On Monday night, the legislature adjourned for the year. My first legislative session was busy and productive as I worked on behalf of you, and all of our neighbors in District 16, in Annapolis. It is an honor to represent you. This email newsletter will be a bit longer than usual. Until the next session begins, this newsletter will only arrive in your inboxes once a month (although there could be other, occasional emails from me).
Most of the media coverage of the end of session has focused on the budget. While the budget is not perfect, I am proud of the product we produced. The budget passed by the legislature protects critical state investments while reducing the structural deficit and not increasing taxes. In particular, a major issue in the budget was the cut to education spending. Education funding is incredibly important to our community because of our great public schools, which are really our county’s brand. As originally proposed, Governor Hogan’s budget would have cut more than $25 million dollars from Montgomery County Public Schools. The Committee found savings elsewhere in the budget and restored funding for K-12 education, as well as funding for healthcare, community colleges, and services for the disabled. Under our state Constitution however, the final decision whether or not to allocate those funds as intended rests with the Governor. He has signaled that he does not plan to spend these funds and they cannot be used for any other purpose. The fiscal year does not begin until July 1st and I hope the Governor makes the right decision to use these dollars before then.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, the budget took up a great deal of my time. But I was also able to work on many of the other issues I spoke about when pursuing this office:
School Construction: Working with my colleagues from Montgomery County, we were able to secure extra funding for school construction in school districts—like ours—experiencing significant enrollment increases (HB 923). There is still more work to be done but this was an important first step to meeting the needs of our growing schools.
WMATA-Metro: One of the major issues I came to Annapolis to work on is WMATA-Metro. Our state contributes almost half a billion dollars to WMATA annually and we must ensure that our dollars are being spent appropriately and that Metro is improving. I passed legislation (HB 300) requiring our state to work with Metro on a study to examine Maryland-specific ridership. Having a better understanding of how the entire state uses Metro will help us build the coalition for Metro in Annapolis and gain more support for the system. Working with colleagues in Prince George’s County, I established the WMATA-Metro Work Group in the Maryland General Assembly. The Work Group provides a forum for members of the General Assembly to meet with representatives from the state and Metro to provide oversight on safety, service, reliability, and other Metro-related issues.
Of course, Metro is not the only transportation issue I worked on. I worked to prevent cuts to transportation funding which are necessary for our state’s investments in roads, bridges, and transit. I also supported legislation to improve the walkability of our communities and improve bicycle access. I introduced a bill requiring notice of sidewalk closures (HB 545) that did not pass, but I will fight for next year. I co-sponsored legislation to improve the process for establishing bicycle pedestrian priority areas (HB 450).
Renewable Energy: The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act (HB 377)—which I co-sponsored—would have increased our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (the amount of electricity generated from renewables) to 40% by 2025. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass. I introduced the Stored Energy and Power Act (HB 656) to increase the use of energy storage, which helps with electric grid resiliency and improves the reliability of renewable energy. The legislation did not pass but the Maryland Energy Administration has agreed to study the issue for potential future action. I also supported a community-based solar energy bill (HB 1087), which allows residents to pool together to utilize solar power.
Economic Prosperity: Many of the issues described above are directly related to our economic success. But the legislature also took up many important bills recommended by the Economic Development and Business Climate Commission (also known as the “Augustine Commission”). The bills restructure governmental agencies focusing on economic development for better results, improve customer service training for state employees to make government more responsive, and start apprenticeship programs to improve workforce training.
There were many other important bills taken up this session. If an issue important to you was not included in this short letter, please contact me about them.
While the state legislature only meets for 90 days a year in Annapolis, I am working for you 365 days a year. If you have any questions or ideas regarding policy issues, have issues with a state agency that require constituent services, or are interested in my office’s legislative scholarship, please email me.
A Notice to Proceed (NTP) has been issued for the Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration Safety and Resurfacing project along MD 410 (East West Highway) from MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) to MD 185 (Connecticut Avenue), a total of 1.44 miles.
The work will :
Work on the project will begin later this spring.
District 16 Notes
Laslo Boyd has a tribute to former DIstrict 16 Delegate and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp on Center Maryland.
Congratulations to District 16 resident Jonathan Sachs and my Leadership Montgomery classmate Shaina Bindeman on being selected to the Daily Record's 20 in Their Twenties List.
If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences, please email email@example.com.
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