By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
On Jan. 25 at 11:30 a.m. the 64-member Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM) announced their top priorities for the 445th Maryland General Assembly.
A significant crowd of news outlets and community activists joined members of the caucus as they outlined five priorities affecting Black and minority Marylanders this session.
“We believe we should be implementing significant oversight of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” said Del. Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City-45). “Educational equity needs to be operationalized to ensure that Black students, who are more likely to attend underfunded schools, receive the relief we voted for.”
The press conference was led by newly appointed Chair Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery County-20), who spoke with a list of the top five priorities on display next to her.
Passed in 2021 by the General Assembly, Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is a 10-year commitment to transform Maryland’s schooling system into a world-class education system. The caucus wants to help school districts recruit diverse 12-K teachers, strengthen community schools programs and “double the funding” for the Maryland Student Loan Credit Program, a state program that facilitates an income tax credit for Marylanders paying on college loans.
Wealth and Black Business
To support wealth and Black businesses, caucus members plan to maintain Minority Business Enterprise programs, encouraging tech diversity to increase the number of Black entrepreneurs.
The Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize establishing justice reforms for those criminalized due to cannabis and prevent future convictions, including using cannabis odor as a reason for police stops and arrests. They will also work to remove fines and fees for using cannabis. They will prioritize licensing to grow and distribute cannabis as a business for applicants from slighted communities.
Dels. and Sens. will create legislation to eliminate inhibitors for Black people who need access to cancer screening and treatment opportunities. They also want to create automatic enrollment for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients into Medicaid, state-provided insurance. Ensure more mental health services are available for Black Marylanders through Blueprints for Health- Public Health and Behavioral Health.
Legislators will address appraisal bias and increase equal access to wealth through ownership by increasing the number of Black appraisers in the state of Maryland. They aim to provide a state-level housing voucher program and ensure people have at least 120 days to be notified about rent increases statewide.
Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member
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