JCRC Statement on Conclusion of 2024 Maryland General Assembly

JCRC Statement

The following is a statement from Ron Halber, Executive Director of the JCRC of Greater Washington, and Deborah Miller, Director of Maryland Government Affairs and Community Relations for the JCRC of Greater Washington, upon the conclusion on Monday night of the 2024 Maryland General Assembly session.

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) extends our gratitude to members of the Maryland General Assembly for a diligent and productive legislative session. We recognize the impact of the state’s challenging budget climate this year and appreciate our legislators doing their best to meet our community’s needs within these constraints.

“We highlight and offer our appreciation for several major legislative victories directly benefitting Maryland’s Jewish communities. We applaud lawmakers for adopting House Bill 763, which alters the membership of the Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention, and House Bill 809, which allows for the removal of a Commission appointee for misconduct or other actions that violate set codes of conduct. It is essential to ensure that appointees do not undermine the Commission ’s work by engaging in hate speech and divisive rhetoric.

“We are also pleased at the passage of House Bill 1386, which requires the development of an anti-bias training program for all public school employees. This is particularly important given the unprecedented number of antisemitic incidents in schools, in addition to other forms of bias and harassment. Teachers and administrators need to know how to handle these situations to ensure all students feel safe and protected on school grounds.

“We applaud the inclusion of several Legislative Bond Initiatives in the state’s capital budget, including $150,000 for Makom to secure a home for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, $100,000 for the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA) to provide mobile mental health clinics and $92,000 for Yeshiva of Greater Washington to upgrade its community gym, which is utilized by a range of local groups.

“We are disappointed that Senate Bill 1058 did not pass the House, despite overwhelming support in the Senate. The legislation, known as the Educate to Stop the Hate Act, would have mandated the development of curriculum in antihate and Holocaust education. As the number of Holocaust survivors able to share their narratives firsthand shrinks, increased education is important to ensure that the lessons of this appalling episode in history are carried on to future generations.

“Finally, we must thank the legislators with whom we worked closely on each of these measures:  
   •    Delegates Dalya Attar and Joe Vogel for sponsoring the Commission bills; and to Senators Will Smith and Jeff Waldstreicher and Delegate Luke Clippinger for working to shepherd these bills across the finish line.
   •    Senator Ben Kramer and Delegate C.T. Wilson for sponsoring the Educate to Stop the Hate Act; 
   •    Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary for sponsoring the antibias training bill and Speaker Adrienne Jones for including it in her ‘decency agenda’;
   •    The District 15 delegation – Senator Brian Feldman and Delegates Linda Foley, David Fraser-Hidalgo and Lily Qi – for supporting the Makom bond initiative.
   •    The District 16 delegation – Senator Ariana Kelly and Delegates Marc Korman, Sara Love and Sarah Wolek – for supporting the JSSA bond initiative. A special thanks to Senator Kelly for her years of leadership and service as she resigns to lead the Maryland Commission for Women.
   •    The District 18 delegation – Senator Waldstreicher and Delegates Aaron Kaufman, Emily Shetty and Jared Solomon – for supporting the Yeshiva of Greater Washington bond initiative.