2021 Maryland General Assembly Update Week Two- Remembering Senate President Mike Miller, Wade’s Law, the Budget, Schools, and Vaccines
We are back in business in Annapolis with new legislation being introduced and virtual Committee and Delegation hearings picking up the pace. Senator Carozza had a hearing on her legislation, Wade’s Law, to increase penalties for criminally negligent driving, and participated in an Eastern Shore Delegation briefing by the Maryland Departments of Labor and Commerce. Carozza also voiced support for Governor Hogan’s Economic Recovery budget and his call for students to return to in-person learning by March 1, 2021. The Senate of Maryland also paused to pay tribute to former Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., who passed away on January 15.
REMEMBERING SENATE PRESIDENT MIKE MILLER
Senator Carozza joined with her Senate colleagues and Marylanders across the State in expressing her deep and sincere condolences to the family of Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. “Mike” Miller on his passing.
“I will always remember how then-President Miller went out of his way on my first Senate Opening Day in 2019 to greet and share Maryland history with my family and special guests,” Senator Carozza said after his passing. “As a leader and statesman, Senator Miller always reminded us to stay focused on the people’s work and would listen to each one of us when we advocated for our home districts. He taught each of us how to be better Senators, especially during his final year when he stepped down as President and continued to serve his constituents with complete dedication and passion as Senator.”
WADE’S LAW RECEIVES SENATE HEARING
Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s Senate Bill 17— Criminal Law – Life–Threatening Injury Involving a Motor Vehicle or Vessel – Criminal Negligence (Wade’s Law) was heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on January 19. This legislation would establish the offense of a life-threatening injury by motor vehicle or vessel as criminal negligence with imprisonment for 18 months and/or a fine of $5,000.
“Current law provides that manslaughter by vehicle by criminally negligent driving is a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum three-year imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Yet if the victim is maimed, paralyzed, or suffers some other life-threatening injury, that same criminally negligent driver is only liable for a $500 fine. Senate Bill 17 provides a more just penalty,” Senator Carozza said in her testimony.
At the hearing Senator Carozza spoke about a case from her community involving two Worcester County road workers, Scott Tatterson and Wade Pusey, who were struck by a criminally negligent driver. The violent crash occurred on February 22, 2016, and left Mr. Tatterson dead and Mr. Pusey with several life-threatening and life-sustaining injuries. This case was brought to Senator Carozza’s attention by the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office after it was clear that the only offense the driver could be charged with was a motor vehicle citation carrying a maximum penalty of $500.
EASTERN SHORE DELEGATION BRIEFED BY CABINET SECRETARIES
The Eastern Shore Delegation was briefed by Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz and Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson on Friday, January 22, 2021.
Secretary Schulz highlighted the department’s efforts to provide financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes $80 million in restaurant relief, $50 million for hotel relief, and $2 million for tourism destination marketing organizations. In addition, Commerce also provided guidance for businesses as they navigate the reopening phases.
Secretary Robinson gave an update on unemployment claims and their status. Senator Carozza joined with the Eastern Shore Delegation to continue to press for priority unemployment cases to be acknowledged and resolved in a timely fashion. Secretary Robinson heard their concerns and assured the Delegation that Labor has partnered with vendors and reassigned state employees to the call centers in an effort to reduce delays and resolve urgent cases. Since the beginning of COVID-19 the Department has received over 1.4 million new claims and paid over $9 billion in state and federal benefits, while implementing nine brand new federal unemployment insurance programs in 2020 and 2021.
Both Secretaries urged the passage of Governor Hogan’s RELIEF Act, which will provide small business relief to Marylanders and repeals all state income taxes on unemployment benefits.
CAROZZA’S COMMENTS ON HOGAN’S BUDGET, SCHOOL ANNOUNCEMENT
Governor Larry Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget was introduced in the Maryland Senate on January 20, 2021. The proposed $49.35 billion in the Operating Budget includes record funding for education, public safety, and health services without raising taxes.
“Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed Economic Recovery Budget funds Shore priorities while factoring in the impact of COVID-19, and without raising taxes or cutting services,” Senator Carozza said after reviewing Governor Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets.
Senator Carozza also thanked Governor Hogan and his Administration for their calls for Maryland school systems to return to in-person hybrid instruction no later than Monday, March 1, if not sooner. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Carozza has remained committed to ensuring that students are able to safely return to in-person learning as soon as possible, and supports the vaccination of teachers and school personnel in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“This call for our schools to return to in-person hybrid instruction by the beginning of March, if not sooner, is outstanding news, and I know it can be done safely and effectively,” Senator Carozza said after reviewing the new guidelines issued by the Maryland Department of Health and Department of Education to help ensure safe, in-person learning. “I have heard from countless parents and guardians in my district who would like to see their children back in a classroom so they may receive the best education possible. I also agree that based on the science, there is no public health reason to keep students out of schools. It is past time for our students to return safely to in-person learning. The science speaks for itself.”
“Thank you to all of our school leaders, teachers and all school personnel for all they are doing to support our students during very challenging times. Looking forward to COVID-19-safe school visits soon!”
CAROZZA TO MODERATE VIRTUAL COVID-19 VACCINE TOWN HALL
Senator Mary Beth Carozza will be moderating a COVID-19 and Vaccine Distribution virtual town hall on Monday, January 25 at 4:00 p.m. The panel will consist of Somerset and Wicomico Health Officer Lori Brewster, Worcester County Health Officer Rebecca Jones, Atlantic General Hospital Vice President of Patient Care Services Matthew Morris, and TidalHealth Vice President of Population Health Kathryn Fiddler.