The legislative session continues. Last week we took our first votes of the session (and,of course, the first votes of my career) on the House floor. The legislation was technical in nature and non-controversial, but it was still exciting to cast a real vote.
Last week both the House and Senate heard a joint State of the Judiciary address by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Mary Ellen Barbera. You can read the address here if you are interested.
My proposed legislation continues to move through the committee process. Last week, the Montgomery County and Prince George's County Delegations unanimously voted to support HB 300, my proposed legislation on studying WMATA/Metro ridership. Hearing dates have also been set on my other two bills. HB 545, legislation on sidewalk closures along State Highway Administration roads, will be heard by the Environment and Transportation Committee on March 5th. HB 656, legislation on stored energy, will be heard on February 20th (this Friday) by the Economic Matters Committee. Outside of my own legislation, I spend significant time on my Appropriations Committee work. The Appropriations Committee meets daily and is currently holding hearings on each agency's budget. These hearings and the accompanying analysis from the Department of Legislative Services are extremely important to providing proper oversight of our state government. You can view the calendar of such hearings and read the non partisan analysis here.
Another big announcement last week was the release of the Report of the Economic Development and Business Climate Commission (known as the Augustine Commission after its chair). The presiding officers of both chambers have introduced legislation to implement some of the recommendations. What I appreciate about the report is that it does not simply bemoan the nature of Maryland or aspire to fundamentally change that nature. Rather, it discusses how to align Maryland's existing strengths with our need for a stronger economy. There are many recommendations in the report but I think those that deal with realigning the state's numerous economic development functions, shifting to a more customer service-centric approach to state government, and maximizing investments in infrastructure, education, and economic development platforms such as TEDCO show particular promise.
Montgomery County's Office of Legislative Oversight recently released a comprehensive report on alcohol regulation in the County. As you may know, Montgomery County is a direct control jurisdiction in which all alcohol sales flow through the County's Department of Liquor Control. The report discusses some alternative options to the status quo. The Washington Post recently discussed a Maryland Department of Transportation analysis of the threat posed to the state's transportation projects by proposed changes in the transportation funding bill passed prior to my service in the General Assembly. Because of the importance of transportation improvements to District 16, I will be following this closely.
District 16 Notes
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