2021 Session Highlights
Updated: Apr 15, 2021
The 442nd General Assembly of Maryland ended on April 12th at midnight. It was a very different and very difficult session, but we survived thanks to the strict Covid protocols that were put in place. The last few days were hour’s long Senate Floor sessions, committee bill hearings, committee voting sessions, and then back to the Senate Floor for a second session, maybe a few minutes in-between to eat!
This legislative session, my bills primarily focused around health policy. I originally filed a total of 15 bills, 10 have passed both the House and Senate and will become law if they are not vetoed by the Governor. You can read more about them below.
SB 586 Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program – Exemptions – Older Drivers did not get out of Committee, however there are preliminary discussions taking place regarding the future of the entire Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program.
2021 District 32 Capital Projects
The Delegates of Team 32 and I were incredibly successful in securing funding in this year’s budget for shovel ready projects in District 32. These projects will not only enhance our community but they will also provide much needed jobs as well! Below is a breakdown of the different projects and funding allocations:
North County High School Field House
Lindale Middle School Track refurbishment
Glen Burnie Improvement Association - Third Ave. Park
Glen Burnie - Street Lights
Severn Intergenerational Center
Resiliency and Education Center at Kuhn Hall for our Veterans
VFW Post 160
National Cryptologic Museum Foundation - Cyber Center of Education & Innovation
Other County Bond Initiatives
Anne Arundel American Legion Post 226
Anne Arundel County Community Garden
Anne Arundel County Fair
Cape St. Claire Beach Replenishment
Chesapeake Children's Museum Amphitheater
Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, Inc
Elks Camp Barrett
Langton Green Community Farm
Northeast HS Physical Endurance Training Course
PAL Park Field
Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center
Peerless Rens Club
Shadyside Community Center
Stanton Community Center
YWCA Domestic Violence Safe House Shelter
The uncertainty about Maryland’s budget over the last year created a concerning dynamic as we entered Session in January. Last July, the Board of Public Works cut $413 million from the State budget as Maryland faced potential layoffs and cuts to vital services. The most recent revenue and budget projections are more optimistic. A $52.4 billion budget that invests heavily in Maryland values was ultimately passed, it includes:
$572M to expand testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations;
$13.5B in Medicaid funding to provide health care coverage to 1.5 million residents;
$1.6B to ensure solvency of the Transportation and Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds;
$600M to reopen schools safely, including $80 million for HVAC and ventilation improvements;
$371.5M for Maryland's community colleges, representing a 9% increase over FY21;
$85M for local parks and playgrounds throughout the State; and
$2.1B in cash reserves, including $1.4B in the Rainy Day Fund and $696M in the General Fund, that erases projected budget shortfalls in FY23 and FY24.
Sports Betting (HB 940)
In a 2020 Election ballot measure, Maryland voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalizing sports betting in the state. The General Assembly passed HB 940 establishing sports wagering and fantasy gaming competitions in Maryland. The sports betting licensing system is equitable and will ensure that small businesses as well as women and minority owned businesses do not get shut out of the industry by casinos and large operations. Licenses will be available to professional sports teams, casinos, horse tracks and some bingo halls, additional licenses will be available stand-alone businesses and mobile betting sites. Revenue from new sports betting licenses will be distributed to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund to be used to for education and the Problem Gambling Fund. The goal is for the industry to be up and running in time for Football season.
Despite herculean efforts by teachers across Maryland to reach students through distance learning, prolonged disruptions to our public education system have resulted in immeasurable learning loss. Fortunately, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future passed by the MGA last year sets forth a framework for getting our students back on track. The MGA passed a “Blueprint 2.0” (HB1372) this Session to fund intensive tutoring and summer school to improve educational outcomes, add money to the State’s base education formula for educational technology, support students’ socio-emotional health, and ensure the responsible use of federal funds.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt our special education students and youngest learners especially hard. To make our special education system more effective and efficient, we passed measures for Maryland families who have lacked necessary services due to distance learning (SB371), as well as to grow our child care workforce to meet demand (SB436).
Ensuring trust, accountability, and transparency in public safety has been a top priority for the Senate this Legislative Session. I am deeply proud of the work the Senate and General Assembly accomplished, we took a balanced approach, true compromise, with the understanding that the system may still need adjustments to serve the needs of all Marylanders effectively and fairly.
The package of five bills will:
Increase body worn cameras, establish a use of force policy, and provide mental health supports for officers (SB71);
Create transparency in the disciplinary process and curtail no knock warrants (SB178);
Demilitarize the police and independently investigate police-involved deaths (SB600); and
Repeal and replace the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, and create a Law Enforcement Scholarship Program (HB670).
The General Assembly ensured this package became law, by voting to override the Governors vetoes of critical pieces of this package on April 10th.
Over the last year, every legislative office has been inundated by Marylanders unable to access rightful Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-100-year crisis, government must be a mechanism to support people facing hardship. In addition to providing $1,000 checks to thousands of Marylanders unfairly caught in UI purgatory (SB496), we also passed a comprehensive set of reforms (SB771, SB816, SB817, SB818, SB819, and SB893) to fix our broken system. These bills will allow Marylanders to more easily access the money they deserve, improve their customer service experience from start to finish, and ensure the Department of Labor is prepared for the next emergency. We also passed legislation to help businesses defray the costs of small businesses paying into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to provide additional aid as they recover from COVID-19 (SB811).
As Maryland’s vaccine rollout began in December, it became evident that the State was not reaching its potential. Although the Governor and Maryland Department of Health (MDH) are tasked with vaccine distribution, the Senate took up its oversight role immediately after Session began by creating the Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup.
Through weekly meetings with MDH Secretary Schrader, the Senate was able to push the State towards a more accessible, efficient, transparent, and centralized model. Those achievements include the launch of mass vaccination sites; creation of statewide phone number for vaccine appointment signups; establishment of statewide sign up system for mass vaccination sites; disclosure of county by county and site specific data; release of the Vaccine Equity Task Force Operations plan; and community-based priority appointments for mass vaccination sites. Further, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 781 - COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Vaccination Act of 2021 to ensure Maryland’s vaccine program meets its fullest potential through the duration of this pandemic.
For information the vaccine rollout in Anne Arundel County you can visit my website.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities are a critical part of our higher education ecosystem. Over the next decade, Maryland will invest a historic $577 million in our HBCUs to end a fifteen year legal battle with the State around program duplication (SB1). This funding will strengthen the State’s entire higher education landscape and provide the needed resources for our HBCUs to develop and enhance high-demand programs for Maryland’s 21st Century economy.
As many of you are aware, I am not a supporter of the MAGLEV project and never have been. On May 4th at 7:00pm, the District 32 Delegates and I are hosting a MAGLEV Webinar with community stakeholders to discuss the project and the harm it could bring to our community and our environment. I encourage everyone to join us on Facebook Live. If you have any questions about the project please email them to my office firstname.lastname@example.org or you will be able to ask them in Comments during the Webinar.
Be sure to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Federal Department of Transportation prepared detailing the potential environmental implications of this project. You can review it here. Please add your thoughts to the official record, the public comment period is open until May 24th. You can add your comment to the official record here.
My office is returning to an interim schedule. You can reach my office by:
Mailing address: is: Room 202, James Senate Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401
My Chief of Staff Nancy Lipin Crawford and my Legislative Aide Joe Cadman will be splitting their time between the office and working from home. To 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!
Senator, District 32
Vice-Chair Executive Nominations