ANNAPOLIS — A bill-signing ceremony in Annapolis reflected a sense of normalcy with a flurry of lawmakers, local officials and advocates posing with the Maryland governor and two presiding officers to celebrate 79 bills that became law.
Tuesday marked the first time since 2019 that the formal ritual took place inside the State House.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones as she thanked Gov. Larry Hogan and Senate President Bill Ferguson for their partnership. “Now let’s go sign these bills.”
One of the major pieces of legislation will allow the state’s Stadium Authority to issue bonds for an economic development project along Metro’s Blue Line corridor in Prince George’s County.
The estimated $400 million from the state would provide construction and design for sports and entertainment facilities within communities inside the Beltway that include FedEx Field in Landover, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders.
The legislation, however, doesn’t permit any money to build a new stadium. FedEx Field remains under contract through 2027.
Hogan will join Prince George’s officials to further discuss the project during a press conference Wednesday at the Largo Town Center Metrorail station, which bookends the transit agency’s Blue Line in the county.
In regard to other legislation passed during the 90-day legislative session that ended at midnight Tuesday, leaders called it “historic.”
Ferguson and Jones began leading their respective chambers in January 2020. Two months later, the session ended early as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the region.
Although the session was completed last year, Senate and House committees held dozens of committee meetings online. The House continued to conduct business virtually this year, but the Senate conducted public hearings for more than half of the session.
“It was a remarkable session in many, many ways,” Ferguson said. “What was looking to be a very unclear year moving forward, we knew coming into this session we had an obligation to work together as a team on behalf of Marylanders.”
Another bill signed into law will have Maryland join eight other states and the District of Columbia to officially commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen.
The airmen, composed of nearly 1,000 Black pilots who flew during World War II, endured racism at home and trained at a segregated airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Maryland is the home of several of the original airmen, including Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. and Charles Herbert Flowers. Two high schools in Prince George’s County are named after them.
One of the most famous airmen, Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee, died in January at 102 years old. The Bethesda resident held a book signing two years ago at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.
The plan is to work with public school officials to incorporate education about the Tuskegee Airmen.
“It’s extremely important for those who served and fought for our nation. They fought on a war on two fronts – the one overseas and the war when they got back home in not having equal rights and equal protection,” said Del. Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel County), who supported the legislation and is a retired military veteran in the Marines and Army. “If you see it, you can be it. To be able to have this taught in schools, it’s an incentive for [students] to aim higher and be all they can be.”