Freedom to Read Act Advances

And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street


Crossover Marks Important Milestone for Priority Bills

As the 90-day legislative session advances toward Sine Die on April 8, this coming Monday is the day that bills in one chamber either cross over to the opposite chamber or require special action to advance this session. Several of MSEA’s priorities are on track to pass prior to crossover day, including bills to prevent extremist book bans and to address the educator shortage.

One of those priorities, the Freedom to Read Act, Senate Bill 738/House Bill 785, has already passed third reader in the Senate and is on third reader in the House. MSEA pushed for the Freedom to Read legislation to protect against the politicized attacks we have seen from right-wing activists around the state who have tried to ban books and make it more difficult for readers and students who seek to study honest and accurate history. SB738 is sponsored by Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery), and HB785 is sponsored by Del. Dana Jones (D-Anne Arundel).

Expanded Educator Licensure Pathways Advance in Both Chambers

MSEA’s priority to expand pathways for educators to enter the profession is ready for a third reader vote in both chambers. MSEA successfully collaborated with the Maryland State Department of Education, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), and bill sponsors to refine House Bill 945/Senate Bill 771 to open opportunities to aspiring educators while keeping standards high (see previous Up the Street coverage). The House and Senate legislation are sponsored, respectively, by Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City and County).

Budget Passes Senate on Third Reader; Moves to House, Where Leaders Eye Long-Term Fiscal Stability

On Thursday the Senate unanimously passed the $63 billion budget, Senate Bill 360/House Bill 350, for Fiscal Year 2025. In addition to fully funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the Senate amended the governor’s submitted budget to restore $10 million in community college funding for FY25 and made a less significant reduction to the Cade formula for future years.

The budget now moves on to the House, where that chamber’s leaders have vowed to take a proactive and prudent approach to securing sufficient revenue streams for future years to ensure that the state can meet its commitments to students on the Blueprint and in a range of other services that support Marylanders and communities across the state. “We made it very clear that our members are interested in doing something for the Blueprint, for transportation this session,” said House Ways and Means Chair Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) this week.

Housing Bill Enhances Holistic Blueprint Investments

To support community school families, MSEA has been advocating for Senate Bill 370/House Bill 428, which would establish a rental assistance fund to help keep families in stable housing and is a strong demonstration of an effective nexus between education policy and housing policy. The Rental Assistance for Community School Families Program aligns with the goals set by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to address holistically the conditions that empower all students to pursue their dreams, including housing. SB370, sponsored by Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), passed the Senate on Thursday. The crossfile is sponsored by Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery). The Senate also included $5 million in their version of the state budget to get the program started in FY25.


Biden Administration Commitment to Education Clear in Proposed Budget

President Biden released his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 federal budget this week, including historic funding levels for pre-k-12 education, the third year his budget has prioritized future generations by supporting their education, health, and economic security. Among key education priorities Biden set are:

National Education Association President Becky Pringle issued a statement commending the president for his unwavering commitment to education. “All students, no matter their race, place or background, deserve leaders who will give them quality public schools where they can grow into their full brilliance,” Pringle said. “President Joe Biden’s budget shows that he values the voice of parents and educators and that his vision for this country is one where all students—Black and white, native and newcomer, Latino and AAPI—are always a top priority.”


First Responders’ Unions, Lower Shore Progressive Caucus Endorse David Trone for Senate

This week in the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) received endorsements from the Maryland Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police, and the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. Trone also received a 100% rating from Reproductive Freedom for All, and he has earned a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood for all three terms he has served. A complete list of Trone’s endorsements is on his campaign website.