April 2020


Public Policy Partners first wants to thank everyone who is on the front lines responding to the current crisis. We are grateful to the nurses, physicians, counselors, first responders, reservists, and all professionals and volunteers who are helping our families, friends, and neighbors through this pandemic.

We have been working to support our clients during this unique and difficult time. There is so much information coming from State agencies, federal agencies, not to mention local governments, that we do not presume to have all information everyone needs. We would however like to make sure you know where to turn for some basic information.

First places to start include the Governor’s website, on the tab that says “Executive Orders” as well as the COVID-19 page. Second, try the relevant state agency website. They all have a great deal of information on their home pages these days. As an example, the Maryland Department of Health has a page with a great deal of information on telehealth. For both nonprofits and small businesses, don’t forget the Department of Commerce as the Governor has created grant and loan programs as part of the State’s response to the impact of the pandemic. As part of the State’s response to COVID-19, an emergency special enrollment period is now open through June 15, 2020 for uninsured Marylanders. Eligibility and enrollment information can be found on the Maryland Health Connection website.

Please be on the lookout for additional information about resources during this crisis.


The End of the 2020 General Assembly Session

The 2020 Maryland General Assembly ended early for the first time since the Civil War. In announcing the early Sine Die, legislative leadership stated there would be a Special Session in late May to “tie up any loose ends.” There is no certainty the Special Session will happen, but one may be needed if there are emergency measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis that would require legislative action. It is assumed the legislature would also take up any vetoes made by the Governor. Bill signing dates for all bills that passed – other than the two COVID-related emergency bills already signed – have not yet been posted. There will be no public ceremony with any bills signings this year.


In the last days of the shortened Session, there were elections of new leadership in the Black Caucus. The results were:

  • Chair – Del. Darryl Barnes (Prince George’s)
  • 1st Vice Chair – Del. Melissa Wells (Baltimore City)
  • 2nd Vice Chair – Del. Gabriel Acevero (Montgomery)
  • Treasurer – Del. Ron Watson (Prince George’s County)
  • Financial Secretary – Del. Mike Rogers (Anne Arundel)
  • Secretary – Del. Charlotte Crutchfield (Montgomery)

Delegate Lisa Belcastro was appointed before the end of Session to the Maryland General Assembly, filling the seat in the House of Delegates for District 11 that was vacated by former Delegate Shelly Hettleman when she was appointed to the Senate. Belcastro is an adapted physical education teacher for students with physical and cognitive disabilities and learning differences. She is also a legislative aide for Baltimore County Councilman Izzy Patoka.


Delegate Alice Cain resigned from the House of Delegates the day after the Session ended, citing family issues that arose prior to the Covid 19 crisis. The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee will select a replacement for the district 30A seat representing a part of the County that includes the city of Annapolis, and submit their name to the Governor for approval.


People on the Move

Lauren Grimes has taken the position of Assistant Director at CBH, the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland. Grimes had been Director of Network & Peer Services at On Our Own of Maryland for 9 years.

Jessica Kwasny (Honke) has been named Legislative Affairs Manager for the City of Gaithersburg.   Kwasny has a long-time career in the advocacy field, including her most recent role as Policy and Advocacy Director of NAMI Maryland.

Tricia “Trish” Russell will replace Karen Robb as U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen’s chief of staff. Russell most recently served as chief of staff to Sen. Cory Booker. Robb served in that capacity since Van Hollen became a senator in 2017.



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