New This Week The State lifts more COVID-19 restrictions. The Governor announced that starting Friday, May 29th, Maryland will reopen restaurants for outdoor dining, sports and youth day camps, outdoor pools and drive-in movie theaters with some restrictions. This action completes Phase I of Maryland's recovery plan, and the Administration is set to move into Phase II. Several counties are continuing to reopen at their own pace, and residents should check with their county officials for further guidance. Read the Governor's full executive orders here. Maryland Health Department cancels update for 5th time in a row. The Joint COVID-19 Workgroup has repeatedly asked the Health Department to provide House and Senate leaders with an update on the State's testing and tracing operations. This week, the department cancelled its fifth briefing leaving state leaders without critical information. The State continues to lift restrictions in an effort to reopen while we continue to see steady positive coronavirus cases. The coronavirus is still here and infectious. We must have the most accurate, updated information to ensure that we are making data-driven decisions and residents are protected. The Senate President and I will continue to work together to press the department for answers. Fighting for 15. I, along with other House Leaders, sent a letter urging the Administration to uphold the State's minimum wage increase scheduled for January 2021. Essential workers like grocery store, delivery, transit and allied health workers have been on the front-lines of the pandemic and have kept the State going in our time of need. To demonstrate our respect for their work and contribution to our State, we need to make sure that the next installment of the minimum wage increase moves from $11 per hour to $11.75 per hour. Even though our State’s economy is struggling, now is not the time to stop this increase. We must continue to work towards a $15 minimum wage. Cast your ballots for the June 2 Presidential Primary Election. The Maryland's Presidential Primary Election is just days away. Make sure your cast your ballot by mail or at a limited in-person location. Registered voters will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. Once you receive your ballot, complete it, sign the oath on the back of the envelope, date it and drop it in the mail or at a ballot drop-box. Postage is free, and ballots must be postmarked or dropped off by June 2. For questions about your ballot, please visit the Maryland State Board of Elections website or email email@example.com. Scholarship application deadlines are approaching. Legislative scholarships are currently available to eligible high school, undergraduate and graduate students. Awardees can receive at least $200 to use to help further their education. Download the application here, and apply today! Applications must be submitted by June 1; unofficial transcripts are accepted. Questions about the scholarship or application process can be emailed to Essence.Cropper@mlis.state.md.us. Click here for more information about the State of Maryland Delegate Scholarship.
Food Security for Maryland's Children As schools close for the summer break, the State has taken steps to ensure that none of our children go hungry. Maryland's Department of Human Services has secured the Pandemic- Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program for all children eligible for free or reduced meals. P-EBT provides food benefits to children, regardless of citizenship, who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price meals at school due to COVID-19. Because Maryland public schools have been closed since March, approved households will be able to collect retroactive benefits for March, April and May. Families receiving SNAP benefits can have their P-EBT benefits added to their existing EBT card. Benefits will become available starting June 2020. If you don't know whether your child is eligible to receive free and reduced price school meals, contact your child's school. For more information on how to apply visit the Maryland Department of Human Services website.