This week we began a week-long special session in Annapolis to fulfill our constitutional obligation to reapportion Maryland’s congressional districts to reflect the results of the 2020 national census. While convened in Annapolis, the General Assembly is also acting to override the Governor’s vetoes of crucial and urgent legislation, including laws that depoliticizing the parole process and several bills strengthening our state’s response to COVID. On a very personal note, I am very proud to report that the Transit Safety and the Investment Act, which I have previously written to you about, was also sustained by an override of Governor Hogan’s veto. I am so very proud to have led the effort to restore the Transit Safety and Investment Act in the Senate and I am certain this law will make a real difference in our lives by truly making full and comprehensive investments in our state’s transportation infrastructure.
In our other work, the month of November kept me busy planning for the upcoming 2022 legislative session and keeping in-touch with our communities and neighbors at the doors. After nearly two terms as a state legislator, I squarely believe a key element of successful legislating and oversight is done in the period of recess and preparation before the start of sessions, and this brief and unusual session reminds me of this fact. Representing you is a great honor and I take our preparation work seriously and make it a part of our work and routine. We are a month away from the annual start of the Maryland General Assembly session, the impending transition to the full-time work of the General Assembly full-time in Annapolis is wrestling in the back of my mind and our staff is putting its final touches on our legislative and oversight package.
I remain keenly aware that while life is seemingly returning to what it looked and felt like before COVID, we have a duty to remain guarded of new activity and must act to remediate the craters and gaps left by its disruption in our economy and health. You will notice this theme as you peruse the highlights my recent activities—I seek to learn and listen as you speak to our community’s needs.
Finally, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers as we celebrate our holidays this season! I am ever grateful for your support and friendship.
Please encouraging Baltimore City High School Seniors to apply for the Maryland General Assembly Page Program! The 2022 program is virtual and will be a dynamic opportunity for our young people to represent their school and our City while learning in a hands on way about our democratic process and the work of the General Assembly.
In my role as chair of Baltimore City’s Senate Delegation, the Delegation we held a roundtable discussion on the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) with Melody Simmons, a journalist with the Baltimore Business Journal, moderating the event. We were also joined by other important leaders, including:
- Faith Leach, Deputy Mayor, Baltimore City
- Angela Whitaker, Director, Baltimore City Community Action Partnership
- Danielle Meister, Senior Policy Officer, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
- Matt Hill, Attorney, Public Justice Center
As Senator Washington noted, “Our residents are really suffering- they’re suffering from this crisis… The thought and the fear of having nowhere to go… is really terrifying.” Our delegation is actively seeking to follow the work to protect our vulnerable neighbors with legislative oversight to of the government funds appropriated to avoid a dramatic increase in evictions as a result of COVID’s affects to our economy. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development received $401 million in federal ERAP funds, and it can anticipate receiving an additional $352 million. Senator Mary Washington noted that statewide, 27,000 applications were received for rental assistance and only 9,800 have been processed.
It remains a steadfast priority for our Delegation to ensure that our government efficiently and proficiently distribute these funds to secure housing for our vulnerable neighbors. We will continue tracking this activity for the foreseeable future, especially as a part of the legislative session.
I do my best to visit a few of our district’s schools each month to keep a pulse of ongoing activities in the district and be informed about trends in education. I was delighted to spend time this month at the Baltimore Design School and truly was blessed by the insight, concerns, and courage our young shared with me. Additionally, our Senate Delegation hosted an Education Roundtable with WBAL-TV 11’s Ashley Hinson moderating the session. Two highlights of the discussion was the Baltimore City Public Schools’ return to in person learning and its ARP Spending Plan.
I spoke with the Baltimore Positive Podcast, hosted by Nestor Aparicio and former Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, to highlight our work addressing crime and supporting the positive activities happening in our district for our seniors and young people. I truly appreciate Nestor’s effort to connect our community in substantive dialog and the County Executive’s depth of experience and vast perspective as we converse about these important public matters.
I joined Aaron Dante for his podcast, No Pix After Dark, which seeks out to build a community using discussions in human experience, storytelling and conversation. His efforts is to learn from our common experiences by conversing with folks as a way “of simply telling a memorable tale, sharing a passion or project, or explaining an experience that changed a life”. Aaron has a natural knack of pulling out the best in people – and their stories. Our conversation was very engaging and sincere. I hope you find something useful from our conversation and learn a bit more why, and how, I do the work to represent our community.
I was deeply honored to travel to Santa Fe last weekend as a part of the Council of State Governments to receive its 20 Under 40 Leadership Award to state legislators. It is a significant recognition and award to just 20 of America’s young state legislators who are recognized from among our colleagues of all state legislators. This is a proud moment for me as I hope is reflects my dedication and commitment to you and our communities. Thank you for electing me to serve you!
I recently wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun questioning the decision to end the Hopkins Medicare Advantage program. Our seniors made an investment in our community and their investment should be matched. As I noted, “They have not only given their time to Hopkins, but to our communities, strengthening health care and education for people who come from all over the world. So, I have been pondering this question: Would the leadership of this powerful institution and the largest employer in the State of Maryland please consider rescinding this decision?
The seniors negatively affected by this decision were abruptly notified their medical coverage would be interrupted by cost and service by Hopkins Health Advantage Inc., a Maryland health insurer affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine. I suspect that cost will force many seniors affected by this decision to choose other health plans that will not offer them the same quality service as the Hopkins Medicare Advantage program.”
One Last Thing…
As we move closer to 2022, can you consider making a contribution of $5, $10, 0r $25 to our campaign? It’s crucial that we have the resources to keep our work and momentum going.
Listening. Learning. Leading.
Cory V. McCray
Senator, 45th Legislative District
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.
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