Of course, it is not enough to simply reflect on black history. We have the chance during this legislative session to impact history as well. Under the leadership of Maryland's first African American (and woman) Speaker of the House, we have passed landmark legislation to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to address the issue of program duplication, where programs that had been placed at HBCUs were also added at predominantly white universities. Among other bills in Speaker Jones' Black Agenda, we are considering legislation on corporate board and executive leadership diversity. And we are taking up significant police reforms, a long overdue discussion that disproportionately impacts the African American community. As regular readers of my newsletter know, I love talking and thinking about history. But one of the joys of serving in the General Assembly is the opportunity to have a small part of shaping it as well.
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 major news since my last email is the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At a briefing earlier this week, the state Department of Health informed a Senate work group that 49,600 Johnson & Johnson doses would be allocated initially to Maryland. This is great news as although there are many problems with Maryland's vaccine communications and distribution, overall supply has also been a major constraint.
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/ To be clear, this site was not created by any government or vaccinate administrator and does not allow you to register for a vaccine. It is a tool to determine where to register if you are in an eligible category for vaccination.
The vaccine distribution, on the other hand, was one the state had almost a year to plan but was clearly unprepared. The Governor and State Department of Health are loath to admit mistakes and will not accept that a system requiring people—including the elderly; those working two jobs; those with limited English; and everyone else—to continuously visit numerous websites at all hours to sign themselves or a loved one up for a vaccine is inherently flawed.
I continue to recommend you read the vaccine-specific updates from my seat-mate, Delegate Ariana Kelly. As a reminder, the state has launched a Vaccination Support Center that is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be reached at 1-855-634-6829.
For those who are 65 years old or older (Phases 1B and 1C), you can pre-register with Montgomery County Department of Health for a vaccination appointment here. Some of the other locations currently offering vaccines in the area are:
Two of my bills are winding their way to the floor of the House of Delegates. The Maryland Environment Service Reform Act of 2021 addresses some of the significant failings we learned about transparency and accountability at "MES" last year. MES is a quasi-governmental agency that provides water and wastewater treatment; solid waste management; composting; recycling; dredged material management; and other environmental management services, primarily to local governments. Last year, when the former Director left the agency to become the Governor's Chief of Staff, it was revealed that he took an improper severance payment; had benefited himself with luxurious travel; and had expenses far surpassing his predecessors. The legislation revamps the agency's board and leadership. As amended by the Appropriations Committee, the bill incorporates further ideas from the Executive Branch and passed the committee on a unanimous basis.
I also heavily amended my legislation related to the Office of Climate Counsel, now renamed the Office of People's Counsel Environmental Reform Act. As amended, the bill clarifies that the existing Office of People's Counsel (OPC) has an environmental mandate and can hire environmental experts to assist with its advocacy before the state's utilities regulator, the Public Service Commission. The bill also requires that OPC hire an assistant to focus on environmental issues and that the OPC sits on various state boards and commissions that address climate change and renewable energy. The bill has passed the Economic Matters Committee.
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