‘The show just got stolen’: 5-year-old charms Maryland governor at bill signing

On May 8, between bills regarding sediment controls and road safety, a 5-year-old girl with a red bow in her hair, strolled up to the table where Gov. Wes Moore was signing bills into law in the Maryland State House, and handed him a card.

On the livestream of the bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, the announcer at the event could be heard saying, “And the show just got stolen!”

Christopher Jones of Montgomery County, is the father of that little girl, Zahara, and he agreed with the announcer.

Jones told WTOP in an interview that “she is a show-stealer” and she has been, “ever since the day we picked her up when she was four days old.”

Jones and his family adopted their daughter five years ago, and they discovered that state law at the time allowed a one-time tax benefit — or “income subtraction modification” — of $5,000, which increased to $6,000 dollars for families adopting a child with special needs.

Jones lobbied the General Assembly to have the benefit increased, “to just make it a little bit easier for people to do the right thing, and to contribute in a positive way to our future.”

Sen. Sarah Elfreth, a Democrat who represents Anne Arundel County, was one of the sponsors of the bill.

Elfreth said her staff researched the tax modification to see when it was first established, and she said, “It was so long ago, none of our staff knew, so it’s been on the books for a while.”

The new law signed by Gov. Wes Moore, House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, doubles the amount of the tax benefit. Elfreth said this will make a real impact at a time when household expenses and child care are so high.

“This was a very human bill. This was about families. This was about giving children, you know, a forever home.”

During the bill signing, Jones became emotional while watching his little girl chat with the governor. He explained that his daughter had been looking forward to meeting the governor, “She was thrilled!” he said.

She was so excited, the night before the bill signing she actually woke her parents up twice to ask if it was time to go to Annapolis yet.

Jones told WTOP his daughter wrote the card that said, “Governor Moore, thank you for signing this bill and helping more kids like me.”

WTOP asked what made Jones become so visibly moved during the ceremony that he clapped his hand over his mouth and wiped tears from his eyes. He said that the governor told his daughter that he would like to vote for her one day.

“And that’s when I lost it,” Jones said with a laugh.

His daughter, Jones said, “has brightened our lives, and the lives of everyone she has come into contact with” and that now apparently includes the attendees and viewers of the bill signing ceremony.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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