Updated: Feb 28
For years, local school boards have struggled to recruit and retain an adequate number of school bus drivers to ensure our students have reliable transportation to school. Many of you felt the impact of this earlier this school year when school bus drivers left their jobs for higher-paying positions with companies like Amazon and UPS. I have introduced two bills that would help alleviate the challenges of hiring qualified bus drivers to help ensure all students have access to safe, reliable transportation to and from school. HB 750 creates a pathway for students to break into this career path while HB 753 helps local jurisdictions identify issues related to school bus driver wages so they can make more informed decisions about how to attract and retain these desperately needed employees.
I am confident that these bills will help alleviate the school bus driver shortage that has impacted so many families throughout the state.
Tax Relief for Marylanders
I am so proud to have joined Speaker Adrienne Jones, Majority Leader Eric Luedtke, Chairwoman Vanessa Atterbeary & other members of the House for a press conference on our Family Budget Boosters tax relief package to help bring relief to Maryland families.
Two of the six bills in this package: My bill HB 282 exempting diapers from sales taxes & HB 288 exempting baby car seats, bottles & baby bottle nipples from sales tax which I have partnered with Delegate Brian Crosby to introduce.
This package of bills will provide $300 million over the next five years in targeted tax relief for Maryland families. Read more about the whole package here.
Take Action Against Tragedy
Like many of you, I am heartbroken, angry, and devastated. Senseless gunfire has again shattered the lives of families in Annapolis. Two children, who were playing outside yesterday in the Annapolis community of Robinwood, were hit by gunfire. One child was flown to Shock Trauma and another to Hopkins Children’s Hospital. As it stands right now, one child remains in serious condition.
The suspect(s) who did this have not been identified or apprehended. If you know anything PLEASE report it by calling, submitting online or through Tips App. Because of this devastating violence, two children's lives, the lives of their families and our community will never be the same.
Please, if you have any information pass it along to the authorities by:
Calling 410-280-CLUE (2583) - leave a message for Annapolis police officers 24 hours a day.
Calling 410-260-3439 to speak to an Annapolis police detective.
Or you cou can submit an anonymous tip by:
Calling Metro Crime Stoppers: 1-866-7LOCKUP (866-756-2587)
Download the P3 Tips App, available for Apple and Android smartphones https://www.p3tips.com/community/index.htm
Visiting the Metro Crime Stoppers website: http://metrocrimestoppers.org/
Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Year
Commemorate the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Year with a special Virtual Lecture with author Jim Duffy on Tuesday, March 8. Duffy will share keystone stories from the very different journeys that Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass took out of bondage and into the history books. Learn, too, about other, lesser known champions of freedom from our own area.
Arts Council Grants Available for Arts Organizations
County Executive Steuart Pittman has made funding from the American Rescue Plan Act available to the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County to help nonprofit arts organizations recover from pandemic-related financial losses. This program will offer one-time grants to Anne Arundel County-based small to medium 501(c)(3) organizations.
Applications are now open and must be submitted by March 20th.
For more information and to start your application, go here.
Black History Month - Experience the Freedom Bound Exhibit & Virtual Tour
The Banneker-Douglass Museum invites visitors to the Freedom Bound Exhibit and VIrtual Tour. This exhibit tells nine stories of resistance to bondage and servitude in the Chesapeake Region from the Colonial Period to the American Civil War (1728-1864). Visitors will consider what resistance and freedom look like in the present day. This virtual experience on March 1, 2022. You can experience the virtual tour here.
Unemployment Fraud Alert
Recently, the Maryland Department of Labor was alerted to a number of fraudulent scams involving unemployment insurance complaints to elected officials and text messages.
Please know that:
UI does not provide assistance through text message and will not send any links asking a claimant to verify their account through text.
UI Division will never request or require payment for assistance with unemployment insurance.
Division staff will not provide assistance to claimants through direct message on social media.
Do not provide any sensitive information related to your Maryland unemployment insurance claim by e-mail unless it is to a @maryland.gov e-mail address.
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, please contact your local Police Department or Maryland State Police Barrack in your area and consider filing a police report and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) online at IC3.gov.
Legislature Tours are Back
The Department of Legislative Services Visitors Program has resumed offering Group In-Person Tours of the Maryland General Assembly legislative complex. They are also continuing groups live, guided Virtual Visits of the complex, including visiting classrooms virtually to offer an interactive tour with content tailored to grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school). You can learn about the Educational Tours.
Group Leaders can start the Visitors Program reservation process by submitting the online Request Form for a Group In-Person Tour or a live Group Virtual Visit, the maximum group size is 24 people, larger groups will still find the guided virtual visit as the best option at this time.
Free Tax Preparation Services
The filing and payment deadline for state individual income tax returns is Friday, July 15, 2022. The federal individual income tax deadline is Monday, April 18, 2022. There are free tax preparation and filing options available to low- and moderate-income households. You can access these resources online here.
St. Mary's Book Drive Benefiting the Boys & Girls Club
I am happy to announce that I am working with the St. Mary's High School Book Club to collect new and gently used books for grades pre-K - 12th on March 7 - 11. All books collected will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club at Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park here in Annapolis.
The Bates Club is a wonderful facility which offers an abundance of activities and caring staff that serves children of all ages here in Annapolis. They have a lovely library which needs gently used books. St. Mary’s High School Book Club and my hope is to fill those shelves with books for which children can choose to read at the Bates Club - or take home and keep! I am so proud of these students for putting together this thoughtful book drive.
Donations can be dropped off at 113 Duke of Gloucester Street at the front office of St. Mary’s High School OR contact my office directly if you’d like to coordinate a drop-off at my office as well.
Love Our Libraries
Sensory Storytime is back! Join AACPL at Discoveries: the Library at Annapolis Mall on Saturday, February 26 at 2pm for this special story time specifically designed for children ages 3 - 7 with Autism Spectrum Disorders, sensory processing issues, or other disabilities. Register here.
I would encourage everyone to follow the Anne Arundel County Public Library’s Facebook page to get updates on programs and new resources. You can check out their calendar to find the perfect event for you and your family to enjoy!
Congratulations to Navy Men & Women’s Swimming & Diving!
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit my new website to learn about volunteer opportunities, community resources, COVID-19 updates, and much more. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact my office by email at Dana.Jones@house.state.md.us or by phone at 410-841-3211.
Stay safe and healthy,