March 14, 2023
As I said last week at my weekly press availability, I am horrified by last week’s murder of Izaiah Carter, a Patterson High School student, in Joseph E. Lee Park in Bayview. The level of violence perpetrated against and by young people in the first few weeks of 2023 should cause all of us to pause and take stock. Too many children have access to deadly weapons, and too few resources are being provided to deal with the acute behavioral health crisis we face. We are fundamentally failing as a society when students believe that conflict is resolved by lethal force as opposed to any other means. 

The entire 46th District’s Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly grieves with the Patterson High School community. The perpetrator must be held accountable, and we will do everything possible over the next 29 days to advance statewide policies that support our City’s young people and deter violence.
Legislative Roundup Ahead of Crossover
The Senate of Maryland spent more time on the floor last week, debating key legislative priorities, than it has all Session. Some of the most meaningful and complex bills of the 2023 Legislative Session are advancing through the committee and floor process ahead of the March 20 crossover deadline next week. Some highlights from last week are included below.
  • Reproductive Healthcare: Two bills in the broader reproductive healthcare package passed second reading last week and will be up for another vote in the Senate today. Senate Bill 798 will allow voters to approve a constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion rights to our State’s Constitution in the 2024 General Election. Senate Bill 341 will ensure Maryland public colleges and universities provide students with 24-hour access to reproductive healthcare. The final two bills in the reproductive healthcare package, Senate Bills 786 and 859, will be debated and passed this week. 

  • Firearm Safety: The level of gun violence in our communities requires immediate action. Last night, the Senate passed two of the key firearm safety bills over to the House of Delegates. First, Senate Bill 1 adds common-sense restrictions around sensitive locations where Marylanders can wear and carry firearms in public gathering spaces. Second, Senate Bill 185 requires the Maryland State Police Gun Center to more accurately track information on firearms surrendered due to peace orders. Finally, Senate Bill 858, which the Senate will take up today, improves firearm storage requirements to prevent children from accessing unsafely stored weapons, which has led to deadly accidents in recent years. 

  • Apprenticeships: Building a 21st century economy requires a skilled workforce that matches our state’s professional and labor needs. Senate Bill 104 passed the Senate yesterday evening, and sets up the Apprenticeship 2030 Commission to expand access to apprenticeships and reduce skill shortages in high-demand occupations. 

  • Voting Laws and Procedures: The 2022 General Election demonstrated the importance of allowing our local boards of election to pre-process mail-in ballots to ensure timely, accurate, and secure election results. Senate Bill 379 cleared second reading last week and gives local boards that needed flexibility that would have existed had last year’s legislation not been vetoed. Additionally, an amendment was included on that legislation to move the 2024 General Election to May 14 to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays.
  • Energy Efficiency Equity: The State’s EmPOWER program serves a vital purpose in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through home energy efficiency upgrades. Low-income Marylanders have not received an equitable share of that benefit, which is why the Senate is advancing Senate Bill 144 to better target those investments. Senate Bill 144 passed the Senate last night and is now in the House of Delegates for further consideration.
State Budget and Revenue Updates
This year has always been a challenging one for our State budget as requests and needs from organizations throughout Maryland have greatly exceeded the funding available. That reality became a bit starker last week when the Board of Revenue Estimates (BRE) released an updated economic forecast. Though the BRE is expecting 2.1% budget growth in the current year, that growth is expected to slow to 1% in the next fiscal year as the Federal Reserve continues raising interest rates and the broader national economy cools down.

That decline in growth projections results in a $77 million revenue write-down for this year with another $400 million decrease next year. Though the State is still in a strong fiscal position and the picture will likely improve as Maryland begins to realize federal funds through competitive grant programs under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, we will need to be strategic in our investments this year. The Maryland General Assembly’s goal is always maximizing public investment to do the greatest good and the Fiscal Year 2024 budget currently moving through the legislature will reflect Maryland values.
Making Maryland a Leader in Offshore Wind
Last Legislative Session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, heralded by The Washington Post as “one of the most ambitious climate change plans in the U.S.” We recognize the existential threat that the climate crisis poses, especially to a coastal state like Maryland. Decarbonization and electrification must include a wide range of renewable energy solutions to maintain the integrity of our power system.

Maryland was once an early leader in offshore wind generation targets, but other states along the Eastern Seaboard have eclipsed it over the last eight years. This Session, we are firmly reestablishing Maryland as a national leader in this space through passage of Senate Bill 781, the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act. 

The POWER Act has three core components:
  1. Setting a new goal of 8,500 megawatts of offshore wind generation by 2031 to put Maryland in the best position possible as new lease area becomes available;
  2. Increasing economic efficiency of the transmission of that energy into our power grid; and
  3. Adopting a novel procurement process that provides critical funding to these projects’ completion while minimizing potential costs to ratepayers. 

Passage of the POWER Act isn’t just a win for green energy, but Maryland’s economy more generally. We are uniquely situated for wind turbine and transmission cable manufacturing and assembly. Senate Bill 781 has the potential to spur hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in the emerging green economy, thereby creating thousands of family-sustaining jobs. This vital legislation likely will be on the Senate Floor later this week if the Committee on Education, Energy, and the Environment approves the legislation.
Education Investments Increasingly Critical
The Maryland State Department of Education released the Maryland School Report Card last Thursday, highlighting the need for greater support to underinvested communities throughout the State. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will set Maryland on the path to righting these historic injustices that have insufficiently prepared students for economic prosperity after graduation. We have an obligation to uplift our struggling districts with urgent and comprehensive solutions that strategically invest State dollars. 

Our community schools are leading the way, creating a philosophical shift and demonstrating what our public schools can accomplish when centered in the communities they serve. The Concentration of Poverty grant program will allow this model to be replicated at an increasing scale, expanding wraparound services and hiring of full-time health practitioners and coordinators responsible for bringing in community supports that meet the unique needs of each school.
More News
You don’t have to make the long trek and fight D.C. crowds to see a beautiful display of cherry blossoms this spring. Fort McHenry is the home of two groves of Yoshino cherry trees — the very same kind that surrounds the Tidal Basin in D.C. Peak bloom for the cherry groves at Fort McHenry is estimated to be from March 24-28. The trees were planted in 1931 by 1,500 Baltimore schoolchildren as a way to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. It is free to visit the park ground or walk the Sea Wall Trail along the Patapsco River.

A federal lawsuit in Texas against the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone is yet another attempt to undo the decades of access women have had to reproductive healthcare. Out-of-state efforts to reduce abortion access will not deter our duty to expand care for those in Maryland. 

Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute is among 60 schools across the country to pilot a College Board AP African American Studies course. The curriculum explores the myriad and vital contributions of Black Americans in literature, the humanities, political science, geography, and science.

Black-owned businesses reported a significant increase in business the week of Governor Moore’s inauguration, continuing for weeks after. The majority of the money spent on vendors for the Governor’s ball and swearing-in ceremony went to small businesses, 75% of whom were minority- and women- owned businesses.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works has reopened a museum highlighting its work collecting trash, delivering clean water, and maintaining the City’s sewer system. The Public Works Experience is in the old Eastern Avenue Pumping Station and will offer a variety of indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits on transportation, energy and other elements of urban infrastructure. The museum will open the second Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If there is anything we can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact my office via email,, or by phone, 410-841-3600.