There’s a lot of content in this email, so I will keep the intro short! Read on to learn about all of the events that took place this week…
Advocating for Unemployment Benefits
The RELIEF Act with the Senate’s Recovery Now amendment would provide $1,000 grants to anyone waiting for unemployment adjudication for more than 30 days (unless related to an allegation of fraud). On the Senate Floor, I raised the question about how we will ensure that constituents in need receive these funds. After all, the Department of Labor has not been successful in helping my Rockville and Gaithersburg constituents in a timely way. My staff and I continue to advocate for those who still have claims pending– even from last March.
“NIMBL-y” Supporting Our Nonprofits
In 2017, I enacted SB465, which created the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL). Nonprofit organizations with pending government grants or contracts often face cash flow challenges due to the delayed release of funds. NIMBL provides up to $25,000 that is repaid once the funds arrive. SB376 will ensure that NIMBL supports even more nonprofits.
Increasing Gov’t Transparency
In recent years, Del. Marc Korman and I have enacted legislation mandating greater government transparency. Last year, we passed SB363/HB421, which strengthened and expanded the Open Meetings Act.
Because of the pandemic, virtually every State Board, Commission, Agency, and Department have shifted to online operations. It has become increasingly evident that more “sunshine” is needed so that taxpayers can observe their government at work. SB72 requires State entities and local Boards of Elections to be accessible to the public. This legislation is especially important when someone cannot walk in the room to observe the meeting in person.
Curious About Participating in a Bill Hearing?
Testifying on legislation has gotten easier! Rather than driving to Annapolis and waiting for hours, you can submit written testimony through the MyMGA website. If you need help signing up, feel free to contact my office or the bill sponsor.
Despite the challenges, we should recognize the progress we’ve made. Kamala Harris made history not only as the first woman… but as the first person of color to be sworn in as Vice President! Similarly, Speaker Adrienne Jones became the first woman AND the first person of color to lead the Maryland House of Delegates.
There are misleading attack ads regarding the digital advertising tax bill from last year. This legislation only applies to companies making more than $100 million in global revenues. Mega-corporations like Google can certainly afford to support Maryland’s priority needs! I plan to override the Governor’s veto to help fund our schools.
Navigating Vaccine Challenges
Five mass vaccination sites are opening around the state. They will take appointments from any Marylander able to travel to these far-flung locations. It’s absurd that Governor Hogan again overlooked Montgomery County– the most populated jurisdiction– for one of these sites!
PLEASE BE CAREFUL: Criminals are preying on people anxious for a vaccine and have created new online scams. These misleading sites snag your credit card number to book an appointment and may ask for your Social Security Number as well. Don’t fall victim to these crooks. COVID VACCINES ARE FREE OF CHARGE TO COUNTY RESIDENTS.
Addressing the State of the State
Gov. Hogan delivered the annual State of the State address virtually. He mourned the deaths of 7,000 Marylanders due to COVID-19; described new efforts to get vaccines into arms; and reiterated his demands to re-open schools. The Democratic response was delivered by MoCo’s own Del. Eric Luedtke, who criticized the Governor for his ineffective vaccine rollout; mismanagement of unemployment benefits; and demonization of educators for wanting to remain safe.