The 2021 Maryland General Assembly session is in full swing. This year’s activities are a marked difference from years past, our interpersonal interaction is limited because of COVID, but we remain attentive to the pressing issues that affect the daily lives of our communities.
My days are similar to our ordinary session routine: each morning we convene in the Senate and use afternoons for our committees as we ordinarily would, but legislative testimony and related activities are limited to video conferencing. A great deal of the work of the Senate is done in the committees that form the body of our legislative work. I serve as a member of Budget and Taxation Committee and its capital budget subcommittee, pensions subcommittee, and Chair the public safety, transportation & environment subcommittee. Our work in the committee is simple in that we work to set the budget of Maryland and the subcommittees set the particular budget for that area of our government. Each of the subcommittees allows me to pay particular attention to the needs of our district and those of Baltimore.
This year, I also began my new role as the Chair of Baltimore City’s Senate Delegation. The Delegation is where the six state senators whom represent the City in the Maryland General Assembly gather to discuss the matters affecting Baltimore and act on our agenda. The Delegation is focused on representing the interests, needs, and concerns of the city and its residents. One priority is ensuring that sufficient state funds are appropriated to support Baltimore City Public Schools’ academic, infrastructure, and operational needs. Additionally, the Delegation holds hearing on important legislation that affects the City, such as those related to public safety and transportation. The Mayor of Baltimore annually unveils a list of budget priorities for state consideration, which the Delegation works to secure. We have also created a new website for the Delegation, please tell us your thoughts so we keep you informed of our work. Below I have also provided links to our recent weekly briefings.
Baltimore City Senate Delegation Briefings
- January 18, 2021 – Resources for Local Small Businesses
- January 25, 2021 – COVID’s Impact to our Colleges and Universities with Dr. McCurdy – BCCC, Dr. Wilson – Morgan State University, Dr. Jenkins – Coppin State University, and Ron Daniels – Johns Hopkins University
- February 1, 2021 – Housing Resources
COVID Vaccination Information
We are currently in Phase 1C of the vaccination process. If you or a loved one is looking for an appointment, vaccination interest forms for older adults are available at the Baltimore City Health Department’s website at coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/covax. You can also call the Maryland Access Point hotline at 410-396-2273 if you are without internet access.
Local area hospitals and medical providers listed on coronavirus.maryland.gov, under Find a Vaccine, have created interest forms for vaccinations as they become available, and residents in eligible Priority Groups are encouraged to visit those websites and sign up. As of February 1, some Baltimore-area Giant, Safeway, and Rite Aid locations have begun posting appointment links on the same website.
Higher Education Scholarships
The application for the annual scholarship awards directed by our office is now open! Please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
Celebrating Black History Month: Honoring Our First Senators
50 years ago, Senator Robert Dalton made history as the first Black State Senator from East Baltimore.
I am humbled to build on the legacies of Senators Dalton, Douglass, Irby, and McFadden.
“When we look at our folks that are in pretrial centers, these are people that are more than likely to have misdemeanors, may not be able to pay their bails, but they have also not been convicted of a crime. We should be making sure that they have the same type of access that myself and you both have because they have the right to vote,” said Sen. Cory McCray.
Among the legislation I am sponsoring this year is a proposal to further protect the voting rights of all Marylanders. On January 25, 2021, I introduced Senate Bill 525 to ensure all Marylanders have fair access to the ballot box and are free from disenfranchisement that is solely determined by a longstanding policy that serves no true public good.
Senate Bill 525, Baltimore City – Centralized Booking Facility – Voting Information and Early Voting Polling Place, requires the Baltimore City centralized booking facility to disseminate written information on voter registration and instructions directly to each eligible voter incarcerated in the facility. The legislation further requires the local board of elections for Baltimore City, in collaboration with the State Board and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, to establish an early voting polling place at the Baltimore City centralized booking facility so that individuals incarcerated in a pretrial capacity or serving a sentence related to a misdemeanor violation may still exercise their right to vote as currently provided by state law.
Maryland is the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner and Justice Thurgood Marshall. We see the power and weight of freedom and know all too painfully the pulse of Democracy denied. The events of this month’s insurrection, just a few miles south of us, reminds us evermore that we must be at the forefront of protecting our democracy. Those whom can should be provided reasonable access to the ballot box. Maryland must be proactive, and follow the actions of other leading communities, in removing all barriers that stop legally eligible citizens from exercising their right to vote.
SB 199 – Maryland Transit Administration – Funding – Transit Safety and Investment Act
I previously mentioned that our state’s investment in public transportation is crucial to its economic growth and long-term viability. We recent held the Senate hearing for the bill. ”The state of Maryland had the greatest numbers of bus, Light Rail and Heavy Rail breakdowns in 2019 compared to any other state, said Sen. Cory McCray, D-Baltimore, calculated by major mechanical failures per 100,000 revenue miles.”
The bill requires a minimum level of funding each fiscal year from 2023 to 2028 for “good repair needs” at the transit agency, going from $361 million in 2023 and ending with $531 million in 2028. Maryland’s bus, Heavy Rail and Light Rail breakdown numbers are leading the country “not in a good way,” McCray said on Wednesday. With this legislation, we will make substantive change to sustain and advance the MTA.
SB 2 – Maryland Environmental Service Reform Act of 2021
I previously mention efforts to reform the Maryland Environmental Service since we learned 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 establish stronger oversight of the agency and protect the investment of Maryland’s taxpayers. “Sen. Cory McCray, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, said during a video hearing on Wednesday that the environmental agency is due for a “course correction” following the revelations of financial issues under McGrath’s leadership. MES provides environmental and public works services such as operating landfills and dredging waterways, primarily for local and state government agencies. It gets 95% of its revenues from other government agencies. “MES serves a very good purpose. It does great good with local and state government,” said McCray, a Baltimore Democrat.
Listening. Learning. Leading.
Cory V. McCray
Senator, 45th Legislative District
While this message finds us at a tough time in our history, I remain steadfast and hopeful. As Congressman John Lewis modeled for us—with hard work and a commitment to justice—this too shall pass and we shall see our best days ahead. Our office is diligently tracking the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in our community, especially the changes and challenges to our schools, public health, and economic well-being. While the COVID-19 virus is demanding a great deal of my attention, I remained focused on the long-term needs and improvement of our community. Below I share a brief update on the activities that I have been engaged in for the last few weeks and hope you find the information helpful and encouraging.