Category: Coronavirus

Briefings with Brooke – Online!

Part of my job as an elected official is to make sure you have access to information and resources. That’s why I’m so pleased to be bringing you a series of “briefings” – online conversations where YOU can ask questions (either beforehand or via chat during the conversation) from experts and policy makers!

Check back often as I will add new ones every week. They generally take place Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00pm. All past briefings are available on my YouTube channel!

Tuesday, June 30 at 2:00pm: Raising their Voices – The Immigrant Experience with COVID – with Gustavo Torres (CASA), Catalina Rodriguez (MIMA), and Dr. Kathleen Page (CentroSOL). RSVP here.

Tuesday, July 7: Raising Anti-Racist White Children: An Honest Conversation for White Parents. Join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on dismantling structural racism and how to talk to your kids about it. She will be joined by special guests, Liz Simon-Higgs, an active participant in Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ); Beth Casey, the Executive Director of Bolton Hill Nursery; and Christina Pham Linhoff, part of the District 46 Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Leadership Team. RSVP here.

Thursday, July 9: Where’s the Money? Appropriations & the FY21 Budget. Please join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on the Maryland budget process and the outlook for FY22. She will be joined by special guests Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Treasurer of Maryland; Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee; and Delegate Michael Jackson, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee.
RSVP here.

Tuesday, July 14: Maryland’s History of Redlining & the Future of Land Use. Please join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on the legacy of redlining in Maryland, zoning issues, and new trends in creating more equitable zoning laws that can lead to housing opportunities for everyone. She will be joined by special guests, Gerrit Knaap, Executive Director of National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education; Seema Iyer, Director of the Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business (MSB); Willow Lung Amam, Director of Community Development at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education; and Dan Reed, planner, author, and blogger. RSVP here.

Thursday, July 16: Back to School? What’s Next for Public Education in Maryland. Please join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on how COVID-19 will affect Maryland public education and our students. She will be joined by special guests Dr. John King, the President and CEO of The Education Trust; and Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. RSVP here.

Thursday, July 23: Supporting & Growing the Local Food Movement in Maryland. Please join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on the importance of local food and how we can help the farm industry flourish. She will be joined by special guests Senator Katie Fry Hester, Maryland Senator representing Maryland’s 9th district; Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, Delegate representing Maryland’s 20th District; Delegate Melissa Wells, Delegate representing Maryland’s 40th District; Colby Ferguson, the Government Relations Director for Maryland Farm Bureau; and Eric Jackson, the visionary and a co-founder of Black Yield Institute. RSVP here.

Thursday, July 30 – The Future of Public Higher Education in Maryland. Please join Delegate Lierman for a discussion on how the increased usage of online learning platforms will impact the future of higher education. She will be joined by special guests Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM); Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Kim Schatzel, President of Towson University. RSVP here.

PAST BRIEFINGS CAN ALL BE VIEWED ON MY YOU TUBE CHANNEL!

Monday, April 6 – Conversation about Housing, Taxing & Benefits with Michelle Madaio of HPRP and Francesca Baptiste of the CASH Campaign. See the YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWMapWNaeVI

Wednesday, April 8 – Conversation with Congressman John Sarbanes about the federal response and next steps to dealing with COVID-19. See the YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDL4gLhpMKA

Monday, April 13 – Conversation about supporting our art institutions and artists with three professional advocates and lawyers and the CEO of Baltimore Office of Promotion of the Arts. See the YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8LSFqKUP5M&t=210s.

Wednesday, April 15 – Conversation with Virologist and co-discoverer of HIV, Dr. Robert Gallo. Dr. Gallo will provide his perspective and thoughts about COVID0-19 and next steps in diagnosis and treatment. See the link for more information and to RSVP HERE to get the zoom link.

Thursday, April 16 – Conversation about Students with Special Needs with Alexandra Rosenblatt, Esq. and Annie McLaughlin, behavioral specialist. See the YouTube video HERE.

Friday, April 17 at 12:30pm– Conversation with Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz and BDC CEO Colin Tarbert about the state and city efforts and resources to help small businesses. See the YouTube video HERE.

Monday, April 20 – Conversation about supporting our senior citizens and helping them access resources with AARP, Baltimore City Health Department Assistant Commissioner, and more! See the link for more information – See the YouTube video here!

Wednesday, April 22: A conversation with Attorney General Brian Frosh and civil rights attorney Aryani Ong! Our Attorney General will let you know what you need to know to steer clear of scams, how to report price gouging, and what we should be doing to combat hate crimes during this challenging time. See the YouTube video here!

Monday, April 27: GET OUT THE VOTE! Join CEO of When We All Vote Kyle Lierman, Executive Director of the Maryland ACLU Dana Vickers Shelley, Black Girls Vote Founder Nyki Robinson, and Rev. Kobi Little of the NAACP and more learn more about vote by mail in advance of the April 28 and June 2 elections. RSVP HERE!

Thursday, April 30: Supporting our kids and ourselves! Join Brooke, psychologist Lara Wrigley, child psychiatrist Dr. Hal Kronsberg, and founder of the Chicago Parent Program/Nurse Debbie Gross to discuss ways to support our kids and also make sure we are taking care of ourselves during this unprecedented time. Check out the video here!

Friday, May 1 at 12:00pm: Celebrate International Workers Day by learning about our front line workers and how to support them! Join Brooke, Ricarra Jones (SEIU 1199), Denise Gilmore (AFSMCE), and Mike McDaniels (ATU Local 1300)! RSVP here!

Tuesday, May 12 at 2:00pm: The Climate & COVID19 – What’s Next for our Environment? Join me for a discussion about what’s next in environmental advocacy with special guests Joanne Throwe, President of Throwe Environmental, LLC and Senior Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy’s Center for Global Sustainability; Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters; and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Advocate for People and Planet – North America Director at 350.org. RSVP here!

Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 pm: Reopening our State – Join me for a discussion on re-opening Maryland with Ken Skrzesz, Executive Director at the Maryland State Arts Council within the Department of Commerce; Al Hutchinson, President & CEO of Visit Baltimore; Shelonda Stokes, Interim CEO of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, and Alicia Wilson, Vice President of Economic Development for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital System. RSVP here!

Tuesday, May 19 at 2:00 pm: Closing the Digital Divide – Join me for a discussion about the digital divide in Maryland how we can work to close it. I will be joined by Heidi Daniels, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Library System, Andrew Coy, Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, Caryn York, CEO of the Job Opportunities Task Force, and Tina Hike-Hubbard from Baltimore City Public Schools. RSVP here!

Thursday, May 21 at 7:00pm: Confronting Gun Violence During a Pandemic – Join me for a call with Daniel Webster, Professor and Director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Karen Herren, Legislative Director for Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence; Mike McLively, Senior Staff Attorney Director of the Community Violence Initiative at Giffords Law Center; Greg Jackson, National Advocacy Director for the Community Justice Action Fund; and James Timpson (JT), Director of Youth Works and Crisis Intervention for ROCA Baltimore. RSVP here!

Tuesday, May 26 at 2:00pm: The Important Role of Philanthropy & Non-Profits in a Pandemic. Join me for a webinar with She will be joined by Karen Webber, Director of Education and Youth Development Program at Open Society Foundation; Danielle Torain, Director of the Open Society Foundation; Celeste Amato, President & CEO of Maryland Philanthropy Network; and Heather Iliff, President & CEO of Maryland Nonprofit. RSVP here!

Thursday, May 28 at 2:00 pm: Confronting Our Housing Crisis – with Special Guest County Executive Steuart Pittman! Please join me for a discussion on housing Marylanders during and after COVID-19. She will be joined by Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman; Charisse Lue, attorney for the Public Justice Center; Dan Pontious, Housing Policy Coordinator at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council; and Ivy Dench-Carter, VP of Pennrose Properties & President of the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition. RSVP here!

Tuesday, June 2 at 2:00 pm: Elevating the Voices of People with Disabilities during a Pandemic. RSVP here!

Tuesday, June 9 at 12:00pm: A Public Health Discussion – Confronting COVID-19 in Maryland. Join me and guests Dr. Leana Wen, Fagan Harris (Baltimore Corps), and Matt Gallagher (leader of the P3 health response in Baltimore), for a discussion on where we are and what’s to come…! RSVP here!



Thursday, June 11 at 2:00pm: Solar & Clean Energy for an Economic Recovery. RSVP here!

Tuesday, June 16 at 7:00pm: Revitalization through Preservation – Join me for a special discussion with Preservation Maryland! RSVP here.

Thursday, June 18 at 2:00pm: The Urgency of Healthy Housing – Join me and Wes Moore (Robin Hood Foundation) and Ruth Ann Norton (Green and Healthy Homes) for a great discussion! RSVP here.

Tuesday, June 23 at 2:00pm: The Future of Public TransitRSVP here!

Thursday, June 25 at 5:00pm: Celebrate Pride Month! RSVP here.



What do you want to hear about? Drop me a line and let me know what would be helpful for you! brooke@brookelierman.com

Brooke’s COVID Brief

This is a general post with resources and information. To have this emailed to you, sign up HERE.

This blog post is updated weekly. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how you’re doing, what ideas you have to weather this storm, and what needs you see or that you have. My legislative director, Dani, and I continue to check our office phone (410-841-3319) and email regularly. *For COVID-19 information in other languages, click here*

For a Facebook page with Spanish-language materials, click HERE.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Quick Hits (time sensitive opportunities for you)
  2. FAQs
  3. Baltimore City Update
  4. State COVID-19 Update
  5. Federal COVID-19 Update
  6. A Little Fun! Free things to do from home.
  7. Trusted Resources

Friends and Neighbors,

For all of you who are mothers of any kind, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday! I felt so lucky to have a lovely day to share with my kids, but also worried about my mom and all of our elderly and at-risk Marylanders who need to stay far away from others during this scary time. I have been especially frustrated by the lack of tests available at our nursing homes, and I support the call for more transparency from our Governor about why the tests he procured have not been sent to our nursing homes. I have talked with many people whose loved ones are in nursing homes who have no access at all to tests – a terrifying situation to be in!

Moms (and dads) are also pulling extra duty these days – teaching kids and trying to work or to keep their family in financial health. It’s an extraordinarily difficult and challenging time for many, many people. Several D46 constituents were featured in this article about this difficult juggling process.

Despite the Governor’s assertion that the unemployment system “is fixed,” we also are hearing regularly from constituents who cannot file for unemployment and have not received checks. We continue to bring this up with this team at the Department of Labor and elsewhere. It is a horrible and frustrating situation to be in and I am so sorry that Maryland’s executive branch has not been more responsive to these dire needs. We will continue to push and push for people to get answers. The Senate is having a hearing tomorrow and YOU can testify to let the Governor know what you think. Sign up HERE to testify.

VETOES: I was incredibly disappointed that Governor Hogan vetoed a variety of incredibly important and bipartisan bills last week. He vetoed nearly every violence prevention bill – including one that I championed on the Violence Intervention & Prevention Program – saying he was was vetoing them not because he disagreed but because he was upset we didn’t pass his bill. He vetoed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which was tied to HB1 – additional capital dollars for building and renovating schools. He also vetoed resources for the Prescription Drug Bill Affordability Board (read more here) and plans to expand MARC service into Virginia and out to Newark – both great infrastructure projects that could be funded by a future federal bill, but that now will lose out on potential federal funding. He vetoed several bills that would have provided support for our arts organizations – at a time when our arts organizations are hurting the most, and he vetoed funding for our HBCUs, even though a federal lawsuit means that without this legislation the state may have to pay *more.* It was an incredibly frustrating day and I remain disheartened at the lack of long-term vision and thinking that most of these vetoes indicate our Governor has about the state.

Briefings with Brooke: This week I’m starting a new month of regular Briefings with Brooke – I’ll be talking with some national experts on the environmental impact of COVID-19 and looking forward as we continue to tackle climate change, and also talk with some Maryland leaders about what re-opening looks like. Check out all my webinars HERE to RSVP or sign up below as well! Let me know if YOU have ideas for people or topics I should tackle in these briefings.

For business owners looking for guidance on how to reopen safely (when it is allowed), Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has released operational toolkit. You can find it HERE.

There was great turn out of volunteers and a large number of cars and people come through on Saturday with our food giveaway in combination with Chef Andrés and World Central Kitchen! I’m excited that WCK is also expanding to support some restaurants to give food away as well. To learn more about World Central Kitchen and support their work, visit their website, and read more about their work here.

If you didn’t have a chance to check out what I wrote in The Hill about the importance of the federal government sending funding to state and local governments, give it a read and let me know what you think.

QUICK HITS

Briefings with Brooke!

Part of my job as an elected official is to make sure you have access to information and resources. That’s why I’m so pleased to be bringing you a series of briefings – online conversations where YOU can ask questions. See past recordings and announcements about upcoming webinars on my website HERE.

  • Tuesday, May 12 – The Climate & COVID, What’s Next for our Environment? Join me for a discussion about what’s next in environmental advocacy with special guests Joanne Throwe, President of Throwe Environmental, LLC and Senior Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy’s Center for Global Sustainability; Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters; and Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America Director at 350.org. RSVP here!
  • Thursday, May 14 – Reopening Maryland: Join me for a discussion on reopening Maryland with Ken Skrzesz, Executive Director at the Maryland State Arts Council within the Department of Commerce; Al Hutchinson, President & CEO of Visit Baltimore; Shelonda Stokes, Interim CEO of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, and Alicia Wilson, Vice President of Economic Development for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital System. RSVP here!
  • Tuesday, May 19 – Bridging the Digital Divide: Join me for a discussion on the digital divide with Heidi Daniels, CEO of the Enoch Pratt, Andrew Coy, founder of the Digital Harbor Foundation, Caryn York, CEO of JOTF and Tina Hike-Hubbard, Communications Director of Baltimore City Public Schools. RSVP here!

Business Health HelpOn the Baltimore City Coronavirus website, there is a page with information for community and business leaders that details steps employees and employers should take if an essential worker becomes ill with COVID-19, and other helpful guidance and FAQs. Johns Hopkins has also released important new guidance on how to operate businesses safely! Check it out HERE.  Tis the Season – for Farmers Markets!Farmers markets are back and you can find the closest one to you at THIS website. In D46, we are lucky to have one in Fell’s Point on Saturday mornings and one at the BMI on Saturday mornings. Visit them, buy good food, and support Maryland agriculture! 

Spanish-Language Materials

  • The Legislative Latino Caucus, of which I am a member, has created a Facebook group with materials on COVID in Spanish! I am uploading materials there on a regular basis. Please check it out here.
  • The Latino Economic Development Center can help Spanish speaking small business owners apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Centro Sol from Johns Hopkins Bayview has great materials available here

Preservation Maryland has SEVEN grant opportunities open for organizations. Check them out here.

STATE RESOURCES

June 2 Election Update

This election will take place primarily by mail-in ballot, with up to 4 voting cites in each county and the City. The State Board will mail ballots automatically to every registered voter at the address the State Board of Elections has on file. The ballots will be mailed during the first week of May to provide ample time for voters to mail them back. You will also be able to drop them in a secure location at a voting site on Election Day. See the State Board of Elections Guide HERE.

Executive Update

You can read all about the reopening plan at https://governor.maryland.gov/recovery/. If you have ideas, thoughts, or concerns, please let me know so I can pass them along! To see a list of all of the Governor’s recent Executive Orders, including interpretive guidance on each one click here. This week, the state also launched several drive-through testing sites (appointments still required) and surge temporary medical facilities, including one at the Baltimore Convention Center. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our office – brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3319. 

Maryland Department of Labor Updates

Last week on Wednesday, the Governor and Department of Labor announced that they had fixed all of the tech issues with the new BEACON one-stop UI application. Even if the tech issues have slowed, we know that hundreds of thousands of Marylanders are still waiting for their benefits to arrive (some for over 6 weeks), disputing the outcomes of their claims, struggling with the maze of web certifications, and more. Needless to say, I am not satisfied with these “fixes” and the outcomes are still dismal. Please keep in touch with my office and we will continue to advocate for you.

Here are some resources that the Department released that may be helpful to you.

Video Tutorials:

  • Account Activation and Login – here
  • Applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – HERE – This is the 13 week extension of UI benefits for those that may have exhausted their original 26 weeks.
  • Applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – here – This is the new UI program for self employed, independent contractors, sole proprietors, gig economy workers, non-profits, and those with limited work history.
  • Technical Support Issues – BEACON.Support@maryland.gov

Q&A – Resources for You

  • Feeling stressed out and anxious? Now more than ever it is important that we and everyone makes an effort to take care of themselves including efforts to relax and decompress. Here are some helpful links:
  1. https://www.virusanxiety.com/ 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-practicing-wellness-while-you-stay-at-home
  • Need help applying for unemployment? See “Department of Labor” section under “State Updates” below for detailed information. 
  • Looking for a job? The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development can help with finding a job! Several companies are hiring: https://moed.baltimorecity.gov/job-seekers/now-hiring.
  • Need help finding food now? Food is available at dozens of sites across the city: https://coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/food-distribution-sites
  • Need help with public benefits? SNAP application assistance is provided by Maryland Hunger Solutions (866-821-5552). Legal help with terminations or determinations for SNAP, TCA, or TDAP is provided by the Homeless Persons Representation Project (410-364-4198).
  • Having a legal issue related to eviction/ landlords, utilities, unemployment, immigration, or domestic violence? The Maryland Access to Justice Commission is here to help with civil legal issues: https://www.mdaccesstojustice.org/covid-19/.
  • Questions about workers’ rights and COVID? The Public Justice Center has an awesome FAQ page and great explainers to help you understand your rights: http://www.publicjustice.org/en/legal_help/workers-rights-and-covid-19/
  • Are you from the hospitality industry and looking for resources? Check out the new website of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund. On this site you can learn more about their relief fund and resources for workers and owners in the restaurant world. The website is in Spanish and English.
  • Need health insurance? The Maryland Health Connection has extended the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period to June 15 for uninsured Marylanders who need health coverage. Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the free “Enroll MHC” mobile app. Request or select “Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period.” Free help is available by calling 1-855-642-8572 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Visit www.marylandcares.org for free help with an enrollment dispute.
  • Need help with taxes? Tax prep assistance is provided for free by the Maryland Cash Campaign: http://cashmd.org/ and https://www.mdcashacademy.org/
  • Need day care? Childcare for Essential Personnel: Parents who are still required to go to work can receive support and care for their children by calling 1-877-261-0060, or visiting http://www.marylandfamilynetwork.org/essentialpersonnel.
  • Confused about the Governor’s stay at home directive? The Sun released a helpful, entertaining Q&A. Click here.
  • Haven’t completed your Census Questionnaire yet? Do it today at www.my2020census.gov! It takes 5-10 minutes.
  • Experiencing health issues and need to talk to a healthcare provider for advice or a referral? Call the Esperanza Center’s Health Hotline for bilingual services (M-F, 9AM-5PM) at 667-600-2314.
  • Want more information about COVID-19 from medical professionals?The Healthy Community Partnership and Medicine for the Greater Good at Johns Hopkins Bayview host a coronavirus (COVID-19) update call on Mondays at 3:00 p.m. and Fridays at 11:00 a.m. The dial-in information is: Toll-free number: (888) 651-5908; Participant code: 3569812. There is also a daily podcast, Public Health On Call, which includes interviews about the coronavirus. Daily and past podcasts can be found at http://bit.ly/publichealthoncall. University of Maryland Medical System free call line: open to the public 24/7 to answer questions related to COVID-19. Calls will be answered and routed by an Operator. A Registered Nurse will then connect with callers to answer their questions The call line number is 1-888-713-0711.For more information, visit https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/nurse-call-line 
  • Want to volunteer in a way that is safe and complies with the Governor’s stay at home order? Complete a volunteer application and sign up for a shift here. There are a wide variety of organizations in need of diverse skill sets! For a full list of current volunteer opportunities, click here. Blood donations are critically needed and are considered an essential activity – make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org.
  • Finding that essential household items have jumped up in price? Price gouging of important resources is illegal! Report any personal experiences by contact the Attorney General’s Office at 410-528-8662, or email consumer@oag.state.md.us. 
  • Worried about a senior who might be lonely? There’s a new program that organizes friendly phone calls to elderly neighbors. If you’d like to get involved or sign someone up, visit: BaltimoreNeighborsNetwork.org.
  • Worried about someone who may be experiencing domestic violence? Most domestic violence and sexual assault services providers are still open, including the SAFE & DV program at BGMC, House of Ruth, and others. Learn more here: https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-domestic-violence-coronavirus-20200326-qa3r334fcba2xcymmjp4q4znim-story.html. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • Are you a small business owner or leader of a nonprofit that needs support? Sign up for my business-focused weekly emails with resources/information here: https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-3341106874043858944 and visit my Business Resources Guide here: http://www.brookelierman.com/2020/03/19/covid-response-business-resources/
  • Are you an independent artist in need of financial support? The Maryland State Arts Council just launched an emergency grant for artists, as they do not qualify for some of the state and federal relief programs. Learn more here.
  • Need help paying for housing? The following third party organizations in Baltimore City are offering assistance with paying for housing, if needed, during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
  • Franciscan Center: 410-467-5340
  • HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM): 410-649-0529
  • American Legion Department of MD State Headquarters: 410-752-1405, 800-433-3318
  • New Shiloh Baptist Church: 410-523-5306
  • All Saints Church: 410-542-0445
  • Mount Moriah Baptist: 410-945-3575
  • New Creation Christian Church Love Outreach Ministry: 410-488-5653
  • Paul’s Place: 410-625-0775
  • Walbrook Vicinity Churches Assistance Ministry: 410-383-1525
  • Zion Baptist Church: 410-837-4181
  • St. Anthony of Padua: 410-488-9918
  • Mercy Supportive Housing Program: 410-675-2125
  • Salvation Army Family Service Center: 410-783-2920
  • City Temple Outreach: 410-383-8040, 410-462-4800
  • Friendship Outreach Center: 410-444-1595
  • Bon Secours Community Works: 410-362-3808
  • Baltimore City District Court — Eviction Prevention Program: 410-878-8650
  • St Vincent de Paul — The Samaritan Center: 667-600-3700 ext. 1

Resources regardless of immigration status (from MIMA)

BALTIMORE CITY UPDATE

Updates on Baltimore City Government Operations are available via the link below:

www.coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov. The City also has a new COVID-19 Online Dashboard with breakdowns by race, zip code, age, gender and number of cases over time. Baltimore Development Corporation created a website to serve as a repository of information and resources for both residents and businesses and will be continuously updated as new information becomes available. Please visit www.BaltimoreTogether.com for a more comprehensive list of resources for businesses, workers and the general public.

Distance Learning in City Schools continues! The hub for this initiative is www.baltimorecityschools.org/distance-learning. For help with homework and class assignments and questions about online learning, please call City Schools’ Homework and Technology Help Desk at 443-984-2001. The hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Lessons on television – Students will be able to access daily reading, math, science, and art lessons on City Schools TV (Comcast 77) and the city’s CharmTV (Comcast 25 and 1025). Additionally, CharmTV will offer lessons via streaming video at http://www.charmtvbaltimore.com. A schedule of lessons will be available on the district’s Distance Learning webpage. 

Food: Many schools continue to offer breakfast and lunch for students. They are “grab and go” meals. The Parent may go and pick up a meal for their family – the students do not have to be there. To see a list of meal sites visit here: https://www.bmorechildren.com/freemeals.

Tax information

Business Tax Payments Extension: Businesses in Maryland will be given a 90-day extension for tax payments. No interest or penalty for late payments will be imposed if 2019 tax payments are made by July 15, 2020.

Business Tax Filing Deadline Extension: The Maryland Comptroller’s Office also extended business-related tax filing deadlines to June 1, 2020.

Business Licensing & Permitting Extension: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating all licenses, permits, and registrations that would expire during the current state of emergency to be extended until at least the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted.

FEDERAL UPDATE

To date, there are three new federal laws to provide economic relief related to COVID-19:

  • H.R.748: (CARES) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – Enacted March 27, 2020.  Includes direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses, and a new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry
  • H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act — Enacted March 18, 2020. Guaranteed free coronavirus testing, established paid leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, expanded food security initiatives, and increased federal Medicaid funding.
  • H.R. 6074: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 — Enacted March 4, 2020. Provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak related to developing a vaccine, medical supplies, grants for public health agencies, small business loans, and assistance for health systems in other countries. Allowed for temporarily waiving Medicare restrictions and requirements regarding telehealth services.

The CARES Act will provide about $4 billion in aid to Maryland, including millions of dollars for FEMA, SNAP, local school districts, local nutrition programs and childcare. It will support small businesses and nonprofits through three main programs. All of these programs are now accepting applications! You can learn more about each program and apply for them by clicking “learn more”. There are other helpful links with checklists and guides at the end of this email.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance (EIDL). Learn more. This is a working capital loan, but cannot be used to refinance preexisting debt. First payment on the loan, when approved, will be deferred from a 12-month period. Interest rate fixed at $3.75 and maximum term is 30 years. Sole proprietors and most non-profits are eligible. There is also an advance does not need to be repaid available at the end of the loan application. You can access up to $10,000 immediate payment to be used for payroll and other operating expenses.
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) – Learn more. The applications open today. Can be used for payroll, benefits, utilities, etc. If employees are retained on the payroll, then the loan will be forgiven. Loan payments deferred for 6-months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. A sample application form is available here. Private non-profit organizations and veteran organizations are eligible.

A LITTLE FUN

First and foremost: go easy on yourself. Your friends may be posting clothing they have created from their newfound sewing or knitting obsession and your sibling may be training for a marathon, but each of us is experiencing this unique and challenging time differently. So, give yourself a break. That said, here are a few fun things online… 

  • Museums offer a rich learning experience which doesn’t have to stop when you’re at home.  Keep kids of all ages engaged with FREE activities designed and collected by the education staff at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. 
https://www.thebmi.org/visit/visit-from-home/?fbclid=IwAR2pjmFlMRtsGtsDjmTBDtF4aAV69qjpzQW_R61Oa-EuevsxsjFH00Yg3L0
  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays until the museum can reopen, the team at the B&O Railroad Museum presents a new episode of Junior Junction, a virtual storytime with corresponding educational activities for parents  and educators to download at home. http://www.borail.org/jrjunction.aspx
  • The Maryland Zoo educators are bringing the Zoo to You weekdays at 11 a.m. on both  Facebook and Instagram. Each episode features a different animal with fun facts and info on how they are cared for at the Zoo. https://www.facebook.com/MarylandZoo/?ref=br_tf
  • Thousands of artworks from around the world and across centuries, along with ancient manuscripts, are available for virtual browsing via The Walters’ online collections. Transport yourself to another time and get lost in the art for awhile. https://art.thewalters.org/
  • Baltimore City Rec Centers have gone virtual! You will find FREE video tutorials, crafts, fitness, games and activities for all ages. We want to make sure you stay active and have fun while at home. The Virtual Rec is growing daily, so check back often. #stayhomeheroes https://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/virtual-rec
  • Starting to feel cabin fever? Take a virtual tour of a historic ship in Baltimore: https://historicships.org/
  • The Reginald F. Lewis Museum has put together online resources to educate your family Maryland’s African American history and culture while having fun. Virtual storytime is held every Thursday at 1PM on Facebook and Youtube. 
https://www.facebook.com/rflewismuseum?mc_cid=b9c5f92269&mc_eid=5808054316
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd4AjBjKVQgqtiM2H20zuHQ?mc_cid=b9c5f92269&mc_eid=5808054316
  • Missing Baseball? Stream Ken Burns documentary for free here.
  • Go on a trip without leaving your home! This list has dozens of online experiences from all over the world. 
  • Baltimore Magazine has put together some entertaining kids at-home activities as well – click here.
  • Amazon made a library of kids movies free for streaming – click here.
  • Access some fun at our Maryland Science Center! Click here.

Additional Trusted Information

2020 End of Session Report

Friends and Neighbors,

To download a PDF of this letter, click here.

For the first time since the Civil War, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned early this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision to adjourn the legislative session did not come lightly. House and Senate leadership coordinated to make a decision that was informed, research-based, and promptly responded to the current public health crisis. Public health research shows that the more steps we can take right now to prevent transmission of the virus, the better off we’ll be. Practicing social distancing now can save lives later.

Despite our early finish, the General Assembly session was incredibly productive. Thanks in part to our new leadership team – Speaker Adrienne Jones and President Bill Ferguson – we moved expeditiously and in coordinated fashion to pass legislation that will help our state move forward. In the pages below, you will find information on legislation that we considered.

It is an incredible honor to serve in the House of Delegates and I continue to champion legislation that reduces barriers and increases opportunities so that every Marylander can reach his/her full potential. You can always get in touch with me at 410-841-3319 and brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us. To read more about my work, please sign up for my email updates and visit my blog at www.brookelierman.com. Thank you for being involved!

MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVID-19 RESPONSE

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, and a national emergency has been declared. Governor Hogan and Mayor Young announced that Maryland and Baltimore will operate under states of emergency and will take additional precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. My website has links and information for families, employees, students, small business owners, and more.

COVID-19 Emergency Legislation

The General Assembly and Governor are unified in the effort to keep residents safe in the wake of this rapidly evolving public health threat. The General Assembly passed two bills to provide the Governor with the necessary tools to respond to this public health emergency:

(1) SB190: FY21 State Budget. In our annual budget, we set aside and provided authority to the Governor to use up to $100 million to help respond to the public health threat. We also left a larger-than-normal fund balance because of the likelihood for a large decrease in revenues.

(2) HB1663: COVID–19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020. This bill allows the Governor to take specific actions to expand healthcare benefits and protect workers in response to the public health threat such as:

  • eliminating co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs for COVID–19 testing and covering the cost of a COVID–19 immunization should it become available
  • waiving certain telehealth protocols for COVID–19 to allow more patients to be diagnosed and treated over the phone and online
  • allowing the state, in partnership with federal government, to provide unemployment insurance benefits to workers who are temporarily out of work or quarantined due to COVID–19
  • preventing retailers from price gouging necessary goods and services such as food, water, fuel, and medicine
  • prohibiting employers from firing employees who are isolated or quarantined for COVID-19
  • changing the definition of a work week to allow state hospital nurses to care for COVID identified patients and still be eligible for full-time benefits

FY2021 OPERATING & CAPITAL BUDGET

Under the Maryland Constitution, the General Assembly must pass a balanced budget each year. Maryland has a “strong executive” model: the Governor proposes the initial budget early in session, and theGeneral Assembly can only cut or restrict funds and move money aroundin the operating budget (although we can add to the capital budget). The FY21 operating budget that we passed is balanced and creates a more structurally-balanced budget in future years than we have seen in some time. We worked hard to ensure that we were able to fully fund K-12 education formulas and fully fund the promised increases in salary to all behavioral health and disabilities service providers. We also fully funded our community colleges and provided our state share of funding for the Howard Street Tunnel.

Fast Fact: Maryland’s Governor has the strongest constitutional budget authority of any governor in the nation. This year you will have the opportunity to vote on whether you think (like I do!) that our General Assembly should be able to amend the operating budget like we can with the capital budget – and like nearly every other state legislature can.

FY21 Capital Budget

Capital Budget – Team 46 worked hard this year to secure & safeguard funding for many organizations & projects around our district, including…

Creative Alliance, The Well/Hon’s Honey, Living Classrooms Foundation, Middle Branch Park, Rash Field, Hands on Patterson Park Public, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery, Chesapeake Shakespeare Theater, South Baltimore Land Trust, The Cherry Hill CDC, Life Ministries Food Pantry, Ronald McDonald House, the National Aquarium …. And $12m for the Baltimore Regional Neighborhoods Initiative at DHCD that provides funding for community development corporations for capital projects around Baltimore

EDUCATION

More people emailed me about the education reform and funding bill The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (HB1300/SB1000) than about any other single piece of legislation. After 3 years of meetings by the Kirwan Commission, this year we introduced and eventually passed landmark legislation that will change public education in Maryland over the next decade. Today, fewer than 40% of graduating high school students are college and career ready. Moreover, our current school funding formula is regressive – poorer school districts receive less funding and we have large achievement gaps based on socioeconomic status, race, disability, English language proficiency, and at-risk designation. And, average salaries for teachers are 25% below comparable professions and nearly half of teachers leave the profession after two years. If we don’t provide children a great education now, we will be paying higher costs in health care, public safety, and benefits generations to come. The Blueprint is a transformational plan that makes 5 key investments, implemented over 10 years:

  • Expanding full-day prekindergarten for low-income 3 and 4 year olds and providing more family support centers in high-poverty areas
  • Hiring and keeping high-quality, diverse teachers by paying teachers a salary comparable to other fields, providing more rigorous teacher preparation programs and implementing career ladders to provide more opportunities for career advancement
  • Raising the standards for college and career readiness so students can compete with their international peers
  • Providing more resources for the students who need them most
  • Implementing an accountability board to monitor progress and ensure tax-payer funds are being used effectively

The Blueprint isn’t just good for public schools, it’s a vital investment in Maryland’s economic future. It will help attract new businesses and entrepreneurs as our state adapts to an economy increasingly rooted in technological innovation. The Blueprint relies on strong accountability measures to ensure that new funding is spent how it should be, including the creation of a new oversight body: the Office of the Inspector General for Education.

Of equal importance, I was thrilled to support the Built to Learn Act (HB1/SB1). This legislation will invest additional capital funding in our school buildings, including $450 million for Baltimore City Public Schools. HB1 prioritizes schools with the oldest buildings in the system, those with significant facility deficiencies, schools with high concentrations of students eligible for free and reduced price meals, and schools with a high number of relocatable classrooms.

In the world of higher education, we made historic progress by passing HB1260/SB1043 which finally requires the state to compensate HBCUs for over a decade of damaging program duplication that the state allowed to go on even though it undermined and hurt enrollment at HBCUs. We also took strides to support our student athletes in higher education. I am excited about the potential of a bill that I sponsored this year to support our college student athletes – the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act (HB533/SB518). This bipartisan bill would allow student athletes the right to use their own name, image, or likeness to earn money (something the NCAA doesn’t allow), and would create a Commission to review rules and ensure our student athletes are healthy and safe. We have many great supporters, including the McNair family, College Park’s student government, the NFL Players Association, former college athletes, sports law professors and more! Although the bill did not pass this year, I will continue to champion this cause because I believe that many of our college athletes are being exploited and are being stripped of their basic human rights to participate in the economy.

I also heard from many of you about the various proposals in the General Assembly to increase revenue. For many years, revenue projections have demonstrated that our state sales tax is underperforming, largely because people buy fewer goods now and spend more money on services, including online services. Many of you wrote in with concerns about the large proposed sales tax bill (HB1628). I shared your concerns about its breadth and the fact that it may have placed many of our professionals at a disadvantage with other states. That bill did not pass. Rather, we looked at ways to modernize our tax code without putting additional burdens on working families. HB932 modernizes Maryland’s tax code. Today, if you buy a CD at Best Buy, you pay sales tax – if you download the music on iTunes, you do not. This bill ensures equity across platforms and evens the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and online outlets. It brings us in line with 28 other states with the same exact revenue structure and will help fund public education. We also passed HB732 to increase the existing excise tax on cigarettes by an additional $1.75 and impose an excise tax on electronic smoking and vaping, something 21 other states and D.C. have already done. It also sets up Maryland to be the first state in the country to apply a gross receipts tax to large advertising buys. Companies such as Facebook will now be required to pay a tax based on the overall revenue of their online ads. Everyone can relate to constantly being buried by ads online, and this bill will ensure companies who use your personal information to make targeted ads help give back to our schools.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The violence in Baltimore City is absolutely unacceptable, and many of you wrote in to me to ask what the state plans to do to help create a safer city. The loss of life and ongoing crime is tragic and must end. I worked every day this session on legislation to create safer communities in Baltimore and around Maryland.

Two years ago, I championed and passed Maryland’s first program to prevent gun violence using evidence-based efforts. Although the Governor funded the program during its first year, he zeroed it out in FY20. Therefore, this year, I sponsored HB822/SB708, a bill to mandate a minimum of $10 million in funding for and to make several alterations to the Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (MD VIPP) which funds local efforts around the state.

MD VIPP is the state’s only program designed to fund a variety of evidence-based violence prevention programs like Safe Streets, Roca, and hospital-based violence intervention programs. The Police Commissioner agrees that these programs are a fundamental piece to creating a safer Baltimore – the police can do enforcement but they cannot do the prevention and intervention that is also needed. Programs like these have been credited with violence reduction in Boston, Oakland, Chicago, and more. New York, which has long provided stable funding to such programs, has seen a nearly 40% reduction in its gun homicide levels since 2010. I am thrilled that we were able to pass this legislation on the last day of session. 

We also passed a number of other important public safety bills, including:

Strengthening Witness Intimidation Laws (HB40). This legislation lowers the standard of proof from clear and convincing to preponderance of the evidence in criminal cases when it’s believed there has been witness intimidation. This gives prosecutors another tool in the toolbox when dealing with organized crime or gun cases where members of the community can be afraid to come forward and help with a case.

Auditing and Tracking Gun Crimes (HB1629). This bill requires a statewide audit of gun crimes to pinpoint where the breakdown exists in the criminal justice system, from 911 call to disposition. The better we can track this information the better law enforcement will have the ability to allocate resources where communities need them.

The PROTECT Act (HB1408/SB929). The PROTECT Program is established to maximize the use of State, local, and community resources to combat neighborhood decline in Baltimore City and throughout the State, support comprehensive strategies to reduce crime and fear in those communities, and ensure that Baltimore City Police Department sworn officers are utilized in direct public safety roles. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention will select 10 high-crime micro-zones within the State and create, as a civilian position, one coordinator in each neighborhood who lives in the neighborhood and will work with state agencies to support that community and better prepare returning citizens for re-entry and a life that is not reliant on crime.

Maryland State Crime Plan and Law Enforcement Councils (SB907). This emergency legislation creates the Law Enforcement Coordinating Council to prevent and reduce crime by (1) coordinating and focusing State resources and (2) ensuring interagency communications and intelligence sharing throughout State and local law enforcement agencies. The legislation also requires the Department of State Police to establish regional councils throughout the State to: identify regional crime trends; strategize on the deployment of resources to respond to regional crime — particularly violent crime; review outstanding warrants; and discuss community engagement efforts.

Background Checks on All Private Gun Purchases (HB4). This crucial public safety legislation will ensure that all rifle and shotgun transfers are done above board. Currently, there is no law that requires background checks are conducted for private firearm sales. House Bill 4 will result in tens of thousands of additional background checks conducted and ensure each and every transaction is properly vetted. This bill also imposes penalties on any parties who attempt to circumvent this background check process or provide false information to complete a transfer.

I am hopeful that this robust package of legislation will make a real impact on crime and prosecution rates in Baltimore. I live in and am raising children in Baltimore and not a day goes by that I am not working to create a safer city for everyone.

ENVIRONMENT

As a coastal state and one dependent on our waterways and beaches for tourism, Maryland must play a leading role in preserving our environment – for future generations, but also for economic reasons. I am a strong supporter of environmental legislation, and am proud of my record as a “Green Champion” by the League of Conservation Voters. This year, I championed three bills to protect the environment: (1) The Plastic Bag Reduction Act (HB209/SB313), (2) the Transit Safety and Investment Act (HB368/SB424), and (3) the Environmental Accountability and Transparency Act (HB614/SB460). All three of these bills sought to address global warming and the degradation of our environment: (1) by reducing trash and pollution of our waterways, (2) by making public transit in Maryland safer and more reliable so that people can get where they need to go, and so that more people are inclined to use public transit instead of driving their own cars, and (3) by ensuring that the public has access to complaints, enforcement reports, and violations of environmental and natural resource laws — this will empower the public to be watchdogs and increase accountability at the Maryland Department of the Environment. All of these bills passed one chamber but not the other because of the shortened session. I plan to sponsor these bills again next year.

I supported many other environmental initiatives as well. Many of you reached out to me about HB1545/SB887, a bill to responsibly decrease Maryland’s carbon dioxide emissions rate by ending coal burning at Maryland’s six remaining coal plants and support coal plant workers and communities impacted by coal plant closures by establishing a Coal Community Transition Fund. I also heard from many of you about HB438/SB560, a bill to update Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards so that trash incineration is no longer classified as a renewable energy source, and is no longer subsidized by the state.Unfortunately, neither of these bills passed. After several years of effort, the General Assembly did pass a ban on Chlorpyrifos (HB229/SB300). This bill prohibits aerial application of chlorpyrifos and establishes a Pesticide Transition Fund to support Maryland farmers transitioning away from chlorpyrifos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that chlorpyrifos is the fourth most common pesticide found in human foods!

I was proud to be part of a movement this session to focus on resiliency as our coastal towns and cities in Maryland prepare for rising water levels and hotter temperatures. Flooding already causes around $2 million in damages each year in Baltimore and the urban heat island effect causes public health issues throughout District 46. It’s time that we start putting time and resources into planning for these inevitable emergencies. I co-sponsored HB539/SB457 to allow the City and other counties to create their own Resilience Authorities to give more leeway to funding initiatives to mitigate flooding and rising temperatures.

My plastic bag ban legislation was part of the “Pathway to Zero Waste” legislative package this year. This package included many of the bills that I discussed above, plus legislation focused on incentivizing composting, recycling transparency, and more. I will be supporting and co-sponsoring many of these bills again next year to help them gain more traction and help move our state to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

TRANSPORTATION

One of my most important bills this session was legislation to provide dedicated funding to the Maryland Transit Administration. The Transit Safety and Investment Act (HB368/SB424) sought to ensure that the State is providing the proper investment into MTA’s capital resources. MDOT’s Capital Needs Inventory in 2019 revealed that they needed $2 billion additional dollars simply to maintain a state of good repair over the next 10 years! Although we were successful in the House, the Senate did not pass this legislation prior to Sine Die. With the rapid decrease in travel because of COVID-19, I suspect that our MTA will be in even more dire straits next year. I also helped usher through a bill to work toward expanded MARC service. HB1236 will start the process of negotiating with Virginia and Delaware to expand commuter service and will require a plan for a spur between the Penn and Camden line in downtown Baltimore. Unfortunately, the study to restart creation of the Baltimore Bayview station was cut from the bill at the last moment – I will continue championing that as well.

Late last year I helped create the first Maryland Transit Caucus and this year it saw huge growth – we now count over 75 members! I am thrilled to help lead this Caucus and was proud of the package of bipartisan legislation we prioritized this year.

The Transit Caucus prioritized six bills this year – four of which passed through the House! They included: (1) the MTA funding bill; (2) the P3 Oversight and Reform Act (HB1424), to strengthen Maryland’s public-private partnership laws to ensure oversight and predictability to protect the financial and environmental health of the state; (3) the Pedestrian Safety Act (HB973/SB815), to dedicate fines for traffic offenses related to pedestrians to the Pedestrian Safety Fund; (4) the Electric Bus Transition Act (HB432/SB423), to require MTA to transition its approximately 800 bus fleet to all electric over time, as the agency procures replacement buses; (5) the Southern Maryland Transit Project (HB205/SB105), which requires the state to pay over the course of several years for the final environmental planning phase of the Southern MD Rapid Transit Project; and (6) the Western Maryland Transit Study (HB1367), which requires the MDOT to study the feasibility of expanding commuter rail service to Western Maryland via the MARC Train line and/or currently inactive rail lines. Most of these bills passed in their own chamber, but none of them made it all the way to the Governor’s desk. We will remain committed to and continue to push these issues as the caucus grows stronger! I look forward to working with my fellow members in the House and Senate to pass these important bills and create a more vibrant and better connected state.

ARTS

Over 25,248 full-time equivalent jobs in Maryland owe their creation to the arts sector in Maryland, along with $87.4 million in local and state revenue. The total economic activity generated by the arts sector in Maryland has been measured to be over $961 million per year. Undoubtedly, the arts sector in Maryland is prolific, an economic engine, and adds to the wealth of reasons to live in the State of Maryland – and in Baltimore, where we are so fortunate to have an abundance of museums, music, and arts organizations working with and in our communities every day. Every year that I have been in office, the Governor has reduced funding for arts organizations. This year, he allocated zero capital dollars for arts organizations in the capital budget, including museums, theaters, and more. Therefore, this session, I sponsored two bills to support our arts communities in Maryland – one bill to support capital funding for arts organizations and create the Maryland Arts Capital Grant Program (HB127/SB287), and another to support operating funding (HB135/SB465). Combined, these bills sought to support our small and large arts organizations now and in the years to come. The arts not only enrich our lives, they help our state economy and our communities thrive. It’s imperative that Maryland continue to support and invest in the arts. Both of these bills came very close to passing, and I will continue to support the arts next session and beyond!

PROMOTING STRONG FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

Baltimore – and Maryland – are only as strong as our communities and families. I am passionate about supporting families, workers, and small businesses and every year I sponsor and support legislation to promote our communities.

Housing & Neighborhoods

This year, after 23 years of introductions, the Maryland General Assembly took a critical step towards ending housing discrimination by passing the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act (HB231/SB530). The HOME Act ensures that individuals using a voucher cannot be turned down for housing simply because of the type of income they have to spend on housing – it prohibits “source of income” discrimination. I was incredibly proud to be the lead sponsor of this legislation and carry on the work of former Delegates John Hurson, Tom Hucker, Salima Marriott, Liz Bobo, Doyle Niemann, and Steve Lafferty.

I also sponsored the Community Development Program Act (HB472/SB387), that, if passed would have provided additional resources to the dormant Community Development Fund, that is dedicated to supporting neighborhood revitalization, community organizing, community services, small business development and main street district revitalization across our state. We failed to pass the bill this year but I will continue to champion this cause in the future because I firmly believe in investing in community-based organizations because of the key role that they play in the neighborhood revitalization.

Supporting Workers & Families

I was a proud co-sponsor of the Time to Care Act (HB839/SB539) again this year which would give Marylanders more support when they need time off work to care for loved ones at the beginning of life, the end of life, or during an emergency. I believe that the government has a role to play in ensuring stability for families at a time when personal life has to come first. Unfortunately, due to the shortened legislative session, this bill did not make it through the legislative process. I look forward to enthusiastically supporting it again next year.

Too many Maryland employees and businesses are being harmed by an unfair and unnecessary employment practice that remains all too common: relying on applicants’ salary history to set pay. I co-sponsored the “wage history bill” (HB123/SB217) that requires an employer, on request, to provide a job applicant the wage range for the position to which they are applying, rather than allowing the employer to rely on an applicant’s wage history to determine their future pay. The latter approach has a tendency to perpetuate wage discrimination from one job to the next. Eliminating salary history from the decision of what to pay someone is long overdue; enacting this legislation will make Maryland employment policy more equitable for all. This bill passed and will become law.

I was also an enthusiastic supporter of Maryland’s CROWN Act (HB1444/SB 531) which will add hair texture and style to the definition of race and prohibit employers from discriminating against employees for their hairstyles. This bill was passed with bipartisan and overwhelming support and was sent to the Governor.

Protecting Marylanders’ Access to Healthcare

We worked on a number of important health care bills this session to ensure that all Marylanders have access to quality, affordable health care services and medications, including:

HB959/SB872: Health Insurance – As the Trump administration makes efforts in Congress, in the courts, and across the country to derail the Affordable Care Act, it was important to join my colleagues in supporting this bill which will codify several aspects of the ACA into state law, specifically the consumer protection provisions.

HB1120/SB738: Health Care Providers and Health Benefit Plans – This bill restricts hospitals and medical facilities from withholding medical services from a patient due to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or disability of the individual. It is critical that we try to remove bias from the health care system and ensure equitable access to care for all.

HB448/SB402: Telehealth Practices – This bill authorizes health care providers to provide telehealth services for their patients so long as the level of care remains consistent. Telehealth makes it easier for Marylanders with geographic, time, and mobility restrictions to receive primary and behavioral health services. Telehealth is also vital in a time of public health emergency, such as COVID-19.

HB1100: Prescription Drug Affordability Board – This bill allows the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to set upper payment limits with the ultimate goal of lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Marylanders.

HB1420/SB 875: Hospital Financial Assistance Policies and Bill Collections – I was a proud co-sponsor of this legislation which will expand financial assistance to families across Maryland who otherwise would not be able to afford hospital care.

All of these bills passed and are pending the Governor’s signature to become law!

I will continue to work with my colleagues next year to pass HB1081/SB873: the Medical Debt Protection Act. This bill would have put into place a number of guardrails to protect Marylanders from predatory hospital debt collection practices and ensure that Marylanders would not become destitute because they got sick.

Protecting Consumers – Retail Energy Suppliers

In the past two years, the number of calls I receive from constituents complaining about doorknocks from retail energy salesmen continues to increase. This year, I was proud to sponsor HB1224/SB685 to ensure that low-income Marylanders who receive energy assistance from the state are not being taken advantage of by these third-party retail supply companies. This legislation would follow the lead of several other states that have created a way to ensure that only third party suppliers with electricity/gas products that cost less than standard offer service can take energy assistance funds…another way to ensure that we are using taxpayer dollars (via energy assistance programs) most efficiently and responsibly! This bill passed the Senate but we ran out of time to consider it in the House. I will work hard to pass this bill next year.

SUPPORTING MARYLAND BUSINESSES

Baltimore is special because of our people and because of our small businesses – they add character and a draw to so many of our neighborhoods! Whether it’s an urban pirate ship docked in Fell’s Point, an independent bookstore, cheese shop, restaurant, tech or architecture or law firm – the economy of our District and our City relies on these businesses to thrive and to create jobs. I try hard to be an advocate for our business sector, including brick and mortar stores and our entrepreneurial community. This year, I supported our small businesses by co-sponsoring several pieces of legislation, including HB492/SB493, a bipartisan bill that increases the minimum amount of funding that the Governor must appropriate each year to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network Fund to over $1 million. The SBDC offers free business consulting services to new and existing small businesses. The counseling provided ranges from best practices to financing to bringing all appropriate or applicable resources to the table. I also co-sponsored a bill to establish the Maryland Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Incentive Program (HB514/SB398), which aims to foster job creation and economic development in the state through a grant and investment program administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO).

I also enthusiastically supported a bill to create greater opportunities for minority business enterprises (HB313/SB442) and was a proud sponsor of HB521/SB583 to establish the Maryland Small Business Innovation Research Technical Assistance Program. This program provides technical assistance to eligible small businesses to encourage and facilitate the receipt of grants under the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs. I am thrilled that all four of these bills passed both chambers and are awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law. Unfortunately, we were not able to pass HB930/SB977 which was a bill that Delegate Lewis and I proposed with Senator Hester to establish a small business health insurance subsidy program to help defray costs for small businesses to access affordable health insurance coverage through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

I heard from many of you this year about HB1219/SB817 which would take politics out of the parole process by increasing the number of years an individual with a life sentence must serve in prison before being able to be paroled, and removing the requirement for the Governor to review and approve parole. Unfortunately, this bill did not have time to make its way through the Senate in the shortened session. Fortunately, we were able to pass HB801/SB684 to create the state’s first pre-release unit *for women* – who have never had one before! Pre-release centers are critical resources for successful re-entry and it puts women inmates at a huge disadvantage not to have access to one.

Too often, individuals land in jail simply for being poor and unable to afford paying a fine or fee. Following the lead of D.C. and Virginia, I worked with Attorney General Brian Frosh this session to pass legislation prohibiting the MVA from suspending a driver’s license merely because an individual cannot afford to pay a fine or fee (civil suit is still an option for the state). HB280/SB234 will also enable more people to take advantage of payment plans offered by the court system which can apply retroactively.

I also worked with the Maryland Parent-Teacher Association, the Office of the Public Defender, and many churches to propose legislation designed to ensure that our young people are not falsely confessing to charges and their parents are notified when they are detained by police. Children under 18 provide false confessions at three times the rate of adults. This past year, two young students (with disabilities) were questioned by police in school for having play money and their parents were not notified. As a parent, I find that unacceptable. I worked on HB624/SB593, the Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act to ensure parental notification, Miranda rights that are understandable for kids, and to ensure that a lawyer is available for children prior to questioning. The bill did not pass this session, but I will continue to work to ensure due process exists for all Marylanders.

OPEN & ETHICAL GOVERNMENT

I believe that the government should be open and transparent to all residents as a key component of Democracy. In order to move us closer towards this goal, this session I sponsored the Equitable Access to Records Act (HB502/SB590) which streamlines and simplifies the process for residents making requests under the Public Information Act. In this same vein, I co-sponsored a bill (HB140/SB56) which requires petitions and ballot questions to be written in plain language – at a 6th grade reading level or below – so that more Marylanders can truly understand what they are voting on when issues come to the public for a vote. These bills did not pass this session – we simply ran out of time – but I will continue working on open government issues next session. As the new ethics subcommittee chair, I also oversaw a number of ethics bills and I was happy to help pass HB315, a bill that ensures that there is no ‘revolving door’ in government so that in addition to legislators, that also no secretaries can leave their positions and immediately begin lobbying. We also increased penalties for bribery. We did not have time to pass other legislation, but I look forward to continuing to strengthen our ethics laws – send me your ideas!

THANK YOU!

It is the honor of my life to serve as a State Delegate in the Maryland House and to represent the people of District 46. In the limited amount of time that we had, I worked day in and day out to pass legislation to create opportunities, reduce barriers, create a safe, thriving, and prosperous Maryland for all.

I look forward to continuing serving as your representative and hope you will keep in touch with me during this challenging time. Never hesitate to reach out to me or my legislative director, Dani DiPietro, with concerns, questions, or ideas. Our office phone number is (410) 841-3319 and we can be reached by email at brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us. Take care!

My best,

Brooke



Baltimore COVID-19 FAQs

Resources en Espanol: mima.baltimorecity.gov/coronavirus

What are the state websites I should bookmark? https://governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites/ https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/

https://governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites/

What do I do if I think I am sick?
Stay calm and follow these guidelines from the CDC: CDC Guidelines
Call your primary care physician! Your doctor can help you find more information and appropriate next steps

Where can I get food?

  • Children: Whether your children rely on school to receive meals or your kitchen is purely for show and you have no idea how to cook……you can find where meals are being distributed to students here: https://www.bmorechildren.com/freemeals
  • Rec Centers: 40 of the City’s 44 Rec Centers are offering afternoon snacks and dinner foods. Visit https://www.bmorechildren.com/freemeals
  • Seniors: Visit the Rec Centers or check out these resources for more information –

Where can I buy groceries at stores with less crowds?

  • GIANT: Seniors may shop from 6am-7am
  • Dollar General: Seniors may shop during first hour of each day
  • Target: Seniors may shop an hour before stores open on Wednesdays
  • Whole Foods: Seniors may shop an hour before opening
  • Safeway: Seniors may shop 6am-9am on Tuesdays and Thursdays

What grocery stores will deliver to my home?

  • GIANT: PeaPod, 1800-573-2763
  • Safeway: www.Safeway.com
  • Eddie’s Roland Park: 410-889-1558
  • ShopRite: Shop.shoprite.com
  • Chesapeake Farm to Table:  443-841-2327

I’m a small business owner – how can I get a loan or assistance? Small businesses in Baltimore City are eligible to apply for funding through the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can apply directly to the SBA for financial assistance here: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Comptroller’s Office: Check out tax information here.

What services are open in Baltimore City? Updates on Baltimore City Government Operations are available via the link below:
health.baltimorecity.gov/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Where can I find more information about my child’s public school? Baltimore City Public Schools COVID-19 Information Portal:
baltimorecityschools.org/health-updates

I have a condition that makes me vulnerable but I am afraid if I do not go to work I will lose my job!
Governor Larry Hogan signed HB1663/SB1080, the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020, which supports the governor’s ongoing actions to combat COVID-19 and protects Marylanders from certain economic hardships that may result from this pandemic.

What do I do if I do not have health insurance?
●      It is the goal of Maryland Health Connection to offer affordable ACA-compliant insurance coverage to uninsured Marylanders. The coronavirus emergency special enrollment period will begin Monday, March 16, and end Wednesday, April 15. Coverage will begin April 1, 2020, regardless of when a health plan is selected during that time period.
●      To enroll, individuals can visit MD Health Connection or download the free “Enroll MHC” mobile app. When enrolling, consumers should request or select “Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period.”
Free consumer assistance is available by calling 855-642-8572 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Deaf and hard of hearing may use Relay. Help is available in more than 200 languages

I own a small business and am concerned about how I am going to survive this pandemic!
The entire state of Maryland has received a Disaster Declaration for Economic Injury. Small businesses may apply for economic injury disaster loans here: Small Business Administration

I can not even start to think about taxes at a time like this!
Earlier this week the Federal Administration moved the payment deadline for federal taxes to July 15th. There is no need to file for an extension, you can pay up to and on July 15th without interest or penalties. In addition, Maryland business and individual income taxpayers will be given a 90-day extension for tax payments. No interest or penalty for late payments will be imposed if 2019 tax payments are made by July 15, 2020. Press Release more information, or reach out to tax payer relief e-mail with questions.

Hundreds of City residents have applied for unemployment insurance. For displaced workers, check out these resources:

I don’t drive. Is Mass Transit still available?
The best policy for everyone is to stay put as much as possible. That being said, if you have an emergency and absolutely must get somewhere, you can find the most up to date information on transit here: mass transit

COVID Response – Business Resources

The MD Department of Commerce has a site set up with business information, including loans to retain employees and more: https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus

The Comptroller’s Office has indicated that there is an extension for ALL TAX PAYMENTS.

You can now apply for SBA emergency loans, 30-year terms, up to $2mil. Apply online at the SBA website: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Maryland Small Business Development Center Guide to loans/grants and ‘how to’ guide can be found here.

Small Business Relief & Unemployment Benefits
✔️Information on Businesses and COVID-19 can be found here
 
✔️Information on the Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses can be found here


Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.

If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance.

Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.

 Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program for businesses and non-profits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.

 Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.

✔️Information on the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund can be found here.
 
✔️Information on how to file for Unemployment is available here. As a reminder, Maryland does not have a delay period before a person can apply for Unemployment Insurance.

Taxes Filing Deadline & Payments Extended
Comptroller Franchot and U.S. Secretary Treasury Steven Mnuchin just announced the Tax Day for state and federal income taxes is moved from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to FILE AND MAKE payments without interest or penalties. The agency has set up a dedicated email address — taxpayerrelief@marylandtaxes.gov — to assist businesses with extension-related questions. Business owners can also call the Comptroller’s Ombudsman at 410-260-4020.

If you prepaid sales & use taxes for March, you can get a refund. Call 410-260-4020 or email taxpayerrelief@marylandtaxes.gov.
* April 15 – Filing deadline for federal income tax or to file a federal extension.  No separate Maryland extension is necessary if you file a federal extension. 
* June 1 – Returns and payments are due for Maryland business-related taxes not collected in March, April and May including sales and use tax, withholding tax, and admissions & amusement tax, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, and motor fuel tax, as well as tire recycling fee and bay restoration fee returns.
* July 15 – Deadline for Maryland individual, corporate, pass through entity, and fiduciary income tax payments, as well as March quarterly estimated payments.
* October 15 – Deadline for filing Maryland income tax returns if a federal extension was filed.
OTHER BUSINESS RESOURCES

NFIB: https://www.nfib.com/content/analysis/coronavirus/latest-on-coronavirus-from-nfib/

U.S. Department of Labor – guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – information for employers and employees: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/

U.S. Department of Labor – information on Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

Small Business Administration – information on disaster assistance loans: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USSBA/bulletins/280d49d

SmallBusiness.com – https://smallbusiness.com/planning/disaster/covid-19-guidance-for-businesses-and-employers-from-the-center-for-disease-control-prevention-2020/

Maryland Health Working Families Act – the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Labor and Industry enforces the Maryland Health Working Families Act, also known as safe and sick leave, which may be useful for employees who need to take off from work due to COVID-19. To learn more about the law, email ssl.assistance@maryland.gov or call 410-767-235.

Temporary or Permanent Layoffs – if a business experiences a temporary or permanent layoff, the MD Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Bulk Claim Services can open unemployment insurance claims for all affected employees. Businesses should contact a Claims Representative by emailing dluibulkclaims-dllr@maryland.gov or calling (410) 767-3252, or visiting: http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/unemployment.shtml

Maryland Insurance Administration has also put together an FAQ addressing insurance-related questions about coronavirus: https://insurance.maryland.gov/Pages/newscenter/NewsDetails.aspx?NR=2020251