I hope everyone is enjoying the waning weeks of summer. I recently received a new summer (and beyond) assignment when I was appointed as a member of the Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs ("TRAIN"). The Commission is the result of a bill passed last legislative session that I was the House sponsor of. The Commission has 31 members from the executive branch, legislature, local government, business community, environmental community, and other sectors and will study and make recommendations regarding Maryland's transportation revenues and investment needs. The Commission is scheduled to meet for the next two years, with reports due January 1, 2024 and January 1, 2025.
LEGISLATIVE NEWSWe pass a lot of bills in the state legislature and one thing I have tried to do is keep an eye on implementation of those laws.
For example, back in 2019 I sponsored the Energy Storage Pilot Project Act. The bill requires the state's four investor-owned utilities to pilot two energy storage projects each based off of four different models. Energy storage is an important element to meeting our state's goals for renewable energy as storage addresses the intermittent nature of wind and solar.
Pilots were supposed to be operational by February 28, 2022. For a variety of reasons, none of the pilots met the operational deadline but at this point one from each of the four utilities is operational. The Maryland Public Service Commission (our state regulator of utilities) requires a status report every six months with an update on the delayed pilots and those were filed recently. You can read them in the docket. Pepco's second pilot appears a long way from operation (fourth quarter of 2024 at the earliest). Delmarva's second pilot may not become operational until December of 2024. Potomac Edison's 2nd pilot project is projected to be operational by the end of January 2024. BGE's second pilot should be operational in November of this year. One piece of good news is that even though the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative was exempt from the legislation, it is voluntarily pursuing a pilot program.
During the 2023 budget process, I worked to continue funding for the Maryland Humanities' Strengthening the Humanities Investment in Nonprofit for Equity (SHINE) program, which provides operating support for small humanities programs. The Bethesda Historical Society, for example, has benefited from this program. Details to apply for the grant are here.
COMMUNITY NEWSAs part of the current Downtown Bethesda Sector Plan--which sets the zoning rules for Downtown Bethesda--an annual monitoring report must be submitted each year. The recent report covers May 2022-May 2023. You can read the entire report here and watch the Planning Board's discussion of the report here.
We receive a lot of reports in the legislature and one that recently caught my eye was on the economic impact of the Montgomery County Conference Center in District 16 (the conference space attached to the Marriott on Marinelli Road). The most recent report is for fiscal year 2022 (prepared in December 2022). Because of the impact of COVID-19, it is also useful to compare this to a pre-COVID report from fiscal year 2019. In Fiscal Year 2022, the conference center represented a net loss to the state because the state (taxpayers) paid $1.6m for debt service on the conference center and the generated tax revenue was less than that. But prior to COVID, the debt service payment was less than the generated tax revenue.
From the week of September 5th through the week of September 18th, there will be sidewalk closures at River Road and Brookside Drive as part of road work related to the Westbard Road Realignment. The bus stop will also be temporarily shifted to the south.
Congratulations to several District 16 residents recently appointed to the new Friendship Heights Urban District Advisory Committee: Jad Donohoe, Clara Lovett, Ellen Coren, and Danielle Leopold.
Several District 16 residents are also part of the new Leadership Montgomery Class. The core program includes Whitney Ellenby, Craig Small, Ronald Sitrin, and Linda Parker Gates. The emerging program includes Katelyn Maurer. Finally, the encore program includes Joan Ronnenberg.
UPCOMING EVENTSOn Tuesday, September 19 at 2pm, a virtual hearing will be held on the permanent closure of Westbard Avenue at River Road. You can read the application here, view an overhead image here, and register here.
The Maryland State Highway Administration is holding a virtual meeting on Thursday, September 21st from 6:30pm to 8:00pm regarding corridor safety on River Road (MD 190) between Springfield and Little Falls Parkway. Anyone can access the meeting here and more information is in the below image.
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