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Steve's News From Annapolis

2013-02-18

The legislature is now at a point when the pace clearly accelerates. There are more bill hearings and floor votes, increased discussions about legislation, and more visits from advocates and special interests.

I consider it a privilege to have many visits from constituents on issues that are important to their families and businesses. This is a critical part of my responsibilities since they help to inform me about issues upon which we may vote and helps me to understand the breadth of concerns facing our communities. I always appreciate these visits.

I met with two young men from the district in the past couple of weeks. I was “shadowed” by Usjid Hameed, a senior at Dulaney High School, who stayed with me as I met with advocates, attending hearings and was on the floor of the House. He was very curious about the legislative role we have.

One of the House pages last week was Tom Brennan, a senior at Loyola Blakefield. He told me about his success in expanding recycling at his school, his interest in environment and how interesting it is to serve as a page. Then, he challenged me to do more to reduce the hard (“impervious”) surfaces that allow polluted run-off from getting into the Bay! He’s right!

Education

Dallas Dance, the Superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools met with our County House delegation and shared his recommendations for: closing the education gap and raising the achievement bar, for managing the system’s growth and for funding future needs. He has been identifying the different performance levels in the schools so that resources can be provided where needed. He is also developing a comprehensive, long range infrastructure plan to address the issues of our ageing schools.

The hybrid school board bill was heard last week. The parents and educational advocates who testified did an outstanding job. They spoke of the need for accountability and responsiveness and the overwhelming support that the PTA Council of Baltimore County has given for this change. The bill provides for the election of six members and the appointment of five people. This would be a change from the all appointed Board we now have. A committee hearing was a first, and important, step to passage.

Job Development and Creation

EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) was heard in both the House and the Senate.  HB227  provides funding for workforce training collaboration between businesses, local governments, non-profits and community colleges to create jobs in the private sector. EARN seeks to close the gaps between the real workforce needs and the skills that Marylanders have. Such a collaborative is overdue in this tough economy.

The Veterans’ Full Employment Act of 2013, HB225 will facilitate an expedited process for issuing professional licenses, registrations and certificates to active duty military, veterans and their spouses who are settling in Maryland. When military personnel relocate they often are unable to transfer licensures in order to find work. Agencies will also develop criteria for granting credits for the experience that military personnel and vets have had. We need to encourage and assist those who have served to enter and remain in Maryland’s work force.

This year’s Public Private Partnership bill, HB560 has the solid support of businesses, labor and local governments. As last year’s floor leader on the bill, I was glad to see greater agreement in support of an initiative that can bring substantial private capital to needed infrastructure projects. P3s can be an important way to rebuild transportation, wastewater, and water systems and, perhaps, other public facilities. Strong partnerships can help meet our needs without relying on increases in taxes.

Gun Violence and Death Penalty Legislation

The two biggest issues the legislature has seen, so far, is the Governor’s proposal to repeal the death penalty and to implement a number of changes in our gun laws, including licensing, background checks for purchases, the banning of assault weapons and a reduction in the size of bullet clips or magazines.

Both of these issues have drawn thousands to Annapolis and thousands of emails and contacts with my office. I have previously stated my position in favor of both efforts – and received a large number of pro and con comments. Hearings have been long, contentious and full of passion on both sides. I do not know when we will be asked to vote on either the death penalty repeal or any parts of the gun legislation.

As always, please let me know if you have any concerns or want to share your thoughts on these or other issues. I can be reached at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us and at 410-841-3487.

Sincerely,

Steve

Contact Steve

Contact Delegate Lafferty
By Phone: 410-841-3487
By Email: stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us

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By Phone: 410-377-4521
By Email: lafferty@delegatelafferty.com

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