August Update: Getting Ready to Vote
Please click here and print the form, fill it out, and mail it to the local board of elections (PO Box 10159 Rockville, MD 20849 for Montgomery County). Please also select U.S. Mail for the delivery option (section 6). An emailed ballot sounds easy but that ballot needs to be copied over to an official ballot before it can be counted, significantly slowing down the process. I know this is overly complicated, so please click reply and ask any questions and we will work to get you the answers.
P.S. I had the great opportunity to join the podcast Elevate Maryland as a guest last month. You can listen to the wide ranging conversation about my background, state budget issues, and my "unpopular but benign opinion" here.
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.
Montgomery County is decoupled from the statewide changes to 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.
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.
After years of community effort, the State Highway Administration has commenced work on a package of improvements on MD-190/River Road between Braeburn Parkway and Pyle Road. This is the area near Whitman High School which has seen numerous car crashes and close calls for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The work, scheduled for Spring 2021 completion, includes construction of a new traffic signal at River Road and Braeburn Parkway; installation of concrete channelized islands to prohibit through- and left-turn movements from Braeburn Parkway onto River Road; installation of pedestrian-activated, full-color traffic signals on eastbound and westbound River in the vicinity of Pyle Road; and relocation of the pedestrian crossing on westbound River Road closer to Walt Whitman High School.
In a further bit of State Highway Administration-related news, new buffered bike ways have open on MD-187/Old Georgetown Road between the Beltway and Cedar Lane, the area where Jake Cassel was killed. The project is a good start but further bikeway connections are needed and the buffers require flex posts or some other physical separation to protect bicyclists and motorists.
The updates on the Purple Line project remain extremely concerning and I am still in regular touch with the Department of Transportation regarding the issues. Two recent stories on the Purple Line are here and here. Both are informative.
Last month, I wrote about some work I have been doing on telework through the Subcommittee on Transportation & Environment of Appropriations, which I chair. The Vice Chair of the Subcommittee and I sent the Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary a letter on the topic and to try and better understand long-term telework may have on traffic congestion and he replied in early August. The Subcommittee will have a briefing on the topic this Thursday afternoon with more information on the General Assembly's website.
Every year I like to share a bit about a wonky part of the budget called the Joint Chairs' Report (JCR). The JCR can be viewed online.
The Report captures all of the changes made to the Governor's budget request by the legislature. It also includes all of the budget language added by the legislature, which is an important tool to provide oversight of Executive branch agencies and to inform future legislative efforts.
For example, in the current JCR you will see language informed by Delegate Luke Clippinger and others related to illegal firearms and other contraband coming through our port; a report requirement promoted by Delegate Charkoudian and others on how our State Department of Assessments and Taxation operates; and language to support the work of Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins and others to ensure we have a successful census. These are just some examples.
Our State Treasurer--former District 16 Delegate Nancy Kopp--has announced the positive news that Maryland has retained its AAA bond rating, which allows us to borrow money for construction projects at more favorable rates.
We know from the Great Recession that the bond rating agencies make mistakes but I still recommend reading their reports, which provide a third party check-up on the state. The short version is that COVID-19 is a threat to Maryland’s economic (to say nothing of public health) future, but we have a strong and wealthy underlying economy—even though many do not benefit from it—and positive budget practices. The rating agencies do always worry a bit about some of our long term obligations.
If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences or an upcoming event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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