2024 Third Bill Signing Ceremony

Published: 5/9/2024

Remarks as prepared
Delivered on Thursday, May 9, 2024​​​

I want to welcome all of our special guests to Annapolis, including the Irish Ambassador to the United States. She is here on a trade mission.

Now – At the start of this session, we said our administration would focus on four priorities:

We would make Maryland safer;

We would make Maryland more affordable;

We would make Maryland more competitive;

And we would continue to make Maryland the state that serves.

Today, we sign bills to make Maryland more competitive.

And look: We are data-driven and heart led in everything we do.

I come from the business community – So I know that getting our economy going means creating a more hospitable business climate – where industries can grow and small businesses can thrive.

That mindset is at the center of today’s bills.

Today, we will sign the Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act. It’s going to supercharge the Data Center industry in our state so we can unleash more economic potential and create more good-paying union jobs.

We will also sign the Transparent Government Act. It’s going to make the permitting process more transparent – because you shouldn’t have to wait years to get a permit in the state of Maryland.

These are just two of the 275 bills we will sign today. And none of these bills would have gotten across the finish line without the people in this room.

I am grateful for the partnership of the General Assembly and our presiding officers: President Ferguson and Speaker Jones.

I am grateful for the partnership of the advocates and activists who come to Annapolis and make their voices heard – even when it’s hard.

Today, we’re joined by the families of Judge Andrew Wilkinson and Corporal Glenn Hilliard.

Judge Wilkinson and Corporal Hilliard were taken from us far too soon. 

But their loved ones have turned tragedy into triumph. 

They came to Annapolis and lobbied for legislation to help Maryland heal, And today, we sign bills in honor of both Judge Wilkinson and Corporal Hilliard. 

Could the families please stand and be recognized?

At the center of every bill we sign are real Marylanders who have experienced adversity – and marshaled the courage to make a change.

With that in mind, I want to talk about one more bill before turning it over: The ENOUGH Act.

One of the greatest drivers of hardship and heartbreak in the State of Maryland is child poverty.

Poverty drives violence. 

Poverty drives despair. 

Poverty hides the vast potential of our children. 

Poverty hinders our economic competitiveness.

And poverty isn’t about just one zip code: It’s a West Baltimore issue and a West Annapolis issue. It’s a Mountain Maryland issue and it’s an Eastern Shore issue.

Here’s the truth: As long as one in eight Maryland children grow up in poverty, we will never achieve our full potential as a state.

The ENOUGH Act continues the frontal assault on child poverty we launched on inauguration day. And it is a first of its kind initiative.

Our legislation is guided by data, evidence, and best practices that are years in the making.

But this legislation isn’t just about a renewed focus on poverty – it’s about a new way of governing. 

Our administration believes that the people closest to the problems are closest to the solutions. 

I’m talking about people like "Z" Nottingham-Lemon. 

“Z” is the Executive Director of Cherry Hill Strong. It’s a non-profit that focuses on community revitalization in Baltimore. 

Leaders like “Z” aren’t asking us to save their communities. They’re simply asking for a partner in the work. 

That’s why our legislation calls on community leaders to come together and create comprehensive plans on how to make their neighborhoods better.

The premise is simple: 

Leaders in our communities will provide the vision – and the state will provide the support.

We will fund winning proposals with public and private money – 

We will build partnerships with communities, so they can benefit from the muscle and coordination of government – 

And we will organize our work through the new Governor’s Office for Children, led by Special Secretary Carmel Martin.

The proposals we’re asking for will give us a roadmap for elevating communities – that’s written BY them and not simply FOR them. 

Engaging Neighborhoods, Organizations, Unions, Governments and Households – That’s what ENOUGH stands for. 

It’s more than an acronym. It’s a governing philosophy. And I want to thank everyone in this room for supporting this initiative.

We can – and we must – get this moment right. Because the stakes are too high for us to fail.

Every so often, my phone rings in the middle of the night – and it’s never good news. 

Last July, I got one of those calls from Mayor Brandon Scott. He told me there had been a mass shooting in Brooklyn. 

That night, we focused on the tragedy in front of us. 

But in the weeks and months since, I’ve been unable to shake a deeper tragedy.

In Brooklyn, about one in two children are living in poverty. 

We’ve seen similar numbers in Brooklyn for over a decade – because people who grow up in poverty are very likely to die in poverty.

See: You can’t understand what happened on the night of July 2nd without understanding all of the nights that came before.

Child poverty isn’t just a consequence – it’s a cause. 

Krystal Gonzalez knows that. Her daughter, Aaliyah was shot and killed in Brooklyn that night. 

But by working together, we have turned our pain into purpose.

We have crafted and passed legislation on a bipartisan basis to stop these cycles – by working together to build stronger communities.

So this morning, I’d like to thank Krystal Gonzalez for her leadership – And I’d like to call her up to present her with a ceremonial First Pen.