The end of the 2021 Session

Dear Neighbors and Friends - Just like that, the 2021 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly came to an end yesterday. I am proud to be representing the residents of District 22 in Annapolis and was happy to have met with many of you during this session to hear your concerns. While legislating during a pandemic has certainly posed its unique challenges, I am excited to share news of legislation I sponsored that has passed and is on its way to the Governor's desk: - Business Occupations and Professions - Architects - Scope of Licensure (HB 294): Current law sets the cap at $5,000 for how much could be spent on modifications or repairs to an existing building before having to hire an architect. This law raises the threshold to $25,000, allowing small business owners and homeowners to make necessary renovations without taking on the additional financial burden. - Criminal Law - Harm to Service Animals (House Bill 234): This bill criminalizes the act of the willfully and maliciously killing, injuring, or interfering with a service animal. This will aid those in our state who rely on service animals for assistance, including our veterans. Those found guilty of violating this law will face up to two years of imprisonment, a fine of $2,500, or both. - Prince George's County - Vehicle Height Monitoring Systems (House Bill 626/PG 305-21): This bill applies solely in Prince George's County to address the issue of large trucks and commercial vehicles using local and residential roads despite posted signage telling them not to do so. This law would enable Prince George's County and municipalities within the County to install vehicle height monitoring systems to aid in capturing images of those vehicles that have disregarded County and local laws. In addition to all of the important legislation being passed by the Maryland General Assembly as the legislative session wraps up, there is plenty of state and local news. The state has now administered well over 3 million vaccinations. By the end of March, data from the Centers for Disease Control showed that 37.2% of Marylanders 18 and older and 73.4% of Marylanders 65 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A new vaccination site operated by FEMA has opened at the Greenbelt Metro Station, which you can preregister for at the links provided late on in this newsletter. This is in addition to the numerous hospitals, health departments, and clinics that have been providing vaccinations. All of this is very promising news as vaccine accessibility continues to expand across the state. In Prince George's County, we are currently in Phase 3 of our vaccination plan through the county health department. This means that residents age 16 and older that live or work in Prince George's County are now eligible to pre-register for a vaccine. Without a doubt, it has been a truly challenging year for our community. From a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic to racial injustice and an economic recession, we have come together to face these issues head-on. I am humbled by the faith that you all have placed in me to represent you in Annapolis during this time, as we have worked tirelessly to find meaningful and lasting solutions. Our work is not over even as the session comes to an end -- I encourage you all to keep in contact with our office. Let us know what issues you see that you would like addressed and any ways to make our community a better place. It is an honor to be your voice and your advocate in Annapolis. - Nicole

 

Legislative Update

 

Community Exchange Event


On March 29th, I held a Community Exchange Town Hall to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the Maryland RELIEF Act. I was happy to be joined by Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland's fourth congressional district who discussed the American Rescue Plan. If you would like to view a recording of the Livestream, please click here. When asked for a password, type in "+2?Z9eD2".


On April 21st at 6 PM, I will be holding a Legislative Wrap-Up event with Delegate Alonzo Washington. Be on the lookout for more information, including a registration link.

 

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. 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. At the moment, the County is operating six vaccine distribution sites, as well as mobile vaccination units. These are: - Cedar Heights Community Center in Seat Pleasant - Cheverly Health Center in Cheverly - Kentland Community Center in Landover - Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center in Laurel - Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Center in Fort Washington - Sports and Learning Center in Landover To preregister for a vaccine at the FEMA-operated vaccination site in Greenbelt, please click here. You can then select "Greenbelt Metro Station" as your preferred site. 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, availability and currently has over 85,000 members. If you would prefer to schedule a vaccine appointment over the phone and can prove eligibility, you can call the Maryland state hotline at 1-855-634-6829. This hotline is open from 7 AM to 10 PM daily. There will be a series of prompts for you to answer once you are connected to the call center. The Prince George's County Memorial Library System has launched a Vaccine Hunter Hotline that can be reached at 240-392-3622. This hotline is available Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 7 PM, and can be used to get help with vaccine questions, pre-registration lists, and appointment bookings. 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 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.

 

WMATA Updates

WMATA has announced the closure of four Metro stations in Prince George's County for renovations. From May 29th through September 6th, the College Park, West Hyattsville, Prince George's Plaza, and Greenbelt stations will be closed. WMATA will be offering free bus shuttle services between these locations during that time. During these closures, parking at those stations will be free. For more information, click here.

 

Alzheimer's Association Internships

The Alzheimer's Association is offering two paid internship opportunities for Morgan State students. The application will be due on Sunday, April 25th, 2021. If you would like to learn more and apply, click here.

 

Hyattsville Trades Relief & Working Artists Fund

Applications are now being accepted for the Professional Trades and Working Artists Relief Funds, offered by the City of Hyattsville. Licensed barbers, cosmetologists, pet groomers, and tattoo artists who currently work in businesses registered within city limits can now apply for grants of $750 ($300 for non-city resident employees). Applications are available in both English and Spanish, and will be open until June 30th or until funds are exhausted. For more information and the application form, click here.

 

FEMA Funeral Assistance

If you were burdened with the funeral expenses of a loved one due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive reimbursement from FEMA. This program will begin to be implemented in April and can be applied through a toll-free number. For more information, as well as general FAQs, please click here.

 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development has reopened the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. For more information on this program, as well as the application form, please 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 May 24th, 2021. To make comments, please click here.

 

Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS)

PGCPS recently announced that virtually all of the wireless hot spots that the school system issued to students are part of a nationwide recall because of a fire risk. Families with one of the hot spots will be contacted by the school system with details on how to return the hot spots and get a new one. 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. Over the past couple of months, PGCPS has held a series of "telephone town halls" regarding reopening plans. Recordings of these town halls are provided at the "Reopen PGCPS" website under "Virtual Town Halls." 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.

 

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) Roseu Medical Center 7350 Van Dusen Road, Laurel, MD 20707 (Appointment required; Monday through Friday) City of Praise Family Ministries 8501 Jericho City Drive, Landover, MD 20785 (Mondays 2 to 6 PM; Wednesdays 10 AM to 3 PM; Saturdays 8 AM to 12 PM) There are also test sites operated by private entities such as some CVS locations. To view a statewide map of testing sites, click here. 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 having problems filing for unemployment, please let my office know by giving us a call or using the Unemployment Insurance Complaint Form. 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 ShopRite 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 link 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 to work and need child care. To keep track of confirmed COVID-19 cases within the county please click here.