AFT-Maryland Legislative Committee, March 2020

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With a little over three weeks left in the legislative session, and the looming challenges of interpersonal interaction posed by the discovery of more COVID-19 cases, the AFT-Maryland March Legislative Committee meeting took on a heightened sense of importance. Several AFT-Maryland locals including BTU, BCFPE, CUB, and BCFPHN were represented. AFT-Maryland Legislative Director Denise Riley led the meeting and gave a thorough accounting of the important legislation that each local intended to pay attention to, while also noting the numerous revenue sharing bills that would affect the entire state federation.

For our municipal locals in Baltimore county, BCFPE was focused on two particular bills: the Hometown Heroes Act and House Bill 685 which would enhance the benefits a Baltimore county correctional facility worker would get should they be harmed in the performance of their duties. Union leadership is fighting hard for both bills and Riley as well as BCFPE VP Adam Hendrix  updated the committee on the progress of that fight. What becomes of that bill remains to be seen and will likely be decided in the final weeks of session. Nurses at BCFPHN are waiting on Del. Cullison to secure money in the budget for the workgroup. AFT-Maryland and BCFPHN continue to monitor the budget for that. CUB is partnering with BCFPE to monitor federal legislation that would classify 911 call center operators as first responders.

Everyone across the state is paying attention to the movement of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bill or as it is more commonly known, Kirwan. The legislation has passed out of the House of Delegates and is now being debated in the state Senate. Riley expects that it will move quickly through the Senate, particularly because there’s a desire to wrap up business as soon as possible to avoid exposing Marylanders to COVID-19. This poses a few challenges for AFT-Maryland locals however. Maryland School for the Deaf Faculty and Staff Association (MSDFSA) wants to ensure members who are education professionals are included in the career ladder at MSD. Meanwhile, BTU is concerned that using the National Board Certification as the only metric for career advancement will harm the ability to attract the right group of talented and diverse educators who will truly help Baltimore city students achieve. AFT-Maryland has offered other amendments that they hope will be received and implemented, both for MSDFSA educators and Baltimore city educational professionals.