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July Update: Heavy Lifting

I was recently recommended the book Heavy Lifting: The Job of the American Legislature by Alan Rosenthal.  The book is a deep dive into how state legislatures operate and includes Maryland as a case study.  The book references a brochure the Ohio legislature circulates which explains that "as your employees, [legislators] seek your input on pending legislation and want to help you with personal matters involving state agencies," which is a succinct statement of why I am here.  According to the book, in a survey of legislators in five states, the respondents overwhelmingly believed that "it was very important for them to educate their constituents about issues in the legislature."  I share that view, which is why I send out this newsletter each month even when the legislature is not in session.  Even if you are one who does not always agree with my votes and positions on every issue, I hope you still find these informative and useful.

 

P.S. I was proud to be re-elected by my colleagues as chair of the 24 member Montgomery County House Delegation.

As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.

COVID-19

Governor Hogan has announced how the November General Election will unfold.  Under the Governor's orders, the election will generally occur as normal with early voting and all polling places open.  The one difference will be that all active voters will receive an application for a vote by mail ballot.  This is different than the primary election in which active voters received a vote by mail ballot without requesting it.  The Washington Post editorial board explained some of the problems with the Governor's approach.

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Montgomery County is decoupled from the statewide changes asto what is open and what is not, to deal with the public health crisis.  You can track the current rules in Montgomery County here.  The County's COVID-19 data dashboard can be viewed online as well.  There is also a state dashboard online.

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Many of you are trying to navigate the state's unemployment system, which was simply not equipped for the volume or complexity of the current caseload.  The Department of Labor website is your entryway for unemployment benefits.  If you are having trouble with unemployment and live in District 16, you can fill out our District 16 constituent service Google form for assistance here.  The District 16 Team has been in regular contact with the Department of Labor to try and resolve individual cases.

Transportation News

The Maryland Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed I-495 & I-270 toll lane expansion. The document describes a series of potential alternatives for the project and feedback is due on October 8, 2020.  The environmental review process is concurrent to the contracting process that the Administration is also pursuing as it seeks private partners to respond to a Request for Proposals to design-build-operate-maintain the project this fall.  As part of the oversight of that contracting process, I joined several colleagues in the House to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation and prospective contractors on some of the details of the project.  Maryland Matters covered the effort.

A few years after the Governor commenced this project, he put together a Transit Work Group and that group recently released a Transit Service Coordination Report that is available online.

Somewhat related to the project, I joined the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Environment that I chaired to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation asking about efforts to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to expand the use of telework and alternative work schedules in order to reduce congestion.  You can read the letter here.  Maryland Matters also wrote about the letter.

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A few years ago I worked with many others in Maryland to stand up the federally required, independent Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. It has been operational since last calendar year and issuing audits and reports, but today the Commission issued it’s first annual safety report. You can read it here.

 

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The recent news about the Purple Line is extremely disturbing.  Long-standing disputes with the construction contractor have brought the private partner consortium to the brink of departing the half-completed project.  I have been in regular touch with the Department of Transportation regarding the challenges and, frankly, there do not appear to be many good options.  A recent story on the issue is here.

Administration News

The Maryland Board of Public Works is empowered to reduce the state budget when the legislature is not in session because unlike the federal government, the state is constitutionally required to have a balanced budget.  On July 1, the first day of the fiscal year, the Board of Public Works reduced $413 million in spending but delayed an additional $205 million in cuts.  The details of the cuts are available here.  Analysis of the originally proposed cuts was undertaken by the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services.

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Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and I organized 50 legislators in a letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission about the need to move ahead with energy storage pilot projects created pursuant to legislation I authored in 2019.  You can read the letter here.

Community News

  • A child psychiatrist constituent highlighted these resources from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry for families coping with COVID-19. Check them out if you think they could be helpful to you and your family.
  • The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce's long-serving CEO, Ginanne Italiano, recently announced her retirement at the end of the year.
  • Two District 16 residents are serving as Senior Fellows to the Montgomery County Council: Lee Keiser and Eric Grosse.
  • Two District 16 residents have recently been confirmed to County Boards and Commissions:
    • Judy Ackerman, Montgomery College Board of Trustees
    • Carmen Rabadan-Diehl, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council
       

If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences or an upcoming event, please email marc@marckorman.com.

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