"If you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity its your responsibility to make sure that others have those same opportunities"- Andrea Fletcher Harrison
Celebrating Women's History Month
March 1st commences the start of Women’s History Month where we spend 31 days celebrating the tremendous contributions of women in our society. The school district of Sonoma, California, started this celebration in 1978. Originally only for a week, students across several schools watched presentations and took part in a Real Women essay contest. Outside the classroom, the county held a vest parade in downtown Santa Rosa, highlighting women’s achievements in culture, history and society. The Education Task Force in Sonoma County saw the absence of women in k-12 education and hoped their week would teach children to include and appreciate historic women. Shortly after, their valiant efforts paid off. After two years of celebration, other communities and school boards started integrating Women’s History Week into their curriculum. After wide spread adoption, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing March 8th as Women’s History Week. As women continued to make history, a year later, congress passed a resolution establishing the week as a national celebration. However, that wasn’t the end. The National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned congress in 1987 to expand the week into an entire month, bringing us where we are now. Not only is it celebrated in the US, but over 100 countries acknowledge, celebrate, and appreciate women on March 8th for International Women’s day. Since there are so many brilliant women who deserve recognition, The National Women’s History Alliance selects a yearly theme dating back to 1987. In 2020, the theme was women who fought to vote, 2021 was women who refused to stay silent during political movements, and for 2022, the theme is Women Providing Healing and Promoting Hope. The NWA stated that their primary inspiration for the 2022 theme is the frontline workers bravely fighting covid. This includes women doctors, pharmacist, caregivers and nurses, who make up 91 percent of all RNs and LPNs. The theme also recognizes the hope and healing that women have provided throughout history supporting their communities, families, and friends. As the month continues, our collective goal should be to uplift the women in our lives, whether it's your mom, a distant relative, or an employee at the local supermarket. This month is a time to celebrate the resilience and brilliance of women in the past, present, and future. That includes the celebration of women of all cultures, ages, economic status, religions and ethnicities. Happy Women’s History Month!
Maryland General Assembly Page Program
I’d like to highlight the General Assembly’s Page Program offered to high schoolers above the age of 16. In 1970, the General Assembly created the Page Program hoping to give curious students a closer look at the legislative process. For years, 105 students, also referred to as pages, get to come down and walk the halls of the state house, assisting delegates and state senators. For two weeks, pages help prepare the house floor, research information related to bills, and do general clerical work. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Page Program is fully remote, but it still serves as an amazing opportunity to see the importance of state politics and how hard local government officials work. This year, eight Prince George’s County students were selected and as County delegate, I couldn’t be more proud.
The students selected were,
Realyn Del Campo from Parkdale High School
Jefferson Turcios from Parkdale High School
Edward Sun from Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Raihan Choudhury from Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Jimmi Rios Reyes from International H.S Langley Park
Idayat Adetoro from Largo High School
Oluwasun Ademiloye from Academy of Health Sciences at PGCC
Realyn Del Campo from Parkdale High School
While I would prefer meeting these inspiring young people in person, I've enjoyed spending my mornings over zoom hearing from the minds that will soon shape our future. If this program interests you, visit General Assembly Department of Legislative Services or email Tawana Offer at Tawana.Offer@mlis.state.md.us for more information. I hope to see more of our Prince George's County students as pages during the next General Assembly session.
Juneteeth Bill moves to Senate
I am so pleased that once again the Maryland House of Delegates has passed Juneteeth as a state holiday, HB227- Legal and Employee Holiday - Juneteeth National Independence Day. Although it is a federal holiday, Maryland as a state should still pass this bill. Now, it goes to Senate where we hope for a favorable vote! If passed, all Marylanders would get a work day off to commemorate the perseverance of our African American predecessors who helped build our great state. Celebrating Juneteeth is a small, but necessary step in becoming a more unified society. Please look forward to updates as HB227 progresses through the legislative system, hopefully resulting in a state holiday.
Indoor Mask Mandate lifted by Prince George's County Executive
On February 25, Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince Georges County Executive, announced the repeal of the indoor mask mandate for Prince Georgians. On February 28, mask indoors will not be required. Removal of the indoor mask mandate was an informed decision made by the County Executive based on CDC recommendations and science. Currently, Prince George’s County is leading in low transmission rates, low covid-19 hospital cases, and high vaccine rates in the entire state. For transmission rates, the current 7 day rate has lowered from 50 cases per 100 residents to 44 cases. Hospitalizations has drastically decreased from 29 percent of patients admitted with covid-19 related symptoms to 4 percent. The amount of positive test results has also seen major improvements, with 2 percent of all test being positive. All these factors considered lead to the mandates removal. The start of the pandemic was a struggle for Prince Georgians because we were a high-risk covid-19 county, not only in the state, but in the region. Our new stats show how diligence, corporation, and patience pay off and benefits the greater good. While our county stats have significantly improved, the mandate will still be affective in schools and on public transit. The CDC recommends an eighty percent county vaccination rate before schools lift any mandates. With this in mind, the County Executive is against school mask removal. She stated that her decision comes from listening to concerned parents and worrying for students with preexisting conditions being exposed. The outcry of residents who believe this decision is too soon should note that this is optional and not mandatory. The County Executive and I ask that we continue to stand as one fighting this pandemic while being respectful and practicing proper covid-19 procedures to keep one another healthy.
House Passes HB1 Cannabis Legislation
On Friday, February 25th, the House of Delegates passed HB 1 with a 96-34 vote. HB 1 focuses on the legal age of cannabis consumption and possession in the state of Maryland. If passed through Senate, the law will be effective in July 2023. Similar to alcohol laws, the legal age will be 21 years and older. This is a major step in Maryland becoming the 19th state to legalize cannabis joining states like Washington DC, Washington State, Maine, Massachusetts, and California. Since becoming decriminalized in 2014, over one thousand arrests are on record of adults caught with cannabis in 2021, however HB 1 along with the adoption of HB 837 will change that. HB 837 lays out the laws and regulations that will follow with the legalization of the substance. HB 837 was also voted favorably by 92 delegates, meaning both bills will get the chance to be heard by the Senate. At this moment, both bills are on their first senate readings by their respective committees to vote on. If you would like to follow these bills, search HB 1 and/or HB 837 on the Maryland General Assembly website. Once there, you’ll be able to see the current status of these bills or any bills as they pass through senate.
Youth @ Work/Summer Youth Enrichment Program
To apply for the Delegate's scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year, you must be a resident of Maryland's 24th Legislative District. This year applications will be accepted online only. The application deadline of Thursday, April 1, 2022 is approaching fast. If you encounter any problems with the link below, please email the office and the link will be sent to you. The Delegate Scholarship is for a single academic year, therefore, you must reapply for the scholarship each year. Please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have any additional questions. Contact: Vernita Hughes Johnson Legislative Director Office: (410) 841-3919/(301) 858-3919
Lowe House Office Building 6 Bladen Street, Room 204 Annapolis, MD 21401 301-858-3919
Please forward any questions, comments or concerns via e-mail to: AndreaFletcher.Harrison@house.state.md.us