2012 Legislative Session
December 11, 2011
The Howard County Delegation held its annual public hearing on proposed local legislation on Tuesday, November 29th, at the County Office Building in Ellicott City. Here is the link for the bills with a short description. Most of the bills are for bonds to fund projects in our county: http://www.co.ho.md.us/statedelegation.htm
This will not be an easy legislative session. We will have many difficult economic issues before us.
On December 6 I spoke at the Wellness Center of Howard County General Hospital to a group representing various organizations around the state that provide home visitation services to families. The programs focus on at risk children's health and readiness for school. We spoke about how their work relates to the big economic picture since raising healthy, well prepared kids is not only wise and caring from a social perspective, but from an economic one as well. During the session I believe it will be very important for us to keep this in mind as it relates to many human services.
Following are links to a few recent articles from the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Daily Record which are pertinent to the work that will come before the legislature. The first of these articles covers the governor's upcoming legislative package. The others address the Intercounty Connector (ICC), Military Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and the mortgage foreclosure crisis. I chose these topics because I believe they reflect the very serious need for us to realign our budgetary planning with a more long term, inclusive and realistic perspective.
Governor's legislative package: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/nov/14/omalley-ready-for-tough-assembly-sells/print/
Post on ICC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/icc-puts-strain-on-marylands-transportation-funds/2011/11/15/gIQAb2k7iN_story.html
Daily Record on ICC: http://thedailyrecord.com/2011/12/01/editorial-the-icc-conundrum/
Post on BRAC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/commuting/pentagon-ig-slams-army-decision-to-move-workers-to-mark-center-in-alexandria/2011/11/28/gIQAlW3rEO_print.html
Sun on mortgage foreclosures: http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/real-estate/bs-bz-maryland-mortgage-delinquencies-20111117,0,3403116.story
House Environmental Matters Committee Planning Meeting for the Upcoming Legislative Session:
On December 14, this committee on which I serve will meet at the Governor Harry Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology in Queenstown on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Committee members will review and get updates on current issues relevant to the various sub-committees, including Land Use and Ethics, which I chair. These issues include sustainable growth, natural resources, open space, fracking or Marcellus Shale (you may have seen the Academy Award-winning Documentary on this subject). Since housing and real property fall under the purview of our committee, we will be briefed on the ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis and the devastating effect it is having on families in our communities. Several task forces which were created by legislation during the last legislative session will give their reports on various environmental issues and we will hear from the Secretaries of several Departments of State Government (Natural Resources, Agriculture, Housing & Community Development, Environment, Transportation, and Planning). Clearly it will be a full day spent in preparation for the legislative session in January.
Liz's responsibilities in the
Maryland House of Delegates:
Environmental Matters Committee
Chairperson, Land Use and Ethics Subcommittee
Program Open Space
Agricultural Land Preservation
Rules and Executive Nominations
legislature, a bill must make it out of committee by a majority vote before
it goes to the floor of the House of Delegates for a vote by the entire body.
There are 141 delegates and 6 standing committees, each with 20-some members.
Liz's committee considers bills relating to the following policy areas:
Clean Air and Water - Liz is a major spokesperson for legislation
providing for clean water and air, including reducing damaging erosion
and nutrients. For this, she has received a 100% rating and endorsement
from a coalition of environmental advocacy groups in
, the League of Conservation
Voters.Agricultural Preservation - Liz has successfully promoted public policy to
preserve our precious agricultural land throughout her years of public
Open Space Preservation - Liz's committee has oversight responsibility
for regulations regarding natural resources and open space. The need for
further funding and stronger regulations restricting disposal of open
space and parkland has been one of her top priorities during all of her
years in public office.
Natural Resources - Liz was a sponsor of the storm water
management bill which ensured the cleanup of our streams, rivers, and
Housing - Liz has been a long-time advocate of affordable housing and
considers it a critically important issue in
Historic Preservation - Liz has sponsored various legislation
related to historic preservation and is an active board member of
Governmental Ethics - Liz believes strongly in reducing conflicts
of interest for legislators and their relationships with lobbyists. She
is a lead sponsor in this area.
Clean Cars - Liz was the lead
sponsor of the landmark bill requiring more hybrid cars to be available
for purchase by
Motor Vehicles - Liz is a strong sponsor and voice for motor
vehicle safety through seat belts, motorcycle helmets and enforcement of
strong laws against aggressive driving, speeding and running red lights.
Liz is also involved in the following
issues that are not before her committee:
- Health Care - Liz sponsors and supports legislation providing stronger
rights for consumers in managed care including a bill that prohibited
the sale of Maryland CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to a for-profit
company. She also sponsors and supports legislation making it easier for
seniors to buy prescription drugs and more difficult for our young
people to have access to tobacco.
- Campaign Finance - Liz is a leading Democrat for strong
campaign finance reform. Traditionally in national and state
governments, it is the minority party that takes the lead on these
issues. She was not appointed lead legislator, but assumed that position
by sponsoring bills, by her voting record and by speaking forcefully and
- Gun Control - Liz co-sponsored and voted for gun-control legislation. She
believes restrictions need to be even stronger.
- Family Planning and Choice - Liz co-sponsored and voted for legislation
to allow all
women freedom of choice.
- Human Rights - Liz is a leading sponsor and a spokesperson on the floor of
- Credit Cards - During three past legislative sessions, Liz sponsored legislation
which would have prohibited credit card companies from offering college
students gifts on campus to lure them into filling out card applications
– some with a high permitted balance. The bill met with strong
opposition from the companies and was defeated in committee. Just recently a federal Credit Card Reform Law was passed to accomplish
this and other consumer protection goals. It will go into effect
on February 22 of this year.
- Financial Institutions - Liz has been a leading consumer voice on
banking and mortgage issues in the House of Delegates. Liz sponsored
legislation that set limits on fees charged by check cashing agencies.
Another one of Liz’s bills regulated “pay day lending"
which had been charging fees much in excess of the State's usury limit.
During the 2003 session, the Maryland General Assembly passed
Liz’s bill, which regulated
debt management companies. Such firms charged consumers excessive fees,
frequently leaving them in worse financial condition than before they
began "managing" their debt.
- Public Service Commission - Liz has worked closely with the Commission’s
People's Counsel by sponsoring and bringing to passage legislation to
rein in telemarketing. The People's Counsel has also approached Liz to
work on consumer issues related to utility deregulation, which has
resulted in substantial problems for consumers in our state.
Liz's thoughts on redevelopment in Downtown Columbia:
In October of 2006, Liz publicly expressed her
agreement with the position paper of the Coalition for
’s Downtown whose
spokesperson is Alan Klein, from Harper’s Choice (http://www.coalitionforcolumbiasdowntown.org/VisionColumbia.html).
You can see that their Position Paper calls for more residential units,
restaurants, coffee shops, retail, cultural facilities, public gathering
places, and other amenities for the community, as well as
environmental sustainability, a full spectrum of housing, and a human
scale to development. For more than three years, Liz has repeatedly
expressed her support of the concepts in CCD’s position in the
press, her public talks, and numerous communications both written and
electronic. The paper withstood the test of time very well during
the numerous public discussions over the years. Liz believes the County’s
legislative product would have been a significantly better plan had it
incorporated more of the group’s recommendations.
To learn more about
the Maryland General Assembly
and to find specifics
about the bills
Liz has worked on,
visit the Maryland
Home Page at http://mlis.state.md.us/
See 2012 schedule
Md. League of
weekly Hot List
Md. Legislative Services
The Legislative Wrap-up