2021 Legislative Accomplishments & Recap

During the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly, Strong Future Maryland tracked hundreds of bills, supported the efforts of dozens of partner organizations, and advocated for a number of priority bills and veto overrides.

This was a historic session with unprecedented challenges for legislators and advocates alike. Strong Future is proud of the advocates and legislators we partnered with who worked tirelessly to advance youth justice reform, workers’ rights, an equitable economy, and climate justice. There is still much more to do — many important bills were lost in the final hours including sweeping climate change legislation, eviction help for tenants, and anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students, but Strong Future is committed to building on the work from this session to enact progressive change next session and beyond.

Our Work

Community Engagement & Outreach

Strong Future Maryland engaged with community members across the state and deeply listened to issues they face and their hopes for the future.


Facebook Live Events held discussing policies and issues with community advocates and leaders including education equity, affordable housing, and youth justice.


Events led with partner organizations including education advocates on the Eastern shore, Montgomery County neighbors, Baltimore City teachers and Howard County youth advocates.


Conversations held with individuals, advocates and organizations in the state of Maryland and across the country to ask what an equitable recovery looks like and to understand the needs of Maryland’s communities.


Diverse, community-based Advisory Council members recruited.


Coalitions engaged and numerous advocacy partners.


Organizing & Advocating for Change

Through community engagement and partnership, Strong Future took action on progressive policy change through direct advocacy, grassroots mobilization, and awareness building.


Bills from our priority list received written testimony from Strong Future Maryland.


Bills received in-person testimony from Strong Future Maryland board members.


Story shares, public comments, and petition signatures generated to support issues such as youth justice, workers’ rights and climate change.


Video views sharing the need for policy change for strong public schools, economic justice, and the need for an equitable recovery from COVID.

Session Accomplishments

Full list of Priority Legislation and Final Status

Eliminating racial disparities and building healthy communities

SB0172/HB0463 Maryland Health Equity Resource Act ✅  Passed

This bill establishes a Health Equity Resource Communities program that seeks to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes, improve access to primary care, promote primary and secondary prevention services, and reduce health care costs and hospital admissions and readmissions. Communities will be designated by the Department of Health.

SB0674/HB1207 Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities ✅  Passed

This bill changes the procedures and composition of the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities and requires the membership of the Commission to reflect the diversity of the State.

SB0741/HB0836 COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, and Vaccination Act of 2021 ✅  Passed

This bill requires the Maryland Department of Health and local health departments to adopt and implement plans to address the COVID-19. The bill also requires institutions of higher education to adopt testing plans and requires certain insurers to provide coverage for tests and associated costs.

Promoting economic mobility, healthy communities, and worker protections

Speaker’s Black Economic Agenda

Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne Jones unveiled a package of legislation focused on dismantling racial barriers and reducing inequities in healthcare, household wealth, and home ownership. See more below at the appropriate bill numbers.

HB1210 Board, Executive Leadership, and Mission Corporate Diversity ✅  Passed

This bill prohibits corporations from qualifying from some benefits unless there is representation of underrepresented communities in governance and/or leadership and requires the Department of Commerce to develop, maintain, and publicly post a State Equity Scorecard for corporations.

HB1211 Pre-Seed Builder Fund ✅  Passed

This bill establishes the Pre-Seed Builder Fund in the Maryland Technology Development Corporation as a special, nonlapsing fund to support the development of start-up companies run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds that hinder access to traditional forms of capital and executive networks at the pre-seed stage.

HB1213 Alternative Methods in Determining of Creditworthiness for Financial Institutions ✅  Passed

This bill requires certain credit grantors to consider alternative methods of evaluating an applicant’s creditworthiness, including the applicant’s history of rent or mortgage payments, history of utility payments, school attendance, and work attendance when determining whether to accept an application for a primary residential mortgage loan or an extension of credit.

Worker Protections

SB0009/HB0486 Applicability, Bargaining Processes, and Memorandums of Understanding for Collective Bargaining ✅  Passed

This bill requires the University System of Maryland to negotiate one contract through one collective bargaining process with the state’s higher education employees and workers. The current system requires each institution within the USM system to negotiate their own contract with the employees on their campus. This results in dramatically different collective bargaining processes, wages, benefits and protections across the USM system. This legislation makes the collective bargaining process more fair and equitable.

SB0486/HB0581 Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act ✅  Passed

This bill provides protections for essential workers during an emergency and creates requirements around occupational health and safety and transparency regarding hazard pay for employers.

SB0711/HB0944 Growing Family Child Care Opportunities Pilot Program ✅  Passed

This bill establishes the Growing Family Child Care Opportunities Pilot Program in the Department of Education. The program will provide grants to increase the supply and sustainability of family child care providers in areas with above average rates of poverty and unemployment.

SB0817/HB0907, SB0818/HB1138, HB1002 Unemployment System Reforms ✅  Passed

This series of bills reform Maryland’s unemployment systems to provide greater legislative oversight, mandate stronger reporting, and work with the Department of Health to connect residents applying for unemployment benefits with low-cost healthcare options.

Housing Justice

SB0154/HB0018 Right to Counsel in Eviction Action ✅  Passed

This bill establishes a right to counsel in eviction proceedings for individuals with low and moderate incomes. The bill also establishes a Right to Counsel in Evictions Coordinator in the Office of the Attorney General. *This legislation was amended to provide “access to counsel” instead of a right to counsel, but is still a significant win for tenants.

Addressing climate change while building a sustainable future with good jobs in a flourishing, green economy

SB0083/HB0298 Consideration of Climate and Labor in Utility Regulation ✅  Passed

This bill requires the Secretary of Natural Resources to incorporate an evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on climate change into the Power Plant Research Program and requires the Commission to consider the maintenance of fair and stable labor standards and the protection of the global climate in supervising and regulating public service companies.

SB0199/HB0114 Transit Safety and Investment Act ✅  Passed

This bill requires appropriations in the State budget from the Transportation Trust Fund for critical operating and capital needs including requiring funding for the Purple Line.

SB0137/HB0334 Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act ✅  Passed

The bill requires the Maryland Transit Administration to begin purchasing zero-emission buses beginning in 2023 and requires a plan to convert the state bus fleet to zero-emission.

HB1133 Urban Trees Program and Commission for the Innovation & Advancement of Carbon Markets and Sustainable Tree Plantings →Became HB991 Tree Solutions Now Act ✅  Passed

This bill establishes the policy to support and encourage tree-planting efforts, with a goal of planting and helping to maintain in the State 500,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State in underserved areas by the end of 2030.

Ensuring positive outcomes in our schools and other public institutions

SB0001/HB0001 Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) ✅  Passed

This bill settles a long-standing lawsuit over inequitable funding for Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities and would provide $577 million to HBCUs from 2023 through 2032.

SB0494/HB0409 Juvenile Restoration Act ✅  Passed

This bill allows a court to impose sentences shorter than the minimum legal term for minors convicted as an adult. The bill also prohibits sentences of life without the possibility of parole or release for minors. *Governor Hogan vetoed this legislation in the final days, but it was overridden by the legislature.

SB0853/HB1187 Juvenile Justice Reform ✅  Passed

This bill alters the jurisdiction of juvenile court so that children under the age of 13 years are not subject and may not be charged with a crime except under specific conditions. *This legislation was heavily amended and only extends the commission and provides funding for the ROCA program.

Advocating for progressive revenues, just taxation and support for Maryland most vulnerable through the state budget

SB0491/HB0588 Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Bill  ✅  Passed

The fiscal 2022 budget provides $52B in funding for the state of Maryland including investments in implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan), tax relief for small businesses, direct cash payments to low income Marylanders, investments in Program Open Space, construction funding for parks and playgrounds across the state, and critical funding for people with developmental disabilities. The state benefited significantly from $3.9B in federal funding announced on March 31, 2021.

SB0496/HB0612 Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, & Families  (RELIEF) Act ✅  Passed

This bill provides financing for relieving the adverse effects of the pandemic to provide tax relief for specific benefits and taxes.

Veto Overrides

In addition to the legislation we supported this session, we also supported veto overrides on a number of major bills from the 2020 session.

HB1300Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, also known as the Kirwan Commission legislation

HB1260 HBCU Funding

HB932 Tax Fairness.

SB708 Violence Intervention and Prevention Funding

SB684 Women’s Pre-release Center

SB845 Maryland Service Corps Funding

SB985 Farm Enterprise Program


Work Still to Be Done

Promoting economic mobility, healthy communities, and worker protections

Worker Protections

SB0727/HB1326 Maryland Healthy Working Families Act Revisions

This bill would have expanded requirements for employers to allow use of earned sick leave during public health emergencies.

SB0211/HB0375 Time to Care Act of 2021

This bill would have established the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide temporary benefits to a covered individual who is taking leave from employment.

Housing Justice

SB0530/HB0729 Eviction Actions Filing Surcharges

This bill would have increased the amount of the surcharge required to file civil cases in eviction actions and requires those surcharges to be the responsibility of the landlord.

SB0454/HB0052 Eviction Diversion Program

This bill would have created an Eviction Diversion Program in District Court in counties that process 10,000 or more repossession claims to promote continuity of housing.

SB0910/HB1312 Eviction & Housing Relief Act of 2021

This bill would have provided protections to tenants facing eviction due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Addressing climate change while building a sustainable future with good jobs in a flourishing, green economy

SB0414/HB0583 Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021

This bill would have required the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. *HB991, which passed, was amended to include the provisions from SB414 establishing the goal of planting and helping to maintain 5,000,000 sustainable trees.

SB0076/HB0033 Climate Crisis and Education Act

This bill would have established a greenhouse gas reduction target of 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 and net-zero by 2045. The bill also would have created a Climate Crisis Initiative in the Department of the Environment and a Climate Crisis Council.

SB0148/HB0066 Maryland Coal Community Transition Act of 2021

The bill would have prohibited carbon dioxide emissions rate from exceeding a specific limit for affected electric generating units and establish the Fossil Fuel Community Transition Fund to provide grants to impacted individuals and communities.

Ensuring positive outcomes in our schools and other public institutions

SB0098/HB0155 Inclusive Schools Act

This bill would have provided non-discrimination protections for students on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability at any school receiving state funding.

HB1188 Correctional Ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General

This bill would have established the Correctional Ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General.

HB0655 District Voting in County Commissioner Elections

This bill would have required that county commissioners elected to represent certain districts cannot be elected in at-large elections. This would stop the disenfranchisement of diverse voters across several counties.

SB0611 Individual Income Tax – Rates and Rate Brackets – Alterations

This bill would have extended the graduated state income tax for individuals making over $500,000 a year. Current state income taxes apply the same rate to all individuals making $250,000 or more. SB611 adds additional tax brackets up to $1.5 million/year.