I am proud to report that The Healthy Working Families Act passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 18! After laying the groundwork last Friday, the Senate finally voted on Thursday. This vote is significant for many reasons, including five years of hard work from a coalition of 160 organizations, faith, community, union, and business leaders. The vote was also significant having come just days after the Governor announced that he would veto either the House or Senate versions of the bill. With 29 votes in the Senate, they sent a clear message to the Governor that this is the year for 700,000 Marylanders to finally be able to access sick leave.
While there are differences between the sick leave bills passed in the House and the Senate, as I said in an interview with WBAL, I do not believe these differences are insurmountable. We will work over the coming weeks in conjunction with the Senate to determine the best path forward.
Also this week, the House passed The Adult High School Pilot ProgramHB1381, another bill on which I am the lead sponsor, by a vote of 140-0! The cross-filed bill SB 866 also passed by a unanimous vote of 47-0. This bill is the result of a year-long task force that I led on the creation of an Adult High Schools.
The task force and a broad group of supporters felt there was a clear need for creating Adult High Schools as a tool to address opportunity gaps that exist across the state. Overall inMaryland,10% of the total population, aged 18 to 64, do not have a High School diploma. In Somerset, Baltimore City, Dorchester, and Caroline Counties, greater than 15% of the total populations of those counties do not have a high school diploma. In raw numbers, Prince George’s (79,521), Baltimore City (67,688) and Montgomery (56,320) Counties currently have the highest populations without a diploma.
This Friday, the House passed with bi-partisan support the revised Capital and Operating budgets for 2018. Some of the highlights from this budget include:
$64 billion for education across the state, a 1.6% increase from last year;
restoring the "Baltimore Package" funding that the Governor cut after it passed by both parties in the legislature last year to help Baltimore recover from the unrest; and
restoring capital expenditures for local projects that had received $0 from the Governor, including Prince George's County Regional Medical Center which lost a total of $78.8 million in both operating and capital funds in Larry Hogan’s proposed budget.
Monday is an important day during the legislative session known as "Crossover Day." This is the date by which each chamber must pass bills to be considered in the other chamber. In order for bills to become a law, they must pass the same bill by April 10, "Sine die", the last day of the legislative session and then signed by the Governor.
We will continue our work on finalizing earned sick leave, Adult High Schools, the budget, HB 1396 a bill on which I am the lead sponsor in coordination with the Police Commissioner and a broad group of stakeholders to prohibit the suspension of a sentence for wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun under specified circumstances for a person previously convicted of specified crimes.
We will keep you updated on sick leave and all the other critical issues we are working on as they develop. You can also track legislation throughout the 90-day legislative session here. Please reach out to share your thoughts or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-989-3876.
Visit us in Annapolis! If you are in Annapolis we love to see constituents, families, and school groups. You can always reach me at email@example.com or call 410-841-3303. We hope to see you soon.
If you live in the 46th District and are interested in applying for a Legislative Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year from my office, applications will be due on Saturday, April 1, 2017. Applications are now available. Please call or email my office and we will send you an application.