Maryland State Delegate for
Legislative District 12B
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This will be the 19th Legislative Update meeting that I have held since I went to the legislature in 1995. Next year I will hold my last one since I will not be running for office again. The lively, respectful discussions we have held on public policy including human rights, economic and social justice, the Chesapeake Bay, education, and health care at these meetings have been some of the highlights of my life in public service. All of those topics are again before us in the current legislative session in Annapolis.
I would love it if you would join us this year at Kahler Hall.
Hello Again from Annapolis to All of You Back Home
Last Monday the Association of Community Services held its annual legislative forum with the Howard County Delegation. As you most likely know, ACS is an umbrella organization of Howard County non-profits that provide various human services ranging from mental health to transportation to housing assistance. Those of us from the delegation who were present had a good discussion with about forty individuals associated with these non-profits. There were questions concerning the mental health aspects of preventing gun violence. Fortunately, this is also a big part of the discussions here in Annapolis. The head of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been deeply involved. The house has not yet had the public hearing on the governor’s gun regulation bill of which I am a co-sponsor. ACS distributed a pamphlet entitled “Howard County, Maryland Self Sufficiency Indicators Report,” which they prepare and which includes statistics revealing the difficulty encountered by low- income residents of our wealthy county. These statistics include data on housing, health care, and early childhood education.
The legislative session is now in full swing with long public hearings in committee every day. As of yet, we have not had many votes on the floor of the full House. That will pick up soon.
Yesterday was Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Day in Annapolis when representatives of our state’s independent colleges come to talk with legislators about bills affecting them. When I was in our small hotel in Varanasi, India, I had a serendipitous meeting during breakfast with Stanford Ungar, President of Goucher College, and his wife, Beth, who were also traveling without a tour group. Yesterday in Annapolis we had the opportunity for a brief conversation which took us both back to the deep spiritual experience of India. I am grateful to have had this chance to rekindle this spirit in the midst of some of the busiest times here in Annapolis when reflection can have such a positive impact on perspective.
Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was a beautiful sunny day here in Annapolis, and Lloyd and I found the time to walk down to the harbor for a lovely, though brief, lunch outdoors. As Zach loves to say, “Living the Dream.”
In a previous newsletter I mentioned that I am a member of the National Council of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). We recently signed off on the attached letter to President Obama urging him to “continue moving forward to rein in greenhouse gas emissions during your second term by building on the fuel efficiency standards and by finalizing the proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants and proposing standards to address our nation’s aging power plants.”
News articles related to major issues in this legislative session
In keeping with NCEL’s letter to the president, we are doing our own work here in Maryland toward the same goals.
One of the other subjects raised at our meeting with ACS on Monday was transportation. I said in response to a question that clearly we have roads and bridges here in Maryland that need attention, and that will require revenue. In the long term, though, we simply must put more of our revenues into mass transit. As long as we continue building more and more roads, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that we will have more and more congestion. Although many of us have love affairs with our cars, we need to start shifting toward transit. Currently the mass transit portion of the transportation budget is growing much slower than the roads portion. This is a tough decision that is destined to only become tougher as time goes by.As one of only 18 members of the House who voted against this gas surcharge bill, I could not agree more with Senator Rich Madeleno’s quotes in this article. How will we ever raise up those at the bottom of the income ladder if we continue to require them to help pay for big business' failure to maintain its infrastructure?
This Sun editorial relates the “absurdity” of the proposal for slots at the airport to fund our transportation. Let’s hope that the legislature sees it as absurd as well. It was so clear when voters approved casino gambling at the polls in November that more gambling proposals would follow.
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