And other legislative updates in this month’s Up the Street
House Ways and Means Chairwoman Anne Kaiser (D-14) announced that she is stepping down as chair of the powerful committee following her selection to create and lead a new Public Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. While she is unsure if she will seek re-election in 2022, she said that she intends to serve the remainder of her term.
Kaiser, who previously chaired the Education Subcommittee of Ways and Means, led the passage of a range of transformational education legislation—including the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the Protect Our Schools Act, the More Learning, Less Testing Act, maintenance of effort reform, and much more. Maryland educators, students, and parents owe Kaiser a debt of gratitude for her steadfast advocacy and unwavering support of our public schools.
In mid-October, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp announced her plans to retire before the end of the year from the position in which she has served since 2002. As treasurer, Kopp held a position on the influential Board of Public Works (BPW), along with the governor and comptroller, and helped the state earn repeated AAA bond ratings. As the General Assembly’s representative on the BPW, she has been a strong, consistent voice on the Board for fiscal policies that help working Marylanders and to protect the state’s investments in public schools. She also served as chair of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System. In this role, she was a consistent voice for retirement security and secure pensions for educators and state employees.
Kopp, who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1974, has been a trailblazer throughout her career: she was the first woman in a state legislature to give birth while in office, the first woman to be House speaker pro tem, and the second woman to serve as state treasurer.
Kopp leaves big shoes to fill. Prince George’s County Delegate Dereck E. Davis (D-25) is atop the rumor mill thus far among those seeking the move to treasurer. If Davis is elected by the General Assembly to be the next treasurer, he will vacate his chairmanship of the House Economic Matters Committee, setting off a domino effect of new appointments to leadership positions by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-10).
On November 2, Montgomery County Delegate and Vice Chair of the House Economic Matters Committee Kathleen Dumais (D-15) was appointed by Gov. Hogan to be a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. With Davis’ possible election to treasurer, the top two slots on Economic Matters may have new faces in them for the next legislative session. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will nominate a candidate to fill Dumais’ House seat.
In late October, the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee nominated Faye Martin Howell to take the District 24 House of Delegates seat vacated by Erek Barron. Barron was confirmed earlier in the month by the U.S. Senate to serve as U.S. Attorney for Maryland. Howell is a retired information technology specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency. Her nomination needs to be confirmed by Gov. Hogan for her to be officially seated.
An October Goucher College poll found, again, that the public says that too little of the state budget goes to public education. The poll found that 54% of respondents said the state spends too little, 31% said the right amount, and 9% said too much. A higher percentage of respondents believe that public education is underfunded compared to any other public expenditure listed, including roads and highways, housing and community development, transportation, unemployment assistance, and state parks. This result on school funding from this year’s poll is consistent with results from previous years.
On November 1, the Blueprint’s Accountability and Implementation Board was to produce a public report on progress made on implementing the Blueprint so far, including how well state and local entities are carrying out their responsibilities, whether funding is sufficient, and whether any legislative adjustment should be made to the law in the 2022 session that begins on January 12. At press time, this report had not been posted yet—a delay that appears to be a side effect of Gov. Hogan’s theatrics and stalling around making seven appointments to the AIB from the AIB Nominating Committee’s slate of nine candidates.
By February 15 of next year, the AIB must produce a comprehensive statewide Blueprint implementation plan, which will define outcomes and metrics and serve as a model for local education systems’ implementation plans. The local plans are due June 15.
In mid-October, Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that he would not seek a third term in office. Frosh’s two terms as attorney general caps a long career of public service that included two terms in the House and five terms in the Senate representing District 16 (Montgomery County), including 12 years as chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Frosh has been a strong advocate for gun safety, led the state’s fight to tackle climate change, and provided critical legal advice on a range of issues, including helping to settle the decades-long HBCU lawsuit and ensure equitable funding.
Frosh’s retirement led to an announcement from U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-4th District) that he will not seek reelection to his Congressional seat in 2022, but will instead run for attorney general. Katie O’Malley, recently retired from serving as a judge in Baltimore District Court, is also rumored to be considering the race. Democrats immediately stepped up to run for Brown’s seat in a heavily Democratic Congressional district, including former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and state Delegate Jazz Lewis.
On October 12, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker became the first candidate to name a running mate, picking Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro. Navarro, who is term-limited, became the first Latina to serve on the council when she was elected in 2009. She previously was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Days later, Comptroller Peter Franchot tapped Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker to be his running mate. Anderson-Walker is in her first term on the Council and is the founder of a commercial real estate brokerage firm. The announcement was marred by reports of a federal tax lien and a Prince George’s County Board of Ethics report which found her out of compliance with county rules regarding conflicts of interest.
At the end of October, AFSCME Council 3 and Council 67 endorsed former U.S. and Maryland Labor Secretary Tom Perez. AFSCME represents more than 50,000 public employees across the state. Perez has also earned labor endorsements from Maryland chapters of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).