2021 Maryland General Assembly Update Week Five: RELIEF is on the way, Veto Overrides, and More Shore Virtual Visitors
With 60 days left until we adjourn sine die, we are one-third of the way through the 442nd Maryland General Assembly session! This week’s major highlight was passage of COVID-19 emergency RELIEF Act and sending it to Governor Hogan to sign. Senator Carozza also stood up for Maryland taxpayers during the veto override debates, and met virtually with constituents from her district on advocacy days.
EMERGENCY COVID-19 RELIEF ACT HEADS TO GOVERNOR
The Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 496— Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families (RELIEF) Act on Friday, February 12, and sent it to Governor Hogan to sign. The RELIEF Act is an emergency stimulus and tax relief package intended to provide over $1 billion for Marylanders and small businesses. This law will go into immediate effect once signed by Governor Hogan.
“It was encouraging to see the Maryland General Assembly understand the urgency in passing this emergency COVID-19 relief and stimulus package to assist struggling Maryland families and small businesses,” Senator Carozza stated. “It will go into effect immediately and provide needed COVID-19 relief now.”
The RELIEF Act is expected to be signed on Monday, February 15.
CAROZZA STANDS WITH TAXPAYERS DURING OVERRIDE DEBATE
The Senate of Maryland reconsidered House Bill 1300—Blueprint for Maryland’s Future—Implementation, which was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan in 2020 given the bill’s fiscal impact.
“We have a blueprint costing nearly $40 billion over 10 years, a Kirwan plan that we simply cannot afford, especially in the midst of an international health pandemic, and which does not provide local flexibility and control which is especially needed during the COVID-19 crisis,” Senator Carozza said on the Senate Floor, noting that she was appointed to the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission) in 2019 and before that made the extra effort to attend Commission meetings in 2018 and 2017.
“Since March of 2020, my primary focus has been assisting my constituents with both their immediate COVID-19 needs and with their long-term recovery,” Senator Carozza said to her colleagues. “I strongly believe our constituents expect us to balance the ideal with the possible when it comes to funding Maryland’s education priorities, which means factoring in the reality of the significant state and local fiscal impacts, and balancing education and non-education priorities, especially during a global health pandemic.”
Carozza also spoke out during the debate on an override of House Bill 732— Taxation – Tobacco Tax, Sales and Use Tax, and Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax, which establishes a tax on digital advertising. Carozza voted against the increase and voted to sustain the Governor’s veto.
“Here we are, we have been working together on the COVID-19 emergency relief package and I’m proud of our bipartisan work together …but then we turn around and we’re going to increase taxes during the COVID-19 recovery,” Senator Carozza said during her Floor remarks.
During the debate Senator Carozza read from an email she received from a constituent in Bishopville, Worcester County, who was concerned about the possibility of tax increases.
“I have been a Maryland resident for all 66 years of my life but if taxes are increased I will be forced to flee Maryland and move two miles away (Delaware) where it is far more affordable. Please vote against increasing taxes and vote for a decrease in taxes for senior citizens in my beloved state of Maryland,” the constituent wrote.
Both vetoes were overridden on mostly party lines.
SHORE VIRTUAL VISITS CONTINUE
District 38 was well represented during virtual advocacy days this week. Senator Carozza participated in the Maryland Association of Community Colleges’ virtual advocacy day and reiterated her strong support for Wor-Wic Community College. Carozza also met with constituents who were advocating for legislation in support of tourism, physical therapy services, rural issues, the arts, and the Humane Society.
“I appreciate the extra effort my constituents are making to share their views with me,” Senator Carozza said. “I look forward to welcoming constituents back to my Annapolis office in the future when it is safe to do so.”
WICOMICO, SOMERSET PAGES RECOGNIZED IN SENATE
The Maryland General Assembly Student Page program is virtual for the 2021 legislative session to keep the participating students safe and healthy. Senate Pages are responsible for providing vital services to the legislature and have the opportunity to work directly with elected officials on the chamber floors. This week, Margaret Harkins, a senior at Parkside High School in Salisbury, and Xavier King, a senior at Washington High School in Princess Anne, served as Senate Pages.