The inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris is a historic moment.
Dear Neighbors and Friends - It has truly been an exciting past couple of weeks, with the 2021 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly now in full swing. I have quite a few updates to share with you all regarding the bills that I have sponsored, so be sure to check them out later on in this newsletter! First, though, I want to acknowledge the new chapter in our nation’s history that began with the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President Kamala Devi Harris. As President Biden stressed in his inaugural address, the challenges we face require that all of us unite in finding a solution. I hope to instill that same spirit into my work as your delegate representing District 22. The new administration also represents a turning point in our nation’s history. Vice President Harris is the first female, first African American, and first Asian American to be elected to national office. Without a doubt, this historic moment will inspire many to believe that anything is possible and that our government can truly be representative of the people. In local news, Governor Hogan made a call last week for Maryland students to return to school in a hybrid learning format by March 1st. This process would be accompanied by guidance from the state level on reopening and non-traditional learning design, as well as an additional $780 million in federal relief funds. Educators and school staff have also now been prioritized by the state to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks recently made a few announcements regarding indoor dining and COVID-19 vaccinations. First, indoor dining will resume on Friday, January 29th at 25% capacity. Second, the County will be moving ahead to Phase 1B of our vaccination plan, which will include seniors 75 and older, teachers and support staff, child care workers, those in assisted living environments, and members of government leadership. Additional resources are also provided to sign up for vaccinations, including a pre-registration form that is linked later in this newsletter, and an upcoming hotline for those who may have difficulty accessing the Internet. County Executive Alsobrooks, having received the vaccine herself, stressed how important it is that our community becomes protected against this virus. I urge everyone to get vaccinated when it is made available to them, as it is the surest way of stemming the tide of this pandemic. This vaccine is safe and effective and will be instrumental in bringing us back to a sense of normal. As always, I hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy. I am excited to continue the work of being your Delegate, and will be sure to share with you updates as they come along! - Nicole
House Bill 411 - Criminal Law - Law Enforcement Officers - Prohibition on Sexual Activity Police accountability is one of the major issues that we are tackling in this legislative session. I introduced this bill last session and I am re-introducing it again this session because we need to stop police officers from abusing their positions of authority over victims and witnesses that are in police custody. To watch the hearing that took place on Monday, January 18, 2021, please click here.
House Bill 294 - Business Occupations and Professions - Architects - Scope of Licensure Currently, if you have a project or renovation that costs more than $5,000 you must have a licensed architect approve your building plans before you can submit them to the County for a building permit. Sometimes the cost for the architect can exceed the cost of the project. This bill will increase the dollar threshold from $5,000 to $25,000 which will help to reduce the costs for homeowners and small businesses doing minor renovations. This bill was heard before the Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. To watch the hearing, click here. PG 305-21 - Vehicle Hight Monitoring Systems This bill will allow the use of vehicle height monitoring systems in Prince George's County to enforce certain state and local laws restricting the presence of certain vehicles during certain times and imposing liability on owners of motor vehicles recorded while being operated in violation of a State or local law restricting the presence of vehicles during certain times. The bill was given a favorable report by the Law Enforcement Committee and then later the full County Delegation on January 22, 2021. Click here to read the bill. HB 234 - Criminal Law - Harm to Service Animals This bill will prohibit a person from intentionally or recklessly killing, injuring, or interfering with the use of a service animal and establishing greater penalties for such actions. Additionally, a court can enter an order requiring a defendant to pay restitution as a condition of sentencing. This bill hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, January 28, 2021, at 1:30 PM. If you wish to submit written or oral testimony you will need to sign up today between 10 AM to 3 PM. Click here to sign up to testify on this bill or any other bill pending before the General Assembly. You can watch the hearing live on our YouTube page by clicking here.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Prince George’s County has created a helpful 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. There is additional availability for COVID-19 vaccinations at the Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center for those eligible under Phases 1A and 1B. Fill out this vaccine interest form to be put on a notification list.
Legislative Bond Initiatives (LBIs)
The Maryland General Assembly recently announced changes to the Legislative Bond Initiatives process for the 2021 session in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A major difference is that the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee will not be holding hearings for LBIs, and will instead be accepting fact sheets as testimony. For full guidelines, click here.
Black History Month
The Greenbelt Black History and Culture Committee has planned a great lineup of events for Black History Month to celebrate the Black community and experience. To view a list of these events, please click here.
Purple Line Construction Update
As a result of continued construction on the Purple Line, on-street parking will be prohibited from the intersection of Riverdale Road (MD 410) and 64th Avenue to the parking entrance for townhomes 6001-6073 64th Avenue, Riverdale, MD. Towing will be enforced 24 hours.
MAGLEV Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
The DEIS for the MAGLEV project is now available, with a 90-day formal comment period open from now until April 22nd, 2021. To make comments, please click here. 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 Cultural Arts Study (PGCCAS)
Prince George's County will be holding a virtual community meeting on Thursday, January 28th, 2021 from 7 to 8 PM to discuss the impact of cultural arts on economic development and land usage plans. To participate, please first register by clicking here. Registration will close at noon on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021.
Northern Gateway Wayfinding and Signage Plan
Prince George's County Planning Department will be holding a virtual meeting on the Northern Gateway Wayfinding and Signage Plan on January 30th, 2021 from 10 to 11:30 AM to discuss the benefits of wayfinding, recent findings, and sign design options for community input. To register, please click here. Registration will close at noon on Friday, January 29th, 2021. For additional information on the project, click here.
BGE Energizing Small Business Grants Program
Maryland-based small businesses have an opportunity to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to help with economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility requirements include having between two and 25 employees, less than $7 million in annual revenue, an obvious need for financial support, a plan on how funds would be used and being in good standing with the state of Maryland. The first round of applications runs between January 20th and March 3rd, 2021. For more information, please click here.
Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS)
PGCPS recently completed their survey that assessed community support for School Resource Officers (SROs), receiving over 13,000 responses. To view a full report of their findings, please click here.
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.
Chief Executive Officer Dr. Monica Goldson of PGCPS recently spoke about her hopes for teachers and education staff to get vaccinated in anticipation of a spring reopening of schools. To read more, 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.
WMATA and "TheBus"
On Monday, January 4, 2021, WMATA and Prince George's County's "TheBus" resumed front-door bus boarding and fare collection. Protective barriers have been installed on all the vehicles. Both WAMTA and "TheBus" have undergone extensive safety and cleaning protocols. The standard one-way fare for "TheBus" will be reduced temporarily from $1.25 to $1.00. Seniors, persons with disabilities will continue to ride for free with government-issued photo identification. Children two years old or under ride for free with an adult.
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 the State such as the Six Flags Amusement Park location (which just announced extended hours) and 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 email@example.com.
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 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 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.