Annapolis Insights: Legislative Newsletter – Week 3

Greetings constituents,
We have completed three weeks of the legislative session, and our workload has continued to increase as we progress further into the session. Governor Wes Moore has taken a proactive approach during his first week in office, and the hallways are busy with staff, constituents, and lobbyists. My office is working hard to ensure we can serve you effectively by arriving early and staying late.

Baltimore County Senate and House Delegation Receive Joint Briefing:
Baltimore County Senate and House Delegation received a joint briefing on the progress of the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and compliance efforts at the Back River Treatment Plant. The goal is to bring the plant back into full compliance. A significant maintenance program is underway, and progress has been made in addressing any outstanding issues related to potential state and federal lawsuits. We are committed to the additional resources needed to bring the plant into compliance.

The FY24 operating budget
The Appropriations Committee is beginning work on the budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) with a proposal from the Governor that totals $58.2 billion, a 5.5% decrease from the previous fiscal year. The budget includes cash reserves of over $4 billion but does not include funds from the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act. The budget includes funding for enhancements to State employee compensation and assistance for childcare providers.

HGO: Addressing Behavioral Health Crises and Improving Public Health Services
This week, the Health and Government Operations Committee(HGO) received a briefing on the new national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline service. This service offers 24/7, free, and confidential support to individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts or other behavioral health crises. It is staffed by crisis counselors trained in suicide prevention and de-escalation. The goal of the service is to provide ongoing help and reduce the stigma surrounding seeking help for behavioral health issues. According to the report Maryland requires annual funding of $10M-$17M to support the 988 networks. The launch of 988 also provides an opportunity to expand access to care, improve community-based services, and change the culture of help-seeking to promote equity and reduce the criminalization of mental illness.

Similarly, the Baltimore County executive John A. Olszewski Jr testified in front of HGO. The Baltimore County Executive’s leadership has played a key role in securing funding for the Public Health Pathways Program, a partnership between Baltimore County, the University of Maryland Medical System, the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, and the Community College of Baltimore County. The program aims to connect residents in underserved communities with nursing positions through customized education and community support. Using American Rescue Plan funds, it will provide training to economically disadvantaged residents while addressing the nursing shortage. The program will offer scholarships covering tuition and fees for a nursing assistant program, with guaranteed employment and further education opportunities at UM SJMC for successful graduates. The program will begin in the Summer of 2023, and we look forward to its positive impact on our community.

HGO Holds First Bill Hearing of Session to Address Urgent Public Health
After holding meetings remotely due to COVID-19, the HGO held its first bill hearing of the session to discuss issues addressing the urgent need for better public health services in our state. The COVID pandemic has shown the importance of a robust public health system. I would like to thank Vice-Chair Ariana Kelly for presenting this vital bill-HB0214.

Community Corner:

Congratulations to Grace Price on earning her Girl Scout Silver Award and establishing a mobile lending library in the community as her project. Your dedication and commitment to making a positive impact in your community are truly commendable. The Maryland House Citation and Citations from our local and federal partners are well-deserved recognition of your outstanding achievement. We are all so proud of you and can’t wait to see the impact your mobile lending library will have on the community. Keep up the fantastic work!

Elected as Chairperson of Maryland Legislative AAPI
I am humbled to share that I have been elected chairperson of the Maryland Legislative Asian-American Pacific Islanders Caucus! I am honored to continue the important work we have been doing for our constituents and am excited to work closely with all my colleagues. I would like to give special recognition to the high school students from the Maryland Page Program who visited my office and learned about the role of caucuses and legislators after my election. I appreciate the dedication and hard work of the high school pages representing our schools and counties in Annapolis across the state.

Recognizing and Celebrating the State’s Exceptional Citizens
Francis Tiafoe: Tennis Star
Maryland State House recognized one of our tennis stars, Francis Tiafoe, at the State House. We are incredibly proud of Francis for his accomplishments on and off the court. Francis began his journey at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park and has since gone on to achieve great success in the sport. In 2019, he made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and in 2020, he participated in the Summer Olympics and the U.S. Open semifinals. Francis is not only a talented athlete, but he is also a role model for young people in Maryland.

Molly Sampson: 9 year- old fossil hunter
Molly Sampson, 9 year- old fossil hunter, has been recognized by the Maryland House of Delegates for her once-in-a-lifetime discovery of a 15 million-year-old Megalodon shark tooth on Calvert County Cliffs. Molly’s determination and passion for fossil hunting led her to this amazing discovery, and we can’t wait to see what other treasures she finds in the future. Congratulations!!!

We want to congratulate Francis and Molly on their achievements and wish them continued success.
Opportunity for Excellence: Apply Now for Delegate Scholarship Program
In collaboration with my collegues, my office is now accepting applications for the District 8 Delegate Scholarship. This scholarship aims to assist as many local students as possible, as we have done in previous years. Therefore, we encourage interested students to submit their applications early. To apply, please visit the following link:

Case Work
We are closely coordinating all casework requests and are dedicated to assisting you in any way we can. Whether it is helping you navigate the unemployment website, connecting you with resources for utility assistance, or providing information on local programs, we are here to support you.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe
As we continue to work through the challenges of the Covid epidemic, it is essential to note that we are making progress in the fight. I would like to commend the medical community for the unprecedented levels of research that has gone into developing and dispersing vaccines. And to our medical providers for the exceptional care that has been administered to those that have been afflicted. As we move forward, it is important that everyone who can be vaccinated so that we can stop the spread of this virus, and put this difficult part of our nation’s history firmly in the past.

Your Voice Matters
Thank everyone for reaching out with their thoughts on legislation, and all of your advocacy is heard and greatly appreciated. Whether at the federal, state, or local level, our government operates at a higher level with an informed and active constituency. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, concerns, or requests for help. My staff and I are here to help, and I can be reached via email or by phone at 410-841-3524.

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