March 11th

Dear Neighbors and Friends - It is hard to believe that we are now more than halfway through the 2021 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly! In the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of movement on legislation, as well as an abundance of state and local news. Since our last newsletter, there has been quite a bit of news that has come out regarding Governor Hogan's efforts to vaccinate Marylanders against COVID-19. A recent article from Maryland Matters reported that Prince George's County, the second-most populous county in the state, has received the third-fewest amount of doses. Community leaders such as House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, U.S. Representative Anthony G. Brown, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen have all voiced their outrage over the current rate and system in which vaccines are being distributed. As a delegate representing Prince George's County, and a member of this community, I am also very upset that our neighbors are not receiving an equitable proportion of vaccines. It is no secret that Black and Brown communities have faced immense challenges throughout the entirety of this pandemic, and it is incredibly disheartening that they will continue to face adversity, even as preventative measures such as the vaccine become more widely available. I am certainly not okay with how Governor Hogan and his administration have been approaching the needs of our most vulnerable communities. I can assure you that I will be doing everything in my power to speak out against this inequity. County Executive Alsobrooks has also shared similar concerns regarding the vaccination rollout, expressing similar frustrations with the number of doses that Prince George's County is receiving from the state government. She also shared updates regarding the current state of vaccination clinics in the county. The current vaccine clinic at the Sports & Learning Center in Landover, MD will be closed from March 13th through March 28th due to scheduled maintenance. To ensure that there is no lost vaccination capacity, the County will be opening two more vaccination clinics. One will be opened by March 8th at the Kentland Community Center in Landover, and another by March 15th at the Cedar Heights Community Center in Seat Pleasant. The County Executive also announced the relaunch of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is offered through the County's Department of Housing and Community Development. This program aims to provide relief to landlords on behalf of their tenants, who may be experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find more information on this program, as well as a link to the application, later on in this newsletter. The recent news from Governor Hogan that capacity limits will be lifted at restaurants and other venues pose additional cause for concern. I firmly believe that we cannot let our guard down just yet. We must remain vigilant by continuing to wear our masks and social distance and avoid large groups of people gathering in indoor settings. I hope that you and your families will continue to stay healthy and make safe and responsible decisions. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions, thoughts, or concerns. I am always honored to be your voice in Annapolis! - Nicole

 

Legislative Update


I wanted to be sure to share a status update on each of the bills that I am sponsoring this legislative session. Click on the title of each bill if you would like to see its full page on the Maryland General Assembly website.


House Bill 294: Business Occupations and Professions - Architects - Scope of Licensure

- This bill was passed in the House and is currently being read in the Senate.


House Bill 63: State Finance - Prohibited Appropriations - MAGLEV

- This bill completed its hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 12th and is currently awaiting a vote.


House Bill 411: Criminal Law - Law Enforcement - Prohibition on Sexual Activity

- This bill was recently passed in the House and is currently being read in the Senate.


House Bill 697: Residential Property - Eviction Proceedings - Shielding of Court Records

- This bill completed its hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on February 17th and is currently awaiting a vote.


House Bill 234: Criminal Law - Harm to Service Animals

- This bill completed its hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on January 28th and is currently awaiting a vote.


House Bill 1020: Election Law - Curbside Voting - Establishment

- This bill will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on March 9th.


House Bill 626: Prince George's County - Vehicle Height Monitoring Systems (PG 305-21)

- This bill is being sponsored by the entire Prince George's County House Delegation. It completed its hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 4th and is currently awaiting a vote.

 

Delegate Williams' Office Hours

I am continuing to hold office hours each Friday from 12 PM to 1 PM. If you would like to sign up for a time slot, please click here. Our office is excited to be able to sit down with residents to hear your concerns and ways to best help our community!

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Prince George’s County has a resource page regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. General information, as well as a timetable of vaccine distribution, can be found here. Keep in mind the timeline is dependent on the supply of vaccines that is received. If you have not yet joined the Maryland Vaccine Hunters Facebook group, I strongly urge you to do so by clicking here. This group is aimed at making people aware of vaccine locations and availability and currently has over 65,000 members. To fill out the pre-registration form to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Prince George’s County, please click here. For those who pre-register, you will receive a phone call or an email message once additional appointments become available. The Doctor's Hospital has a vaccine interest form available for Prince George's and Anne Arundel County residents. For more information on their vaccine distribution process and the application form, please click here. Local pharmacies have recently started to offer COVID-19 vaccinations. If you would like to check availability and/or schedule an appointment at Safeway, please click here. For appointments at a Walgreens location, please click here. For appointments at a CVS location, please click here.


 

District 22 Delegate Scholarship


Our office is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. You are eligible for this scholarship if you are applying to or currently attending a college or trade school in Maryland, live in District 22, and have at least a 2.5 GPA. The application deadline for this scholarship is April 5th, 2021. For the application in English, please click here. For the application in Spanish, please click here.

 

WMATA Updates


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has recently announced their FY 2022 budget, which includes the possible closure of the College Park Metro station and the elimination of bus route 86, which goes down Route 1. If you would like to take their budget survey to weigh in on these proposed cuts, please click here. You may also call 844-468-5748 to submit comments. To attend the virtual hearing regarding the FY 2022 budget that will be held on Tuesday, March 9th at 6 PM, please click here.

 

Virtual Visioning Workshop

The Prince George's County Planning Department will be holding a virtual visioning workshop on Saturday, March 13th at 10:30 AM regarding the West Hyattsville-Queens Sector Plan. If you would like to register to attend, please click here.

 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development has recently announced the relaunch of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. For more information on this program, as well as the application form, please click here.

 

Extended Open Enrollment Period

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is holding an extended open enrollment period for health insurance coverage in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The period is now extended until March 15th, with coverage beginning March 1st. For more information and to enroll, click here.

 

MAGLEV Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

The DEIS for the MAGLEV project is currently available, with a 90-day formal comment period open from now until April 22nd, 2021. To make comments, please click here. Senator Chris Van Hollen, as well as Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown, recently sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation requesting an extension on the MAGLEV DEIS review period. In addition, the Prince George's County House Delegation has sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Maryland Transit Administration requesting the same extension. The Prince George's County Council recently requested six months to comment on the environmental impact of a hypothetical MAGLEV train. To read more about this, click here.


 

Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS)

PGCPS has released its full reopening plan for the upcoming months. To view the full report, along with the guidelines schools will be following to stay safe during COVID-19, please click here. PGCPS has started Phase 1B for COVID-19 vaccinations, which incudes educators and support staff. PGCPS in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente will facilitate a vaccination program for all employees. To read more, click here. Additional information on distance learning from PGCPS is available here. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the hybrid instruction model and the reopening plan, you may contact Dr. Kara Libby, Strategic Initiatives Officer at klibby@pgcps.org.

You can access the PGCPS online database that tracks building closures related to COVID-19. This database is updated frequently and provides timely and relevant information for your family. To access the databases, click here. For other information regarding reopening plans, click here.

 

Maryland COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

The state of Maryland is using a COVID-19 contact tracing app to better and more quickly notify people if they have been exposed to the virus. For more information on the app, please click here.

 

Energy Assistance

You can contact your utility company today to set up a payment plan or request energy assistance funds. Click here for more information on how to obtain help with your utilities.

 

Prince George's County Free COVID-19 Testing Sites


The Prince George’s County Health Department continues to offer free COVID-19 tests for people with or without symptoms. All you need is a form of identification to get tested at the following facilities: First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville 6201 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville MD 20782 (9 AM - 3 PM; Monday, Thursday, and Saturday) Adventist Medical Group Primary Care 10709 MD-210 Suite D, Fort Washington, MD 20744 (7:30 AM - 11:30 AM; Monday, Tuesday, and Friday) There are also test sites operated by private entities such as some CVS locations. Click here to find a test site near you.

 

Distance Learning for Students

PGCPS continues to cover the cost of the Comcast Internet Essentials program, which provides affordable high-speed internet at home, for families eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FARMS). The school system will also help non-FARMS families obtain a Comcast or Verizon hotspot for home internet access. To request a hotspot, please call our Parent Center Hotline at 240-696-3315 or pgcps.family@pgcps.org.

 

Unemployment Insurance

If you or someone you know is continuing to have problems, please let my office know. Please use this Unemployment Insurance Tracker Form or contact my office directly for additional assistance. To directly access the BEACON One-Stop site to file an unemployment claim, visit https://beacon.labor.maryland.gov/claimant/.

 

Food Distribution Sites and Resources

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several food pantries have been set up throughout the county and in neighboring jurisdictions. Enter your zip code or address to search for the food pantry nearest you. SNAP Assistance SNAP is approved in Maryland for online grocery purchases for delivery or pickup. Walmart, Amazon, and ShopRight are among the participating retailers. Call Maryland Hunger Solutions at 866-821-5552 for assistance and questions related to SNAP applications. They can assist with completing and submitting SNAP applications over the phone, submit any changes to your active SNAP case, answer questions about your benefits, and direct you to additional food resources.

 

County and State COVID-19 Resources

The RELIEF Act This webpage contains information on the Maryland RELIEF Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. If you would like to check your eligibility for a stimulus payment, apply for a small business grant, and more, please click the link above. The COVID-19 Hotline If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Prince George’s County Health Department Coronavirus hotline at (301) 883-6627 from 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM to receive updated information about the coronavirus disease. Please contact 911 for medical emergencies only. 24/7 COVID-19 Prevention Hotline The Maryland State Police have expanded their 24/7 COVID-19 Prevention Hotline. Community members are encouraged to report public health violations through the email linked above, or by calling (833) 979-2266. Nonprofit Resources Listing of resources and grants specifically for nonprofit organizations in the County. Childcare for Essential Employees and Employees Returning to Work Child care centers are opening up throughout the State if you are returning back to work and need child care. To keep track of confirmed COVID-19 cases within the county please click here.