January 13, 2012
It is a cold day here in Maryland’s capital on the third day of the 2012 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly. I am looking out of my office window at the beautifully restored dome of our beautiful historic State House.
The legislature convened on January 11 with words from the Governor and Speaker of the House on the major issues before us this year. Our task is a large one which calls for the participation of all of the people, because in a democracy, the people are not separate from their government, they are an integral part of it.
Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and leader of that nation’s Velvet Revolution, who died last year, was a visionary for peace with the courage to act on his vision. I find his words below to be very appropriate to what we on this planet are facing today, and I intend to keep them in mind particularly through the next months until the legislative session adjourns on April 9th.
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizon…Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Major Statewide Issues for this Legislative Session
The Baltimore Sun did a good job of summarizing these issues: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-general-assembly-agenda-20120108,0,2732932.photogallery
Of the twelve issues they feature, four of them will be dealt with by the Environmental Matters Committee: the flush tax related to environmentally sound septic systems, ground rent (a somewhat unique real estate practice in parts of Maryland), lead paint (there remain very serious and numerous cases of lead paint poisoning among Maryland children), and traffic.
It may seem odd that ground rent is among the Environmental Matters Committee’s issues. All issues related to housing, including mortgage foreclosure, are assigned to our committee, as are all motor vehicle issues.
I want to comment on the transportation fund item in the Sun article, even though it does not come to my committee. We still do not have either the wisdom or the will in Maryland to realize that until we start doing more for mass transit, congestion on our roads and highways will continue to worsen until it reaches an unbearable state. Hopefully this will be the year when we see this more clearly and acknowledge it.
We have a great deal of work ahead of us which will call for sound reasoning and a firm grasp of reality. Please keep in touch with me as we work our way through all of these issues.
Environmental Matters Committee
I will continue to serve as a member of the Environmental Matters Committee and as Chairperson of its Subcommittee on Land Use and Ethics. I also serve on the Joint Legislative Committee on Program Open Space.
The major issues before our committee during this session will be include mortgage foreclosure, septic systems, solid waste disposal, smart growth, and clean streams and rivers.
Since we will not begin the actual legislative bill hearing until the end of January, the first weeks will be dedicated to briefings on some of these major issues in House Office Building Room 251 (see News). Times vary as the meetings begin immediately after the daily legislative session, approximately 10:30 to 11, and are open to the public. If you decide to attend any of these briefings, stop in to see me in Room 214 of the same building.
National Caucus of Environmental Legislators
I, along with several other legislators in Maryland, am a member of this national non-partisan caucus which stays up to the minute on the major environmental issues in our nation. Click here to see a message I received recently from them. It is a good illustration of the fact that environmental and financial issues are not in conflict with each other, but rather are quite inter-related.
Land use issues as they relate to our New Town of Columbia
The two press links below show a contrast in how we are dealing with our community as distinguished from Baltimore’s downtown public spaces. I can see some good in each of them.
The date for the next public meeting on Downtown Columbia is January 17 at 6:30 pm at the Howard Community College. I don’t know whether I will be able to make it home from Annapolis for that briefing. If I do, I hope to see some of you there.
I am receiving many questions about the status of the district which I represent here in Annapolis. Some of these questions reflect some confusion on the matter.
Every ten years following the decennial census, the U.S. Congress is reapportioned according to the newest population data. Last fall the Maryland legislature met to adopt the new boundary lines for Maryland’s seven Congressional Districts. The entire district which I represent in Annapolis remains in Elijah Cummings’ Seventh Congressional District. Congressman Cummings and I have established a very good and trusting working relationship which helps us serve our constituents.
Yesterday, the Governor submitted a bill to establish the revised boundary lines for Maryland’s state legislative districts. It accommodates changes in population throughout the state. For each of Maryland’s forty seven senators, there are three delegates. In most of these senatorial districts, all three delegates run in the entire area. In some of the senatorial districts, currently including District 12, the senatorial area is divided into two or three sub districts. The sub district I currently represent is designated 12B; there is also one labeled 12A, and both are within Senator Ed Kasemeyer’s senatorial district. The district map that the governor submitted merges the two sub districts into a three-person District 12.
The current District 12A includes parts of Ellicott City and Elkridge which I have represented in the past either as a state delegate or during my time in county government. District 12, which will take effect January 2015, covers parts of Baltimore County, including Arbutus, where my sister, Mary, and her family live, as well as Catonsville, where other family members live and where I spent a great deal of my time as far back as when I was in high school.
Until the next election in November of 2014, the district that I represent remains as it has been for the past 10 years – the Columbia Villages of Harper’s Choice, Hickory Ridge, Town Center, Wilde Lake, and part of Dorsey’s Search as well as a small part of Ellicott City. It continues to be an honor and a privilege to represent the people in this area.