Thursday, April 22, 2010

Delegate Bill Frick's End of Session Letter

Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) sent the following end of session letter to his constituents.

Dear Friends,

At the stroke of midnight on Monday night, the Maryland House of Delegates concluded its 2010 legislative session. Here is an update how the legislature resolved some of the top issues of the session.

Balancing the Budget

The Governor and General Assembly faced a harsh budget reality caused by the national recession: state resources have declined, even as demand for social services has increased. In the end, the operating budget cuts spending by $525 million, with general fund revenues below 2007 levels. The state workforce is shrinking by 500 positions next year, and we rejected pay raises for the legislature. I will once again do my part by participating in state employee furloughs.

Our budget actions were difficult, but balanced. We have sought to maintain our commitment to education, with $5.7 billion devoted to K-12 students, and $250 million invested in school construction. We are ensuring fiscal responsibility, with nearly $830 million in cash reserves. Maryland remains one of the few states with an "AAA" bond rating.

Job Creation

Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly are trying to help businesses endure the recession and to stimulate job growth and retention whenever possible. To that end, we increased the successful biotech tax credit, which is particularly important to long-term growth in Montgomery County. We passed a law allowing small businesses to pay property taxes in installments to help their cash flow, and enacted legislation to reduce the strain on businesses caused by increasing unemployment insurance rates.

Public Safety

Responding to a recent tragedy, the General Assembly passed legislation to strengthen the state’s child sex offender laws. The new laws will require lifetime supervision for child sex offenders, increase mandatory minimum sentences for first time offenders from five to fifteen years, and eliminate diminution credits for serious and repeat offenders.

Our roads will be safer as a result of the 2010 session. The legislature passed a law that prohibits a driver from using a hand-held cell phone while driving, supplementing legislation passed in 2009 restricting text messaging. The legislation takes effect October 1st and will be considered a secondary offense.

Finally, the Safe Schools Act of 2010, a legislative priority of House Speaker Michael E. Busch, gives the schools systems and law enforcement the tools to keep our students safe from gangs and related gang violence.

The Environment

Stormwater management is critical to controlling the polluted run-off that threatens the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and strict regulations have been adopted to reduce runoff from development. After developers sought legislation to weaken the regulations, a joint House-Senate committee chose to maintain the strict regulations, but clarify that the new rules will not apply to projects that have already begun. This decision will preserve the strong new rules, and was supported by environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters and 1000 Friends of Maryland.

My Agenda

I am pleased to report my District 16 colleagues and I were very successful with our initiatives this year. My legislation to provide clear disclosure for tax refund anticipation loans won overwhelming support from both chambers. A bill I authored to help steer state contracts away from Wall Street and into local banks failed to advance, but won praise from leaders and news outlets from Baltimore to Tokyo.

Senator Brian Frosh, Delegates Susan Lee, Bill Bronrott and I won some important victories for our district. We succeeded in passing legislation to preserve the Country Thyme Farm Stand on River Road, a subject that was important to many local produce lovers. We also secured state matching funds for the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and the National Center for Children and Families, two organizations that help some of our most needy neighbors. Finally, we and our Montgomery County colleagues succeeded in averting a possible penalty of tens of millions of dollars against the Montgomery County Public School System as a result of the County not meeting its "maintenance of effort" funding target. This was County Executive Leggett's top priority for the session.

I have been privileged to serve you in the Maryland House of Delegates, and as we turn toward the 2010 campaign season, I hope you will send me back to Annapolis to continue serving you along with my District 16 teammates.

If you have any concerns or constituent service needs, or to get involved in my re-election campaign, please drop me a line at

Best regards,