In past legislative sessions, meeting for the 90 days in our House office building has been a hustle and bustle of activity and events. Every day, the hallways were filled with innumerable activist groups and constituents advocating for their particular legislation and issues. Mornings were spent meeting with those groups in my office before heading over to the State House for the daily floor sessions where the important work of voting on legislation took place. Afternoons were devoted to public hearings where hundreds of witnesses testified before the Judiciary Committee about bills being considered by the General Assembly.
This session held many of the same events, but with the pandemic, most of the events were held virtually either in my office at the State House or at my law office. Committee and subcommittee hearings were held virtually with debates and votes for legislation in front of a camera with multiple committee members, constituents and interest groups sitting in front of their cameras. Hopefully the pandemic will be in our “rear-view mirror” by next session and we will return to the “old” normal of meeting face to face.
The most important legislation passed this year was the COVID Relief Act and the budget, which helped deliver relief to individuals and small businesses affected by COVID because of no fault of their own. Just days after the General Assembly convened, Governor Larry Hogan presented a bill that passed nearly unanimously with only one dissenting vote in the House of Delegates. This bill delivered needed health care services and resources to truly devastated families dealing with loss of life, sickness and also financial ruin. The $50 billion budget passed in balance with a healthy rainy day fund. This balanced budget helps allocate much of the federal funds to help small businesses that were drastically affected because of COVID, again due to no fault of their own.
Each session since 2018, I have sponsored legislation to end gerrymandering of legislative districts. Next session will be the most important year as new lines will be drawn for both congressional districts and local Maryland legislative districts. I will once again sponsor anti-gerrymandering legislation and press for appropriate and fair legislative districts. Many organizations and constituents have reached out to our office over the years supporting this important cause. Please reach out to our offices if you would like to receive information, get involved by providing testimony, etc. The bills have never come out of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee for a vote since I have sponsored them.
Due to the pandemic’s impact throughout Maryland, legislation that may have passed in a “normal” economic environment was sidelined with more important pressing legislation, which took precedence in discussions and in voting. Many committees did not take action on various bills they normally and easily may have passed out of their respective committees. However, in the 2020 general election, the voters of Maryland overwhelmingly approved the passage of a constitutional amendment authorizing fantasy gaming competitions and sports wagering in Maryland. This bill establishes and implements sports wagering in the state and provides for the regulation of sports wagering and fantasy gaming competitions. The bill establishes a multi-tier licensing system, application fees and requirements for specific types of licenses. This bill passed both chambers and now heads to the governor for his approval.
Other important pieces of legislation that passed include the continuation of telehealth services, which became vitally important to our population in reaching physicians, mental health care workers, and nurse practitioners. I fully support the continuance of telehealth services after the pandemic subsides.
If there is any legislation you would like to know about, please reach out to our staff at the State House. Our direct phone number is 410-841-3510.