Dear Friends & Neighbors,
As the Appropriations Committee was voting out the budget from our Committee on Friday evening after a long day of floor debate, I realized that Friday marked one-month until sine die (the last day of session)! Because this year has been so busy, it has gone by much faster than past sessions. Below I’ll provide a quick review of a few changes our Committee made to the FY18 Operating Budget, and provide an update on some other key legislation. Follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter (BELBaltimore) for more information in between newsletters!
Art classes offer much more to students than simply the ability to draw or paint. During the rally for school funding in Annapolis, Maryland’s State Teacher of the Year – an art teacher from Baltimore City – explained the life skills and learning capacity that are developed in her art classes. She said that she gives students a toolkit to succeed not only in art class, but also in life. Although our art classes are at risk because of the school funding crisis, in my capacity as a state delegate – in addition to working to find funding to alleviate the school funding issues – I also want to personally support our art students and teachers.
To that end, during the interim I worked with my legislative director to initiate a program that has started small, but that I hope will grow: a competition among high school art students to display art in my Annapolis House Office Building office during the legislative session.
We reached out to Todd Conway, the art teacher at Digital Harbor High School, to discuss the project with him. He was enthusiastic about the opportunity this presented for his students to learn more about state government and to display their work. He selected several pieces of art from among those his students had created, and we picked the final two pieces.
Thus, the art on display in my office this year was created by Stephon Torrence and Carlos Davis. Stephon, who drew the blue heron, is in his fourth year on the varsity football team. He plans to go to college for business administration. This was his first pencil/watercolor drawing and art class in high school. Stephon currently has one of the fastest times in the 55m Hurdles for 4A track and field in the entire state. Carlos, who drew the frog, currently has an internship with Northrop Grumman and is enrolled in three college level courses at Baltimore City Community College. Carlos is also on the track and field team.
In addition to displaying their work, I invited Stephon and Carlos and their families, and Todd and Assistant Principal Bowden to Annapolis to see their work and to tour the statehouse. It was great to meet these students in person and to thank them for allowing me to display this work. I introduced the students to the entire General Assembly from the House floor, and coordinated a tour of the Assembly and the Governor’s mansion for them.
This artwork serves as a constant reminder of the potential of our students and as my role as an advocate for our students, teachers, and schools. Baltimore City School schools are incubators and accelerators for our student to realize their potential and to grow and prepare to be leaders. I reject the Governor’s label that our schools are “an absolute disaster.” Our students are smart, talented, and have bright futures. That is why I am asking the Governor to help us #fixthegap and to invest in amazing students like Stephon and Carlos.
I would like to send a special thank you to Digital Harbor High School, Mr. Todd Conway, Stephon Torrence and Carlos Davis for all their help in facilitating this process.
February 27, 2017
Friends & Neighbors:
We are officially halfway through the 2017 session! Last week was a great week of action in Annapolis: starting with the Women’s Rally in Annapolis on Monday night highlighting a variety of legislation concerning women and family issues, and then great rallies for the Keep the Door Open Act (supporting mental health services) and a huge one on Thursday night in support of Baltimore City Public Schools! It was an exciting week and great to see so many Marylanders come out to show support for bills and issues they care about.
Over the past few weeks, we have received many heartfelt letters and emails from constituents who are deeply concerned about the funding crisis that Baltimore City Public Schools is facing. We appreciate the time and effort you and others have taken to advocate on behalf of our public schools and our children – it is so important that you make your voices heard. In our shared opinion, there is no more important City issue facing us during the 2017 General Assembly Session than effectively handling this funding challenge.
Statement Against the President’s Executive Order Banning Refugees
President Donald Trump’s executive order to suspend entry of all refugees to the United States from seven Muslim countries rejects the fundamental American values on which our nation was founded. Thousands of suffering children, women, and men, fleeing war torn countries, are vetted by multiple U.S. government agencies over many months seek peace in our country and our state. We condemn this executive order and the ensuing entry denial at American airports in the strongest of terms.
America is a land of immigrants, and the cultural identity of our country is often described as a patchwork quilt, beautiful in variety and bound together by common threads of commitment to democracy, religious tolerance, and respect for all. The President’s action rips at these threads. Maryland is home to and has benefited culturally and economically from thousands of legal refugees and immigrants.
The President’s actions have not only shut out individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, but have also closed the gates to hundreds, if not thousands, of legal residents with green cards, stranding those who were out of the country for a variety of reasons.
To all the refugee families in Maryland: we stand with you. Our offices are available to you, and we will assist you in any way possible to ensure that you are safe and able to thrive in our communities.
We ask Governor Hogan to declare that Maryland will not use state resources to enforce this executive order and to reassure refugees who have settled in our communities that they are safe.
We will stay vigilant, speak out, and do all we can to ensure that every man, woman, and child who seeks peace and freedom in the United States can find a safe and welcoming home in the great state of Maryland.
December 5, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Team 46 – Senator Bill Ferguson, Delegate Luke Clippinger, and Delegate Brooke Lierman – Endorses Robbyn Lewis, Community Leader & Health Policy Specialist, to Replace Delegate Pete Hammen
BALTIMORE CITY, MD. (December 5, 2016) – Today, District 46 Delegate Pete Hammen announced that he will retire effective December 6, 2016, in order to serve as Chief Operating Officer in the Pugh Mayoral Administration.
I hope you’ll join me at a fundraising breakfast on October 14 at Teavolve on Aliceanna Street!