By Michelle Y. Green
Special to the AFRO
The Maryland General Assembly convened January 13, with both the House and Senate meeting in person.
“The work goes on. The work must continue,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson in his opening address.
“The fundamental components of what we are here to do over the next 90 days, and everything that comes to this body, will be focused on ensuring that Marylanders’ health and our economy are first and foremost.”
Because Maryland has a surplus budget of more than $4.5 billion dollars, due to federal COVID-19 relief, the Assembly put forth a robust agenda. Among the priorities are creating a family and medical leave program for all; addressing renewable energy and climate change; providing financial assistance to small business, families, and retirees; and examining redistricting. The Assembly will also tackle the hot-button issue of legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. House Democrats, who are in the majority, hope to send that initiative to the ballot. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones said, “ This session, we need to keep these important issues in mind.”
Governor Larry Hogan said crime and taxes are at the top of his agenda. “There is nothing more important than addressing the violent crime crisis in our state. We pushed the largest cuts in state history nearly unanimously last year. We’re looking at tripling-down on that.”
This legislative session, nearly one-third of the lawmakers are newly elected. The freshman class includes the largest group of female lawmakers ever to serve in the statehouse.
The newest member is Del Roxanne Prettyman (D-Baltimore), who will represent District 44A; which includes neighborhoods in southwest and west Baltimore. Prettyman, an active member of the Baltimore City Democratic State Committee since 2015, will serve on the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
While the Senate will continue in-person meetings, the House has opted to meet virtually for the remainder of the legislative session.
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