I hope you and your loved ones are having a restful and encouraging start to the New Year!
The words of Amanda Gorman are ringing in my ears and heart. Wednesday afternoon I watched a video of her poem at President Biden’s Inauguration and it continues to encouraging me. As we embark on the year ahead it is my fervent hope that our work embodies what she describes as light and that we stand bravely and boldly in our work to advance our community’s future.
In the weeks since my last message to you, I have continued the work of advocating for our district, commenced the annual Maryland General Assembly session for 2021, and began my new role as the Chair of Baltimore City’s Senate Delegation. I experience this time as a season of hope, a continuation of the gratitude and faith that I nurtured through the holidays as a part of the time I spend with my family to renew my energy and reflect on the passing year. (Just in case you missed it, here’s my video recap of our work in 2020.) I’m hopeful for the work that we can do in the year ahead and the actions we can take in this legislative session to set forth a bright path forward for the future of our children and grandchildren.
Our office has spent much of its energy over the last few months addressing the urgent needs of our community in response to the COVID-19 emergency, but this time of year, the early days of January and February, we begin applying the research and preparation we started in the summer prior to advance the strategic needs of our community using Maryland’s legislative process. I try to approach the legislative work in a manner reverent of long race rather than a sprint and I am delighted that the Baltimore Business Journal considered that about me when they recently named me as one of the “Lawmakers to know in Annapolis” for the General Assembly’s 2021 session.
Below I highlight a few of our legislative priorities in the 2021 session. I was able discuss my legislative priorities during my recent interview with Fox45. Over the weeks ahead I will share more details about our proposals and welcome your feedback on them or any issue that matters to you and your loved ones.
From my family to you and your loved ones— I wish you a Happy New Year!
SB 199 – Maryland Transit Administration – Funding – Transit Safety and Investment Act
Our state’s investment in public transportation is crucial to its economic growth and long-term viability. As I shared with WBAL-11TV, “I am sponsoring the Transit Safety and Investment Act in the Senate because for too long we’ve allowed our public transit system to be underfunded, failing to meet core infrastructure needs. Our seniors rely on public transit to pickup prescriptions. Our children rely on it to get to school. And it’s become evidently clearer that our region’s frontline workers find public buses and trains a necessity as they meet the essential needs of our neighborhoods.”
On a brisk Monday morning, nearly two weeks ago, Mayor Brandon Scott joined Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at the Johns Hopkins Metro stop in support of the legislation with fellow co-sponsor, Del. Brooke Lierman, and I. The Baltimore Sun reported that: “McCray and Lierman’s cross-filed legislation would require the state to spend no less than its current funding levels on MTA operating expenses in the 2023-2028 fiscal years.
It also would require maintenance and upkeep funding of at least $361.9 million in the 2023 fiscal year; $414.9 million in fiscal year 2024; $453.8 million in fiscal year 2025; $566.6 million in fiscal years 2026 and 2027; and $531.6 million in fiscal year 2028. Those figures are based on funding needs the agency reported to lawmakers, which was mandated in a law passed by the legislature in 2018.
The additional money would address light rail and subway track maintenance, MARC safety and security system upgrades, bus and bus shelter maintenance, electronic enhancements, software updates, positive train control, Clean Water Act-required upgrades, improved station access, bus shelter examinations, electronic-vehicle charging stations and solar rooftops at bus depots, officials said.”
Minimum Wage Increased to $11.75
On January 1, 2021, Maryland’s minimum wage increased to $11.75 per hour from $11.00 for companies with 15 or more employees. This is a result of legislation, SB280 and HB166, passed in 2019. I extend gracious thanks and appreciation to Ricarra Kyra Jones, Chairman Dereck Davis, Senator Rich Madaleno, and Delegate Diana Fennell. I am thankful for all of my colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly who had the courage to move the needle forward to lift up working families across our Great State. This wage increase is a fantastic way to start 2021. I look forward to the many more accomplishments to come.
“Maryland lawmakers are aiming to reform the Maryland Environmental Service after learning that the agency’s former director spent lavishly and negotiated a significant payout when he left to become the governor’s chief of staff over the summer. The Maryland Environmental Service Reform Act is designed in part to make the agency’s governing board independent from its executive director — who currently is its chair and appoints three of the board’s nine members. The legislation being drafted by top Democrats would also set limits on executive salaries and perks, the bill’s sponsors say. And it would require the agency’s board to undergo ethics training and make its meetings more transparent…Sen. Cory McCray, a Baltimore Democrat, is the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “With anything, there are always opportunities to take a look at it and make it operate better,” McCray said.”
I am very saddened by the passing of Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller. Maryland is better because of his leadership. Senator Miller gave all he had to all he could. I will miss his institutional knowledge and the opportunity to talk with him as we often did because our seats were adjacent to one another on the Senate floor. My condolences are with his family at this very difficult time.
I shared this story with my Senate colleagues as a remembrance Friday afternoon: “Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City), who arrived in the Senate from the House in 2019 after defeating a loyal Miller ally in the Democratic primary, said Miller made him feel welcome by discussing family.
Miller once lent his copy of the autobiography of Verda Welcome, the first Black woman to serve in the Senate, to McCray, who couldn’t find a copy of the book online. He said he was enthralled by the former senator and civil rights leader’s story — and decided to ask Miller if he could keep the signed copy.
“I already planned on giving it to you,” Miller replied. (Maryland Matters)
Thank you, Mike!
Listening. Learning. Leading.
Cory V. McCray
Senator, 45th Legislative District