January 21, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabrielle Titow, (410) 841-3645
2022 Maryland General Assembly Update
Week Two– Redistricting, Budget, and Shore Priorities
Annapolis, MD— We’re back in business in Annapolis with routine Department bills being introduced, and committee hearings and briefings picking up the pace. The week started with Senator Joanne Benson presenting a Senate Floor speech to honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. This week, Governor Larry Hogan introduced his Fiscal Year 2023 Budget that “funds Shore priorities, would provide record-level tax relief to State retirees and hard-working Marylanders, and increase the Rainy Day fund to a record $3.6 billion,” Senator Mary Beth Carozza said after reviewing the Governor’s fiscal year 2023 operating and capital budgets. Carozza also spoke on the Senate Floor to urge fairness and transparency during the redistricting debate.
REDISTRICTING FAIRNESS AND TRANSPARENCY
The Maryland Senate voted to advance the highly gerrymandered legislative redistricting proposal by a party-line vote of 32-14. Carozza joined Senate Republicans in supporting an amendment that would have replaced the Democratic Leadership’s map with the map proposed by Governor Hogan’s independent and non-partisan Citizens Redistricting Commission. In her Senate Floor remarks, Carozza said that the citizens map was developed through an extremely open and transparent process with 36 public meetings and more than 4,000 attendees. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Democratic Leadership’s process.
“Our constituents expect and deserve fair representation, maps drawn in which they have confidence in us and the process, maps that should have been drawn by a citizens commission. Regarding the Delegate districts, I represented District 38C when elected in 2014. I can tell you from my experience in representing a single-member district that it benefits constituents. There is no confusion and it positively affects constituent service, and that is what we should be concerned about— our constituents. It is simply unfair when the outcomes of our elections are being determined by the extremes on both sides. I come back to fairness and urge you to consider that when you cast your vote,” said Carozza during the Senate floor debate.
COMMITTEE BRIEFING ON MDE UPDATE AND POULTRY INDUSTRY
On Tuesday, Carozza participated in a Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs (EHE) Committee briefing with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Secretary Ben Grumbles provided updates on MDE enforcement activities and the shortage of MDE staff in the water supply program. The briefing also included a presentation by the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh on MDE understaffing and by the Environment Integrity Project on the poultry industry.
During the questioning period, Carozza asked the MDE Secretary about the impact of the pandemic on the MDE workforce shortage and on poultry growers, and about the compliance of chicken farmers with MDE regulations. “I think it’s important to bring balance and fairness to these presentations, especially when outside environmental groups often leave the false impression that chicken farmers are harming the environment,” said Carozza. “The MDE Secretary responded by noting that the majority of non-compliance is related to record-keeping, not on-the-ground water quality concerns.”
SHORE PRIORITIES IN GOVERNOR HOGAN’S FY 23 BUDGET
Governor Hogan’s $58.2 billion Operating Budget introduced in the Maryland General Assembly includes record-level funding for K-12 education, school construction projects in every jurisdiction, local health departments; Maryland’s Medicaid program; state and local police agencies, mental health and substance use disorder programs; major tax relief for small businesses, and retirees. All of these priorities are funded with no new taxes and additionally increases Maryland’s Rainy Day Fund by a record $3.6 billion.
Several Shore priorities are funded including $23 million for the Cover Crop program, $12.4 million for the Maryland Tourism Development Board, $8 million to support the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, $1 million to start construction of the US 13 business bridge over the East Branch of the Wicomico River, $425,000 to finish early planning for the Route 90 bridge in Ocean City, $1 million for the Main Street’s Maryland Program, and $1 million for Junior Achievement Eastern Shore.
“I have strongly supported and worked with Delegate Carl Anderton and our Shore Delegation to secure funding for the Junior Achievement Eastern Shore which would expose our students to different industries early on, help address the severe workforce shortage in all industries, and keep our talent here on the Shore,” said Carozza. “I want to publicly thank Governor Hogan and his administration for their continued support of our Shore priorities.”
SENATE SMALL BUSINESS WORKGROUP
Carozza participated in a Senate small business workgroup meeting on January 19th focused on COVID-19 economic recovery. Presentations were given by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Farm Bureau, and the Maryland Retailers Association. A few shared priorities included workforce development, no new taxes and regulations on small businesses, and incentives to increase child care availability to help address workforce shortages across the board.
During the bipartisan workgroup session, Carozza urged her colleagues to carefully consider the impact of the thousands of proposed new bills on small businesses. “Many small business operators are struggling for their very survival and to keep their employees on the job,” said Carozza. “We need to prioritize both health and economic long-term recovery as we review and vote on bills this session.”
EASTERN SHORE ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES DINNER
Carozza attended the annual Eastern Shore Association of Municipalities (ESAM) meeting along with Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Worcester County Commission President Joe Mitrecic on January 19th. ESAM remained consistent on its priorities, highlighting the need to restore the Highway User Revenue (HUR) Fund. “We worked very hard to have an increase in HUR distributions in 2018 where municipalities received a 2 percent increase. The problem is that the higher-level funding is set to expire in 2024 and what we need to do is eliminate the sunset provision and fully restore funds that have been promised to these jurisdictions,” said Carozza.
EASTERN SHORE DELEGATION
Carozza participated in an Eastern Shore Delegation meeting with Maryland Agriculture Secretary Bartenfelder, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Haddaway-Riccio, and Dr. Jurgen Schwarz, Chair and Professor of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) on January 21st. Carozza focused her remarks on the need to push for continued dredging in the Ocean City Inlet and its importance to commercial watermen and recreational boaters.
In her comments directed to the DNR Secretary, Carozza thanked Governor Hogan and the Secretary for their efforts to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for additional assistance and flexibility in the dredging of the O.C. Inlet. “Our commercial fishing industry and recreational boating are not only important economic drivers for the local area but for the entire State of Maryland,” said Carozza.
Additionally, Carozza commended Dr. Schwarz for UMES’ support of small farms and encouraged Dr. Schwarz to continue to work with outside groups to ensure that they have accurate information about the operations of Shore farms and the poultry industry.