The Maryland General Assembly is officially part-time as we are only "in session" for 90 days a year (plus any special sessions). But work really goes on year round with meetings with constituents and advocates, research for future bills, constituent service, and participation in various work groups and task forces. Twice a week, my aide Joseph and I have a conference to go through each pending constituent case and office task we are currently addressing. Right now we have 20 separate constituent cases related to the State Highway Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, the Comptroller, Pepco, and more. I also have two terrific high school interns that attend meetings and events I cannot get to and assist with research for future legislative initiatives. Even though the legislative session is only 90 days, my team and I are working for District 16 year-round.
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.
July 1st was the effective date for numerous pieces of legislation/new laws passed in Annapolis this past year. You can see the complete list here.
Some of the notable new laws are summer SNAP for hungry children; expansion of child advocacy centers; childcare tax credit expansion; clean car tax credit expansion, and expanding "P-Tech" high schools.
The Governor has refused to release hundreds of millions of dollars that were approved as part of a bipartisan, balanced budget for school construction, rape kit testing, pre-trial services, and more.
As I have previously explained, the Maryland General Assembly cannot simply add funds to programs for a forthcoming budget year because we have an executive-driven budget. The legislature's main tool for increasing funding for a specific program in the next budget is to reduce funding elsewhere in the budget and designate those funds for the specific program. Then it is up to the Governor who can either release these "fenced off funds" for the specific program or the funds simply flow back to the state's bank account. The legislature cannot increase the overall size of the state budget for the next budget year.
During the 2019 legislative session, the Governor introduced a budget of $46,607,000,000, with a projected deficit next year of over $1 billion (we have to pass a balanced budget, unlike the federal government, and that $1 billion will have to be addressed during the next legislative session). The General Assembly did its typical work on the budget and shrunk its over all size to $46,599,000,000 with a projected deficit next year of $961 million. As part of this process, the General Assembly set aside $244 million in "fenced off funds" including $127 million for school construction. The Governor declined to release these funds, falsely claiming that he was doing so to rein in out of control legislative spending, even though this was not new spending but dollars redirected as part of an overall smaller budget than what the Governor proposed. Notably, the fenced off funds approach is not new and this Governor--and previous Governors--have often released funding for important programs in this way.
For an interesting perspective on Maryland's budget, here is an op-ed written by the long-time but now retired head of the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services.
- McCrillis Gardens Special Park is a hidden gem of a park in District 16. The Planning Board is consider the acquisition of an adjacent property today to expand the park and improve access. You can read about what is under consideration here.
- Montgomery County Public Schools has a website with key facilities indicators that show the physical condition of our schools. You can see the website here. We put together a packet of the information devoted to Montgomery County Public Schools in District 16, which you can read online. Some of our schools are in relatively good shape such as Farmland (although it is over capacity), Bradley Hills, Carderock, and Wood Acres. Other schools, such as Whitman (well over capacity), Westland, and North Bethesda are not doing as well.
- As of July 1st, your Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC) bill is going to look different with a new rate structure. Please visit the WSSC's website for further information: https://www.wsscwater.com/billchanges?fbclid=IwAR1C7qmXrx4bLUQ64eeaLDN5aHcycOaE1_SNZZfvz2XsxcymM7TNlUFuuCE
- The Village of Friendship Heights awarded the Elizabeth Scull award this year to land use attorney, Norman Knopf. The Village also gave community service awards to Judith Abrahams, Margaret Levine, Gita Pancholy, and Kritika Sharma at its July 4th celebration.
- The next meeting of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Democratic Breakfast Club will be on Thursday, September 5th at the Original Pancake House in Bethesda.
- On Monday, November 4th at 7pm the Maryland Department of Transportation will visit Rockville for the Consolidated Transportation Program Presentation. The event will be held at the County Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville).
- The Montgomery County Delegation to Annapolis will hold its Joint Priorities Hearing on Wednesday, November 20th at 7pm. The hearing is an opportunity for interest residents to present issues of concern to the legislators. More information about testifying will be available soon. The meeting will be held at the County Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville).
- There will be two nights of bill hearings on local bills (those that only affect Montgomery County) on Monday, December 2nd and Monday December 9th. The hearings begin at 7pm and will be held at the County Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville).
If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences or an upcoming event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.