Dear Friends and Neighbors:
The start of a new year means something particularly special in the State of Maryland. Because our state legislature only meets for a portion of the calendar year, January always symbolizes the start of our duties in Annapolis. It is an honor to once again return to the state house as the Senator for the 45th District. I am also pleased to serve as a member of the Senate’s Budget & Taxation Committee, and Chairman of the Public Safety & Transportation Subcommittee. For more on what to expect from the 2020 Legislative Session, please take a look at my recent interview with Center Maryland here.
And, in case you weren’t aware already, the “Fight for $15” law hit another milestone on January 1. Before, the statewide minimum wage was $10.10 an hour; today, it is $11 an hour. This, of course, is all part of the gradual phase-in to a statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour that will occur in 2025.
In the 45th
As always, I enjoyed joining my friends at The Sixth Branch for the organization’s annual day of service in commemoration of MLK Day. As a veteran-run organization, The Sixth Branch understands the meaning of service to others and the importance of playing an active role in one’s community.
This month I also had the opportunity to meet with fellow neighbors in the 45th District for our 2020 Pre-Legislative Town Hall. This is one of the most important events we hold each year because it provides an opportunity to discuss the work done over the previous legislative session and provides a chance to speak with fellow members in the community about our shared priorities for the upcoming session. Thank you to all who spared a couple hours to join us.
At the end of this month, I went back to school with the 8th grade students of Hamilton Elementary/Middle School. Understanding how government works—and their role in the process both as students and soon-to-be voters—is always important, but I especially like to make sure our young people understand how state and local politics function.
In the News
Police Residency. I have reintroduced legislation that would require the highest-ranking officers in the Baltimore Police Department to live in the City of Baltimore. When our city’s most important leaders live in the city, it is a testament to their commitment to Baltimore and their investment in our communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure the bill’s passage in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
Prison System Overtime. We are all familiar with the overtime problem within the Baltimore Police Department, but I recently had the opportunity to speak with the Baltimore Sun about a similar issue taking place within the Maryland correctional system. For those workers who are forced to work double shifts, I have proposed a pay increase. Not only will this more fairly compensate prison officials, it will also encourage the State of Maryland to ensure that it is adequately staffing our correctional facilities to avoid the need for such frequent overtime in the first place.
Increasing the Cigarette Tax. Also in the Sun this month, I authored an editorial about the urgent need to increase our cigarette tax—an initiative that I am working on with my colleague House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke. This tax increase, which would amount to an additional $2 per pack on cigarettes, would help fund statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This is especially important given the alarming frequency of Maryland residents (including youth) who are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes and other tobacco/nicotine products.
For a full list of the legislation that I have introduced this session, please see the attached link.
Listening. Learning. Leading.
Senator, 45th Legislative District