This week, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and his place in our nation’s history as a visionary leader for equality. As we remember Dr. King, we have a responsibility to continue building on his legacy by promoting fairness and equal opportunity for all. I am proud honor Dr. King’s legacy through two civil rights initiatives I am working to pass this year in the Maryland General Assembly.
My Equality Agenda
In Montgomery County, we celebrate diversity and value education. I am working with my friend and fellow Senator Victor Ramirez, along with Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez and the New Americans Caucus, to pass the Maryland DREAM Act. This bill would make undocumented students who complete high school in Maryland and whose parents pay state income tax eligible for in-state tuition at our public colleges and universities. Allowing these young people to continue their education will ensure a well-trained and dynamic workforce, which will benefit everyone in our community.
While my colleagues and I work to promote unity and inclusivity, some members of the General Assembly continue to preach intolerance and division. A Baltimore County Delegate is challenging Montgomery College’s decision to treat all students that graduate from Montgomery County Public Schools equally. I will continue defending Montgomery College and students in our community against these attacks. Passing the Maryland DREAM Act will bring us one step closer to a federal solution of comprehensive immigration reform.
While Congress finally found the political courage to end the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, we are continuing the fight to bring full equality for gays and lesbians in Maryland. I’m happy to tell you that the Majority Leaders in both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates will serve as the lead sponsors for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. This symbolic action shows that Maryland’s leaders are ready to provide same gender couples with the freedom to marry. Additionally, every legislator from Montgomery County, including my District 18 colleagues Delegates Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez, and Jeff Waldstreicher, have signed on as sponsors.
Working with Judicial Proceedings Chairman Brian Frosh, Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, and my strong ally Senator Jamie Raskin , I will do everything I can to move this bill through the committee process and find the votes on the Senate floor. However, this effort will not succeed without your active support. Please call or e-mail your friends and family around the state and encourage them to contact their State Senator and Delegates to urge them to vote for Marriage Equality this year. If you live outside District 18, make sure you contact your legislators as well.
On Wednesday, we celebrated the second inauguration of Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown. On Friday, Gov. O’Malley released his proposed budget for next year. Details are available at his website. His proposal includes a modest reduction in education funding and a plan to reform our employee pension system while protecting the defined benefit plan. Next week’s update will provide more information about the budget as our hearings commence.
Thanks for taking the time to read this legislative update. I look forward to continue updating you on our progress. As always, please feel free to contact me at (301) 858-3137 or e-mail me Richard.Madaleno@senate.state.md.us. Visit www.richmadaleno.com and friend me on Facebook for the latest updates.
Monday, January 24, 2011