We deal with many important issues each year in Annapolis, but as I have reported to you before the state budget is the only bill we are constitutionally required to pass each year. After we complete our work in the House, the budget will head to the Senate for their consideration. This year's budget is on track to meet our balanced budget requirements while still making vital investments in education, healthcare, public safety, and more. A big part of the reason we are able to make those investments in the midst of a pandemic and accompanying economic crisis is that our federal representatives have continued to step forward and pass significant legislation to offset, at a macro level, a lot of the damage. It certainly would not feel that way to a family that has lost a loved one to COVID-19 or has lost their job because of the economic challenges, but overall the damage could have been much more significant.
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.
We continue to make progress on vaccinating the population. It is too slow and too disorganized, but each day I get a few emails about people who have successfully been vaccinated intermixed with all of the questions and concerns about our vaccine progress. For understandable reasons, we mostly hear from people with questions or challenges and we do our best to assist, but it is nice to hear good news sometimes as well.
The County Department of Health has informed us that they have completed their over 75 pre-registration list. If you are over 75 in Montgomery County and have not received an email to make a vaccination appointment, check your spam folder for an email. Otherwise, email C19vaccination@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-2982. The County Department of Health's expectation is that they should be able to quickly book you for an appointment.
If you are over 65, in additon to the County Department of Health, you are eligible at other vaccination outlets around the state. As I previously shared, an enterprising Marylander has created a platform that indicates when vaccination appointments may be available without the need to click through multiple sites.
The centralized site is available here: https://mdvax.info/
Some of the other locations currently offering vaccines in the area are:
I continue to recommend you read the vaccine-specific updates from my seat-mate, Delegate Ariana Kelly. And while you are at it, my other seatmate Delegate Sara Love also sends a useful weekly newsletter, which you can read here.
The District 16 Team also recently wrote to state health officials regarding the need for focused vaccine resources in Friendship Heights, a dense, naturally occurring retirement community with a lot of individuals over 65 years old in need of vaccinations. You can read the letter online.
One of the most significant parts of the 2021 legislative program is police reform. At the end of last week, the House Judiciary Committee amended and passed the Police Reform and Accountability Act (HB 670) on a party-line vote. The legislation contains many important provisions including changes to when a use of force is permitted; increased disclosure of police complaints; a repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights; restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants; expansion of the use of body cameras; and more. My colleague, Delegate David Moon, who sits on the Judiciary Committee has provided a useful summary you can read on Facebook.
The Health and Government Operations Committee is sending a bill to the House floor to repeal the state song, "Maryland! My Maryland!" The state song was written in 1861 but formally adopted in 1939. It contains language encouraging Marylanders to fight on the side of the Confederacy and refers to President Lincoln as a tyrant and a despot. The song represents a historical curiosity but has no business holding an elevated status in the state.
The Office of People's Counsel Environmental Reform Act—previously referred to as the Climate Counsel Act—has passed the House on a party line vote. The legislation strengthens the Office of People's Counsel and equips it to address environmental issues as it advocates for residential ratepayer interests.
The Board of Revenue Estimates released its March revision today, which is available here. Sales and income tax--the largest components of state revenue--increase by about $375m more than expected in December in the current fiscal year and $470m more in the next fiscal year. The BRE staff provided a presentation that provides insight into why our macro state tax revenue picture is so strong, even while many families and individuals suffer.
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