Dec. 14, 2021 | Annapolis, MD
Redistricting, Veto Overrides during Special Session
Maryland’s lawmakers were back in Annapolis last week for a special session. The legislature tackled two priorities: approve a congressional redistricting map and override vetoes of several bills that the General Assembly had passed during the 2021 regular session.
New Congressional District Map
New boundaries for Maryland’s congressional districts were approved by lawmakers during the rare December session.
Redistricting after a decennial census is part of a mandated review (per federal and state constitutions) to rebalance congressional and state district boundaries according to shifts in the population. The process can become political as parties tend to revise boundaries that favor one party or another.
The Washington Post has the current and revised maps here.
Governor Larry Hogan, whose Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission proposed a different set of congressional boundaries earlier this year, immediately vetoed the General Assembly’s new congressional district map. The General Assembly then overturned his veto, which means the next step for opponents will be court challenges.
State legislative district boundaries will be redrawn during the 2022 legislative session, which starts Jan. 12. The Maryland Catholic Conference does not weigh in on redistricting but will monitor changes to legislators’ districts.
Legislature Overrides Immigration Bill Veto
Governor Hogan vetoed several bills following the 2021 regular legislative session. Among the veto overrides passed by the General Assembly last week was a bill that the Maryland Catholic Conference supported, HB 16, known as the Dignity not Detention Act. This legislation prohibits the State and local jurisdictions from entering into agreements facilitating immigration-related detention by private entities.
Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, spoke about the veto override, “I welcome enactment of the Dignity Not Detention Act. In the face of unjust discrimination, the common good requires that we stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, recognizing their God-given dignity. I pray that this new law brings comfort to immigrant and mixed-status families throughout Maryland and promotes better relations between those charged with public safety and the communities they serve.”
Juvenile Justice Press Conference
Juvenile justice was another hot topic last week, with a press conference to highlight priorities for the 2022 legislative session. The Maryland Catholic Conference participated, as did other nonprofit representatives and Sen. Jill Carter (D-41), Del. Gabriel Acevedo (D-39), Del. Sandy Bartlett (D-32), Del. Charlotte Crutchfield (D-19) and Del. Debra Davis (D-28).
Priorities include ensuring an attorney is present when a juvenile is interrogated, setting a minimum age for a youth to be tried as an adult, and other safeguards. Read more in Maryland Matters.
Maryland 529 Funds Dispersed
The State of Maryland recently disbursed matching funds for participants in the state’s 529 education savings plans.
This is a great program that gives parents, grandparents and others tax incentives to save for Catholic school or college tuition. The state matches up to $500 in contributions to a 529 plan.
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Federal Build Back Better Act Concern: A coalition of faith groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have written to Congressional leaders expressing concern that the Build Back Better Act will exclude faith-based childcare and universal pre-kindergarten providers and urging changes that “closely track the existing federal child care model.”
Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore just announced it is launching a $75 million fundraising campaign, its largest ever. The agency already has raised $45 million for the Greater Promise campaign. Learn more about how the funds will be used.
Finally – for the last week of Advent, a recipe for Starlight cookies meant to commemorate Mary’s and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
Have a blessed Christmas!
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