One week to go until we adjourn after a very busy, very intense session! To all you who celebrate: Happy Passover and Happy Easter! I remember watching Easter mass last year on YouTube – my first experience watching mass online and signaling the beginning of a very difficult year for so many people. My family and I enjoyed being able to attend church yesterday in person, although with masks and with reduced capacity. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Maryland! I hope you were able to get outside and enjoy it in a safe way! Although vaccination rates are beginning to increase quickly, we are not there yet. Please remember to be careful, wear a mask, and limit social interactions. See information below on vaccinations.
Last week we passed our state’s FY22 nearly $50bn State budget! Also on the budget front, the House, Senate, and Governor celebrated the collaborative effort to approve allocation of the funding from the federal American Rescue Plan- approximately $3 billion for a variety of incredibly important projects around the state. Below I provide an overview of where this money is going!
In the next week, we have so much work to do – finalizing police reform, housing rights and voting rights legislation, and more. The next report I’ll send out will be an End of Session report! In this email you’ll find updates on:
- FY22 Budget Update
- My Work in the News
- COVID-19 Vaccine Update
- Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions
- Resources for You
FY22 Budget & American Rescue Plan
Every year, the Governor sends the legislature a budget (operating and capital) that we can amend slightly and this year it consisted of three separate bills: the Capital Budget, the Operating Budget, and the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA). Last week, the House gave final approval to our state FY22 budget (HB588) and the BRFA (HB589). It’s a fiscally prudent and socially responsible budget, leaving a healthy cash balance, and funding a wide variety of important projects. I’ll provide a detailed overview in my end of session report.
Due to changes in the State’s budget forecasts or Federal funding that occur during the Legislative Session, the Governor needs to make modifications or additions to the budgets that he already sent over. This sort of alteration requires a “supplemental budget” bill which the Governor also sends to the Legislature for debate, review, and approval.
The American Rescue Act and associated federal funding for Maryland prompted the Governor and Legislature to collaborate over the past few weeks on supplemental budget #5. On Thursday, the Governor, Senate President, and House Speaker announced details of the bipartisan supplemental budget based on this newly available funding for Maryland from the American Rescue Act. These funds allow Maryland to provide much-needed relief to families, students, and small businesses. It will build on the support provided in the RELIEF Act of 2021. In short, the funding will go to:
My Legislation – Crossover Update!
I’m excited about the bills I was able to pass out of the House this year and hope we can get them through the Senate as well! Here’s a quick breakdown…
As you may know, this year, all bill hearings and public testimony take place virtually. The “LIVE MEDIA” section of the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) website will send you directly to bill hearings while they are happening. You can also watch hearings later on via the MGA YouTube page. There are new processes for signing up to submit written and/ oral testimony. If you want to learn more about the new systems, please watch this brief tutorial prepared by the Maryland General Assembly.
Most of these bills are now available for viewing here. If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out.
*While pre-registration is now open to all Marylanders, individuals who are currently eligible under Phase 1 and Phase 2 but have not yet been vaccinated will continue to be prioritized for appointments.
Mass Vaccination Sites
Future (announced) mass vaccination sites will be…
Local Vaccination Clinics
In addition to mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, local health departments, hospitals, and medical provider clinics are administering vaccines to eligible individuals. To determine locations and appointment availability, visit the state website and search your zip code. Additionally, Marylander’s can use the VaccineFinder.org tool to search local pharmacies, clinics, health departments and hospitals for vaccine appointments.
Vaccine Progress: As of April 1, 2,760,176 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Maryland is on track to meet the Governor’s goal of having all Marylanders vaccinated by Memorial Day.
Testing: Testing has been expanded over the past few months and tests have become readily available. To determine your nearest testing site, visit the state website.
The Maryland Department of Commerce has released additional details about the new economic relief funding made available through the bipartisan RELIEF Act of 2021. This information is available on the Department of Commerce website. In short, the Department of Commerce will provide funding through six new programs targeting specific groups of businesses.
Programs Administered Through the Department of Commerce
Transparency around Emergency Contracts and Procurement (HB1003 / SB780)
Maryland Board of Public Works delays approval of emergency COVID vaccine contracts amid transparency concerns (Baltimore Sun)
Maryland lawmakers want transparency in government proceedings (MDVM)
Addressing the Appraisal Gap (HB1239 / SB859)
Supporting Student Athletes (HB125 / SB439)
What The Jordan McNair Safe And Fair Play Act Means For Maryland (PressBox)
We have many challenges, but I am excited about the year ahead. My Legislative Director, Dani DiPietro, and I are here to serve you! Have feedback about a bill? Have a question about how something in the Legislature works? Need assistance with unemployment, SNAP, housing assistance, food access? Reach out! Get in touch with me at [email protected]
Be well and stay safe!