Monday, April 20, 2009

District 18 End of Session Letter

Following is the letter sent by Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegates Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jeff Waldstreicher and Al Carr.

April 14, 2009

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This week marked the end of the 426th legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly. In prior years, we have each prepared individual end-of-session letters. This year, we decided to conserve resources by forgoing our four letters and instead prepared this single, joint letter.

It is an honor and privilege to represent the people of District 18 in the State House. The four of us work hard as a team to advance your interests. During the past 90 days, we have benefited from your advice and counsel during our deliberations on a wide range of issues. We appreciate the thousands of e-mails, postcards, letters, phone calls, and office visits we received.

With state revenues suffering from the effects of the global economic downturn, the state budget was a focal point of discussion this session. In the face of a billion dollar budget deficit, we passed a $13.8 billion balanced 2010 budget, 3.3% smaller than 2009. In doing so, we worked hard to protect Maryland’s critical support of public education and its commitment to our most vulnerable citizens. Two of us -- Sen. Rich Madaleno and Del. Ana Sol GutiĆ©rrez -- serve on the budget committees in our respective chambers. We reined in future spending, cutting more than $825 million from the budget overall while leaving an ample Rainy Day Fund. We were also able to secure a record level of state investment for the Montgomery County Public Schools ($624.4 million). In addition, we blocked attempts to transfer responsibility of the state-controlled teacher retirement system to the county.

We successfully fought to defend Gov. O’Malley’s tuition freeze at our state universities and increase funding for community colleges. Maryland is one of only a few states nationally that balanced its budget without significant tuition increases. We also worked to protect our investment in community services for Marylanders with physical and developmental disabilities.

Your District 18 Team also championed a number of issues related to energy and the environment. Del. Al Carr serves as a strong voice for our community on these issues on the Environmental Matters Committee. The District 18 Team championed bills to strengthen forest conservation laws, increase community participation in environmental decisions, and accelerate Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. These new laws will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the discharge of harmful phosphorus into the Bay. We passed a bill to improve septic systems located near our vulnerable tidal wetlands.

We also successfully advocated for and passed all of the Governor's Smart, Green, & Growing initiative, an effort to curb sprawl by directing growth toward priority areas that have existing infrastructure. In addition, we passed legislation that improves the counties’ ability to invest in revitalization and transit-oriented development. After much debate, we were unfortunately unable to pass legislation to re-regulate the electric utility market.

We also worked hard this year to ensure the safety of our community and preserve our civil rights and liberties. A member of the Judiciary Committee, Del. Jeff Waldstreicher championed these issues. As you may know, in a widespread scandal, the Maryland State Police were found spying on peaceful activists such as antiwar protesters. The District 18 Team worked extensively to pass legislation to end this unconstitutional practice. He also led the effort to ban texting while driving, an extremely dangerous and distracting practice. In the area of child protection, the General Assembly passed two bills, authored by Del. Waldstreicher, making possession of child pornography a felony and allowing social service agencies to share crucial information to protect our most vulnerable children. These bills will be signed into law by Gov. O’Malley.

Driver’s licenses for undocumented residents and federal Real ID compliance became the dominant, controversial issue at the end of session. The final compromise, reached minutes before adjournment, changes the law to require proof of lawful presence for all new licenses issued after June 1, 2009. Current foreign-born license holders who cannot prove lawful status are permitted to keep their licenses until July 1, 2015. All license renewals will require proof of legal status and full compliance with Real ID after that date. We worked with our Montgomery County colleagues to reject more extreme measures that would have negatively impacted public safety and led to a significant increase in unlicensed and uninsured drivers on our roads.

Working together, we passed several bills aimed at improving local services, including one authored by Del. Carr to increase the transparency of procurement decisions made by the county school system. The delegation also secured $675,000 to renovate the MacDonald Knolls Center, a service center for the developmentally disabled in Silver Spring, and $175,000 to help complete the LEDC’s small business center in Wheaton.

Over the next few weeks, we will be preparing individual responses to many of the letters and e-mails we received during the session. We will also be posting items to our blog, Generally Assembled ( In addition, the General Assembly’s website ( contains a great deal of information about our work, including the soon-to-be-released 90 Day Report. We hope you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns with us. Our individual contact information is listed below if you are interested in our individual positions on specific issues.

Thank you again for your comments and support this year.

Senator Rich Madaleno

Delegate Ana Sol GutiƩrrez

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher

Delegate Al Carr