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Steve's News from Annapolis

2014-03-03

We have come to the midway point in the legislative session. Last week was the filing deadline for the state’s elective offices. I was surprised to see that 45 of my colleagues in the House have chosen to retire or run for another office. And, even without counting those who may not win reelection, this will bring substantive shifts in the attitudes, culture and policies the state embarks on over the next four years. Meanwhile, the activity of this legislative session has increased with more voting sessions and very lengthy bill hearings.

2014 Election Dates

As a result of population growth and shifts reflected in the 2010 Census, new legislative districts were created throughout the state. Representation in these new districts becomes effective in 2015 when the Governor and new legislators are sworn in. You will be voting in the 2014 Primary and General elections for people in the new districts.  Current district 42 will be divided into sub-districts A and B. 42A will, largely run from the city line to the Beltway and from Loch Raven Boulevard to Charles Street. I am the only incumbent who lives in 42A.

This year’s Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, June 24, 2104. This is a big change due to a federal requirement to ensure that overseas military personnel can get their votes in on time. As a result, Maryland moved the Primary from September to June. Early Voting will take place between Thursday, June 12 and Thursday, June 19, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This year’s General Election will be on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Early General Election Voting will take place between Thursday, October 23 and Thursday, October 30, 2014. Again, the hours are between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Baltimore County Hybrid School Board Hearings

Two weeks ago, two hearings were held on HB 384 which is my bill that seeks to change the way the Baltimore County Board of Education is chosen. In the Ways and Means Committee, we had over 20 people testify in favor of a change to a partially elected/partially appointed Board. Parents and education supporters from the League of Women Voters and from Catonsville, Randallstown, Timonium, Towson, Hereford and Perry Hall shared their frustration with the Board and its lack of accountability. I was very impressed that their comments reflected knowledge and firsthand experience with the issues surrounding an appointed school board. I was also disheartened by their deep frustration with the Board.

One of the witnesses later wrote me why this bill is so important to her:

Yesterday, I sat in that room and thought about Syria the entire time, and my cousin there who is my age, and up until three years ago, had such a wonderful life that paralleled mine; except the differences in the structures of our society. Democracy allows communities to function empowered. I almost shared that in testimony to show how lucky we all are to have a process, flawed and all. Even (with efforts) to hold up the bill, it is remarkable.

The Baltimore County House delegation also heard testimony in favor of the bill on Friday, February 21, 2014. While there were fewer witnesses, the arguments were no less compelling. A delegation sub-committee will now review HB 384, and a few other education bills, and make a recommendation to the delegation.

A Consequence of the Defeat of My Bill Regarding Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

A few weeks, 8 year old Troy Douglas was tragically killed when a building caught on fire and collapsed on him as he walked home from school in Baltimore City. It is difficult to imagine the sadness and pain that the family has been experiencing in the wake of his inexplicable death.

In the aftermath, efforts were made to identify the building’s owner. It is a limited liability company (LLC) with a mailing address at a UPS store in Severna Park! So, how does somebody contact the owner about the fire or the tragic death? You can contact the Resident Agent listed in the state records. However, the Resident Agent’s address is another UPS store! This violates Maryland law. My bill, HB 274, would have required the LLC to provide the name of a person who could speak for the LLC. While it failed in the Economic Matters Committee, it is the kind of legislation that could identify owners of properties such as the one that collapsed on young Troy Douglas. I plan to pursue such legislation next year.

Deferring the Implementation of Common Core

In my last newsletter, I reported on a bill that would delay the implementation of the Common Core Standards until 2016-2017, and another that would delay the evaluation of teachers using the Standards.  Last week, in a committee hearing, State Superintendent, Dr. Lillian Lowery, gave her support to the bill that will delay the evaluation of teachers on the new Common Core assessments until 2017. This is a very good step forward.

Banning of “Revenge Porn’’

The House passed HB 43 which prohibits and makes it a crime to knowingly disclose or post sexually explicit images, pictures or photographs of another person without her/his consent. This type of activity has occurred throughout the country, particularly when a person has become angry that an intimate relationship has ended and is seeking some form of revenge. This use of technology and the internet through these types of postings has created stigma, emotional distress, the loss of one’s privacy and the loss of employment. I was pleased to be a co-sponsor of HB 43 and to vote to outlaw such cyber criminality.

Changes in Maryland’s Marijuana Laws

The House Health and Government Operations Committee heard testimony on two bills, HB 881 and HB 1321, which would provide medical marijuana. Last year, we approved legislation that would allow medical research institutions to establish programs to dispense this drug. No institution took up the opportunity. HB 881 and HB 1321 have been introduced to allow a physician who has a treatment relationship with a patient to prescribe medical marijuana if the patient is experiencing serious pain that the marijuana could relieve. Under both bills, marijuana growers would be licensed and regulated by the state. The bills differ on how the physician could obtain the marijuana.

Bills have also been introduced to decriminalize possession (SB 364) and to legalize the use of marijuana by adults (HB 880/SB 658). Speaker of the House Mike Busch has established a workgroup to examine the laws surrounding the possibility of legalization, with a particular examination of the legalization in Colorado and Washington states. I do not expect the legislature to pass any legislation this year regarding legalization.

Thank You to the State Highway Administration

In addition to the great job that SHA did in cleaning the state roads in the last storm, I want to thank them for responding to my request to clear sidewalks along Loch Raven Boulevard so students could get to school. A constituent pointed out that the sidewalks from Joppa Road down to Cromwell Bridge Road were still covered after the snow, although school was to resume on Feb. 20, 2014. Although it was during the President’s Day holiday, SHA got their employees to clear the sidewalk for students and other pedestrians. Thanks!

I know it has been a tough winter for many as home heating costs have been high, with schools closings and the need to changes schedules due to the many snows. I hope you and your family remained safe throughout this time. And, spring is but three weeks away!

Please feel free to contact me about these or any other legislation that we are considering. I can be reached at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us or at 410-841-3487.

Best wishes,

Steve

Contact Steve

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

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

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