Before COVID-19, on President's Day a member of the House of Delegates would give a speech honoring George Washington. Similar speeches were offered on another night for Abraham Lincoln, always by a member of the Republican Party, and for Martin Luther King, Jr., always by a member of the Legislative Black Caucus. In 2018 I had the honor of giving the Washington Day address which I was reflecting on as we observed President's Day this week. You can click to hear my 2018 address on YouTube (it pre-dates video streaming in the House Chamber).
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.
The proposed addition of two new lanes in each direction on a portion of I-495 and I-270 continues to be an issue of concern in District 16. While I have yet to meet a constituent who enjoys traffic, many have raised environmental and fiscal concerns with the Governor's proposal. For the past three years, the House of Delegates has passed legislation to reform or reign in the project and, each year, the Senate has failed to act on any legislation even slightly related to this project (our own senator, Senator Susan Lee, has been a stalwart supporter of reform and oversight).
Although the legislative process has run aground, there has been some recent action by the courts. Last week, a judge ruled that a losing bidder's protest had to be substantively considered by the Maryland Department of Transportation which had attempted to throw out the protest for timing reasons. I have no insight into the losing bidder's protest but the issues they have raised--that the winning bidder's proposal is not financially feasible and that it must have a construction partner--seem worthy of consideration and are of concern.
Since my last newsletter, I had a marathon day of bill hearings with four hearings in one day.
The Health and Government Operations Committee heard the Maryland State Agency Transparency Act of 2022, which requires quasi-state agencies to video stream their meetings and post their materials publicly. Senator Cheryl Kagan is the lead in the Senate. You can view that hearing here.
In the Appropriations Committee, I presented three of my bills:
The WMATA Dedicated Funding Amendments Act revises the dedicated funding inflation escalator for the regional transit system, contingent on the other jurisdictions doing the same. You can watch that hearing here.
HB 458 is a bill to reform our collective bargaining law for state employees to including binding arbitration. That hearing can be found here.
The Independent Agency Health Insurance Option Act would allow a few quasi-governmental agencies to buy into the state's health insurance plan. That hearing is available here.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned some of the broader priorities for the Maryland General Assembly in 2022. One of those was Helping Families Afford Basic Needs. Democratic Delegates recently announced a package of bills expanding sales tax exemptions to baby products and diapers, oral hygiene products, and certain medical products, as well as a broader bill to incentivize hiring through tax benefits.
Another broader priority was Protecting Women's Reproductive Health. Democratic Delegates also announced a legislative package on that topic including enshrining Roe v. Wade's holding into the Maryland constitution (it is already in state statute), removing cost barriers for reproductive health care, and expanding providers. A big shout-out to Delegate Ariana Kelly, who is leading the way on these issues.
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