May 14, 2020
The last few weeks have reinforced the importance of competent government, ensuring that those in positions of responsibility are solutions-oriented, and the need for a comprehensive vision for our State when we emerge from this crisis. There is significant work ahead and the Maryland General Assembly will continue to ramp up our oversight activities to ensure the best possible outcomes for all Marylanders.
Unemployment Insurance
My office continues to work in partnership with the rest of the 46th District Delegation as we work on the unprecedented number of constituents cases around access to Unemployment Insurance. To date, we have collectively referred well over 125 constituents to the Department of Labor for resolution and that number is far from unique across the State.

The General Assembly was alarmed by the Governor's comments that, "the unemployment site has been completely fixed," as many of our constituents are having a different experience with the BEACON system. In an effort to bring greater awareness to the struggles that far too many people are facing putting food on the table, the Senate Budget & Taxation and Finance Committees held a nine hour hearing on Tuesday for Marylanders to tell their stories. Over those nine hours, we heard from hundreds of individuals with heartbreaking and resilient stories.

No one should be forced to choose between paying their rent, or affording life saving medication. No one should have to make 40,700 calls to the Department of Labor without ever speaking with a representative. No mother should have to spend countless hours via phone and email advocating for their son who is going through chemotherapy while not knowing how to afford health insurance, or medical bills.

Each story was haunting and highlighted the need for urgent action to fix this broken system. There are 135,000 Marylanders who have still been unable to access Unemployment Insurance. They don't care about who is to blame. They care about finding a solution so they can simply stay afloat in the most challenging of circumstances.

You can hear their stories and read see some of the press coverage from Tuesday's hearing below.
Contact Tracing
As Maryland's Stay at Home order is lifted at 5pm tomorrow, it is vital that our state government use and share clear metrics to instill confidence in our residents. It was evident that scientific guidance was at the heart of Governor Hogan's initial response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, but there are a number of outstanding questions as we move into the next phase around Maryland's capacity to test, trace, and isolate.

While the Governor announced the plan to scale up our state's contact tracing apparatus to 1,000 cases per day, it is entirely unclear if we have made progress toward that goal. According to, Maryland scores a 0 on their preparedness scale due to an insufficient number of contact tracers while maintaining an extremely high positive test rate of over 20% (experts note that states should have a positive test rate in the single digits to reopen).

It is my sincere hope that the Governor is relying on better information than we currently have access to. In an effort to ensure that data is shared with Marylanders so they feel safe to engage in the economy, Speaker Jones and I sent this letter to the Governor seeking answers to a number of critical questions that remain about Maryland's ability to reopen safely.
Governor's Vetoes
I was disappointed to receive notice of the Governor’s vetoes last week. Throughout this Session, the General Assembly took steps to ensure we left the state with a historically high fund balance and rainy day fund, together with a variety of tools to deal with this crisis. At the same time, we passed legislation that looked to the future of the state, and made certain to pass policies which will help our state emerge strongly from this crisis.

With the Governor's actions, instead of setting us on a path to a secure recovery, he is stopping all progress where it stands. Over the next couple of months, we will have conversations with Senate leadership and members, and Speaker Jones to make a determination on next steps.

The Governor had a choice to reject traditional politics and work together to adjust shared visions and build a strong future after this crisis. Instead, he chose to foreclose hope, leaving Maryland families and historically black colleges and universities with an open question for the future.
More Highlights
I joined DeRay Mckesson last week on Pod Save the People to discuss the future of education in Maryland, what it was like to serve in my first year as Senate President, and what it means to lead with our values. Despite the impact of the pandemic, I remain committed to ensuring equitable outcomes for all Maryland students so they can maximize their potential. You can listen to our conversation here.

As Congress considers another round of economic aid in the coming weeks, I led an effort with presiding officers from across the country to call on Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi to include flexible funding for state and local governments in that package. I was thrilled to see Speaker Pelosi recognize the urgency behind this request and include $915 billion in aid to avoid drastic budget cuts in the HEROES Act released this week and hope Leader McConnell will make this a bipartisan issue.

If you haven't seen it, check out my conversation with Dick Cass, President of the Baltimore Ravens . We discuss the recent NFL Draft and what COVID-19 means for the upcoming football season as organizations are forced to adapt. You can also read some highlights from our conversation in coverage by the Baltimore Sun .

One of our District 46 residents, Maggie Master, has created a website, , to serve as a resource hub for people who are able and willing to share a portion of their federal stimulus check, or general contribute to organizations on the front lines of this crisis. If you're in a position to help, I hope you'll check it out.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if there is anything we can do to help via email at , or phone via (410) 841-3600 by leaving a voicemail to be returned promptly.