The Washington Report January 18th

Greetings from Annapolis! We’re off to a busy start to this year’s legislative session, overriding the Governor’s vetoes on two bills that will improve the lives of thousands of Marylanders. The first bill requires employers to provide employees five days of earned sick leave. This will provide job security for thousands of low-wage workers who often must choose between caring for themselves or a loved one or paying the rent. Our second override was of the Ban-the-Box legislation which bars colleges and universities from asking prospective students about their criminal histories. The bill will still allow school administrators to do background checks; it just removes the barrier to entry for otherwise qualified applicants so everyone has a chance. This will expand higher education opportunities to those people who are turning their lives around after being convicted of a crime.

As we celebrate these long awaited legislative victories, it is only the beginning of the work to be done this session, especially in regard to protecting our most vulnerable citizens – our young people and older adults. This session some of the bills I am sponsoring are ones that provide equitable educational funding and ensure fairer water billing practices as well as an end to tax sales from unpaid water bills.

Finally, we must keep our promise to our constituents and ensure the additional revenue created by casinos enhances the Education Trust Fund, rather than replacing the funds the State would have otherwise used to fund the education budget. Last month I proposed a bill entitled “Restoring the Trust in Our Education Trust Fund.” This bill would ensure the funding generated from casinos will be required, as originally promised, to increase funding for our public schools—not simply to replace funds taken from previously established pipelines, but in addition to them. We need to fix the problem now. Our students can’t wait.

Yesterday, Governor Hogan released the details of the FY2019 State budget and once again, he takes aim at Baltimore, slashing recovery funds by 54 percent. Decades of disinvestment in our city, fueled by policies steeped in structural racism such as redlining, should compel the State to make Baltimore whole again with critical funds to rebuild our city after the 2015 unrest. The General Assembly committed these funds in 2016, and year-after-year has seen the Governor divert funds away from our city. I will work alongside our delegation to get these funds restored. You will hear more from me as we further delve into the budget and understand its impact on Baltimore City.

In Partnership,

Mary Washington