If you had told me this time a year ago that the major issues that would occupy my office were unemployment and vaccines, I would not have believed you. But, of course, that is exactly what has happened. In my view, both the state's unemployment system and the vaccine rollout have been bungled.
Although the initial unemployment system challenges could be understood as resulting from an unprecedented increase in demand, it is almost a year later and people are still struggling with the system. If you are having trouble with unemployment and live in District 16, you can fill out our District 16 constituent service Google form for assistance here.
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. There is also a bit of good news. First, 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. Second, the state Department of Health has agreed to create a centralized sign-up for its mass vaccination sites. This should obviously be expanded to include other administrators of the vaccine but it is an adjustment by the State Department of Health and welcome news.
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:
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.
A lot of the work of the legislature right now is in our [virtual] committees. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, our time in committee is split between two tasks. First, we have regular bills to consider and hold hearings on. You can see the 236 bills currently referred to the Appropriations Committee on the General Assembly website. In addition to budget related legislation, the committee also has jurisdiction over higher education policy. Second, our subcommittees are regularly meeting with the heads of state agencies; advocates; and our non-partisan Department of Legislative Services to go through each agency's budget in detail. You can view the hearings that have already occurred and the analyses here. This year, the House and Senate subcommittees are meeting jointly to consider agency budgets.
Our State Treasurer recently announced that Maryland has retained its AAA bond rating from the three major rating agencies, which makes it cheaper for us to fund our state construction program. I always recommend that those interested in Maryland's budget and finances should read the rating agency reports, which can be accessed on the Treasurer's website. These reports go into detail about Maryland's strengths (strong underlying economy; well established fiscal management processes) and challenges (higher than average debt). Overall, Maryland's high rating is achieved because the strengths far outweigh the challenges but it is worth reading the details.
If you know of an upcoming District 16 event or a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences, please email email@example.com.
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