AU Today--the agitprop organ of the university which employs both of us--has a front-page above-the-fold photo of Sen. Raskin at work with a story about how his recent cancer has helped drive his support for medical marijuana in Maryland.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Marriage equality in Maryland is far from a done deal--it needs a lot of urgent support to convince legislators to pass the bill--but the addition of new legislative supporters and cosponsors of the bill in both the House and the Senate lend hope that it can happen this year with a strong push. The Gazette reports.
January 29, 2011
Joseph Rigby, Chairman
Pepco Holdings Inc.
701 Ninth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20068
Re: Pepco Power Outages Beginning January 26, 2011
Dear Mr. Rigby:
It is with great frustration and enormous concern for the 26,000 Montgomery County residents and the 1,500 Prince George’s County residents that remain without power that I write, yet again, to express my anger that we seem to be back where we started.
Why can’t Pepco perform as its fellow utilities do? To date, BGE has restored service to 227,800 of the 233,500, or 98%, of its customers affected by the storm. Pepco still has 27,500 customers in Maryland without electricity, a restoration rate of a dismal 80%. I am also outraged that your customer communication remains unacceptable; the outage map posted to your website crashed yet again, leaving customers seeking information about their outage in the dark.
Finally, the reports of Pepco’s slow response in requesting assistance from other jurisdictions is outrageous and demands further inquiry.
Despite earnest promises, numerous press releases, and even a six point plan, families in our State woke up, for the third morning in a row, to a cold, dark house, with Pepco advising them that service should be restored by 11 pm tomorrow night. Five days in the dark is simply not acceptable.
I have asked the Public Service Commission to conduct an immediate hearing regarding these many issues arising from this storm. I also expect the General Assembly to pass legislation that Delegate Feldman and I will introduce, requiring the Commission to adopt enhanced reliability standards and allowing the Commission to fine utilities for poor performance and direct those payments back to the affected ratepayers.
I know that the Pepco employees are hard at work, in cold difficult conditions, doing the best work they can. My frustration is directed at you and your leadership team; these elongated outages must end.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
cc: Douglas R. M. Nazarian, Chairman
From Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen's e-newsletter:
On Tuesday we will vote on the Resolution I introduced urging the Maryland General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act during the 2011 state legislative session. To me it is a question of civil rights. Allowing the thousands of same-sex couples in Maryland to legally commit their lives to each other is the right thing to do to make the Free State even freer. I'm pleased that all of my colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would remove references to sex and gender as eligibility requirements to receive marriage licenses and would extend to same-sex couples all state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations. It would not compel any religious institution or members of the clergy to marry same-sex couples.
Opposite-sex couples, whose marriages are honored by the government, have access to more than 400 state-administered and more than 1,000 federally-administered benefits, protections and responsibilities that are otherwise unavailable to same-sex families. Many of these vital protections come at times of great vulnerability such as birth, death, illness, disability and unemployment. The federal Defense of Marriage Act still prevents same-sex married couples from accessing federal benefits.
Montgomery County has long been committed to non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, genetic status, sex, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity.
The Resolution is scheduled for adoption on Feb. 1. It includes the following:
The MontgomeryCounty Council recognizes that the opportunity to publicly and legally commit to share one's life with the person of one's choice is of the most central aspects of human experience, and denial of marriage to same-sex couples is the denial of a fundamental civil right.
Therefore, the Montgomery County Council urges:
That the Maryland General Assembly pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to amend state law to remove references to sex and gender as eligibility requirements for a civil marriage license and provide all of the state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations of marriage, regardless of sexual orientation;
That the Montgomery County Delegation and members of the General Assembly cosponsor, advocate, and vote for passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act;
That the Speaker of the House of Delegates and President of the Senate move marriage equality legislation to the floor of their respective chambers for a vote during this legislative session;
That the Governor of Maryland sign into law the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act upon its passage by the General Assembly;
That this resolution be sent to the Governor of Maryland, the Honorable Chairs and Members of the Montgomery County House and Senate Delegations, the President of the Maryland Senate and Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The full content as well info on where to call about outages after the jump. - Allegheny Power: 1-800-255-3443 It’s been a busy few days in Annapolis with the release of the Governor’s budget last Friday. As the debate goes forward, I want to let you know some highlights of the budget and give you an explanation of the budget process. I also want to make sure you’re aware of our District 14 Night in Annapolis this coming Monday, January 31st at 6:00 PM. District 14 Night is an opportunity for you to hear updates from our delegation and talk to us about the issues on your mind. I hope to see you there: District 14 Night Budget Process Maryland’s budget is the only bill that the General Assembly is constitutionally mandated to pass, and the constitution also mandates that our budget be balanced. That said, it’s important to understand that Maryland has one of the strongest executive-driven budget processes in the country, so the legislature may cut the budget but may not add to it. This year, the House of Delegates moves the budget first, but both chambers will have a chance to weigh in before a conference committee negotiates a final budget. Much of the debate in the House will take place on the Appropriations Committee. While I sit on a different committee, my District 14 colleague Craig Zucker is on Appropriations and has been constantly updating us about the work of that committee. The delegation will be working closely together throughout the debate to ensure that our district’s voice is heard. Proposed Budget This past year, the Spending Affordability Committee composed of legislators and members of the public recommended that the Governor’s budget close at least one-third of the states long-term structural deficit. Governor O’Malley has proposed a budget that exceeds the target, reducing the structural deficit by 35%. This was a challenging task, in particular because the end of federal stimulus spending meant a steep drop in federal monies going to education and health care. Some highlights of the Governor’s budget are below: Education: Education funding would remain level, and the Geographic Cost of Education Index that supports schools in high-cost jurisdictions like Montgomery County is fully funded. $250 million is dedicated to school construction in order to help modernize some of our older school buildings. The proposed budget also limits increases in tuition at public universities to 3%, with the goal of keeping college affordable. Health Care: The Governor’s budget proposes to continue our commitment to health care by maintaining funding for Medicaid even as more Marylanders have turned to the program during the recession. It also increases reimbursements for developmental disabilities providers, a necessary step in providing basic services to our most vulnerable citizens. Job Creation: Support for job creation is a key goal of the state as we climb out of the recession. The proposed budget maintains funding for the biotech tax credit and stem cell research, increases to $2.5 million the small business credit recovery program, and creates a new program called InvestMaryland which will drive more venture capital to the state. Public Employees: For the first time in three years, the state budget does not propose to furlough state employees. It also includes a one-time bonus for state employees, partially paid for by the elimination of 1,000 positions in state government due to the Employee Buy-Out program. State government will be leaner and more efficient as a result. Pensions: Unfortunately, the proposed budget also includes drastic cuts to the teacher pension program, which would require new teachers to pay more for a smaller pension. While I agree with the Governor that some changes are necessary to the pensions, I remain concerned that the proposed changes will make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talented new teachers. The single most important factor in a child’s success in school is the quality of the teacher we put in front of them. In the pension debate, we need to remember the real consequences of our decisions – it is not just a fiscal dilemma, but an educational one as well. I will continue to be engaged in the budget debate, and I hope to hear from you as it goes forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 301-858-3110 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
It looks like the first big storm of the winter is here. As beautiful as snow can be, I want to encourage you to pay attention and stay safe on the roads. It felt like I skidded most of the way to Annapolis this morning, and the roads are likely to be much worse by the end of the evening. As the snow falls, please feel free to contact my Annapolis office at 301-858-3110 if I can be of assistance. You can get information and updates on snow plowing from the county’s winter weather website. In addition, should you lose power, the numbers to report outages are as follows:
- BG&E: 1-877-778-2222
- PEPCO: 1-877-PEPCO-62
January 31st, 6:00 PM
Lowe House Office Building, Room 170
- Allegheny Power: 1-800-255-3443
It’s been a busy few days in Annapolis with the release of the Governor’s budget last Friday. As the debate goes forward, I want to let you know some highlights of the budget and give you an explanation of the budget process. I also want to make sure you’re aware of our District 14 Night in Annapolis this coming Monday, January 31st at 6:00 PM. District 14 Night is an opportunity for you to hear updates from our delegation and talk to us about the issues on your mind. I hope to see you there:
District 14 Night
Maryland’s budget is the only bill that the General Assembly is constitutionally mandated to pass, and the constitution also mandates that our budget be balanced. That said, it’s important to understand that Maryland has one of the strongest executive-driven budget processes in the country, so the legislature may cut the budget but may not add to it. This year, the House of Delegates moves the budget first, but both chambers will have a chance to weigh in before a conference committee negotiates a final budget. Much of the debate in the House will take place on the Appropriations Committee. While I sit on a different committee, my District 14 colleague Craig Zucker is on Appropriations and has been constantly updating us about the work of that committee. The delegation will be working closely together throughout the debate to ensure that our district’s voice is heard.
This past year, the Spending Affordability Committee composed of legislators and members of the public recommended that the Governor’s budget close at least one-third of the states long-term structural deficit. Governor O’Malley has proposed a budget that exceeds the target, reducing the structural deficit by 35%. This was a challenging task, in particular because the end of federal stimulus spending meant a steep drop in federal monies going to education and health care. Some highlights of the Governor’s budget are below:
Education: Education funding would remain level, and the Geographic Cost of Education Index that supports schools in high-cost jurisdictions like Montgomery County is fully funded. $250 million is dedicated to school construction in order to help modernize some of our older school buildings. The proposed budget also limits increases in tuition at public universities to 3%, with the goal of keeping college affordable.
Health Care: The Governor’s budget proposes to continue our commitment to health care by maintaining funding for Medicaid even as more Marylanders have turned to the program during the recession. It also increases reimbursements for developmental disabilities providers, a necessary step in providing basic services to our most vulnerable citizens.
Job Creation: Support for job creation is a key goal of the state as we climb out of the recession. The proposed budget maintains funding for the biotech tax credit and stem cell research, increases to $2.5 million the small business credit recovery program, and creates a new program called InvestMaryland which will drive more venture capital to the state.
Public Employees: For the first time in three years, the state budget does not propose to furlough state employees. It also includes a one-time bonus for state employees, partially paid for by the elimination of 1,000 positions in state government due to the Employee Buy-Out program. State government will be leaner and more efficient as a result.
Pensions: Unfortunately, the proposed budget also includes drastic cuts to the teacher pension program, which would require new teachers to pay more for a smaller pension. While I agree with the Governor that some changes are necessary to the pensions, I remain concerned that the proposed changes will make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talented new teachers. The single most important factor in a child’s success in school is the quality of the teacher we put in front of them. In the pension debate, we need to remember the real consequences of our decisions – it is not just a fiscal dilemma, but an educational one as well.
I will continue to be engaged in the budget debate, and I hope to hear from you as it goes forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 301-858-3110 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Posted by David Lublin at 10:01 AM
Details on registration after the jump. Women in Politics Panel Immigration Panel Professional Development Panel Environmental Panel 12:00pm Nominations for YDM Executive Board
Have you registered for the YDM Convention yet? Registration at the $10 level closes tomorrow at midnight. Make sure you’re on the doorlist with the discounted rate!
It’s only $10 ($25 if you want a t-shirt) if you register by TOMORROW NIGHT at midnight and registration is FREE for high school students and those with economic hardships! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact information with subject line “YDM Convention.” Registration is $15 at the door on Saturday, January 29.
This year, we have another exciting speaker line up featuring Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senator Ben Cardin, and State Senator Victor Ramirez, and much more! We’ve got breakout sessions with fantastic speakers, elections for our caucuses, and some of the most engaging speakers around the state. Check out the schedule below and click here to register.
Also, don’t forget to purchase your tickets to the Roast of Jake Weissmann – just $25. If you’re looking forward to laughing and Jake writing in humiliation, you’re in for a good time.
The College Park Clarion Inn is offering a special deal to Young Democrats on Friday and Saturday night at the rate of $60 a night. To get this deal, just call the Clarion at 301-474-2800 and mention the Young Democrats to get the rate. The Clarion Inn is located on Rt. 1 in College Park at 8601 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD.
Schedule of Events
Friday, January 28, 2011
Hank’s Eats and Tavern
6507 America Blvd.
6:30pm Reception Begins
7:30pm Recognition of Young Elected Officials
7:45pm Keynote Address – Howard County Executive Ken Ulman
IBEW Local 26
4371 Parliament Place
8:00am Breakfast and Registration Opens
9:10am Morning Speaker – Senator Ben Cardin
9:30am By-Laws Discussion
10:00am Women’s Caucus Elections & Chapter Updates
10:30am Breakout Session #1
12:10pm LGBT Caucus/Rural Caucus Meeting
12:20pm Lunch Speaker – State Senator Victor Ramirez
1:00pm Breakout Session #2 (See above)
2:15pm YDA Update
2:30pm YDM Update
2:45pm Plenary Session – The State Budget
3:30pm Minority Caucus Elections
4:00pm Afternoon Speaker – Congressman & Minority Whip Steny Hoyer
4:30pm YDM Executive Board Elections & Chapter Updates
Purchase an official YDM t-shirt for just $15 extra dollars! Register for convention and select the $25 option!
We’re looking forward to seeing you THIS WEEKEND for some engaging speakers, informative educational sessions, and great company. Questions? Email email@example.com with any comments, questions, or concerns. And make sure you register by TOMORROW NIGHT!
The YDM Statewide Convention Committee
Women in Politics Panel
Professional Development Panel
12:00pm Nominations for YDM Executive Board
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Aaron Kaufman, a new member of MCDCC and a strong supporter of the alcohol tax increase, passed along the results of a poll conducted by OpinionWorks for Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative.
Our most recent Maryland statewide voter poll, conducted December 20-28, 2010 among 663 likely voters statewide, has found overwhelming support for an increased tax of 10 cents per alcoholic drink tied to funding health-related priorities. Two-thirds of likely voters support the proposed alcohol tax increase.
If dedicated to deficit reduction, support for the alcohol tax increase remains strong, with a solid majority supporting an alcohol tax increase. At a time of continuing economic stress for average households and little appetite for new taxes, there are strong indications that Maryland voters believe the State’s leaders should make an exception to pass an increased alcohol tax.
Strong Support for an Alcohol Tax Increase
Two-thirds of the electorate (66%) favor an increased tax of 10 cents per alcoholic drink if the revenue is dedicated to health-related priorities such as alcohol and drug treatment and prevention, health care for the uninsured, training for health care workers, and programs for people with developmental disabilities and mental health needs. A near-majority of 45% of Maryland voters say they “feel that way strongly” about their support. Less than one-third of voters (31%) oppose the alcohol tax increase.
A majority of 55% of Maryland likely voters support an increased alcohol tax tied to deficit reduction, with nearly four voters in ten (39%) saying they feel that way strongly.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Read the story here. Topline numbers after the jump.
Marriage leads by 51-44. Gov. Martin O'Malley's numbers also look good with 58 percent approving and 30 disapproving of his job as governor--his highest ratings since winning election in 2006.
In contrast, 56 percent favor the death penalty while 36 percent oppose it, though 60 percent say life without parole is an acceptable option while 33 percent do not. On gun control, 45 percent want stricter laws, 24 percent want less strict laws, and 26 percent favor no change.
. . . according to Kiplinger thanks to Gov. O'Malley's tuition freeze and the university's high-quality:
Virtually all of the schools we list raised their price in 2010-11, but the University of Maryland, which maintained a tuition freeze for four straight years, kept this year's total cost increase to less than $600. The first-class flagship continues its march up our rankings, moving from number eight last year to number five in 2010-11.
“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” --Susan Sontag
“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”
The new legislative session has launched, the Governor has been inaugurated, and I am thrilled to be back representing you in Annapolis.
Before I give you my sense of where things stand politically, I want to thank everyone for your incredibly warm letters, emails, notes, prayers, poetry, hand-painted get-well signs from elementary school classes, care packages, New Age cures, customized “cd mixes” from Blair high school students, homemade dinners and chocolate chip cookies. My cup runneth over with your friendship and affection.
The loving support of my community of friends and neighbors has been integral to my recovery. I am feeling great, the tumor is gone, the cancer is on the run, and I am half-way through chemotherapy, which will end in April (knock on wood) along with the legislative session. I will always keep my passport to the land of sickness and will never forget how many people are living there. This experience—and hearing cancer stories from nearly everyone I meet these days-- makes me all that more passionate about keeping carcinogens and other pollutants out of our water and air and providing first-class health care coverage to all Marylanders and Americans. I cannot imagine what it would be like to go through this kind of thing without health insurance.
Progressive Surge and A New Day in Annapolis
I rejoin a State Senate that has been transformed by the 2010 election. Unlike almost every State Senate in America, we actually picked up Democratic seats--one from the Eastern Shore and one in Frederick County. Moreover, we saw progressive Democrats replace more conservative Democrats in contested primaries in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore. Whereas I was the only newcomer to beat an incumbent Senator in the Democratic primaries in 2006, we saw many cases in 2010 in which Democratic primary voters chose between progressive-change Democrats and business-as-usual incumbents and overwhelmingly voted for a clean break from machine-style let’s-make-a-deal politics.
This progressive surge in Maryland significantly bolsters the power of the District 20 delegation to advance the agenda you have sent us to promote. I believe that this Term, and in many cases this Session, we will pass the following bills that I have been championing and that suddenly look like very good bets indeed:
- The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which will permit all Marylanders, straight and gay, to marry the person they love and enjoy all the rights and all the responsibilities of marriage.
- An increase in the alcohol tax--which was last raised during the first Eisenhower administration--to pay for badly underfunded programs for the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill.
- The Direct Wine Shipment Act, which will give Maryland’s wine-lovers the right that Americans enjoy in 37 states to have wine shipped to their homes and Maryland’s wineries the right to ship wine all over the state and the nation to their growing customer base. This legislation will permit us to recapture between $1-2 million in tax revenues lost every year to neighboring jurisdictions as our citizens have their wine shipped to Virginia or Washington, D.C. and then smuggle it home!
- Clean the Streams and Beautify the Bay Act of 2011, imposing a nickel tax on plastic bags so we can get the plastic out of our waterways and environment, and the Watershed Protection Act, comprehensive storm water legislation that will require every county to set up a storm water utility with a fee based on commercial and residential acreage. The rain waters today are carrying toxic contaminants, soot and garbage directly into our waterways and this is the fastest growing threat to the recovery of the Bay.
- A compulsory ignition interlock device for convicted drunk drivers. This is the bill I have been pushing with Mothers Against Drunk Driving for a compulsory built-in breathalyzer that does not allow a car to start until the driver passes a breath test. Similar legislation in Arizona and New Mexico has reduced drunk driving fatalities in those states by more than 35%. We will save dozens of lives when we pass it.
- Campaign finance reform legislation to compel disclosure by corporations that engage in independent expenditures and to close the myriad loopholes that permit big donors to circumvent all the contribution limits. I was proud again in 2010 to be the only Member of the Senate not to accept corporate and partnership campaign contributions but the continuing flow of special-interest money twists the public agenda and thwarts much of the best legislation introduced in Annapolis.
- Affordable Health Care Act to make it illegal for insurance companies to drop patients because they have pre-existing conditions or have become ill; to expand health incurance coverage; and to lower the costs of medical care.
The Budget Crisis and Politics on the Spirit Level
The key theme of our legislative session, as in nearly every state in the Union, is fiscal crisis and how to close a budget gap estimated in our state to be more than $1.3 billion. The budget axes and machetes are starting to swing.
As Vice-Chairman of the Montgomery County delegation in the Senate, I will do everything I can to protect and defend level funding of our schools and colleges, essential social services, our health care infrastructure, and public employee pensions.
But there will, no doubt, be fiscal pain administered in Annapolis, which is why I think we need to take a broader and deeper look at the politics and economics of the moment.
There is no way that we can properly address the breakdown in our physical and social infrastructure until we realign federal budget priorities, which are skewed beyond belief in the direction of what President Dwight Eisenhower called 50 years ago this week the “military-industrial complex.” My District 20 colleague Delegate Sheila Hixson and I have asked every Member of the General Assembly to join us in sending this letter to our Congressional delegation urging them to fight for a major shift in federal spending away from military expenditure and war towards investment in domestic priorities and human needs. We hope legislatures across America controlled by both major parties will follow our lead in asking Congress to revisit the wisdom of President Eisenhower who said that the “world in arms . . .is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
But our stubborn economic crisis compels us to search even more deeply for flaws in our economic thinking. Anyone who paid attention to the multi-trillion dollar sub-prime mortgage meltdown knows that deregulation and regulatory capture by big business are a recipe for economic and social failure. We are still paying the outrageous price of having government run by lobbyists and large corporations during the Bush, Cheney and Abramoff years.
But there is another major culprit in social breakdown that is identified in an excellent book I just finished reading called The Spirit Level by British public health specialists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
The culprit is inequality.
The authors examine reams of cross-national data about life expectancy and infant mortality, child wellbeing, mental illness, obesity, educational success and drop-out rates, homicide and suicide, crime, imprisonment, social mobility and levels of social trust.
They arrive at a striking conclusion. While all of these public and social health indicators improve dramatically for poor countries as they increase their GNP and average family incomes, once countries reach a certain level of prosperity, wealth and average income have very little to do with the physical and mental health of the population and its happiness.
What matters once basic needs are met in a society is not how rich the society is but how equal it is. In the healthiest and happiest societies, the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor is much smaller than what is found in societies that have high infant mortality, high crime and violence, high rate of mental illness and suicide, high drop-out rates and so on. High inequality means lots of social chaos.
When the authors turn their attention to the United States, they document the same pattern. The key indicator of public health and wellbeing is not how rich or poor a state is, but how equal or unequal it is. The states that have the worst public health outcomes and the lowest levels of happiness are the most unequal states like Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama; the healthiest states tend to be not the richest ones, like Connecticut, New Jersey or Maryland, alas, but the ones with the least inequality, like Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin.
Why would this be so? The authors show that everyone benefits from living in a society with “equality of conditions,” which is what struck Tocqueville about America when he came here in the 1830s. When public policy permits huge economic extremes of the kind we see in America today, the “inequality gets under the skin” and erodes social trust, undermining everyone’s sense of well-being and security. It produces anxiety and shame among the poor, who become overwhelmed by the burdens and indignities of going without in the midst of plenty. It forces an anxious middle class, struggling to make ends meet, to constantly play “catch up” with the demands of corporate consumerism and conspicuous consumption. Meantime, the wealthy respond to high levels of crime and disorder in unequal societies by walling themselves off in gated communities with security guards and expensive alarm systems and privatized services of every kind. The “spirit level” suffers as people lose their sense of common experience and their commitment to public things.
The portrait of society painted by these researchers hit very close to home for me. I am committed to working in this session to promote not just fairness but real equality, which produces better health and well-being for everyone. As Dr. King put it, “All life is interrelated. All humanity is involved in but a single process and to the degree I harm my brother, to that extent I harm myself.”
The “spirit level” is a lived commitment to the equal rights and potential of all of our fellow citizens. So I wish you a happy belated Martin Luther King Day in honor of the greatest champion of equality we ever had. The good people of Silver Spring and Takoma Park are working every day to make his dream live. May we recapture in our days the spirit of nonviolence, the passion for justice and the moral solidarity that Dr. King embodied and advanced in his lifetime.
All best wishes,
p.s. You are always welcome in Annapolis, either to testify on legislation or just to see your representatives in action, so do let me know if we can help you in any way arrange a visit. Meantime, I will be at Impact Silver Spring and Progressive Neighbors' legislative forum this Sunday, January 23, at 2:00 pm at Impact Silver Spring, 825 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring.
p.p.s. I wrote a report for People for the American Way recently on the Tea Party and its constitutional philosophy. If interested, you can read it here. And you can also read my "birthday card" to the Citizens United decision in the Huffington Post here.
Monday, January 24, 2011
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also add comments or questions about this update and see my new community events calendar by visiting my website.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
We just wrapped up our first full week of the Legislative Session, so I’d like to share with you what’s been going on in Annapolis. Provided below is my weekly “Reznik Report” video blog, where I will discuss important happenings and issues in Annapolis:
Reznik Report Week 2
Below is some additional information I would like to share with you to keep you better informed:
1) As mentioned in the video blog, the General Assembly established a commission to study our state employee and retiree pension system. Last week, this commission released its interim report, which you can find here.
2) As we try to keep warm during another cold winter, we’re reminded that this is also a time when home heating bills tend to soar. I wanted to share with you a way that you could possibly save some money. The Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP), can help you save energy and money through implementation of energy efficient improvements recommended by an approved energy auditor. You could also obtain loans for improving insulation, sealing air ducts, installing ENERGY-star-rated heating and air-conditioning equipment, and other weatherization steps. Click here to learn more.
3) On Thursday, Jan. 27, we will conduct the annual Fallen Heroes Remembrance Day ceremony in the House of Delegates chamber. This event honors Maryland veterans who sacrificed their lives this past year. If you are serving, have served, or know someone from our district who has served as a member of our armed forces and would like to attend, please contact Suzanne White at 410-841-3332.
That's it for this week. As always if you have any questions or concerns regarding information in this e-mail or any issues affecting our state or local community please contact my office at email@example.com.
Del. Kirill Reznik
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Delegate Brian Feldman (District 15), who is the Chairman of the 24 member delegation from Montgomery County, will be on "Political Pulse" to discuss the upcoming 90 day session in Annapolis on:
Thurs, January 13th at 9:00 pm;
Fri-Sun, January 14th-16th at 6:00 pm; and
Tues, January 18th, at 9:30 pm.
Political Pulse is on Channel 16 TV in Montgomery County, MD.
Friday, January 07, 2011
“The purpose of bringing this committee together and creating the report was to determine whether Maryland's existing laws are out of date or are otherwise ill-suited to today's campaign finance environment,” said Attorney General Gansler. “The committee members took on the monumental task of reviewing Maryland's laws and regulations and developed well-thought out recommendations that will assist all of the key players who create, regulate and interpret Maryland's campaign finance laws.”
See a summary of the report here and the full report in .pdf format here.
The Committee contained three state legislators as members--Sens. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard) and Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) and Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George's)--as well as well as attorneys with experience in working for both parties and the FEC, and people who work for the State Board of Elections.
The specific recommendations of the report begin on page 51. I won't repeat them here but they call for specific legislative action by the General Assembly as well as the Office of the AG. The questions faced by the committee include adapting to a spate of recent Supreme Court decisions with major implications in this area as well more generally improving the campaign finance system in the State.
No one can say that the Attorney General--sworn in yesterday in Baltimore--intends to avoid tough or controversial issues in his second term.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
MCDCC Member Aaron Kaufman forwarded the following information:
At our Tuesday, January 11 meeting, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) will continue the process of nominating candidates to serve on the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The Members of the Board of Elections serve for a four-year term and oversee the operations of the Board.
The MCDCC will consider candidates for the two remaining positions: (1) regular member and (1) substitute member.
To be eligible for consideration, an individual must be a Democrat and registered to vote in Montgomery County for five years preceding appointment. In addition, an individual may not hold or be a candidate for public or party office. Election board members are also prohibited from taking an active part in political activity (for a full explanation of limitations on political activity, see Section 4.2 of the Bylaws of the Maryland State Board of Elections).
To apply: Please send a letter of interest and a resume or biographical sketch to the MCDCC at 3720 Farragut Avenue, #303, Kensington, MD 20895-2195 or email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 301/946-1002. The deadline to apply is close of business, Monday, January 10, 2011.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
The New York Times has the story on how the Big Apple is going green fast with this aggressive expansion of public transit that is already going while the 2nd Ave. subway line construction is just getting started. Why is New York going with rapid bus which Marc Elrich has been promoting for Montgomery County?
But it's the cost advantage that really hits home.Experience:
Officials estimate that modern metropolitan areas spend on average $1 billion per mile to build a new subway line. A full-blown, Bogota-style bus rapid transit system is estimated to be roughly a thousand times cheaper -- just $1 million per mile.
The buses themselves resemble light-rail trains, and they move in their own lanes. Federal grants are helping to pay for the improvements, even after MTA budget woes forced the agency to cut dozens of regular bus routes early last year.Speed:
"It's a lot faster," said Daniel Hernandez, a Brooklyn resident who rides the bus to work daily in Midtown Manhattan. "The best part is you can board through the back door. That speeds things up a lot."Popularity:
Indeed, northbound traveling from the South Street Seaport to 42nd Street took a reporter less than 20 minutes to travel more than 50 blocks, a time comparable to a trip on a subway train that stops at every station. Southbound from Harlem, the trip gets disrupted by the 2nd Avenue subway construction but can still cover 125th Street to the Chrysler Building in about the same amount of time.
New York's testing of bus rapid transit began in 2008 in the Bronx, where DOT and MTA jointly implemented a system for the Bx12 bus along Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway.Can Easily Expand the System:
The east-west route has since become one of New York's most heavily used. The Straphangers Campaign, a division of the nonprofit New York Public Interest Research Group that advocates for public transit riders, surveyed the route this summer and found that it now runs 25 percent faster than the old express service.
"It has really, really done a great job for east-west commutes in the Bronx," said Cate Contino, a campaign coordinator. "Ridership on that has skyrocketed. It's now in like the top five or 10 for the city."
Expansion of "bus rapid transit light" throughout New York City is now under way.
DOT plans to roll out a new line in Brooklyn, along the B44 route from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg.
Up next is likely a line along 34th Street in Manhattan that would cross the island east to west along that notoriously difficult thoroughfare. The city has considered plans to cut the middle portion off to passenger vehicles entirely to speed up the route for buses. Now Contino says there's talk that the entire route could become the first full-blown bus rapid transit route, with all curbside parking eliminated in favor of buses and stations.
Even Staten Island will likely be included. In that borough, DOT is already experimenting with technology that allows regular bus drivers to order a red light to turn green as it approaches, speeding up travel times to the Staten Island Ferry port. Officials are considering expanding this "signal prioritization technology" to the SBS routes in Manhattan and the Bronx and to any new routes added later.
Officials are also eying Queens for opportunities there. A recent DOT study of the feasibility of spreading bus rapid transit throughout the city concluded that the five boroughs could all benefit from such systems in at least eight to 10 heavily congested traffic corridors in each borough.
That suggests up to 50 new lines could be added to the nascent system in the years to come. Both the Pratt Center and Straphangers Campaign say their experience with the two lines put in so far tells them this is a good way for the city to go. DOT reports suggest the city is already moving forward on 16 of the most promising routes.