February 28, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gabrielle Titow, (410) 841-3645

 

2022 Maryland General Assembly Update

Week Seven: Masks Optional, Demand for Crime Bills and Retirement Relief over Misplaced Priorities, and Supporting 9-1-1 Specialists

 

Annapolis, MD–This week marked the halfway point of the 2022 Maryland General Assembly session with good news on votes to allow masks to be option for students, continued demands by Senate Republicans to take action on emergency crime bills introduced by the Governor, and a hearing held on Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s legislation (Senate Bill 822) to strengthen retirement benefits for 9-1-1 specialists for retention of these public safety personnel. Senator Carozza also met with local school superintendents from the nine-county Eastern Shore Education Consortium, local librarians, and representatives with the Maryland Coalition of Families during their virtual Annapolis advocacy days.

 

Lifting the Student Mask Mandate

Senator Carozza, who consistently has supported making the wearing of masks optional strongly supported Friday’s vote by the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review to lift the mask mandate in the schools. This action followed the earlier Maryland State Board of Education vote to lift the mask requirement as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to drop across the board. “I want to thank all my constituents, especially our parents, who made the extra effort to have their voice heard and put our children first,” said Senator Carozza, who serves on the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

 

Calls for Legislative Action on the Governor’s Crime and Retirement Relief Bills Instead of Misplaced Priorities like the Soda Pop Cops bill

The full Senate took up two bills that Senator Carozza joined with other Senate Republicans in calling them “misplaced priorities” and opposed both bills. The first bill, Senate Bill 119, would eliminate an important law that allows schools to prosecute that small percentage of students who deprive others of a quality education by physically attacking or threatening other students, teachers or administrators. This bill removes an important tool in the tool boxes of our teachers and principals as they try to quell the rising tide of violence in our schools. The  second bill, Senate Bill 263, regulates the type of drink that parents can give to their children when treating them to a dinner out. If a restaurant offers the wrong kind of drink, the owner can face up to 14 years in jail and a $100,000 fine, which is a larger penalty than those far worse crimes like stealing a handgun. Senator Carozza and all Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

 

“While the Senate is quick to pass the Soda Pop Cops bill and legislation weakening the authority of schools to deal with disruptive students whose actions affect the rest of the students in the class, the Senate is failing to take up the Governor’s emergency crime bills and legislation to provide retirement tax relief which have been top priorities not only for the Shore but for Marylanders across the state,” said Senator Carozza.

 

Carozza’s Bill to Support 9-1-1 Specialists

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee held a hearing on February 24th on Senate Bill 822 which Senator Carozza sponsored to strengthen the retirement for 9-1-1- specialists. SB 822 would allow local government jurisdictions to authorize sworn 9-1-1 specialists to become members of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System (LEOPs). “The need for this legislation was brought to my attention by both local law enforcement and 9-1-1 specialists as a way to retain these valuable public safety personnel,” said Senator Carozza.  She also noted that Fruitland Police Chief Brian Swafford and other law enforcement have shared with her that 9-1-1 dispatchers and operators endure many of the same stresses as law enforcement officers and they are the point of contact for the public during critical incidents and emergencies. “These 9-1-1 specialists are an absolute lifeline for police, fire/EMS personnel, and the public, and providing more incentives like strengthening their retirement will help with retention and recruitment of these essential public safety employees,” said Carozza.

 

Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate