COVID-19, 2020 Census, and Legislative Updates



Dear Friend,


I hope you are all staying healthy and had the opportunity to read my coronavirus email update sent on Thursday night. To recap, Maryland is taking precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some of these steps include: the closure of all public schools starting Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, mass gatherings and events of more than 250 people to be cancelled or postponed, senior activity centers will be closed, and access to the House and Senate Office buildings and Legislative Services will be restricted to members only. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please check Maryland Department of Health websites and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages for real-time updates: Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Resources and the Montgomery Department of Health website

Services/Assistance With Maryland Public Schools closing from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 27 in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Montgomery County Public Schools have taken steps to ensure our students in need of meals are still provided this service during the closure. Children up to 18 years old may come to any of the 20 meal site locations in the County, Monday through Friday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, to receive a nutritious meal. No appointment is necessary and meals will be provided in a Grab-and-Go format. Locations can be found here.

WSSC will be suspending all water service shut-offs and waiving all late fees.

PEPCO will be suspending shut-offs at least through May 1 and will work with customers on a case-by-case basis to establish payment arrangements, identify energy assistance options, and waive late payment charges.

2020 Census As we find COVID-19 keeping us home, I want to remind everyone that this is the first year the Census can be completed online, by phone, or by mail.

Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Please take this opportunity to complete the census online. Your participation is crucial and vital to the success of our communities. The online census can be completed at: https://my2020census.gov

Legislative Update I am thrilled to share that the House passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which will build an equitable, world class education to ensure all of our children are college and career ready. This plan has been built over several years through the work of the Kirwan Commission. You can find reporting on the historic vote here.

I was also proud to vote with my colleagues to pass the HOME Act. This law will prevent housing discrimination based on source of income, such as Section 8, alimony, child support, or other payments. This will increase housing options in an equitable way for all Marylanders.

My Community Choice Energy bill was voted favorably out of the House Economic Matters Committee. After a great deal of debate, the bill now enables a pilot in Montgomery County. If the Montgomery County government chooses to establish a CCE, it will allow the County to purchase energy on behalf of residents – negotiating lower prices and more renewable energy. We now need to get it out of the Senate!

I am also pleased to report that the House passed my bill: the Gas Service Regulator Safety – Flower Branch Act. This legislation establishes a process to move gas service regulators to the exterior of multi-family buildings. This legislation came from the NTSB recommendations after the tragic Flower Branch Apartment explosion.

My Heat Stress Protection Act has also passed the House. This bill directs the Commissioner of Labor to establish heat stress standards to protect Maryland workers, with public input and guidance from nationally recognized occupational safety associations.

Several of my bills were heard in the last two weeks including the following:

Maryland Wage Protection Act: This bill will protect workers from wage theft by ensuring paystub transparency and protecting workers from retaliation when they complain about wage theft.

Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions: This bill establishes procurement procedures to increase the amount of locally grown food procured by Maryland state institutions. Building a strong local food system is crucial for local economic development, environmental sustainability, farmland preservation, and emergency preparedness.

Delegate Scholarships – UPDATED INFORMATION As a Member of the House of Delegates, I am able to provide my constituents with academic scholarships. This scholarship is available to students who attend or are planning to attend a Maryland community college, a four-year university, or a graduate school during the 2020-2021 school year. Applications must be completed and submitted by May 13, 2020. Awardees will be informed by June 15, 2020. The application can be completed here. As always, feel free to contact my office any time. Due to these recent developments, email is the best point of contact for now at: lorig.charkoudian@house.state.md.us.

Onward, Lorig Charkoudian