Meet Clarence

Commitment to Public Service

Born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Clarence’s parents instilled within him and his two brothers a strong commitment to public service. Fun fact: today, all three of them are doctors.

But as far back as when he attended college at Case Western Reserve University, Clarence showed an interest in pursuing a career that allowed him to explore the relationship between public policy and public health. After graduating as a double major in Biology and Political Science, Clarence chose to attend the University of Maryland School of Medicine, valuing the opportunities that came with being in the Baltimore/Washington region.

During his medical training, he was able to work for Congressman Henry Waxman and Maryland Delegate Dan Morhaim—two champions for public health policy in their respective chambers. His time with both officials reinforced his belief that good policy is the result of smart, effective legislators working together to bring about meaningful change.

After graduating, Clarence went on to join the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, where he currently directs the preventive medicine residency program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and continues to serve patients at a Hopkins occupational health clinic.

But when all three state delegates in the district where Clarence lived retired ahead of the 2014 election, he chose to run for office, believing that his experience in public health would give him a unique perspective in Annapolis. And after spending 18 months knocking on 20,000 voters’ doors to meet his future constituents, he was elected to represent Maryland’s 12th Legislative District. After four years in the House of Delegates, he ran for and was elected to serve in the State Senate in 2018.

Clarence has been proud to represent Marylanders in Howard, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel Counties for more than 9 years, sponsoring and helping to pass critical pieces of legislation capping the cost of insulin at no more than $1 per day, expanding healthcare access to expecting mothers and undocumented immigrants, and enacting one of the strongest environmental protection bills in the nation.

He currently serves as the Chair of the Howard County Senate Delegation, the Senate Chair of the Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee, the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight, and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. As the Vice Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, Clarence became the first Asian American in the history of the Senate of Maryland to serve as a Chair or Vice Chair of a standing committee. 

Clarence lives with his wife Sarah, 2-year-old daughter Lainey, and dog Mellie in the Harper’s Choice village of Columbia.

Endorsements

Dr. Clarence Lam is proud to have earned endorsements from key allies in Maryland.

Read what some of them have to say:

Sam Bernhardt, Food & Water Action Political Director
“Clarence Lam has been a champion for the people of Maryland, working tirelessly to protect Maryland’s families from harmful pollution. He has proven himself willing to take on the biggest polluting industries, no matter how powerful they are. We know he will use that same energy to be a champion for the American people as a member of Congress.”
Ned Carey, Retired Delegate (District 31A)
“Clarence and I were elected to the General Assembly together nine years ago. During that time, I’ve seen him consistently hold our state agencies accountable by asking the tough questions. As we’ve toured parts of North County first hand, I also know that—like Congressman Sarbanes—he’s committed to making sure constituent services remains a top priority for our district.”
Wendy Royalty, MSW, former Vice President of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Maryland
“Clarence has been a champion for expanding access to reproductive healthcare. I’ve known him for over a decade and have been impressed that he’s sponsored numerous bills that allowed more people to get covered by Medicaid, gave women greater access to abortion care, and made it easier to obtain contraceptives. Senator Lam has consistently been a strong advocate for women‘s health and abortion care”
Gary Simmons, Delegate (District 12B)
“Clarence and I have a great partnership serving the residents of North County, and he’s always there for you. I’ve seen him work incredibly hard for our constituents while in the Senate, and that’s why I’m proud to endorse him to be our next Congressman.”
Mitch Jones, Long-Time Environmental Activist
“Senator Lam is a tremendous advocate for an environment that will support the health of all Marylanders. His record of legislation aimed at cleaning up runoff into the Chesapeake Bay, improving air quality around factory farms along the shore, eliminating the use of cancer-causing pesticides, and supporting reductions in greenhouse gasses all demonstrate his unwavering commitment to fighting deep-pocketed industry lobbyists in order to protect our environment—not just when it’s easy or convenient, but all of the time.”
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Issues

Climate

As a preventive medicine physician, Clarence is acutely aware of the impact of the environment on public health, particularly on the marginalized communities hardest hit by climate change. He knows there needs to be immediate, bold action on the climate crisis to ensure a healthy future for all Marylanders. In Congress, Clarence would work to combat climate change by supporting policies that achieve carbon neutrality, reduce greenhouse gasses, and strengthen environmental protections.

Clarence has championed key environmental legislation in the Maryland General Assembly. As a member of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Clarence worked to pass the strongest version possible of the Climate Solutions Now Act, which includes provisions that require the state to reduce its carbon footprint by over 60% by 2031 and be carbon neutral by 2045.

He has served as the primary sponsor of various environmental bills that have strengthened protections for Marylanders, including legislation to reduce the environmental impact of state buildings, ban the use of mercury and lead in the trucking industry, and to prohibit the use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. 

Clarence has and will continue to prioritize environmental justice. As the legislature’s previous representative on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, he has been a vocal advocate for policies to support the Marylanders most impacted by past environmental harms, such as communities disproportionately impacted by large industry and rural communities with unique water safety and air quality needs.

Clarence has championed key environmental legislation in the Maryland General Assembly. As a member of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Clarence worked to pass the strongest version possible of the Climate Solutions Now Act, which includes provisions that require the state to reduce its carbon footprint by over 60% by 2031 and be carbon neutral by 2045.

He has served as the primary sponsor of various environmental bills that have strengthened protections for Marylanders, including legislation to reduce the environmental impact of state buildings, ban the use of mercury and lead in the trucking industry, and to prohibit the use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. 

Clarence has and will continue to prioritize environmental justice. As the legislature’s previous representative on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, he has been a vocal advocate for policies to support the Marylanders most impacted by past environmental harms, such as communities disproportionately impacted by large industry and rural communities with unique water safety and air quality needs.

Reproductive Healthcare

Clarence believes that access to abortion care is a core tenant of bodily and medical autonomy. As a physician, Clarence has supported countless patients in making healthcare decisions and he knows that patients are best positioned to direct their own care – not politicians. In Congress, Clarence will work to codify a women’s right to choose into federal law. 

Clarence has long been committed to ensuring women have continued and readily available access to reproductive health services. Years prior to the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, Clarence was working to prepare Maryland to protect patients in a post-Roe world. 

He passed groundbreaking legislation that made it easier for pregnant Marylanders to sign up for insurance and Medicaid, expanded access to emergency contraception, and expanded the availability of nurse midwives. Each of these bills laid the groundwork for the 2022 Abortion Care Access Act, which ensured that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decisions, Marylanders will always have access to abortion care.

Clarence also served as a sponsor on a bill creating a 2024 ballot measure affirming the right to reproductive freedom. During the 2024 legislative session, Clarence will be the primary sponsor for legislation strengthening the state’s abortion care shield law to ensure that states like Texas or Florida cannot go after Maryland patients or providers.

Clarence has long been committed to ensuring women have continued and readily available access to reproductive health services. Years prior to the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, Clarence was working to prepare Maryland to protect patients in a post-Roe world. 

He passed groundbreaking legislation that made it easier for pregnant Marylanders to sign up for insurance and Medicaid, expanded access to emergency contraception, and expanded the availability of nurse midwives. Each of these bills laid the groundwork for the 2022 Abortion Care Access Act, which ensured that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decisions, Marylanders will always have access to abortion care.

Clarence also served as a sponsor on a bill creating a 2024 ballot measure affirming the right to reproductive freedom. During the 2024 legislative session, Clarence will be the primary sponsor for legislation strengthening the state’s abortion care shield law to ensure that states like Texas or Florida cannot go after Maryland patients or providers.

Gun Violence

As a parent, Clarence is deeply troubled by the growth of gun violence in our schools and community, and he has consistently pushed for legislation to keep our communities safe. He recognizes Congress needs to step up to do more, and he will support a renewed ban on assault rifles, universal background checks, extended waiting periods to purchase firearms, the reigning in of conceal and carry permits, and the elimination of liability protections for gun manufacturers.  

Throughout his time in the General Assembly, Clarence has sponsored and supported a variety of important gun safety measures, including requiring background checks for all firearm sales, keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators and other high-risk individuals, and requiring firearms in the home be inaccessible to children.

During the 2023 legislative session, Clarence was a sponsor of legislation to respond to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. This bill ensured that Maryland continued to have a gun license system consistent with the new decision, and prohibited guns in sensitive places such as schools and daycare centers. Since courts have continued to chip away at reasonable gun laws, it is essential that Congress takes action to protect Americans from gun violence – at a minimum, Congress must repeal the federal ban on suing gun manufacturers.

As a public health expert, Clarence knows that the causes of gun violence are multifaceted. Since being elected, Clarence has supported legislation to increase penalties for repeat violent gun offenders and has also pushed for increased investment in proven violence prevention programs to avert violence before it occurs or spreads. Additionally, Clarence has been a leader on the expansion of school-based health centers, which are integral to supporting the mental health needs of our students.

Throughout his time in the General Assembly, Clarence has sponsored and supported a variety of important gun safety measures, including requiring background checks for all firearm sales, keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators and other high-risk individuals, and requiring firearms in the home be inaccessible to children.

During the 2023 legislative session, Clarence was a sponsor of legislation to respond to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. This bill ensured that Maryland continued to have a gun license system consistent with the new decision, and prohibited guns in sensitive places such as schools and daycare centers. Since courts have continued to chip away at reasonable gun laws, it is essential that Congress takes action to protect Americans from gun violence – at a minimum, Congress must repeal the federal ban on suing gun manufacturers.

As a public health expert, Clarence knows that the causes of gun violence are multifaceted. Since being elected, Clarence has supported legislation to increase penalties for repeat violent gun offenders and has also pushed for increased investment in proven violence prevention programs to avert violence before it occurs or spreads. Additionally, Clarence has been a leader on the expansion of school-based health centers, which are integral to supporting the mental health needs of our students.

Healthcare

As the only physician in the Maryland State Senate, Clarence has led the way on expanding access to healthcare and ensuring patients get the care and medications they need. He believes that healthcare is a human right and that no individual should be denied the healthcare that they need because they can’t afford it. In Congress, Clarence will continue to support measures that make it easier for patients to enroll in health insurance, curtail the rising costs of prescription medications, expand access to telehealth services, support parity and greater benefits for mental health and substance use programs, eliminate surprise medical billing, increase the number of primary care providers, reduce emergency room wait times, and address the growing gaps in health disparities.

Clarence continues to practice clinically and sees patients every week, where he hears about the struggles that families have in finding a primary care provider and paying for their prescription drugs. 

In the State Senate, Clarence has championed many bills that have made it easier for pregnant women to sign up for health insurance, reigned in the costs of prescription medications, expanded healthcare access to thousands of Marylanders, and eliminated bureaucratic red tape that stood in the way of patients getting the care they needed. 

As the legislature’s leading voice in the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Clarence’s advocacy led the Maryland Department of Health to establish mass vaccination sites, create a one-stop-shop to locate vaccines, and address health disparities in vaccine distribution.

Clarence continues to practice clinically and sees patients every week, where he hears about the struggles that families have in finding a primary care provider and paying for their prescription drugs. 

In the State Senate, Clarence has championed many bills that have made it easier for pregnant women to sign up for health insurance, reigned in the costs of prescription medications, expanded healthcare access to thousands of Marylanders, and eliminated bureaucratic red tape that stood in the way of patients getting the care they needed. 

As the legislature’s leading voice in the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Clarence’s advocacy led the Maryland Department of Health to establish mass vaccination sites, create a one-stop-shop to locate vaccines, and address health disparities in vaccine distribution.

Education

Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District is among the most educated in the country—the result of a world-class statewide education system. But unfortunately, children across the country do not have the same access to high-quality public schools or affordable higher education. Clarence has worked tirelessly to expand educational opportunities across Maryland, and in Congress, he will do the same. He will support legislation expanding funding for public schools, including for educators and critical infrastructure repairs; the creation of universal early childhood education; and programs to make college more affordable for all.

Maryland has recently undergone an ambitious review of the complete K-12 public school system through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. In the State Senate, Clarence was proud to have served on the committee that advanced this landmark piece of legislation to the floor. His vote in favor of the measure helped ensure billions of new dollars would be invested in key facets of the education system, including educators, early childhood education, special education, programs for limited English proficient students, and services to guarantee equal opportunity for all students, regardless of background.

Clarence also recognizes the importance in not only having quality educators and materials but in having quality academic buildings. That’s why he supported the passage of the Build to Learn Act, to appropriate billions of dollars of additional funding for the building of new schools and critical renovations of existing schools.

Not only as an individual with outstanding student loan debt but also as a father with hopes of seeing his daughter attend college in the future, Clarence is concerned with the rising cost of college education. Year-over-year costs are ballooning, forcing more and more individuals seeking a higher education to make the tough choice of either a lifetime of debt or foregoing college altogether. In Congress, Clarence will seek to not only address those borrowers with existing debt by supporting loan forgiveness programs, but also help to make college more affordable by supporting increased funding for Pell grants and more targeted investments for colleges that lower their tuition costs.

Maryland has recently undergone an ambitious review of the complete K-12 public school system through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. In the State Senate, Clarence was proud to have served on the committee that advanced this landmark piece of legislation to the floor. His vote in favor of the measure helped ensure billions of new dollars would be invested in key facets of the education system, including educators, early childhood education, special education, programs for limited English proficient students, and services to guarantee equal opportunity for all students, regardless of background.

Clarence also recognizes the importance in not only having quality educators and materials but in having quality academic buildings. That’s why he supported the passage of the Build to Learn Act, to appropriate billions of dollars of additional funding for the building of new schools and critical renovations of existing schools.

Not only as an individual with outstanding student loan debt but also as a father with hopes of seeing his daughter attend college in the future, Clarence is concerned with the rising cost of college education. Year-over-year costs are ballooning, forcing more and more individuals seeking a higher education to make the tough choice of either a lifetime of debt or foregoing college altogether. In Congress, Clarence will seek to not only address those borrowers with existing debt by supporting loan forgiveness programs, but also help to make college more affordable by supporting increased funding for Pell grants and more targeted investments for colleges that lower their tuition costs.

Economy

Clarence sees that the economy isn’t working for all people. Nothing underscored that more than the Covid-19 pandemic, when the rich were getting richer while too many households were struggling to put food on the table. Inflation and rising living costs have continued to plague far too many, all while those with the most resources don’t pay their fair share. In Congress, Clarence will support policies that cut wealth inequality and give working families more support. He will vote in favor of legislation that makes the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.

Clarence recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of Maryland’s economy. That’s why he sponsored and passed legislation that cut through bureaucratic red tape to make it easier for minority-owned businesses to qualify for state and local contracts.  

Clarence recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of Maryland’s economy. That’s why he sponsored and passed legislation that cut through bureaucratic red tape to make it easier for minority-owned businesses to qualify for state and local contracts.  

Equal Rights

The United States is a melting pot, with a myriad of different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations all represented. Clarence understands the importance of ensuring that all people in our country are treated equally under the law. To that end, in Congress, he will support greater protections for marginalized communities, including the Equality Act. He will also support an overhaul of the criminal justice system to help reverse decades of over-policing and over-sentencing that have led to a disproportionate number of African Americans in prison for crimes that have carried weaker sentences or no sentences for their white counterparts.

In the General Assembly, Clarence has worked tirelessly in support of marginalized communities. He’s sought to strengthen protections for the LGBTQ+ community, including sponsoring legislation that would repeal outdated laws that do nothing more than criminalize LGBTQ+ people. Clarence has also sponsored legislation to eliminate the legal defense of gender or sexual orientation as a justification for hurting someone.

Clarence recognizes the importance of public health within these communities and has sponsored legislation to improve access to medications that prevent and treat HIV as well as legislation that will increase protections for gender-affirming care.

Criminal justice reform has also been a priority issue for Clarence, and he will continue to make it one in Congress. In the General Assembly, he sponsored legislation aimed at reducing racially-biased policing. This includes legislation to prohibit the racially-biased practice of law enforcement pulling drivers over for hanging an object from their windshield’s rear-view mirror and legislation to increase police accountability, as well as supporting a repeal of the law enforcement officers bill of rights that have often shielded against the consequences of bad policing.

Clarence will continue to support policies like this in Congress, including ones to reduce the three-strike penalty, reexamine mandatory minimums, and end the disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

In the General Assembly, Clarence has worked tirelessly in support of marginalized communities. He’s sought to strengthen protections for the LGBTQ+ community, including sponsoring legislation that would repeal outdated laws that do nothing more than criminalize LGBTQ+ people. Clarence has also sponsored legislation to eliminate the legal defense of gender or sexual orientation as a justification for hurting someone.

Clarence recognizes the importance of public health within these communities and has sponsored legislation to improve access to medications that prevent and treat HIV as well as legislation that will increase protections for gender-affirming care.

Criminal justice reform has also been a priority issue for Clarence, and he will continue to make it one in Congress. In the General Assembly, he sponsored legislation aimed at reducing racially-biased policing. This includes legislation to prohibit the racially-biased practice of law enforcement pulling drivers over for hanging an object from their windshield’s rear-view mirror and legislation to increase police accountability, as well as supporting a repeal of the law enforcement officers bill of rights that have often shielded against the consequences of bad policing.

Clarence will continue to support policies like this in Congress, including ones to reduce the three-strike penalty, reexamine mandatory minimums, and end the disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

Democracy and Voting

The events of January 6th underscored just how fragile our democracy can be as well as the need to do everything in our power to protect it. Clarence recognizes the importance of working to enact policies that strengthen our democracy, not weaken it. In Congress, he will look to expand and protect the right to vote via the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. He would also continue the work of Congressman John Sarbanes and support the For the People Act to strengthen voting rights and election security, eliminate partisan gerrymandering, and help to get money out of politics.

Clarence has been a champion for voting rights in his time in the State Senate. He has supported legislation to allow for electronic and same-day voter registration, to increase early voting sites, and to expand voting access to Marylanders with felony convictions while on parole.

In addition to that, he has led the multi-year effort in the Senate to expand elected offices eligible for public financing and to replace the General Assembly vacancy appointment process with special elections. Clarence promises to continue to fight for free and fair elections and expanded voting rights in Congress.

Clarence has been a champion for voting rights in his time in the State Senate. He has supported legislation to allow for electronic and same-day voter registration, to increase early voting sites, and to expand voting access to Marylanders with felony convictions while on parole.

In addition to that, he has led the multi-year effort in the Senate to expand elected offices eligible for public financing and to replace the General Assembly vacancy appointment process with special elections. Clarence promises to continue to fight for free and fair elections and expanded voting rights in Congress.

Immigration

Clarence is the child of immigrants and the opportunities that were afforded to his parents and his grandparents paved the way for where he is today. He recognizes the importance of ensuring that all individuals seeking the American Dream have a pathway to achieve it. Clarence supports comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. 

Throughout his time in the General Assembly, Clarence has sponsored and supported various pieces of legislation that helped the immigrant community. In 2019, he sponsored successful legislation to expand the Maryland Dream Act and to ensure that its in-state tuition benefits would continue regardless of efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

In addition to that, Clarence has supported improving healthcare access for all Marylanders regardless of immigration status. He sponsored the Healthy Babies Equity Act in 2022 that successfully expanded pregnant and postpartum healthcare coverage for those who are uninsured, including undocumented individuals.

Throughout his time in the General Assembly, Clarence has sponsored and supported various pieces of legislation that helped the immigrant community. In 2019, he sponsored successful legislation to expand the Maryland Dream Act and to ensure that its in-state tuition benefits would continue regardless of efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

In addition to that, Clarence has supported improving healthcare access for all Marylanders regardless of immigration status. He sponsored the Healthy Babies Equity Act in 2022 that successfully expanded pregnant and postpartum healthcare coverage for those who are uninsured, including undocumented individuals.

Accomplishments

Public Health

  • 2023, Reigned in Health Insurance Companies: SB515/HB785 strengthened the requirement that insurance companies defer to a patient’s provider on medication decisions and limited the ability of insurance companies to require patients to undergo step therapy (fail first) protocols before paying for a prescribed drug.

 

  • 2022, Made Insulin Affordable for Patients with Diabetes: SB353/HB1397 capped the cost of insulin at no more than $1 per day for those covered by most health insurance plans. 

 

  • 2022, Expanded Pregnant and Postpartum Healthcare Coverage for Undocumented Persons: SB778/HB1080, the Healthy Babies Equity Act, guaranteed one year of prenatal and postpartum healthcare coverage to pregnant women, regardless of immigration status. 

 

  • 2019, Helped Pregnant Women Access Health Insurance: SB36/HB127 ensured that previously uninsured pregnant women would have access to health insurance by defining pregnancy as a “qualifying life event,” allowing them to enroll in coverage outside of the traditional open enrollment period.

  • 2018, Helped People with Mental Health Conditions: HB33 lifted the ban on voluntary admission to mental health facilities for individuals living under guardianship that are facing mental health crises.

Education

  • 2020, Banned Lunch Shaming: SB760/HB1173 prohibited schools from engaging in practices that punish or shame students who cannot afford to pay for their meals, as well as required school systems to take measures aimed at preventing students from accumulating unpaid meal debt.

  • 2019, Improved Child Health and Well-Being: SB541/HB486 strengthened employment background checks to ensure that individuals who sexually abuse children are not employed in schools.

  • 2019, Increased Access to Higher Education: SB537/HB262 extended in-state college tuition rates to more Marylanders.

  • 2016, Increased the Availability of Affordable School Buses for Maryland Head Start Programs: HB681 expanded the definition of school vehicle to increase the number of affordable school buses eligible to be used for Head Start programs.

Environment

  • 2023, Reduced the Environmental Impact of State Buildings: SB92/HB6 created a requirement that all new state buildings comply with updated and stronger environmental impact rules.

  • 2020, Protected Public Health and the Environment: SB300/HB229 banned the use of chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide, as well as created a fund to aid farmers in transitioning away from its use.

  • 2019, Protected our Environment: SB249/HB277 enabled the Governor to enter into cross-state agreements aimed at reducing pollution from transportation-based sources like cars, buses, and trucks.

LGBTQ+

  • 2023, Enhanced Protections for LGBTQ+ Marylanders: SB54/HB131 repealed outdated and unconstitutional state statutes that had been used to criminalize the LGBTQ+ community.

  • 2022, Expanded Access to High-quality HIV Prevention: SB19/HB229 authorized Maryland pharmacists to administer new long-acting HIV prevention injectables.

  • 2021, Improved Protections Against Violence: SB46/HB231 prohibited using a victim’s gender, sexual orientation, or membership in another protected class as a legal justification for violence.

  • 2020, Repealed Outdated Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws: SB735/HB81 repealed from the Maryland statute outdated, duplicative, and poorly defined sex offense laws that were used to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Jobs and the Economy

  • 2023, Modernized the State Labor Relations Process: SB397/HB984 standardized the rules regarding state employee unions to guarantee that all employees hold the same protections regardless of where they work in state government.

  • 2023, Protected Taxpayer Dollars: SB773 required state government agencies to increase oversight of state contracts to ensure that vendors are not taking advantage of the state and Maryland taxpayers.

  • 2023, Supported Small and Minority Owned Businesses: SB514 expanded access to state and local government contracts for minority owned businesses by streamlining the minority business enterprise (MBE) certification process.

Maryland's Third Congressional District