Hi. Happy Valentine’s Day!
It’s hard to believe we’re already one third of the way through session. Two bill hearings down (on legislation I’ve introduced), and only 13 more to go! You may see some themes to the legislation I’ve introduced this year -- many of the bills are intended to address individuals’ and families’ economic needs, addressing student debt and wages.
I’ve had two bill hearings so far: HB 17 expands on a bill of mine that passed last year to require for-profit institutions of higher education and private career schools to provide loan notifications for students and the other, HB 523, addresses an inequity in pay among state workers.
This week, I have a hearing building on legislation we passed two years ago, that allows a tax credit for undergraduate students who have debt. My bill, HB 593, would expand the accessibility of that tax credit to graduate students.
One of the most important pieces of legislation I’m introducing this year will be HB 664, otherwise known as the Fight for $15, which will increase our state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023. I was proud to “drop” this bill along with my Senate sponsor, Senator Rich Madaleno and House colleagues Delegates Diana Fennell & Jeff Waldstreicher (photo above). This legislation would affect the lives of more than 570,000 Marylanders, 22% of our workforce, the majority of whom are full time workers, women and people of color.
As I have over the last 3 years, my other pieces of legislation is aimed at protecting some of our most vulnerable Marylanders. Future newsletters will highlight these additional bills. You can track any of my bills here or any bills that are of interest to you here.
Passage of HB 1
After having been introduced in the General Assembly every session for the past decade, this year’s HB 1, the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, was signed into law by the Governor yesterday. Passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate, the bill allows for the termination of parental rights of children conceived without consent and is a victory for survivors of sexual assault and their families.
I’ve met with so many constituents and issue advocates in the last few weeks including Teacher of the Year award recipient, Jennifer Eig, from Owings Mills Elementary School, community advocates from the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Sierra Club, several university leaders including President Kim Schatzel of Towson University, and members of the Computer Science Teachers Association advocating for science, technology, engineering and math for students statewide. I also met with constituents Nicole and Noah who visited on Decoding Dyslexia Day representing thousands of Maryland children who learn differently. If you ever want to visit us in Annapolis or to advocate on an issue, my door is always open!
Meet My New Interns
Each year I have the opportunity to hire new interns who work in my office for the legislative session. For the first time, both of my interns are students at the University of Maryland College Park. Meriam Mossad is a junior majoring in government and politics with a minor in Arabic. Reka Illei is a sophomore double majoring in government and politics and international relations with a concentration in criminology and criminal justice. I’m excited to welcome them to my team.
Bumpstock Press Conference
At the beginning of this month, two bills were introduced regulating the use of guns in our state. The first, HB 888, would ban bumpstocks, a device used to greatly increase the firing rate of a semi-automatic weapon and the device used in the Las Vegas shooting that injured over 800 individuals and killed nearly 60. SB 741, would remove politics from the handgun review process by allowing administrative judges, rather than the Handgun Permit Review Board, to make certain decisions about handgun possession.
Did you know….
The purpose of the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) is to generate timely and accurate information about student performance that can be used to improve the state’s education system and guide decision makers at all levels. To accomplish this task, the MLDS collects and organizes individual-level student and workforce data from all levels of education and the State’s workforce. Check it out!
In the District
Baltimore Metro Safety Closure
Due to extensive emergency repairs that are needed the Baltimore Metro will be closed for the next month. This will impact more than 40,000 commuters who rely on public transportation in our area. The Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) shut the system down on Friday for a safety evaluation after discovering an urgent need for repairs on sections of the above ground subway between the Owings Mills and West Cold Spring stations. I joined with a few colleagues decrying the lack of investment in transit and urging the MTA to undertake a needs assessment of our system. You can read the letter here.
Dulaney High School
Last week, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the Baltimore County FY19 budget would allocate for the planning and design of a new Dulaney High School. I am excited to see progress made on the construction of this new high school which is desperately needed. I commend the tireless work of advocates from the Friends of Dulaney High School group over the last several years whose persistence helped to make this happen. As I was about to send this email, I received word that the Baltimore County Council has asked that the plan be deferred until after the election, when a new County Executive and Council are in place. Stay tuned.
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