This week started with Senator Mary Washington’s (Baltimore) Black History Month remarks on the Senate Floor paying tribute to the many achievements of African Americans in Maryland and noting current challenges, including the recent bomb threats targeted at Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As the Senator representing the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, I especially am disturbed about these bomb threats and will continue to support efforts to protect the safety of UMES and Maryland’s HBCUs. Also, during Senate Floor proceedings this week, Senator Addie Eckardt (Dorchester) in her role as the Protocol Chair recognized the Senate Pages including Jaeden Horner from Parkside High School in Wicomico County.
This week’s highlights include Governor Hogan’s final State-of-the-State address; an in-person Maryland Tourism Celebration in front of the State House; committee passage of the Worcester County agritourism bill; a Senate GOP press conference on crime; and the latest update from the Delmarva Chicken Association at the Eastern Shore Delegation meeting.
Maryland Tourism Day 2022
Governor Hogan recounted many of Maryland’s accomplishments in his final State-of-the-State address on February 4th. “Together, we have led one of the strongest health and economic recoveries in America,” Governor Hogan remarked. Additionally, Governor Hogan stressed the urgent response that is needed by the legislature on crime due to record-level violence in Maryland. 
Governor Hogan has changed Maryland for the better and we still have plenty of work to do this year serving the people of our great State of Maryland.
Combating the violent crime crisis took center stage in the Senate this week. Senate Democrats introduced their package of legislation to combat violent crime, which unfortunately will do nothing in the short term to solve the issue. While the Senate Republican Caucus supports judicial and prosecutorial transparency, rehabilitation programs, and other measures, we can’t just have long-term solutions – we must act now to stop the violence and restore safety in our communities.
Senate Republicans quickly repeated calls for immediate action to remove repeat, violent offenders off our streets. “We are again calling on our colleagues to pass, for a third time, the Violent Firearms Offenders Act” (SB339), which…
• Enhances penalties for using guns in violent crimes
• Closes the Drug Dealer Loophole, which exempts drug dealers from enhanced penalties that apply to every other felony where a firearm is used 
• Enhances penalties for knowingly giving someone a gun to commit a crime
• Gives prosecutors more tools to crack down on firearm offenders
• Enhances penalties for criminals who are caught repeatedly carrying guns 
Last year, the Maryland Senate passed this legislation on a 32-15 bipartisan vote, but unfortunately, the House of Delegates refused to consider the bill, for the second year. The Senate GOP Caucus also supports legislation that would make the theft of a handgun a felony. 
GOP Press conference led by Minority Leader, Bryan Simonaire
HB 181 introduced by Delegate Terri Hill (D-District 12) to remove all references to "God" and "morality" from the Maryland Constitution's Declaration of Rights has been withdrawn prior to the committee hearing.
"We are proud of our colleagues in the House and people of all faiths in Maryland who stood up against this bill and made their voices heard. Because of those efforts, the hearing on HB 181 was canceled, and the bill has been withdrawn," said GOP Leadership.
On February 1st, I attended and participated in Maryland Tourism Day. Tourism is a major economic and jobs driver for the state of Maryland.
MD Tourism Facts:
  • Visitors spend nearly $18.6 billion in Maryland each year
  • 95 percent of tourism businesses are small businesses
  • For every dollar spent on tourism advertising, $31 is generated to strengthen Maryland’s economy
  • 1 out of 16 jobs in Maryland is a tourism job.
Maryland Tourism Day is always one of my favorite days in Annapolis as we celebrate ‘Tourism Works for Maryland!’ At our tourism rally in front of the State House, I thanked all of our tourism representatives from around the state, especially Kristen Goller, Wicomico Recreation & Parks; Michele Burke, Worcester County Economic Development (WCED); Brianna Dix, Maryland's Coast; and Kerrie Bunting, Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce, and the Maryland Tourism Coalition.
L-R: Del. Hartman, Kerrie Bunting, Sen. Carozza, Brianna Dix, Kristen Goller.
I co-sponsored several key pieces of legislation in areas of economic recovery including Senate Bill 391 which extends the successful "More Jobs for Marylanders Program" an additional five years, through 2027; Senate Bill 622 that would provide a tourism tax credit for Marylanders; and Senate Bill 404 the Working Marylanders Tax Relief Act that would make permanent the enhanced earned income tax credit (EITC).
Other key co-sponsorships include SB 399 Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022, legislation by Governor Hogan that enhances penalties for using guns in violent crimes; Senate Bill SB 578 sponsored by Senator Klausmeier that would enable certain retirees to qualify for prescription drug benefits and reconsider the eligibility for prescription drug benefits of certain Medicare-eligible retirees; and the Governor’s SB 405 the Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2022 which would eliminate every single penny of state retirement taxes in Maryland. 
Senate Bill 32, local agritourism bill, received a favorable vote on February 3rd by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, making it the first of my bills to make it to the Senate floor this 2022 session. This would add Worcester County to the list of 18 other jurisdictions in which farm structures used for agritourism activities are exempted from certain commercial building requirements.
This legislation is a win-win for both the farm families who may need to diversify and pull in additional revenue just to keep the farm and for tourists who will have more options to explore and experience our local farms.
The Eastern Shore Delegation was briefed by Holly Porter, Executive Director with the Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA), and Hiram Burch, Legislative Manager of Maryland’s Office of Policy Analysis. DCA shared insightful information on the poultry industry and its continued challenges with workforce shortages. Regardless of these challenges, DCA reported 9,286 jobs and $2.7 billion in economic stimulus. The Delegation also heard an overview from the Office of Policy Analysis on state aid to local governments including education and police aid funding.
During the Delegation zoom meeting, I congratulated DCA President Far Nasir, poultry grower from Pocomoke, on DCA receiving the 2021 Agricultural Ambassador of the year by the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce. I also encouraged DCA members to continue to share their experiences with the Delegation. Sharing real examples from family farms is helpful in making the case to other committee members.
On February 3, 2022, Governor Larry Hogan announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the State of Maryland have dropped below 1,500, as the state continues to report substantial declines in COVID-19 health metrics. Furthermore, February 3rd marked the end of the 30-day state of emergency that the governor declared last month.
As of February 3, 2022, Governor Hogan's Office reported substantial declines in key COVID-19 health metrics:
Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate