We are now two-thirds of the way through the 90-Day General Assembly Session and one week until crossover -- by which time all bills must be passed through the House and Senate to "cross over" to the other chamber. The Environment and Transportation Committee, of which I am Vice–Chair, has been very busy. We have had a record 329 bills to hear this session, many of which have been very contentious.
I've heard from hundreds of constituents on a variety of bills this year, particularly on the following:
HB 1325 Hydraulic Fracturing-Prohibition: I heard from dozens of constituents asking me to support this bill. I was a cosponsor and am happy to report that the House approved it on Friday, March 10 by 97-40 -- a veto-proof majority. Although there were amendments proposed to turn the ban into a moratorium, I believe a complete ban is needed. The public health and environmental problems caused by fracking are too great to risk allowing this industry in our state.
HB 978 Protect Our Schools: I heard from close to 100 constituents supporting this bill, which reduces the over-emphasis on standardized test scores in our schools. This bill will also preserve local control in Maryland regarding low-performing schools. It's an important bill that will move Maryland schools in a more positive direction in the future. It passed the House 91-46.
HB514 EmPOWER Maryland Program: District 11 constituents have consistently and vocally supported programs that support energy efficiency and clean energy. This bill places into statute a policy of the Maryland Public Service Commission to require energy companies to provide energy efficiency and conservation programs to customers to reduce energy use in Maryland by 2 percent per year. This bill passed the house 92-46 and is now in the Senate.
HB 266 Financial Aid-Reduction Restrictions: The is a landmark bill that will prevent public colleges and universities from reducing their institutional aid to students when a student still has financial need and obtains additional grant aid. The legislature is close to passing it and once it does, Maryland will be the first state to protect students from award displacement. Many thanks to Central Scholarship, an Owings Mills-based nonprofit that provides $1 million in financial aid to aspiring college students each year and who was the bill's main proponent.
HB 1285 Passenger Seat Belt Requirement-Primary Offense: This bill will save lives on our roads by requiring all passengers to wear a seat belt and allowing police officers to ticket backseat passengers not wearing one as a primary, rather than a secondary, offense. This past Friday, the Environment and Transportation Committee heard testimony from police officers, public health advocates, and others who have first-hand experience at accident sites and in hospitals when backseat passengers were unbuckled.
Last month, the Baltimore Sun had an editorial supporting this bill, which you can read here.
Public Transportation Workshops
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance will be holding workshops on the critical role of public transportation to neighborhoods. Information about the workshops, which will run April 26th through June 7th, is available at http://www.cmtalliance.org/transportation-101. Please rsvp for these workshops by April 5.
Visitors to Annapolis
My staff and I have met with a number of constituents this past month from the following groups:
- American Heart Association
- Students Taking Action for Change (STAC) Program
- Baltimore Jewish Council
- Community Development Network
- Physical Therapists
- Students from CCBC, MICA, and Stevenson
- Maryland Catholic Conference
- North Oak Seniors
- Sierra Club
- MD Families for Safe Birth
- Humane Society
- Healthcare for the Homeless
We also celebrated Maryland Teacher of the Year
Athanasia Kyriakakos, a resident of District 11 who teaches at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore City.
Snow Storm Help
Baltimore County Government wants everyone to be ready for the upcoming storm. The following is from a Baltimore County Press Release:
- For the most recent updates from the Department of Public Works and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management regarding the storm, follow the County website at .www.Baltimorecountymd.gov/stormfighter
Note: Citizens who do not want to report via a mobile device or computer, may still call the County’s customer service phone line at 410-887-3560. The customer service representative will enter the information into the exact form that is available to citizens online.
- NEW THIS SEASON: Citizens may now report storm related issues directly online without having to call the customer service hotline. Enter information at www.Baltimorecountymd.gov/stormfighter.
- In the case of a medical emergency, people should call 911.
In severe storms, citizens are asked to:
- Make sure all prescriptions are available and up to date.
- Please check on vulnerable elderly neighbors and relatives and make arrangements for their safety during the storm.
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I am proud to be representing you in Annapolis and to be a part of the District 11 legislative team. Please contact me at 410-841-3527 or email@example.com if I can ever be of assistance.