Stay Informed

Steve's News from Annapolis

2017-02-20

The number of visitors and advocates in Annapolis has significantly increased over the past two weeks.  I have been pleased and honored to have many constituents stop by my office to share their stories and concerns and to “make their case” on issues of importance. This has included residents from Edenwald and Blakehurst, Towson University students advocating for the arts, 5th graders from Roland Park Country School, the Baltimore County Teacher of the Year and representatives from the Humane Society, Don’t Frack Maryland, the Community College of Baltimore, mental health organizations and the March of Dimes. 

These visits are informative and help me to better understand many issues that impact the district, county and state.

The Environment and Transportation Committee had an extremely busy week. Our bill hearings begin at 1 pm and, on Wednesday, we finished at 11:30 pm! I do want to thank the many people who stayed through the evening to testify on bills. Citizen engagement is very important to the process and our decision making.

This coming week, we will be hearing 10-15 bills each day, including Friday.

Responding to Sexual Assaults

I was proud to stand with the County Executive, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney, the incoming Police Chief and members of our Baltimore County legislative delegation in support of six recommendations to better address sexual assault allegations. The recommendations were presented by retired Judge Barbara Howe and Lisae Jordan, the Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Judge Howe and Ms. Jordan were asked by the County Executive to review over 130 sexual assault cases following a scathing story in BuzzFeed and a subsequent request by Delegate Hettleman and me.

These six recommendations are:

  • Continue to require sex crimes detectives to interview both victims and suspects in sexual assault cases
  • Change the sexual assault statute to eliminate the requirement for “physical force or threat of force”,  which is addressed in HB 429
  • The County Police should implement a system to track cases received from residential facilities (nursing homes, residential treatment homes, etc.) to look for trends and identify any serial cases
  • Provide further training of the police to address issues of mental illness, trauma informed interviewing and intoxication
  • Increase and further document communications between sex crimes detectives and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office
  • Strengthen the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)  and require law enforcement officers to attend SART sessions

Baltimore County School Board Selection

The County House delegation passed HB 88 which makes some modest changes to the law regarding the selection of the Baltimore County School Board.  Currently, all of the Board members are appointed.  In 2018, however, this will change and we will have a “hybrid” Board – one that is partially elected and partially appointed. 

Seven (7) will be elected, one from each of the Council districts. There will also be a Nominating Commission which will recommend 3 people for each of the four (4) appointed seats.  One of the Commission’s goals will be to better ensure that the Board membership is diverse and represents the diversity of the county. These changes are intended to better ensure accountability and responsiveness by the Board.

Bills of interest

As we move closer to the Session’s mid-point, there are a number of bills that have been, or will be, considered by the various committees. These are a few that you may find to be of interest. To see the bill, click on the link.

HB 270 will require school systems to develop standards and schedules for testing water for lead in public and private schools and provide remediation if necessary

HB 879 (Public Integrity Act of 2017) makes changes to the state ethics laws, including conflicts of interest for public officials

HJ 3 (Maryland Defense Act of2017) enables the Maryland Attorney General to protect Maryland and Marylanders from unconstitutional actions by the federal government

HB 100 (Hometown Heroes) provides a $15,000 income tax deduction for public safety personnel who are approaching retirement

HB 424 will allow the Comptroller to investigate and seek enforcement actions against those committing tax fraud

HB 1325 would ban the drilling for oil and gas by using fracking

HB 370 would provide certain individuals with their own end-of-life option following consultation with a physician who would provide medical aid in dying

HB 461 requires the State Board of Education to adopt regulations limiting the amount of time  that may be devoted to testing in each grade to 2% of the  annual instructional hours

HB 866 : require the Departments of Education and Health to develop health and safety guidelines and procedures for the use of digital devices in public school classrooms

The Starbucks Project on York Road

I  want to applaud those who have expressed concern about the potential construction of a Starbucks at the corner of York Road and Regester Avenue.  Shortly after I learned about the project last fall, I contacted the leaders of Rodgers Forge, Anneslie and Stoneleigh, expressing my concern about the traffic congestion and, more importantly, the potential danger to pedestrians. As we know, the vast majority of the pedestrian traffic at the intersection are children going to and from Dumbarton Middle School.

I also reached out to the State Highway Administration, expressing my concern and requesting that the pedestrian and vehicular traffic be examined as  part of their review.  I learned that all reviews had been concluded and that SHA determined that no further analysis was required. In fact, all of the plans had already been approved! Following more discussions with area residents and using research  from residents in Rodgers Forge, I again wrote SHA because I believed the research and regulations warranted another evaluation and a traffic impact study. Unfortunately, SHA’s response was very slow, and frankly, unsatisfactory. Although I believe it is clear that there are real dangers to pedestrians and vehicles at that intersection, they refused to reconsider their decision.

Delegate Lafferty Scholarship Opportunities

Once again this year, the application for a 2017-18 Delegate Scholarship are available on my web site: www.delegatelafferty.com. In order to be eligible for these scholarship funds, one must live in District 42A and be enrolled in, or planning to attend, a Maryland two-year or four-year college or university as a full-time or part-time degree seeking student. The deadline for submitting all applications is April 3, 2017. I strongly urge you, or others you may know, to apply for funds to help defray the cost of college. If you have any questions, please contact my office at 410-841-3487.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if we can be of assistance.

Best wishes,

Steve 

Delegate Steve Lafferty