Speaking of the next four years, I am pleased to offer Sara Love a long delayed congratulations on her nomination as State Delegate for District 16. With your help, we will be seatmates next year.
As always, you can always keep up with what I am doing by following me at@mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
Maryland PIRG gave me a score of 100% for my voting record during the 2018 legislative session. In addition to the perfect score, I was pleased to see two bills I played a leadership role on highlighted: the Maryland Metro Funding Act and the Online Electioneering Transparency and Accountability Act.
Many of us were alarmed by the news that firearm schematics for 3D printing were being made widely available online. Attorney General Frosh--using authority granted by the General Assembly--joined a suit to prevent the online posting of the schematics and an injunction was placed on the posting of the schematics.
Every four years, the Department of Legislative Services issues the Major Issues Review which outlines the work of the legislature over the prior four years. You can read the current report here.
Some of the highlights of the last four years—in my view—include earned sick leave, expanding the renewable energy program, banning fracking, funding the education formulas and increasing school construction funding, sensible gun safety laws, dedicated funding for Metro, and much more.
Some of the important work of the legislature has also been to prevent bad things from happening, such as rejecting the Governor's proposed cuts to education, beating back an effort to re-criminalize marijuana, preventing the legislature from undoing the court system's new cash bail reform, and a lot of other actions.
And, of course, there is a lot more to do over the next four years.
Last month, I wrote about the Joint Chairmen's Report, a document that accompanies Maryland's annual budget. One of the items I worked on in there was to push the Maryland State Department of Education to seek a waiver from federal rules regarding advanced math testing of middle schoolers. If granted, the waiver will reduce the amount of testing these high performing students have by letting them take the end of course assessment instead of the grade-specific assessment.
Montgomery County Public Schools approached us with this issue and state officials were dragging their feet on the waiver request. The Joint Chairmen's Report language focused them and they pushed ahead. The update from the Department can be read here.
The Supreme Court recently issued a decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, which permits the states to require remote retailers--out-of-state sellers with no physical presence in a state--to collect and remit sales tax on sales within the state (regardless of physical presence). The Comptroller recently proposed regulations for the collection of sales tax on remote sales in Maryland, which would replicate the rules used in the Supreme Court-approved South Dakota program. You can review the proposed ruleshere. Keep in mind that prior to the Supreme Court decision, online purchasers were supposed to track and remit state sales taxes themselves (something few, if anyone, did).
All three major bond rating agencies have once again designated Maryland's bonds with the highest bond rating, AAA. It is not the end all, be all, but it does make it relatively cheaper for the state to borrow for capital projects such as school construction.
The bond rating agency reports are available here and have interesting insights into the state's economic health, fiscal position, and risk factors. The reports discuss the budget, ability to raise revenue and create growth, and financial liabilities such as pensions and prior debt issuances.
The State Highway Administration's District Office for our community is working on several projects in District 16. The numbered roads in Maryland are "state highways," even if we think of them as local roads (e.g., River Road, Wilson Lane). The list of projects is limited to so-called "system preservation" projects and does not include the full breadth of work being done in District 16. Notably absent from the list are most signaling projects, because such projects are done by a different State Highway Administration office.
The Hogan Administration is working on a large Public Private Partnership to add lanes to I-495 and I-270. The Administration is undertaking the required environmental review which includes developing a series of alternatives to study. Given that the Governor announced his plan to add lanes in both directions from the American Legion Bridge to Frederick last year, serious questions about the process are being raised. In any event, the proposed alternatives can be reviewed online.
Given the questions about the project, my colleagues and I wrote a letter to state officials to seek further information. The state recently sent a reply to our questions.
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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