The Montgomery County Delegation to Annapolis is in the midst of its fall and winter meetings in Rockville. Upcoming meetings include a joint priorities hearing and hearings on local legislation. The calendar of meetings is available here.
My friend and former competitor, Jordan Cooper, recently interviewed me for his Public Interest Podcast. Click here to listen to the interview.
You can always keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
I have joined with several colleagues in an effort to reform pre-trial money bail in Maryland. Too often, money bail has been used to keep people in jail because of an inability to pay, rather than any risk they pose. We wrote to the Maryland Attorney General to try and understand the legality and constitutionality of the current approach and Attorney General Frosh's office wrote back with significant concern regarding the use of pre-trial money bail.
Following that opinion letter, almost eighty of my colleagues in the General Assembly sent a letter to the Judiciary's Standing Committee on Rules, Practices, and Procedures in support of proposed reforms to pre-trial money bail put forth by the Attorney General.
One of my priorities since being elected is to advance the use of energy storage devices (e.g., batteries paired with solar panels) in the state. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) recently launched a proceeding on several forward looking electric utilities issues, including storage. I submitted comments to the PSC that outlined key principles that I believe should govern energy storage in Maryland: environmental stewardship; forward thinking; flexibility; cost effectiveness; and regulatory clarity. I also outlined some of the many beneficial uses and complexities of energy storage. You can read my comments here.
Back in April, I shared a letter sent by the legislature's Joint Committee on Pensions that I worked on with Chairman Barnes, Chairman Peters, Delegate Stein, and Delegate Platt. The letter asked how our state pension fund was addressing the growing risks of climate change. Climate change can affect the direct value of certain assets but also create regulatory risks for others. Many financial institutions are factoring climate change into their evaluation of investments. The state's Chief Investment Officer recently sent a reply and testified on the issue at a recent hearing.
River Road is a state road governed by the State Highway Administration (SHA). Along with my District 16 colleagues and local and federal officials, I have worked to improve River Road safety.
We recently asked the State Highway Administration (SHA) to study turning the stretch of River Road near Whitman High School into a "school zone." SHA promptly informed us they have agreed to do the study. A school zone designation would allow for a lower speed limit in that segment of River Road. SHA also sent an update on some of the other work being considered in that area.
Last month, I wrote about the Bureau of Revenue Estimates projections for the state of Maryland lagging expectations. Because Maryland is constitutionally required to have a balanced budget, this has necessitated action for the current fiscal year. The Board of Public Works (BPW) is empowered by state law to make certain line item budget reductions of up to 25% and the Governor proposed $82 million of such reductions last month, which can be viewed on page 57 of this agenda.
Mid-year budget reductions may be painful to those who benefit from the affected programs or services, but I am proud they are at least transparent. Legislation I sponsored in 2016 now requires these BPW cuts to be made public prior to being made--a reversal from previous practice--which gives Marylanders a chance to weigh in on these difficult decisions.
I was recently invited to participate in a forum regarding dedicated funding for Metro. While I support dedicated funding, I explained at the forum that any new funding should be coupled with significant reform of Metro's governance and management. You can watch the forum online.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recently issued an interim technical panel report on Metro. The report covers three major issues: benchmarks for improvement, value, and funding needs.
Benchmarks: Almost everyone agrees that measurable improvements are imperative for continued regional buy-in and support of Metro. The report discussed specific measurable benchmarks related to safety, reliability, and customer experience. In addition to many objectively quantifiable measures, the report recommends including customer perception and satisfaction in these areas.
Value: As is broadly accepted, the report found high property value near Metro stations. According to the report, there is a real estate value premium on properties within a half mile of Metro of between 6.8% (single family residential) to 9.4% (multi-family).
Funding Needs: The study found an operating funding gap of $2.1 billion over ten years and a capital funding gap of $9.8 to $12 billion (depending on whether certain investments would be made). It also discussed the need for debt financing to make that gap more manageable.
The report is a good addition to the important discussion happening now about what we want from Metro and how to get it.
SafeTrack repairs are occurring on the Red Line through November 22. Visit Montgomery County's website on the work to find out more details and how to minimize delays.
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