The 2017 session of the Maryland General Assembly ended and some members from Prince George’s County said the proceedings went well. “The session went well for us ,” Maryland Del. Darryl Barnes (D-District 25) told the AFRO about the session that ended April 10. “We got a lot of things accomplished.”

Del. Darryl Barnes, one of many Prince George’s County legislators, is pleased with the recent Maryland General Session. (Courtesy photo)

The Prince George’s County delegation consists of eight senators and 23 members of the House of Delegates who represent all or parts of the county. The delegation includes Maryland Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-District 27), president of the Senate and the longest serving presiding officer of a state legislative chamber in the country, and Barnes, first vice chairman of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

One of the main issues for the county delegation was funding for the regional hospital center scheduled to be built in Largo and tentatively set to open in 2020. Barnes said the hospital is “moving in the right direction.”

“The general assembly has approved $100 million for 10 years in terms of funding,” Barnes said. Maryland Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) told the AFRO that the money for the hospital will be used in a comprehensive manner. “In addition to the building of the hospital, funds will be used for marketing it as a patient and a teaching facility,” said Lewis, who was sworn into office on Feb. 10 taking the place of Michael Vaughn.

Maryland Del. Jay Walker (D-District 26) told the AFRO that the hospital funding came through despite some issues through the office of the Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has gone on record as supporting the facility but has a longer funding time table than most Prince George’s leaders. “We addressed the hospital and worked with the Republican governor to get it done,” Walker said.

Lewis said passage of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which offers extended paid and unpaid leave to employees of Maryland businesses, “was a good thing for families” and pointed out that bail reform, though it is in the courts, is moving towards a model that is beneficial to low-income and working class Marylanders.

“There are some people who are held in Maryland jails for 60-90 days before trial because they can’t make bail,” Lewis said. “I support bail reform in that Marylanders will be able to utilize non-financial conditions such as texting to court personnel and people coming in once a week to the courthouse or to supervising personnel as a condition of release. It has been proven that non-financial conditions save jurisdictions more money because you don’t have to feed and house people.”

Maryland Del. Angela Angel (D-District 25) is considered an expert on domestic violence in the legislature and worked hard to get one of her pieces, the “Zone of Danger” bill through the legislative process. “I had a bill that mandated that when violence is in front of a child, the parent, family member, adult or guardian must notify social services,” Angel told the AFRO. “Studies have shown that 80 percent of children run away when they witness family violence and 70 percent of the children in the juvenile justice system witnessed or were victims of domestic violence.” Angel’s bill passed on April 10.

Barnes and Walker were happy the legislature approved more money for Prince George’s County schools by altering the formula for the number of pupils enrolled and the level of state funds distributed. Barnes said Black legislators from the county backed calling a special session to address the need to expand licenses for medical cannabis to benefit minority entrepreneurs after legislation to do so failed to pass at the end of the session.