On Wednesday, January 12th the 428th session of the Maryland General Assembly began in earnest. Yesterday, with the inauguration of Martin O’Malley as our state’s 61st Governor, the real work of the 2011 legislative session begins. I have been proud to serve with Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown the past four years and look forward to working with them through the next four as we continue to move Maryland forward.
I am pleased and honored to return to Annapolis for a new term as your representative and to rejoin my colleagues from the 43rd District. We have one of the best, most active legislative teams in the state. Senator Joan Carter Conway is resuming her duties as chairing the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee while Delegate Curt Anderson will be serving as chairman of the Baltimore City Delegation. It will be a special treat to serve with new Delegate Mary Washington, who is joining the House’s Appropriations Committee.
I will once again be chairing the Environmental Matters Committee where this session we will be considering legislation ranging from protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay and preserving open spaces to changes in real property law. As the nationwide economic recession continues, home foreclosures will once again be an issue we spend significant time on. I am excited to get to work and for the challenges ahead.
Preview of Session Issues
Throughout this session I will be giving you weekly updates on the work being done in the General Assembly and the Environmental Matters Committee that I chair, with special focus on the issues effecting residents of the 43rd Legislative District. This will no doubt be a busy session and I want to take this opportunity update you on some of the issues that are likely to loom large in the next 90 days.
The issue that has been getting the most coverage in the papers and on television is, of course, the state budget. Governor O’Malley will release his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 tomorrow and he has already promised there will be significant cuts to address a $1.6 billion structural deficit. As the House of Delegates considers the budget, it will be my priority to make sure we preserve education funding and that we do not tear the safety net for working families hurt by the recession. I will also fight to ensure that state dollars continue to fund vital public projects and non-profit organizations in Baltimore City.
As one of the main sponsors of marriage equality legislation the past few years, I am pleased to say 2011 is the first year that I feel a civil marriage bill can and will pass in the Maryland Senate. President Miller, while not a proponent of same-sex marriage, is cooperating with those of us that have made this a priority issue and we are just a few confirmed votes of passing a bill. I am working with advocacy groups and my fellow Delegates to ensure that when a civil marriage bill makes it through the Senate we pass it in the House.
Health Care Reform:
This year, we will be figuring out how the State of Maryland will implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year. Some of the reforms will be easy to implement, other will require creativity and leadership given our current budget situation. Maryland has been one of the leading states in expanding health care coverage for all, especially our children. Maryland has already moved from the 44th to the 16th best state in terms of total coverage in recent years.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, some of the other important issues expected to be addressed this session include:
* Gun control
* Road safety
* Slots expansion
* Education funding
* Direct wine sales
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Annapolis and I thank you for your continued support and trust. In the coming weeks I will give you both a preview of some of the bills being heard in the Environmental Matters Committee that I chair and a look at some of the legislation that, though not in my committee, is important to me and about which you have written me to express concern or interest. Please continue to send me your thoughts, either by phone (410-841-3990), by mail (6 Bladen St. Annapolis, MD 21401), or by email (email@example.com). You can also add comments or questions about this update and see my new community events calendar by visiting my website.
Monday, January 24, 2011