December Update: Happy Holidays
Happy holidays from my family to yours. It has been a strange year but I hope you can find some comfort during the holiday season.
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.
Because of the public health situation, the 2021 legislative session will be like no other. The Speaker of the House recently announced how the House of Delegates will operate in this strange environment, including virtual committee work. You can read the guidelines here.
Each year, the Department of Legislative Services publishes issue papers on some of the matters that will come before the Maryland General Assembly in the upcoming year. You can read the 2021 legislative session issue papers online.
A major issue in the upcoming legislative session will be police reform and accountability.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability in Maryland was appointed. Their final report is now online.
The process included eight public meetings; 27 expert witnesses; and 90 public witnesses; and culminated in 12 multi-part recommendations that will be introduced as a comprehensive piece of legislation when the General Assembly convenes in January.
You can read the report or look at the background materials and videos of the meetings here.
Among the recommendations:
In response to language in the Maryland budget, the Maryland Energy Administration has submitted the link report regarding the impact of electric vehicles on transportation infrastructure revenue (the report seems to focus on highway spending, but motor fuel taxes contribute to our entire multi-modal network). Currently, better gas mileage on cars and low gas prices--which is certainly nice for families' wallets--has more of an impact on transportation than the Electric Vehicles highlighted in the report, but overtime EVs should take a bigger bite.
The report provides some of the medium term options available as we shift from relying on gas taxes to fund necessary transportation infrastructure investment.
The Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates adopted new revenue projections today. The detailed chart is available here.
A major theme from the analyst is the disparate nature of the economic fall-out of COVID-19. Many white collar workers and large businesses are doing fairly well. Many service sector workers and smaller businesses like restaurants are barely hanging on. The net result for Maryland is a better than expected tax revenue figure as capital gains look good (the stock market is up); sales taxes look good (the lack of use of services--which we don't tax--has shifted more spending to goods--which we do tax); but corporate income tax is down and other revenue sources are a mix.
All in all, Maryland's revenue picture for the next few years still does not match our currently budgeted spending, to say nothing of all our additional needs in rental assistance, business support, education needs, and so on. But, as we do each year, the executive and legislative branches will find our way to a balanced budget in the first half of 2021.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit down with Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College, to discuss some of the transportation policy challenges facing our county and state. You can watch the conversation here.
The state recently entered a settlement with Purple Line Transit Partners to settle the litigation around the project. Under the settlement, the project's construction partner will depart the project and over the next nine months or so, the Public Private Partnership concessionaire (Purple Line Transit Partners) will work with the state to solicit a new construction partner. In the meantime, the state will continue to directly manage a number of the construction contracts. The state has agreed to pay $250 million to settle the litigation claims. More information on the settlement is available in the Board of Public Works--the state entity that approved the settlement--agenda around page 100.
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.
If you know of a District 16 resident who merits recognition or condolences or an upcoming event, please email email@example.com.
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