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Liz Bobo
Our State Delegate
for Legislative District 12B
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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 

Statewide Issues:

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
Natural Resources
Environment

Program Open Space
Agricultural Land Preservation

Green Caucus

Rules and Executive Nominations

In Maryland 's 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 Maryland , the League of Conservation Voters.
  • Agricultural Preservation - Liz has successfully promoted public policy to preserve our precious agricultural land throughout her years of public service.
  • 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 the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Housing - Liz has been a long-time advocate of affordable housing and considers it a critically important issue in Howard County.

  • Historic Preservation - Liz has sponsored various legislation related to historic preservation and is an active board member of Preservation Howard County.

  • 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 Maryland residents.


  • 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 California 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 publicly.

      • 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 Maryland women freedom of choice.

      • Human Rights - Liz is a leading sponsor and a spokesperson on the floor of anti-discrimination legislation.

      • 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" operations in Maryland 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 Columbia ’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.

       

     

    Seal of Maryland

    To learn more about
    the Maryland General Assembly
    and to find specifics
    about the bills
    Liz has worked on,
    visit the Maryland
    General Assembly
    Home Page at
    http://mlis.state.md.us/

    See 2012 schedule

    Listen to
    committee
    hearings

    Listen to
    General Assembly
    proceedings

    Md. League of
    Conservation Voters
    weekly Hot List

    Md. Legislative Services
    weekly report:
    The Legislative Wrap-up