I hope this message finds you and your loved one in good health and spirit!
Before I take a moment to highlight some of our office’s work, I want to take time to pause and honor our educators. In spite of the global challenge we face, this year we found new and encouraging ways to keep our children engaged in learning and the task was neither simple nor direct. To all our educators, I am very grateful for your hard work and caring support of our kids! Thank you!
I was able to celebrate our young people with ceremonies and graduations to remark on their accomplishments and hard work as they transition in school and life. I was especially humbled and honored to share a few words with the Pre-K class at Johnston Square Elementary. Thank you Principal Olumiji for your leadership and for inviting me to be a part of this special time in their journey. Seeing our young people thrive as they grow inspires me and keeps me motivated to achieve the big goals we have before us.
Our Work Ahead…
I write just to share a brief update on the activities that I have been engaged in for the last few weeks. As you can imagine, much of my work since March has been driven by our response to the public health and safety needs created by the COVID-19 virus and its effects on our community. Our office is closely tracking the delays preventing many from receiving their Unemployment Insurance and we have received numerous calls and emails about the delays. If you or someone you know needs help receiving your Unemployment Insurance, please contact our office as soon as possible!
Minimum Wage Increase Happening on January 1, 2021
Over the past few months, we have watched as grocery staff, nursing home professionals, hospital personnel and other front line workers have continued to ensure that the basic needs of people across Maryland are met. And they do this while many of us are able to enjoy the safety of our homes during the pandemic.” – My Baltimore Sun Commentary – June 19, 2020
The implementation of the pending Maryland minimum wage increase came into question recently, when the Board of Public Works, our state’s fiscal policy council, considered whether the increase was a step in right direction at the this moment or should be postponed. I was very proud to lead the fight for the increase when it was considered legislatively in 2019, and I again advocated that we take this proactive step in support of our families and neighbors. I wrote about it in the Baltimore Sun and the commentary is available by clicking the words above. Thankfully, the timeline of the minimum wage increase remains on schedule and begins on January 1, 2021, rising to $11.75 per hour.
Supporting Our Chronically Underserved Communities
“Garrick Good considers Four-by-Four a “forgotten jewel in the Northeast community.”
His organization, the North East Housing Initiative, is currently rolling out a community land trust model, redeveloping homes to sell to current residents in hopes of turning Four-by-Four from a renter-dominated community to one filled with new homeowners. The buyers they’re marketing to are renters already living in Northeast Baltimore.” Baltimore Business Journal – June 24, 2020
It is our priority to support our chronically underserved communities with action and real investment. As noted by the Baltimore Business Journal article listed above—there is exciting and good work happening in the 4×4 community at the foot print of Belair Edison. I have been working with North East Housing Initiative (NEHI) to reimagine a community that has been underserved over the past two decades and looking for resurgence. With the support of a $75,000 bond investment that was obtained in last year’s General Assembly session, we are able increase the number of homes that NEHI is able to renovate and make avalible for increasing the area’s homeowners.
Holding MD’s State Board of Elections Accountable to We the People…
“At what point does the senior leadership team of the State Board of Elections bear some point of responsibility in the delayed ballots?” – Sen. Cory McCray, AP – June 16, 2020
As it became increasing evident that the COVID-19 virus would limit our ability to vote in a traditional way, I made requests for details from the Maryland State Board of Elections, and our Baltimore City Board, on how they were acting to proactively protect our election’s integrity and its free and full access to the ballot box. I sought additional information as the delivery of our ballots was seriously delayed and as a follow-up participated in the General Assembly’s oversight hearing on the administration of the recent primary election. The information presented in that hearing was clear and convincing in that this primary election was mismanaged and calls for new leadership at the state Board of Elections. You can read my commentary calling for their resignation at Maryland Matters.
Public Safety remains among my top priorities and I’m working to be sure we do right by our neighbors, our city, and most of all, change how we address crime. Here’s how I describe the work and its balance: “I hope that the Baltimore City Council, the city council president, and the mayor-when they’re in negotiations on the budget that’s in front of them at this moment that they take a hard look at what measures are preventative-in making sure that we protect things like recreations centers, education opportunities, health, mental health opportunities-so that people won’t be in the penal system to even have an increased police budget.
And, while they’re doing that and protecting those actions and priorities…that they take a look and make sure that every dollar that’s appropriated to the police department absolutely needs to be appropriated to the police department and cut those dollars that don’t.” Maryland Reporter – June 9, 2020 –
Fully Funding Maryland’s HBCUs
For 13 years, a coalition of leaders across the State of Maryland have fought tirelessly in litigation to fully fund and redress the history of discrimination against our state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We, the members of the General Assembly, moved to remedy the harm by passing House Bill 1260 this past legislative session to appropriate $577 million dollars to our HBCUs over the next ten years.
It was my hope that Governor Larry Hogan would move to enact the law because it is the right thing to do and its legislative support was clearly marked by General Assembly’s overwhelming support. However, the Governor vetoed the plan on May 7, 2020, rejecting a landmark piece of legislation that received broad and bipartisan support in a deeply regrettable misstep. I stand committed to ensuring that we move to fully support our HBCUs in the next legislative session and I am working with my colleagues to rightly override the Governor’s veto and correct this very unfortunate mistake.
I wrote more about this matter in the Afro-American Newspaper on June 2, 2020. Enacting this funding plan by overriding the Governor’s veto is a significant step forward in correcting our state’s role in perpetuating injustice. I humbly request that all of the neighbors, legislators, and alumni who proudly supported HB 1260 during the last legislative session continue to fight for its enactment now. My colleagues and I have read your emails over the years and it is now more important than ever that we keep up the momentum and see this mission through.
Don’t forget to leave my contact info firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 841-3165