gun crimes through prosecution (SB861);
· Banning serialized and untraceable ghost guns in Maryland (SB387);
· Ensuring judicial and prosecutorial transparency so the public can access trends (SB763);
· Increasing coordination between the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Baltimore Police Department if a defendant of a violent crime is released before trial (SB586); and
· Requiring that all State residential facilities create and implement safety plans (SB3).
The climate crisis is having drastic impacts throughout our State as extreme weather increases. To reduce our emissions as quickly as possible, we passed the Climate Solutions Act of 2022 (SB528) to set bold, aggressive, and practical goals for reducing Maryland’s emissions of greenhouse gasses 60% by 2030 and reaching net neutral emissions by 2045. The legislation makes Maryland a national leader in curbing emissions by electrifying our State vehicle fleet and local school buses, financially incentivizing the construction of new net-zero schools, leveraging private funding for green energy investments, and curbing emissions from large buildings over time. And because my district is impacted by airplanes, which create 11% of our pollution, I added an amendment to use research funds to create sustainable air fuels.
Small businesses and industries in every economic sector have dealt with workforce shortages in recent months. Although there is no one cause, we know there is a massive gap between the job requirements and skills in a 21st century economy, and people trained to meet those prerequisites. To help alleviate those issues, the Maryland General Assembly passed a number of bills to increase opportunity through drastically scaling up apprenticeship training programs across the State (SB926) and connect more young people to those experiences (SB420). We also expanded the applicability of the tax credit to employers who hire individuals with disabilities to make those jobs more accessible (SB93).
We came together with Governor Hogan, across party lines to enact nearly $2 billion in economic support for Maryland’s working families, retirees, and small businesses. At a time when Maryland has a historic surplus and a balanced budget, we invested in vulnerable populations who have spent a lifetime caring for others in a way that is fiscally sustainable and responsible. That tax relief package included:
· $1.55 billion in relief For Retirees 65 and older making up to $100,000 in retirement income, and married couples making up to $150,000. As a result, 80% of Maryland’s retirees will receive substantial relief or pay no state income taxes at all (SB405/HB1468);
· $195 million to fund the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize employers and businesses to hire and retain workers from underserved communities that have faced significant barriers to employment (SB598/HB2);
· $115.6 million in ‘Family Budget Boosters’ including sales tax exemptions for child care products such as diapers, car seats, and baby bottles, and critical health products such as dental hygiene products, diabetic care products, and medical devices (SB316/HB282, HB288, SB571/HB492, SB488/HB364, and HB1151); and
· $100 million to suspend Maryland’s gas tax for 30 days to provide short-term relief to Marylanders as prices at the gas pump increased quickly due to the events in Ukraine (SB1010/HB1486).
As I have previously shared with you, I was primary sponsor on 31 bills, 22 of them passed. You can review my bills on the General Assembly website here. Some of my important legislation included initiating “value based health care,” improving the disciplinary process for dentists, studying the effectiveness of small assisted living venues that have less than 9 or fewer beds, and improving rail travel in Maryland’s future transportation plans.
SB612 Street Racing, Exhibition Driving passed the House and the Senate during the final hours of Sine Die. This bill gives law enforcement more enforcement options when these large groups of vehicles are racing through our communities.
SB1013, Transportation – Magnetic Levitation Transportation Systems – Rapid Rail Local Development Councils was introduced late and did not have time for a hearing. The Bill would have created an impact fund in communities where property is taken by eminent domain to build the Maglev.
You can track legislation on the General Assembly Website. You can also view bill hearings or voting sessions on the website.
My gratitude to my Chief of Staff, Nancy Crawford and my office assistants, Molly Cannon and Diane Dodson for all their help during session.
My office is returning to an interim schedule. You can reach my office by:
· Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Phone: 410-841-3593
· Mailing address: is: Room 202, James Senate Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401
My Chief of Staff Nancy Lipin Crawford and my Legislative Aide Molly Cannon will be splitting their time between the office and working from home. You can keep up to date on the issues please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your District 32 State Senator!