ANNAPOLIS, MD — On Thursday, Dwight A. Weingarten, Investigative Reporter for Gannett, published the following article on Governor Wes Moore’s First 100 Days in office:
On Governor Moore’s Historic First Legislative Session:
For many politicians, passing 10 pieces of legislation in the first 100 days of an administration would be promises fulfilled. But for Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, his campaign pledges were so audacious that the usual markers of personal success do not seem to apply.
“Leave no one behind,” his signs said statewide. “Make child poverty history,” he said in Hagerstown. “A service-year option for every single high school graduate,” said Moore in Rockville.
“He’s made a commitment to making sure that all of Maryland matters,” said Sen. Mike McKay, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, referencing a February trip the governor made to the state’s two western-most jurisdictions. Moore’s trip to Lonaconing in Allegany County marked the first visit to the town of less than 1,000 since Gov. Parris Glendening came in the wake of a flood in 1996.
Moore’s greatest contribution, thus far, could be converting the personal into engagement, not only in parts of the state that have not seen a sitting governor in decades, but in Annapolis too.
Likewise in the state’s capital, Moore counted on his presence to achieve policy aims, testifying at bill hearings in support of his proposed legislation, a marked difference from his predecessor.
“The administration was far more active in the legislative process than I remember under the Hogan administration,” said Del. Chris Adams, R-Wicomico, chair of the Eastern Shore delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. “Having that input adds to, it doesn’t take away from, the debate — in the form that we all here want to have in politics, which is engagement.”
Metrics on other measures, on which Moore campaigned, have shown signs of progress, such as reducing departmental vacancy rates and hiring parole and probation agents to reduce crime. In 98 days in office (83 of which took place during the legislative session), the new governor has signed 242 bills into law, ranging on topics from the budget to offshore wind to authorizing a new service program for the state, with more legislation expected to be signed in the days ahead.
“I’m proud of the foundation that it sets for everything that we’re going to get done in the future,” said Moore, in a phone interview with Maryland’s USA TODAY Network, two days shy of his 100th in office. “These next few months, this is all about governing.”
From Candidate to Governor, Governor Moore “Delivered” During His First 100 Days:
Eleven months ago, Moore was one of a dozen or so candidates competing to be the state’s governor. He emerged from a crowded Democratic field, which included two cabinet secretaries for President Barack Obama and two individuals elected multiple times to statewide office.
“There was a lot of anxiety about a new governor coming in,” said Danny Thompson, executive director for the economic development commission in Somerset County, the state’s southernmost jurisdiction. “You’ve had a governor for eight years prior and a lot of relationships are developed. So people are just reserved when it comes to change.”
In both instances, however, the returns, in the early stages at least, have been positive.
“He has delivered,” said McKay, alluding to a bond fulfilled for a volunteer fire department in Garrett County and Moore’s handling of the water issue in Lonaconing.
“The first 100 days is a little bit hard to create relationships,” said Thompson, who co-chairs the annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, oft used as a political campaign stop, “but I’ve been impressed with his willingness to hit rural Maryland.”
On Leveraging Partnerships to End Childhood Poverty:
For Moore, those partnerships across the state are purposeful. A purported purpose of those partnerships is the alleviation of poverty.
“We knew that in order to address the issue of child poverty, it meant that it wasn’t just one group that had to address it, it meant that all of us had to make a pledge that we were going to do our part,” said Moore, championing the law extending the earned income and child tax credits.
“It is important to note that when we’re talking about poverty, it’s that I wanted the state to understand that this is not an urban issue, it’s not a rural issue, it’s not a suburban issue. This is an issue that we’re wrestling with all throughout the state of Maryland.”
“He has a passion to help low income to (moderate income) families,” Thompson said of Moore, referencing the $15 an hour minimum wage, which one of Moore’s bills moved up to Jan. 1. “It certainly moved the chain for Somerset County to the positive because we fit a lot of those demographics.”
On Bringing Marylanders Together Through Service:
One path for poverty alleviation that Moore sees is the service year initiative, which he signed into law on Monday. The law created not only a cabinet department to coordinate the program, but 200 paid positions for high school graduates who are scheduled to start work in September.
“I believe deeply that service will save us,” Moore said. “I absolutely see the service year as a way of being able to deal with (poverty).”
He explained the connection between the program and poverty alleviation in three parts.
First, he said the program provides a level of financial support to participants. Each individual earns at least $15 per hour during their service, and a $6,000 stipend upon completion of the service year.
Second, he said the program provides “experiential learning,” which he said will help participants in the workforce. Service topics outlined in the law include areas such as education and the environment.
- Lastly, he said the program was “a way for us to get to know each other again, where we’re going to have people doing service projects all around the state.”
“We have to be able to fight for one another,” the governor said. “The SERVE Act is going to be a powerful antidote to (political divisiveness).”
Perhaps, a proof of that: House Minority Leader Del. Jason Buckel, R-Allegany, who accompanied Moore during his visit to Lonaconing in February, voted for the legislation. Buckel did not respond to a request for comment for this article, explaining his April 10 vote.
To view the full article, visit: https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/maryland/2023/04/27/maryland-gov-wes-moore-at-100-days-general-assembly-poverty-minimum-wage-crime-larry-hogan/70156079007/