PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Optimism, Changes Abound on Day 1 of Md. General Assembly

ANNAPOLIS — The first day of the Maryland General Assembly session showcased history and optimism Wednesday as the two chambers officially swore in new presiding officers to begin the 90-day session.

Del. Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) will serve as the first Black and first woman to lead the House of Delegates chamber after the death of her mentor, the late Michael Busch, who led the chamber from 2003 until his death in April.

Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) was officially nominated as the first Senate president since Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. took the reins in 1987. Miller, the longest-serving state Senate president in U.S. history, stepped down in October after announcing he has stage 4 prostate cancer.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks heard remarks from both Jones and Ferguson.

“I think [Ferguson] is absolutely right about not having a choice in the matter that this is the time to correct the inequities we talked about for years and we have the power and authority to do it together,” she said. “I’m really encouraged that this is a message that’s resonating throughout this Senate chamber and throughout the House. There is a unity of purpose across both chambers. I’m excited to just be a part of it.”

Del. Darryl Barnes, chair of the Maryland Black Caucus, speaks during a Jan. 8 press conference to outline the organization's legislative priorities for the 2020 session of the state's General Assembly. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Del. Darryl Barnes, chair of the Maryland Black Caucus, speaks during a Jan. 8 press conference to outline the organization’s legislative priorities for the 2020 session of the state’s General Assembly. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Miller, who spoke from the Senate floor to nominate Ferguson, wasn’t shy to let his colleagues know there will be some strong discussion on one topic: public education.

More specifically, passing legislation based on recommendations to expand early childhood, raise teacher salaries and other education initiatives from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission.

The funding formula proposal stands at $4 billion — $2.8 billion from the state and the remaining $1.2 billion from county governments and Baltimore City.

“As vice chair of Budget and Taxation [Committee] last year, he stood up and fought for that Kirwan Commission,” he said. “We’re going to fully fund Kirwan. We’re going to make it happen.”

However, the two majority Black jurisdictions could be expected to pay more: Prince George’s at nearly $360 million and Baltimore City at $330 million by 2030.

Although Prince George’s lawmakers support the education plan and how it strives to close equity and racial gaps, some say there must be more discussion to decrease the county’s share.

The county’s $4.2 billion budget allots about 60 percent toward education, but has the largest number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch in the state.

Del. Julian Ivey (D-District 47A) of Cheverly said one item within the proposed funding formula could affect areas with underserved communities.

“There is a clause that if you don’t adequately implement these recommendations, then the state could send 25 percent less of those promised dollars back to the local jurisdiction,” he said. “We could run into an instance because a jurisdiction does not have enough revenue … they would then be punished for not having enough money. We do champion that our dollars are used the right way, but we also want to make sure we are not punishing poor people for being poor.”

Meanwhile, the Maryland Black Caucus held a press conference to announce its legislative priorities, which include addressing a $577 million settlement offer in an ongoing HBCU lawsuit, continuing education for young people in the juvenile system, and reintroducing a bill for the state to open a pre-release center for women.

Another priority will be to push for equal representation in the medical cannabis industry, as only one Black owns a dispensary in the state.

Del. Darryl Barnes (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro, who chairs the caucus, said a closed-door meeting will be scheduled Jan. 16 with an invitation for the state’s attorney general and industry officials “to come in and talk to us and give us a complete overview of where we stand to date and how do we proceed and move forward.”

Tags
Show More

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker