“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Friends & Neighbors:
The 2018 General Assembly has begun! On Wednesday, January 10, the House and Senate convened to start the 438th legislative session. It is the final session of my first term in office, and I will continue to serve as a member of the Appropriations Committee. As I have done in the past three session, I’ll send out an email every other week with an update about what is going on in Annapolis. I also encourage you to reach out to my office with questions and comments! From responding to federal policies to advocating for policies to advance our state to championing bills to invest in Baltimore schools and communities, it will be a busy 90 days!
We started the session off with big news: two veto overrides. Although Governor Hogan signed the vast majority of the legislation that we passed last session, he vetoed two bills last spring that we addressed on the second day of session – paid sick leave and ban the box.
Paid Sick Leave: This bill requires companies with 15 or more employees to provide a minimum of five days of earned paid sick leave per year. There are some exceptions in the bill and businesses that already offer such leave will not be affected. As a mom and as a lawyer for working people, I understand the need for setting a floor for Maryland workers – there must be some basic access to sick leave for residents of our state. The House and Senate both voted to override the Governor’s veto.
Ban the Box: This bill removes a check-box from college applications that requests information on whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime. Studies indicate that potential students are much less likely to complete an application and go to college if this check-box exists. Colleges are still free to inquire about a student’s background after the student has been accepted. The House and Senate both voted to override the Governor’s veto.
Keeping Track of the Assembly
The Maryland General Assembly website has many great resources if you are interested in following our work over the next 90 days. I will highlight just a few:
- The general schedule is available here.
- You can look up legislation and track its progress here. Every bill introduced by the bill introduction deadline is guaranteed a hearing and before the hearing, a fiscal and policy note about the bill will be published.
- You can view the Committee Schedules here.
- Committee hearings can also be watched online.
Brooke’s Budget Work: Appropriations Committee
This week we’ll have several important briefings in the Appropriations Committee, including a briefing on the Kirwan Commission’s report and ongoing deliberations, a hearing on Affordable Housing in Maryland (through budget language that I requested last year, DLS has studied the housing shortage in Maryland), and a briefing from DLS on the serious and ongoing staff shortages in the executive branch.
For those of you interested in the work of the Appropriations Committee, the schedule for each state agency hearing is available online and over the next few weeks, an analysis of each agency budget will be added.
In my next newsletter I’ll be featuring and discussing some of the bills that I will introduce as a lead sponsor – they including initiatives such as creating a gun violence prevention fund (the Maryland Violence Intervention & Prevention Program – MD VIPP), to prohibiting styrofoam, to incentivizing the creation of complete streets, and allowing Maryland Dreamer students to access financial aid in Maryland. You can find all the bills that I sponsor or co-sponsor at my General Assembly bio webpage.
Baltimore Updates & Opportunities
Parking Ticket Amnesty – Are you one of an estimated 320,000 motorists with outstanding Baltimore City parking tickets? Mayor Pugh announced on Wednesday that they will be forgiving late fees on outstanding parking fines in Baltimore for two days in February – “If people with unpaid parking tickets pay the base fine on Feb. 1 or Feb. 2, late fees and other additional charges will be waived.”
Youthworks Application Open – Baltimore City residents between the ages of 14 and 21 can begin the 2017 YouthWorks summer jobs registration process by applying online at http://youthworks.oedworks.com. YouthWorks matches thousands of city youth with paid summer jobs at for-profit businesses, nonprofits and government employers throughout the region. YouthWorks summer jobs will operate two, five-week sessions, the first beginning June 26 and the second beginning July 10. The online application is the first step of the YouthWorks summer jobs registration and will remain available for Baltimore City residents through Friday, March 10, 2017.
Today is a day our nation sets aside to celebrate the life, work, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to recognize his work by engaging in service. I encourage you to take a moment to read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written 55 years ago this April. Its message is still so relevant today in so many ways.
Please feel free to contact me throughout session on the issues that are most important to you, your family, and your community. Our office phone number is 410-841-3319 and email address is Brooke.Lierman@house.state.md.us. I encourage you to come to visit Annapolis between now and the end of session in April. Please email or call my office to let us know if you are interested in visiting.