The Issues

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Vacant Home and Neighborhood Blight Elimination
One size does not fit all. In several neighborhoods, there are different uses for vacant buildings. In some areas, the one-dollar housing program would be appropriate. However, there must be provisions for low-interest rates for loans to renovate these buildings. In other areas demolishing buildings is not necessary the buildings can be renovated and repurposed. In another area, the buildings should be completely demolished and use the land as a park especially in the city area where green space is needed. We also need playgrounds for our children and areas for our pets. We should revisit the one-dollar house program and provide low-interest loans to potential homeowners. However, attention must be paid to the program to prevent outside developers from purchasing the properties and selling them at rates that residents living in the community cannot afford.
Separate Water Bill and Tax Sale
My bill SB1098 mandates that water bills will not be combined with personal property taxes and cause home foreclosure.
Liquor Stores
I passed legislation that prevents the liquor stores within the Park Heights Redevelopment area from selling alcoholic beverages after 10:00 p.m. The residents of the Park Heights community are trying to protect their children, make their community safer, decrease the crime in their community, provide a better quality of life for their families, eliminate the drug activity in their neighborhoods, provide a better future for their children, increase their property value, eliminate gang activity, take back their streets, help the seniors feel safe enough to enjoy the sunset of their lives and attract homeowners into the community. I support the community’s efforts to provide a quality life for their children.
Small Business Night in Annapolis 7 years
In 2008 the late Raymond (Ray) Haysbert and I formed an organization to bring together Maryland’s minority businesses and women-owned businesses to be aware of legislation that impacts their businesses. Since that time, I have hosted annual events to give minority businesses a voice in Annapolis.
Economic Development
One of my priorities is to help small, minority and women-owned businesses succeed in Maryland. I have introduced legislation to prevent 501(c)3 non-profits from being categorized as minority businesses, this freed $800 million dollars to be allocated to small, minority and women-owned businesses. SB421 Governor's Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs - Employment Under Procurement Contracts – Study prevents small businesses in the construction industry from having to purchase a five-year surety bond. SB414 Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs – Small Business Resources and Data Collection collects resources that provide services to and for small businesses and put the services in one location. SB1230 Task Force to Investigate the Challenges of and Opportunities for Minorities in Business - Report and Sunset Extension looks at the opportunities for and obstacles of black franchisees in Maryland. SB0235 Labor and Employment - Minimum Wage - Indexing adds cost of living increases on the $10.10 minimum wage that goes into effect July 2018 and SB1019 Labor and Employment - State Minimum Wage Rate - Increase states that health care providers are to be included in the bill.
Co-sponsored (EARN), (RISE) (STEAM) Programs
Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now Program (EARN), establishes an industry-led partnership to advance the skills of the State’s workforce and increases employment opportunities for working families; the Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone Program (RISE) is operated by DBED and accesses institutional assets that have a commitment to economic development and community revitalization such as: public and private four-year institutions and community colleges or a nonprofit organization that is affiliated with a federal agency. The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Programs (STEAM) prepares individuals for jobs generated by the growing IT industry; My bill that created the Moral Turpitude Act, provides for ex-offenders who have not committed certain criminal activity within seven years to be eligible for employment in the casino and gaming industry.
Economic Empowerment and Business Development
I have supported and introduced legislature that increased jobs, and opportunities for businesses and individual growth. I have experience with proven methods of helping people move from welfare to work and I have worked to successfully implement those methods. As a business owner for more than 30 years, I have learned how to help businesses thrive. I have taken a close look at how existing laws and proposed legislation affect small businesses and I have introduced legislature to reform that process. The following projects are a few of my economic development accomplishments: secured $550,000 for Hampden Family Center, St. Francis Recreation Center, and Learning, Inc.; secured $200 million in community development construction funds; directed $300,000 to the James Mosher Baseball League, $300,000 to the Morrell Park Little League, $300,000 to Parks and People, $400,000 to Lexington Market, $55 million to the Maryland Zoo and $2,000,000 to Coppin State University; secured more than one-half million dollars in scholarships for 40th district constituents; introduced and sponsored legislation to reduce personal property taxes for small manufacturing businesses that was passed by the Administration; initiated communication with constituents by organizing and hosting town hall meetings, developed and facilitated awareness summits, developed and hosted charrettes and meet and greet events to listen to their concerns and assisted with the resolutions of those concerns. Included in the minimum wage bill was my bill that expands the minimum wage salary to include 501(c) 3 non-profit health care organizations. I expanded the use of public-private partnerships (P3) in Maryland that allows State budget dollars to leverage private sector investment that will create 4,000 jobs and annually generate $160 million to $240 million to be invested in Maryland transportation projects.
I introduced legislation to extend the minority business enterprise-women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise (MBE/WBE/DBE) program and added provisions to further strengthen the effectiveness of the program to provide equal access to opportunities and addressed longstanding and persistent disparities. I also introduced a companion bill that provided provisions for training and other services to strengthen Maryland’s MBE/WBE/DBE Program.
Minority Businesses
I passed legislation to ensure that minority and women businesses are not required to pay higher prices for services through Blind Industries Janitorial Products. This bill is a spin-off of HB48 that passed in 2013. I also passed prime contractor sub-goals legislation that allows minority businesses to use themselves to satisfy the minority business sub-goals requirement on certain contracts.
Services Awareness
I passed legislation to change the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) to Small, Minority and Women Business Affairs, which allows small businesses and women business owners to be aware of the services provided by that office.
Challenges of and Opportunities for Minorities in Business
I passed legislation to establish a task force to investigate the Challenges of and Opportunities for Minorities in Business: this bill is a combination of three bills. One bill investigates the treatment of African American employees at the BWI Airport. Another bill examines the employment opportunities in Maryland for ex-offenders. The third bill determines if minority franchisees are being discriminated against in Maryland and determines the need for Maryland franchisor regulations.
Conscious Venture Lab and Innovation Village
This is a project where more than one million dollars are invested annually to sponsor the startup of forty businesses. The business incubator hosts the businesses for one year before they branch out on their own. Conscious Lab enters into a partnership with the small business. They invest $50,000 in the small business and the small business has connections with international companies. I was instrumental in acquiring the building at BCCC for the headquarters of this project.
Financial Literacy in Schools
SB236 State Board of Education - Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Curriculum - Development and Implementation is legislation to state that financial literacy and entrepreneurship should be taught in schools starting at the 10th through the 12th grades as an elective course.
I introduced legislation to form a study group to examine the truancy rate in Baltimore and make recommendations and suggestions as to what type of program is necessary to address the problem. The Department of Education asked me to withdraw the bill and allow them to perform an inhouse study, come up with a plan, develop a program and handle the problem without legislation.
Judy Centers and Community Schools
These two bills SB589 Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners - Education Trust Fund - Allocation to Establish Community School Programs and SB590 Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners - Education Trust Fund - Allocation to Establish Judy Centers were introduced as an effort to help children succeed in life regardless of their socio-economic status. According to national statistics the national ratio of counselors to students is 470:1. However, in Maryland the ratio is 980:1. I am proposing that community schools and Judy Centers extend their services to address the needs of youths living in areas of concentrated poverty. The Judy Centers would provide for young girls who get pregnant while in high school and had to drop out because of the pregnancy and do not have the support and encouragement they need to get their lives back on track. Their babies will be kept in Judy Centers while the young mothers are in class. After class or between classes the young girls will take turns volunteering time working in the Judy Centers, thereby, learning parenting skills. Babies having babies is one of the problems of young people getting involved with criminal activity at an early age.
HBCU Programs
SB SB615 Higher Education - Cyber Warrior Diversity Program - Established is legislation to establish Cyber Security programs in all HBCUs in Maryland. In an industry where only, eight percent employed are African-American, cyber security remains one of the most pivotal concerns regarding national security. The objective is to not only offer students a certification but also to assist in solidifying immediate employment that will help improve the overall socio-economic condition of Black youth throughout Maryland.
Financial Literacy in Prison
SB237 Adult Correctional Institutions- Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Curriculum - Development and Implementation Financial Literacy in Prison is legislation to teach financial literacy and entrepreneurship classes in prison to inmates who are within one year of being released. This is an effort to decrease the recidivism rated in Maryland.
Caretakers Act
SB617 Criminal Procedure - Sentencing - Primary Caretaker authorizes defendants convicted of a nonviolent crime to make a motion for the court to consider the defendant's status as a certain primary caretaker; and requiring the court to make a certain determination and consider placing a certain defendant on probation with certain conditions under certain circumstances.
Bump Stocks
I co-sponsor SB707 Criminal Law – Firearm Crimes – Rapid Fire Trigger Activator which prohibits a person from transporting a certain rapid-fire trigger activator into the State or manufacturing, possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, or receiving a certain rapid-fire trigger activator.
Operation Be Safe
In an effort to combat crime in Baltimore and to help people feel safe about venturing outside their homes, we launched “Operation Be Safe.” This is a program where the public people recommend safety tips and they are showcased on my website.
Human Trafficking Confidentiality
I introduced legislation that requires the same procedures of confidentiality that are applied to victims of domestic violence and other crimes, such as sexual abuse, are provided to victims of human trafficking.
Police Sensitivity and Training
I introduced legislation that requires human trafficking awareness training for all entry-level law enforcement personnel, followed by in-service training. The bill also requires that all educators (administrators, counselors, classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, security guards, health room staff, etc.) receive human trafficking awareness training.
The Office of Health Care Quality – Abuser Registry Workgroup
This legislation established a task force of professionals to study ways of implementing a program to identify abusers in the healthcare industry before they are hired to determine if they have a past record of abusing people under their care.
Carbon Monoxide Sensor
Carbon Monoxide (CO), is often called the “Silent Killer” because of its ability to take lives quickly and quietly when its victims never even knew they were at risk. Children 14 and under are more likely to sustain poisoning than adults at lower levels. I am proposing a program that educates individuals on the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poising and stipulating that all new homes built beginning 2019 in addition to fire alarms must also require a carbon monoxide detector be installed at the time of construction.