As I begin serving in my third session of the General Assembly, check out this piece in the Washington Post, for which I was interviewed, on how we must take the momentum of this moment to build a new—and better—way forward.
MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION DURING COVID
The Legislative Session began last Wednesday, January 13th, with a physically-distanced quorum on the House Floor. We voted on the Rules changes necessary to operate in a modified manner for the first few weeks of Session. Bill hearings will be virtual and committee votes will take place on Zoom—which means community members will not be able to attend hearing sessions, but can watch live or at a later time and can still sign up to testify or submit written testimony. We expect to be back on the House floor (actually, spread across two different House floors) in early February, when we will start voting on bills and take up veto overrides. You can watch bill hearings online, by going to the Committee pages and selecting “Meetings”.
I am holding virtual office hours, during which you can “stop by” to talk about legislation or other issues on your mind on Mondays and Thursdays from 10-11am. Please use this Zoom link to join. Of course, you can always schedule a time to speak with me or my staff or let me know what’s on your mind by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MY LEGISLATION AND OTHER ISSUES THIS WEEK
You can find all of the bills I am introducing on this page.
Last week, the Economic Matters Committee held the hearing for the Flower Branch Act, which will implement the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations, developed after their investigation of the Flower Branch Apartment explosion, to improve safety and accountability.
On Jan. 21st, I have a hearing scheduled for my bill to require replanting of trees along the Purple Line route, with a priority for communities suffering from the heat island effect.
Also on Jan. 21st, is the hearing for my bill that will require the Public Service Commission to consider climate and labor standards in their decision-making on utility regulation.
Stopping Beltway Expansion: Many constituents have contacted my office about the Governor’s misguided plans to expand the Beltway. I will continue to advocate against the plans and have noted in previous newsletters the multiple reasons I oppose this project, including the overwhelmingly negative effects on our environment, equity, and other community impacts. My House colleagues and I will, again, work to pass bills to reform the State’s public-private partnership, and hold MDOT accountable to its promises, such as ensuring funds for public transit and that taxpayers are not subsidizing private companies. We passed this legislation through the House last year and need to make sure the Senate also passes it. In the meantime, we will continue other efforts to stop the Beltway widening project.
Manna Food Drive: Food insecurity and hunger in the United States are not simply due to a lack of food in the food system, but by injustices that push families into poverty and public policy that subsidizes unhealthy food. The result is that people with limited income often have to get by on cheap, unhealthy diets, and some struggle even to access that. I have several pieces of legislation to build a just food system and address economic injustices. Today, however, I also ask you to help your neighbors struggling during this pandemic locally by supporting the MLK Day Manna Food Drive. Help Manna provide healthy food to our community members by making a financial donation to their virtual food drive by clicking here.
Finally, I encourage you all to take time on this coming Wednesday to celebrate the historic Inauguration of President Biden and Vice-President Harris. I was thrilled to join the Maryland Democratic Party, elected officials, and Democratic activists from across the state for a virtual Inaugural Ball this past weekend. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, and the frightening threats to our democratic institutions, we have much to celebrate in taking back the White House and the Senate. Let’s take a moment to celebrate and then get back to the urgent work of rebuilding our country, with justice and equity, to create a brighter future for us all.