2021 Maryland General Assembly Update Week One- Session in the New Normal
The Maryland General Assembly convened for the 442nd Session on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. All efforts were made to ensure that the Senators, Delegates, and staff are safely able to do the people’s work. This week Senator Carozza participated in a virtual Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee briefing on elections, and voted to sustain Governor Larry Hogan’s vetoes on legislation that was considered during the 2020 legislative session. Carozza also voiced her support for Governor Hogan’s expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution phases, and his efforts to help Marylanders economically-impacted by the pandemic.
OPENING DAY, SOCIALLY DISTANCED
Opening Day 2021 began with the swearing-in of Senator Carozza’s former House Appropriations colleague and friend, Senator Michael Jackson (D-Prince George’s, Calvert, and Charles). The Senate also recognized Senator Paul Corderman’s (R-Washington) first day on the Floor after being appointed during the interim.
The Senate Republican Caucus was able to successfully create two new rule changes that strengthen the voice of the minority party. The first rule establishes the position of Deputy Minority Leader in the Senate Rules. Senator Ed Reilly (R-Anne Arundel) has officially been recognized and accepted as Senate Deputy Minority Leader for the 2021 Legislative Session.
The second rule change limits the number of bills lawmakers can introduce during the legislative session to 25 bills per Senator. This procedural change has remained a Senate Republican priority for years and is expected to increase productivity in the Standing Committees and on the Floor, especially during this COVID-19 session.
“I look forward to continuing my work in support of our Shore way of life for the next 90 days in Annapolis, but always happy to return home every weekend,” Senator Carozza said on Opening Day.
CAROZZA PARTICIPATES IN COMMITTEE ELECTION BRIEFING
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee held its first briefings and hearings of the 2021 Session on Thursday, January 14. The Committee members, who have oversight over election matters, were briefed by the Maryland State Board of Elections on data from the 2020 general election and plans for 2022.
“I will continue to support and push for measures to prevent voter fraud such as requiring voter identification, the signing of ballots to match registration forms, and ensuring poll watchers have access to view a fair count or recount,” Senator Carozza said.
CAROZZA VOTES TO SUSTAIN HOGAN’S VETOES
The Senate of Maryland debated legislation that was vetoed during the abbreviated 2020 legislative session. The legislation, Senate Bill 708-Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund, and Advisory Council – Alterations, Senate Bill 907-Public Safety - Crime Plan and Law Enforcement Councils (Maryland State Crime Plan), and Senate Bill 929- Public Safety - Baltimore City - P.R.O.T.E.C.T. (Public Resources Organizing to End Crime Together) Program would have increased mandated state spending, added bureaucracy for law enforcement, and contributed little to keeping Maryland communities safe.
“At a time when the Maryland Rainy Day Fund is being drained to combat COVID-19 expenses, our State’s economic recovery simply cannot afford more spending mandates,” Senator Carozza said, “These bills were vetoed to help protect working families, small businesses, and job creators as we continue to recover from all impacts of the pandemic.”
“Throughout my public service career, I have taken a multi-pronged approach to increase public safety by working with all constituencies including local law enforcement, victims of crime, school officials, business and community members,” Senator Carozza added, noting that in 2020 she supported Governor Hogan’s crime package that included legislation to crack down on repeat offenders and crimes with firearms.
CAROZZA CELEBRATES VACCINE EXPANSION AND RELIEF ACT
During the first week of session, Senator Carozza voiced her strong support of Governor Hogan’s announcement that Maryland is moving into Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination plan on Monday, January 18, 2021. Phase 1B includes all Marylanders 75 and older, as well as anyone of any age living in assisted living or independent living facilities, and developmental disabilities and behavioral health group homes. Also included in Phase 1B is K-12 teachers, education staff, and child care providers.
“Our local health officers and their teams have led the way on the Shore as we advocated together to expand the vaccines for seniors over the age of 75, anyone living in assisted living and group homes, teachers, and child care providers,” Senator Carozza said. Carozza had been pushing for local flexibility for local health departments when it comes to allocating their doses.
“We’ve been pushing together to expand the vaccines for these priority groups, and I’m grateful to hear Governor Hogan’s announcement to move to Phase 1B on Monday. Many of us especially appreciate that our elderly parents will soon be vaccinated. I encourage my constituents to receive the vaccine when it becomes available as we work together for a full COVID-19 recovery.”
Governor Hogan also announced the RELIEF Act of 2021, an emergency stimulus and tax relief package intended to provide over $1 billion for Marylanders and small businesses.
“Passing this emergency COVID-19 relief and stimulus package now to assist struggling Maryland families and small businesses should be the top priority of every member of the Maryland General Assembly,” Senator Carozza stated. “I am completely committed to working with the Governor and members of the legislature from both sides of the political aisle to fast track this emergency legislation, and target and move these needed funds to those who have been hardest hit by COVID-19. We have been able to fast track bills before as we did at the end of the 2020 Session so we need to apply that same sense of urgency to provide immediate relief to Marylanders now.”