Black History Month
Prior to the pandemic, every February, members of the Legislative Black Caucus would share short Maryland historical speeches during Black History Month. As we are in Black History Month, I thought I would share a little bit of Black History in the Maryland General Assembly.
1954 was the breakthrough year for African Americans, as three were elected to the General Assembly for the first time. In the House, Emory Cole and Truly Hatchett were elected. In the Senate, Harry Cole was elected. In 1958, Verda Welcome was elected the first female African American Delegate and then the first female African American State Senator four years later. Senator Welcome's portrait now hangs in the Senate chamber.
As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
The state pension is a niche issue I am sometimes asked about, often as a proxy for the state's overall fiscal health and responsibility. A recent update from the Joint Committee on Pensions and the annual budget analysis of the State Retirement Agency provide a good and current lay of the land.
The pension is 76.2% funded and projected to reach 80% funding (a strong benchmark the rating agencies look at) in fiscal year 2025. That is after many years of difficult decisions around the pension including changing impacts on employees, shifting some burdens to the counties, and increasing the state taxpayer contribution.
The state tax dollar contribution to the pension fund for fiscal year 23 is $1.8b, with $373m from local school boards.
You can read a lot more in the annual budget analysis and Joint Pensions Committee Report.
Since my last newsletter, I had a hearing on my bill related to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF). The legislation (HB 377) will allow the state's auto-insurer of last result to offer more flexible and affordable installment plans instead of forcing drivers to choose between paying interest rates for insurance premiums or driving without insurance. You can watch the hearing here. The bill has since been voted favorably out of the Economic Matters Committee.
I also had the bill hearing on the Green School Construction Act (HB 365), legislation to encourage more environmentally responsible school construction projects in the state. You can watch that hearing here.
Last week, the Maryland Transit Caucus heard from the Department of Legislative Services and the American Public Transportation Association about the federal infrastructure bill. You can watch the briefing here, on the Transit Caucus's YouTube page.
A few years ago, I worked with several colleagues to create a state matching funds program for local government to establish summer Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) programs. The latest report on the program recently arrived. Six jurisdictions (including Montgomery County) have been awarded state taxpayer funds to match their own local taxpayer funds to feed 3,996 students during the summer months.
But there is still unbelievable need. Governor Hogan included over $4 million in his budget request to radically increase the size of the program--which began with a $200,000 mandated appropriation. You can read the report here.
Condolences to the family of Carl Leventhal. Dr. Leventhal was an active District 16 constituent and father of former Councilmember George Leventhal.
Congratulations to two Bethesda residents on their nominations to the Montgomery County Library Board: James Montgomery and Marilyn Schiff
Congratulations to District 16's Leni Preston, who was appointed to the Policy Committee for the Maryland Commission on Health Equity.
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