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Liz Bobo
Maryland State Delegate for
Legislative District 12B

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Hello Again from Annapolis to All of You Back Home

March 8, 2013

Wednesday was a very unusual day here in Annapolis.  We went forward with scheduled legislative work, though very few citizens came to participate due to what the staff called “Snowmageddon.”  The halls of the state house and the legislative office buildings were virtually bare, in contrast to very large numbers who have come to their state capital in recent weeks to exercise their democratic right to participate in their government.  As long as some of those recent days have seemed, I very much missed seeing so many people participate.  I was reminded of how precious our democratic form of government is, and also how fragile.  I have a renewed determination to do my part to tend and protect it for those who will come after us.  I am grateful for so many of you who take the time and effort to do the same.

When I returned home from Annapolis last Friday night, I noticed that the window blind on a front upstairs window of our neighbors’ townhouse had been pulled all the way down.  For several weeks this particular blind, in a room where Lloyd’s and my dear friend, David Lyons, lived out the last weeks of his life, had been raised about eight inches from the window sill.  Seeing it down all the way, I instinctively knew David’s life on this earth had ended.  The weekend before, David’s wife, Mary, had given us the opportunity to spend about fifteen minutes with him, one on either side of his bed. He was peaceful, clearly recognized us, and had a few very personal words for each of us. His words to me related to my sister, Martha, who fourteen years ago spent the last months of her life mostly in a hospital bed in our home.  She had leukemia, and David occasionally came to visit her.  They both had a deep love of reading the classics, and his visits were a great bright spot for her.  At his bedside I asked David to say “hi” to Martha for me, and he replied without hesitation, “Oh Elizabeth, Martha and I are going dancing.”  Then he turned his attention toward Lloyd and said, “Place 5 on 5 in the 5th.”  Some afternoon soon Lloyd will go to the Laurel racetrack and follow David’s instructions.  The two of them went to the track together a few times a year.  This time I will go with Lloyd, and we will celebrate the beautiful life of a man who brought joy to all who knew him.  We are blessed to be included among those fortunate human beings. David paid close attention to public policy at both the state and national level.  I will truly miss his input on a broad array of issues that come before the Maryland General Assembly.

 Delegation Bill

At the beginning of this legislative session, the Chairpersons of Howard County’s Senate and House delegations prepared legislation increasing the maximum allowable sound level emanating from the Merriweather Post Pavilion. After a public hearing in Ellicott City where opponents and supporters of the proposal testified, the county delegation to Annapolis voted for this bill with an amendment which set the decibel level at 95.  The vote was ten to one, I being the one in opposition.  At our meeting, before voting, I said that I place a very high value on Merriweatheras an asset to our community.  I also said that a change in the law may be necessary, though I believe it would be better for everyone involved if the county, rather than the state, set and enforced the limit.  The state has no ability to monitor noise regulation due to budget cuts several years ago.

Howard County Government, on the other hand, is closer to the issue and more familiar with the surrounding neighborhood, both present and future.  The county also has the records of past noise monitoring over the years. I doubt if any of us in the county’s delegation to Annapolis has much understanding of the science of noise impact, let alone what a certain db level means in perceived loudness. Any limit selected may need to be adjusted, and the legislature is out of session until next January, whereas the county council could introduce legislation to make adjustments with just a month's notice. For these reasons, I believe it would have been preferable for the state to pass legislation giving Howard County the authority to set the noise limits since they would be  best suited  to monitor, enforce, and regulate it.

News articles related to major issues in this legislative session

Washington Post: Standing up for statewide bag tax in Maryland

Washington Post: Maryland might become first to enact statewide 5-cent bag charge

The issue covered in this Post article and editorial is about as simple as can be, and yet it can have a very significant environmental impact.

The Sun: Costco CEO joins effort to raise Maryland's minimum wage; Maryland Senate committee to take up wage bill Thursday

How uplifting to read about a CEO of a large business supporting financial help for those at the bottom of the income scale.  I am a sponsor of the bill to increase the minimum wage in Maryland.  This public policy would actually benefit our state’s overall economy since the recipients will need to put it immediately out into the spending stream.

The Sun: Regents violate open meetings act, but state has little recourse; Compliance board admonishes board for flimsy excuses but has no power to levy punishment

The Maryland Reporter: House approves changes to Open Meetings Act

Nothing like a meeting regarding a college sports team to get the attention of the public on the importance of transparency in government.  We all say we want transparency, but when it comes time to put teeth into the law, the fervor of some fades rapidly.

The Maryland Reporter, an electronic newspaper published by Len Lazarick, former editor of the Columbia Flier, covered what I said on the floor of the House of Delegates this week in opposition to HB331 Open Meetings Act-Violations and Penalties.  I have been a long standing proponent of open meetings and am very concerned that this bill actually takes a step backwards in removing from Maryland law the provision for a potential personal penalty for a member of a public body who violates the law by consenting to close a meeting that is required by law to be open to the public.

The Maryland League of Women Voters took a very strong position against removing this personal penalty.  They had a significant impact even though we didn’t carry the day.

The Sun: How come we don't hear about 'conservative media bias'? Tom Schaller says supposed liberal slants and rampant political correctness in the news are red herrings

I found this editorial by Tom Schaller quite thought provoking, particularly his juxtaposition of social issues with “war and peace, taxes and spending, and government regulation.”

The Gazette: Our say: Legislature’s voting sessions should be streamed

I agree strongly with Senator Frosh on the need for voting sessions in our legislative committees in the Maryland Legislature.   A very large portion of our legislative work takes place in these committee voting sessions.  Since both the bills themselves and any proposed amendments are debated in this forum, it presents the best opportunity to gain an understanding of the individual legislator’s opinions and beliefs.

Be well.

Liz

Delegate Liz Bobo
Elizabeth.Bobo@house.state.md.us
Annapolis Office  410-841-3205
District Office   410-997-2626

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