On his first full day in office, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore released $69 million in state funds to train abortion care providers, combat climate change, implement a program for paid family leave and lay the groundwork for a new recreational marijuana industry.
The Maryland General Assembly authorized the funding last year, but former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, used his legal power to ensure it wasn’t spent.
Moore said the action symbolizes “a fundamental shift” in the way the executive branch will approach the budget and its relationship with the legislature.
“We view the General Assembly as partners not adversaries,” Moore said.
Additionally, Moore signed executive orders, one updating ethics standards for the administration, and the other creating a cabinet-level agency to oversee community service programs.
Moore said that the newly-released money is “critical to protecting the fundamental rights of all Marylanders.” The funding includes:
- $3.5 million to train health care providers in abortion care. While Maryland already has strong laws protecting reproductive rights, the governor said the state “needs to be a safe haven” for reproductive care, and the training will help with that goal.
- $9 million to fund various clean energy projects, including installing renewable energy systems in multifamily housing communities and for youth in the Maryland Conservation Corps to work on climate mitigation projects. The climate crisis, he said, is not “a future conversation” because it is putting the lives and livelihoods of Marylanders at risk.
- $10 million for the state Department of Labor to set up a program to implement a family and medical leave law passed last year. The law will eventually require workers and employers to pay into a fund for workers to take long-term leave, such as after childbirth.
- $46.5 million to start developing the framework for the forthcoming legal recreational marijuana industry. Most of the money, $40 million, is for grants and loans to minority-owned firms looking to get into the cannabis market. It also includes funding for health research.
Moore offered few details about his two executive orders, which he signed before reporters alongside Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller and Susan Lee, his designee for secretary of state.
Governors typically issue updated ethics rules for their administration. A review of Moore’s order showed only minor updates from the one put in place by former Gov. Larry Hogan.
“There will be no question that everybody in our administration is working on behalf of the people of the state,” he said.
Moore was asked whether placing his own investments in a blind trust would be a requirement within the executive order, and Moore said it was not required. He promised on the campaign trail that he would put his vast array of investments and business interests into a blind trust.
“It’s something where we said we want to be have the highest measure of transparency, and we are actually in the process right now of finalizing that trust,” he said.
To make good on his campaign promise to establish a service-year option for all high school graduates, Moore also signed an executive order establishing the Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation.
Existing service programs in various parts of state government would be folded into the new department, and it also will be the home of Moore’s proposed yearlong public service program for high school graduates. Moore will appoint a cabinet secretary to lead the new state agency.