For the first time since the Civil War, the Maryland State Legislature adjourned its session early. They worked as quickly as possible to get some significant pieces of legislation passed. Here is an update on two bills that particularly impact our schools.
First, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, House Bill 1300, which proposed the $4 billion-per-year overhaul of Maryland’s public schools, passed both chambers and has gone to Governor Hogan for signature. This legislation will boost teacher pay, expand vocational training, and fund additional services for children in the poorest communities, including preschool for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. It is a critically important step in giving our schools what they need to provide a world-class education for all our children. Click here for my earlier comments on this landmark legislation.
Second, early in 2020 I was honored to work with Delegate Alice Cain (District 30A) to address an issue that has troubled many parents with children in public schools for a long time—overcrowded school buses. I had learned that school buses sometimes pick up as many as 30 children at one bus stop and then allow the children to stand in the aisles while the bus is moving because the number of riders has exceeded the number of available seats. Legislative research revealed that this practice has been allowed statewide in Maryland for a long time without requiring school buses to avoid such situations by re-routing. I spoke before the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee in Annapolis to end this dangerous practice (see testimony here).
Delegate Cain, along with co-sponsors, introduced House Bill 1226 to remedy this practice. Prior to the close of the General Assembly session on Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed HB1226. The bill is now in the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. Hopefully it will receive a hearing when the General Assembly meets in a special session in May.
If you think final passage of HB1226 is important, because the safety of our children is paramount, then please take a moment to contact your MD senator and/or the chair of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. Tell them you support HB1226, that no child should have to stand on a moving school bus.
Finally there is some sad news to report with regard to our District 6 representation in the House of Delegates. Delegate Alice Cain, who represented District 30A, has resigned due to changes in her family circumstances. This is a terrible loss to our district, and particularly to our schools, as Delegate Cain was a tireless advocate for education and for children. In addition to introducing HB 1226, Delegate Cain was one of the greatest champions of the Blueprint for Maryland in the House. She will be sorely missed in her legislative role, and our thoughts are with her and her family.