February 9th, 2015
Greetings from Annapolis! In this week’s newsletter, I’d like to discuss Governor Hogan’s State of the State, describe what’s happening in Ways and Means, some details of my bills for 2015 and important information like my Delegate Scholarship application.
State of the State
On Wednesday, February 4th, Governor Larry Hogan delivered his first State of the State Address. While Governor Hogan’s inauguration speech referenced cooperation, fairness, and innovative and non-partisan solutions to our common challenges, we heard very little of that last Wednesday. Instead, Governor Hogan recapitulated a partisan plan of tax cuts, de-regulation, and decimated government. In contrast to facts, he chose to denigrate our state and the hard work of so many over the last 8 years to navigate the recession while maintaining our priorities in education, healthcare, job creation and the environment.
While a very short portion of his message, Hogan did suggest that his legislative agenda includes the following:
- reduce charter schools’ accountability to their local school boards
- repeal the storm water fee levied by the 9 largest jurisdictions to pay for projects to stop polluting the Chesapeake Bay (as we have been federally mandated to do by the Clean Water Act)
- provide a tax exemption on the first $10,000 of personal property owned by small business owners
- exempt retired military, police and firefighters from paying taxes on their pensions. Currently, up to $5,000 is already exempted for these retirees
- stop automatically increasing the gas tax to match inflation. This would cost the state’s Transportation Trust Fund a projected $275 million in revenue over the next four years, according to the state Transportation Department.
- transfer additional funds to the counties for local road repairs — a proposal that could divert $400 million a year from state road and bridge safety projects by 2024. If approved, this would trash the Red and Purple Line light rail projects.
Additionally, initial estimates suggest that Hogan’s proposed tax breaks could cost up to $30 million a year. It is hard for me to understand a budget balanced on the one hand from cuts to Medicaid, education and transportation infrastructure and on the other hand, from proposing millions of dollars of tax cuts that will reduce overall revenue for the state. Do read for yourself: http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-maryland-larry-hogan-speech.html
House Majority Leader Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery) delivered the House Response to Gov. Hogan’s address. In summary, she says we need a well-funded education system, a clean environment, and investments in public sector catalysts that help the private sector grow (i.e., biotech, cybersecurity, green energy). I, like many of my colleagues, am determined to find better solutions in balancing the budget without making cuts to essential services. Maryland is a great place to live, work and raise families, and it takes careful investment to preserve and strengthen our people and our economy.
Click to read the House Response to Governor Hogan’s address.
In last week’s newsletter, I detailed the steps on how the budget passes from the Governor’s desk through the Senate and House of Delegates for final approval. If you missed it or would like to review it again, the link is available below:
My New Committee – Ways and Means
In my last newsletter I also shared that I have been assigned to serve on Ways and Means. The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for monitoring and generating revenue and using legislation to pay for expenses relating to children, youth, and families; education financing for primary and secondary education; elections; lottery and horse racing and taxation.
My subcommittee assignments are: Education, Finance Resources, and Revenues. As the only Delegate from Baltimore City on Ways and Means, I am determined to fight for the needs of Baltimore City and I will continue to be your voice in Annapolis.
Ways and Means Committee Briefings
Last week, we were briefed by the following agencies:
Department of Legislative Services (DLS): provides legal, fiscal, committee, research, reference, auditing, administrative, and technological support to the members of the Maryland General Assembly and its committees.
Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE): develops and implements standards and policy for education programs from pre-kindergarten through high school. It also oversees technical education, rehabilitation services, and library programs throughout the Maryland’s 24 school systems.
Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland (PSSAM): an association of educational leaders who represent the 24 school systems in Maryland. PSSAM advocates for legislative policies that will support and improve public education for all students attending Maryland public schools.
Maryland State Education Association (MSEA): an organization comprised of teachers, education support professionals, administrators, certificated specialists, higher education faculty, and student and retired members who advocate for Maryland teachers and students.
Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC): advocates for the benefits of community college services for Maryland residents.
State Board of Elections: responsible for voter registration, accessible locations to vote, uniformity of election practices, fair and equitable elections as well as maintaining registration records and campaign fund reports.
My Bills for 2015
Below is a brief summary of two of my bills I submitted for the 2015 Legislative Session. My bills do not have official names or numbers assigned to them as of yet. Here is an overview:
Foster Care Bill
Will require that the Department of Human Resources (DHR) do the following for foster care youth who turn 18 and are discharged:
- Screen and enroll youth for public benefits, ensure youth have stable housing for one year and have appropriate income to sustain them financially for one year.
- Advise youth before they are discharged at 18 that they can re-enter the system until age 21, contact youth about re-entry if it is learned a young person is homeless, and require youth have a birth certificate, social security card, health insurance, medical records, driver’s license and/or state ID.
Commission on Rent Stabilization
This bill will create a commission to study how to protect tenants from sharp increases in rent. This problem can lead to more vacant properties, a lack of affordable housing, and eventually to homelessness.
Opportunities and Community Engagement
43rd Legislative District Night in Annapolis
Please join the 43rd District Team: Senator Joan Carter Conway, Delegates Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh and I for 43rd Legislative District Night in Annapolis. Hosted by Senator Joan Carter Conway, the event will be held tonight, Monday, February 9th, from 5pm -8pm in the Miller Senate Building, President Conference Room 2 West. We hope to see you there!
Amazon is Hiring
Anyone looking for employment? Amazon, one of the largest internet retailers in the U.S., is looking to hire 1,000 workers for its new fulfillment center in Baltimore. For information on applying, please visit http://www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com/opportunities/.
Invited Appearance: Fox 45 State House Spotlight
This week I was invited to speak on Fox 45’s morning television segment State House Spotlight. Republican Delegate Pat McDonough and I debated Governor Hogan’s budget proposal for 2016 and its impact on education in Maryland.
Delegate Scholarships Award Applications for 2015-2016
Delegate Scholarship Award Applications for 2015-2016 will be available in mid-April on my website www.delmarywashington.com/scholarship. For information about eligibility requirements, please click on the links to the MHEC website.
Keep in Touch
I will continue to do my best to provide detailed updates and alerts via email and other meetings, and you can follow my daily activities and breaking news by liking my Facebook fan page facebook.com/delmarywashington43 or following me at twitter.com/DelMaryW.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Delegate Mary Washington