We’re in the final stretch before the 2022 Legislative Session, and I want to share a few key updates on what I’ve been up to as we wrap up the interim and prepare for what is sure to be a busy and exciting spring!
Education Town Hall
I often hear concerns from families across my district about classroom overcrowding, so I decided to facilitate a town hall with our school leaders to get some answers. My thanks to Dr. George Roberts, our Baltimore County Public Schools regional superintendent, as well as Board members Julie Henn, Moalie Jose and Lily Rowe, for joining me in a wonderful and robust discussion, and my thanks to folks who shared their questions and concerns with me.
- Construction of a new northeast elementary school is on track to open for the 2022-2023 school year. The facility will seat about 700 elementary students which, in addition to a 300-seat addition to Red House Run Elementary School, will be a significant step forward in addressing regional concerns of overcrowding.
- New elementary school boundaries will be confirmed in February 2022, with input from parents. Impacted schools include Elmwood, Fullerton, Joppa View, McCormick, Perry Hall, Shady Spring, Vincent Farm and Red House Run. A committee made up of a principal, teacher and two parents from each school will review options and present a recommendation to the Board of Education for approval.
- A new middle school is on the way, with a groundbreaking likely in 2022. A site in Nottingham on King Ave has been selected, and a building design finalized. This project is going forward thanks to funding from the Built to Learn Act passed this year in the General Assembly. I was proud to support $2.2 billion for school construction statewide, and am thrilled to see the impact here in my community.
Being an educator or school leader was never an easy job, and the last year or two has layered challenges on our district. To parents and students, thank you for your patience and grace in bearing those challenges. To educators, thank you. We are lucky to have sharp, compassionate and dedicated public servants laying the foundation for our children’s future success. Our best wishes and blessings are with you each and every day.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
For decades, infrastructure in Maryland has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed with bipartisan support, will make life better for millions of Marylanders, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century. I am working with my state and county colleagues to get some of these funds earmarked for Belair Road Revitalization.
Here’s a glimpse of what to expect in Maryland over the next five years:
- $4.1 billion for federal highway aid.
- $409 million for bridge replacement and repair projects.
- $1.7 billion to improve public transportation.
- $63 million to expand a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
- $100 million (at least) to provide universal broadband coverage.
Thanks to my colleagues in Congress, we will see this funding flowing directly into infrastructure improvements in our communities, raising the quality of life for everybody.
This month began with good news on the pandemic front — Baltimore County began offering vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission and hospitalization rates were holding relatively low, and it looked like we might enjoy a holiday season without too much COVID stress.
Unfortunately, the month ended with less promising pandemic news — Omicron, a new variant with concerning mutations, has begun to surface around the world. With over two-thirds of Marylanders fully vaccinated, we will hopefully avoid the worst effects of this disease. However, we must continue to be careful. This includes limiting large gatherings, continuing to mask up while indoors and, of course, getting vaccinated and boosted if you have not yet done so.
Gearing Up for Session
I’ve been busy preparing for the 2022 legislative session. I prefiled a bill which will authorize pharmacists to prescribe and dispense nicotine replacement therapy medications approved by the FDA to help curb use of tobacco products.
As I line up my other legislative priorities, this is a crucial time to seek input from my constituents. What are your needs, and what do you expect from me? Are there projects in your community that could benefit from state resources? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me to start the discussion. I’d love to hear from you!
In the meantime, we’re heading back to Annapolis early this year to discuss redistricting. District 8 may be in for some boundary shifts, but don’t worry — no matter what happens, I will be here to serve my community and our state.
One Last Thing — Giving Thanks
I am thankful for the health and safety of my family, friends and community this holiday season, and I was doubly blessed this month with a huge personal achievement — on November 15, I successfully defended my PhD dissertation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County!
Education has always been my bedrock. My grandfather dedicated his life to building a primary school back in my hometown in Nepal, which I attended as a boy. I am a lifelong student, and earning my PhD is the culmination of a lifetime of hard work. I could not be more thrilled, and want to thank everyone who has supported me in this journey. My grandfather is no longer with us, but I hope I have made him proud.
To my constituents here in District 8, thank you for trusting me to take your voice down to Annapolis. My warmest wishes to you for a very happy holiday season!