Maryland State Delegate for
Legislative District 12B
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Hello Again from Annapolis to All of You Back Home
Yesterday, the Maryland Senate passed the gun regulation bill by a vote of 28 to 19, a wider margin than most anticipated.
As this week’s message goes out to you, the Judiciary and the Health and Government Operations Committees of the House of Delegates are conducting the public hearing on House Bill HB 294 Firearms Safety Act of 2013, of which I am a co-sponsor. This morning while walking to my office I saw dozens of people from back home participating at a rally in support of the bill. There are hundreds of individuals signed up to testify at the hearing. Please hold an image in your mind of these individuals treating each other with respect and dignity. I believe that is an essential element of our getting ourselves and our loved ones through this most controversial issue in a peaceful way.
I have mentioned in a prior weekly e-newsletter that Dionne is one of my favorite columnists. What he describes on the national scene in this article is similar to what may take place here in Annapolis.
Sanford Unger, President of Goucher College and also of the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association, paid a visit to my office in Annapolis recently. We met for the first time coincidentally when we were having breakfast in a small hotel on the bank of the Ganges in Varanasi, India. Mr. Ungar, traveling with his wife, Beth, was visiting institutions of higher learning that may host Goucher students. I and my traveling companion, Shari, had split off from our group led by Gandhi’s grandson in Delhi at the end of our tour and flew to Varanasi. Having a chance breakfast encounter with residents of Baltimore was such a clear reminder of the connectivity among all of us. Seeing Sanford again in Annapolis made me mindful of the relativity of the poverty issues we here in Maryland and the United States confront and those we observed in India. One of the aspects of Arun Gandhi’s guidance was that we traveled among the Indian people, not above them. Goucher is the only college or university in the United States that requires every undergraduate to do some study abroad, a good fit with Mr. Ungar’s background as Director of the Voice of America, host of All Things Considered on NPR, and Dean of the School of Communication at American U. We look forward to keeping in touch.
Lloyd and I are looking forward to a beautiful weekend at home in Columbia. We were reminded this week of just how fortunate we have been to live in Jim Rouse's new town when we heard the news of Van Cliburn's death. It transported us back to his magnificent performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion in the early 70's. We continue to hold hope for similar classical performances on occasion. This article from today's Washington Post shows another beautiful side of this magnificent pianist.
Link to the pictures: http://www.womenlegislatorsmd.org/gallery/
On February 22, the Maryland Senate and House met in combined session in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Procession in 1913. Marsha Wise, staff person to the Women’s Legislative Caucus, did an excellent job of organizing this event. Each of the 56 women legislators read a brief piece about the sequence of events that took place in 1913. The suffrage marchers’ pilgrimage began at 9 am in the Hudson terminal on February 12, 1913 (Lincoln’s birthday), and traveled through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. After 17 days of hiking over approximately 250 miles of mostly muddy roads and encountering everything from snowstorms to hostile hecklers, the suffragists entered Washington, D. C. on February 28.
I was very moved by the simplicity and dignity of this commemoration and filled with a deep sense of gratitude to these sisters who sacrificed so much so that we women have the right to vote today.
Each year during the legislative session, Comcast interviews each of the legislators. This year I spoke of my responsibilities as chair of the Ethics sub-committee. Clear disclosure of legislators’ financial interests is essential in avoiding conflicts of interest. Open meetings has been a focus of mine since my days in county government. Governmental bodies can so easily slip into justification for doing some of their business behind closed doors. We must be very vigilant in seeing that this doesn’t occur. Interestingly, the brightest light to shine on the open meetings issue in recent years occurred recently when the University Of Maryland Board Of Regents met behind closed doors and made the decision to move the Terps into the Big 10. Nothing like sports to catch the public’s attention.
News articles related to major issues in this legislative session
In 1988, when I was County Executive, Howard County became the first local government in the U.S. to pass legislation requiring that minors wear bike helmets when riding. Motorcyclists are now required to do the same in Maryland after many years of controversy and failed bills. One of the most effective arguments in putting this requirement for motorcyclists into law was the extremely high cost of the shock trauma units that treat accident victims who were not wearing helmets.
I have worked closely with bicycle organizations on legislation here in Annapolis. A few years ago I was the sponsor of a bill which required the Department of Transportation to include consideration of bicycles in the early stages of planning for a new road or highway. Heretofore, the practice had been to design the road and then perhaps give consideration to accommodating bicycles. This new procedure appears to be working.
Given this history, I felt torn when bicycle organizations from around the state testified at the public hearing against HB 339 Bicycle Required Use of Protective Headgear, which would require bicyclists to wear a helmet while riding. We also heard testimony from shock trauma personnel similar to what was said at hearings on motorcycle helmets a few years ago. That testimony is quite convincing. The bill has not yet come up for a vote in committee.
This is a good use of tax credits that serve the common good, in my opinion, geared to smaller businesses rather than to multi-billion dollar corporations. Brian Levine, who did the lead work on this issue, grew up in Columbia and does such a great job as vice president of the Tech Council of Maryland.
This letter to the editor of The Sun was written by a long time Columbia resident, Mike Berla, who has given countless hours during the past several years working to ensure that we in Maryland get to vote at the polls on secure voting machines. It has been very difficult to get the general public to pay attention to security problems inherent in the current system. I have worked on this issue for several years and agree with Mike’s letter.
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