Stay Informed

Steve's News from Annapolis

2015-02-23

We are now more than a third of the way through the 2015 Session of the Maryland General Assembly. Bill hearings are in full swing, except last Tuesday when the snow lead to a cancellation of all hearings in the House. If there are any bills that interest you, I suggest you visit the General Assembly’s website, www.mgaleg.maryland.gov, where you can find bills by number, sponsor or subject matter.

Recent legislation

My bill, HB 351, which would require Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to identify a person who would be responsible for communicating with the public, was heard in the Economic Matters Committee. While it was largely a positive hearing, I will work with Committee members on their concerns so that, at least, there is a name and street address where a representative can be contacted.  There have been serious problems when distressed properties are owned by an LLC but the neighbors can’t identify and contact the owner about concerns or when a worker doesn’t get paid on Friday and the LLC can’t be found. I am optimistic about the chance of success this year.

My committee, the Environment and Transportation Committee, considered bills to ban microbeads in personal care products (HB 216), my bill (HB 182) to expand the state’s Maryland Mortgage Program, and to allow Tesla to sell its all electric vehicles in Maryland without going through a separate dealership (HB 235).

Microbeads are small beads of plastic used in toothpaste, skin creams and other products to provide an abrasive material. However, they do not break down or biodegrade and enter the waterways where they are eaten by sea animals or remain in the waters and the soil. This bill will require the elimination of these plastics starting in 2017. I believe this will pass with little opposition since the personal care industry is in support and it is good for the environment.

The Maryland Mortgage Program provides mortgages through banks and other lenders. While MMP is focused on lower income residents, it is increasingly clear that, in many communities, potential buyers with higher incomes are not able to get mortgages through the market place. Strengthening these older neighborhoods is vital to the state and has been and will continue to be an important issue for me.

Currently, Tesla cannot sell its all electric car in Maryland because it sells directly and not through a dealer. There is no other entirely electric vehicle available here so this is a great chance to bring a new business, with cutting edge technology into Maryland. The auto dealers and Tesla have reached a compromise about how this will work so that dealerships, Tesla and Marylanders can benefit.

The Governor’s Proposed Legislation

We have also learned more about the Governor’s proposed legislation, much of which he mentioned in in his campaign and his State of the State address. I applaud his efforts to look at things differently and his commitment to find common ground. I do have serious concerns about some of his proposals and the negative impact they will have on Marylanders.

·         Cancelling the upcoming gas tax increases will create a funding gap of nearly $4 billion in planned road, bridge and transit projects throughout the state. While I did not vote for the tax, I recognize that there the tax has enabled the state to start to address a huge backlog of projects throughout Maryland. I am very concerned about the impact on business growth and development.

o   In the Baltimore area, alone, reduced funding will impact, or possibly prevent, the widening of the Beltway on both the west side and near Harford Rd., the construction of  a safety project at the Beltway and Leeds Ave, bridge placements, and MARC train improvements and operations as well as projects in Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford Counties.

·         The proposal to repeal the stormwater utility fee is totally unacceptable. The continued misrepresentation of this anti-pollution fee as a rain tax does not address the problem. Maryland is under an EPA directive to reduce pollution that enters the Bay. We have made great strides with wastewater plants, with nitrogen and, to a lesser degree, with phosphorous and sediment. Urban stormwater pollution is a growing problem. The legislature left the approach and funding amounts to each county. It should stay that way if we want the Bay and its waters cleaned up.

·         I do not see why the state should encourage more charter schools when, at the same time, the state will be taking more money away from public schools. K- 12 education is essential to our state’s success, and its funding is our Constitutional mandate. Let’s continue to strengthen our public schools first.

Information of Local Interest


Towson University will be updating its Campus Master Plan.  Public input will be received at different times and locations. If Towson U.’s growth, value and impact on the community are important to you, I urge you to attend one of the sessions:

·         March 19, 7:30 pm at the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations meeting at Pickersgill

·         Reserved one-hour sessions with adjacent community association groups on March 4, 13 and 19 in the University’s Administration Building, 8000 York Road. Please contact your community association for details

·         March 13, 6 – 7 pm, Minnegan Room in Unitas Stadium 

I have requested the University to find at least on other evening meeting for the general public

Also, Baltimore County’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee is seeking public comment and input for projects to be targeted for implementation. This meeting will be held

·         March 10 at 5 pm, Room 104 in the Jefferson Building, 105 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson

As always, I look forward to your comments and to your views on legislation that we are, and will be, considering. I can be reached at my web site by hitting reply or in my Annapolis office at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us or at 410-841-3487.

Best wishes,

Steve