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Steve's News from Annapolis

2018-02-26

The senseless, brutal and tragic killings of students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School  in Florida was totally shocking.  Seventeen innocent people were gunned down by a person known to be a threat to the community.  However, since he could legally buy a killing weapon like an AR 15, lives were lost. While Maryland acted decisively in 2013 to strengthen our gun laws, we must continue to find other ways to limit access to guns and accessories that make them more deadly. But, hooray for the students!  They are standing up when too many adults have not.  The actions and voices of young people call all of us to listen and act to protect them and to change the ready access to guns.

Over the past two weeks hundreds of advocates for various issues came to Annapolis.  I was visited by nurses, dentists, the NAACP, Towson University dance students advocating for the arts, representatives of the Humane Society and 5th graders from Roland Park Country School (each of whom gave me a letter about an issue they want addressed).  There was also a huge rally of advocates for those with disabilities in Maryland.  I had visits from participants from The Arc, Penn-Mar, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

 It is extremely valuable to have constituents and advocates come to Annapolis to share their stories, insights and concerns.  It personalizes the legislative work we are doing.

 Education Remains a Critical Issue in Maryland

 Report of the Kirwin Commission

 HB 1415 was introduced to begin the implementation of recommendations from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (known as the Kirwin Commission). This diverse Commission issued a Preliminary Report in mid-February.

Charged with examining Maryland’s public education system so it could be the best in the world, Commission Chair Dr. William “Brit” Kirwin said, “Based on the National Assessment of Education Program, Maryland is in the middle of the pack, at best. . . We have achievement gaps based on race and socio-economic status that are unacceptable . . . The harsh reality is Maryland schools at present are a long, long way from being the best in the world.”

HB 1415 proposes initiatives to implement several of the preliminary recommendations, including:

  • Encourage and help the best high school students in Maryland to become teachers

  • Assist Title I schools to implement evidence-based literacy programs for students who struggle with reading

  • Provide before school, after school, and summer academic programs for children in schools where 90% are eligible for free and reduced price meals

  • Promote high quality, innovative Career and Technical Education in partnership with industry and community colleges

  • Expand prekindergarten for low-income 4 year olds

  • Study the cost of adequacy for special education

If we are to dramatically improve our public education, bold and innovative efforts will be needed.  It will cost more money to achieve these objectives. Maryland should be prepared to invest if we truly want to have the best education system in the country, if not the world!

Choosing the Next Baltimore County School Board

Tuesday, February 27 is the last day to file to run for a seat on the Baltimore County School Board.  In November, 2018 we will, for the first time, have the chance to elect one school board member from each Councilmatic district.  It is exciting to see the number of candidates who have filed.  We need smart, talented and thoughtful school board members.

In addition to electing seven (7) members, four (4) members will be appointed by the Governor who will have gone through a county based Nominating Commission. The Commission will make recommendations to the Governor who must choose from that submitted list. The Commission is currently accepting applications for consideration. Applications are due by March 16, 2018.  The Commission is required to consider the County’s diversity in its recommendations.  Applications can be found at  http://www.bcps.org/board/bcsb-nominating-commission.html

Tackling the Cost of Health Care

There is a lot of thought, discussion and work taking place to address the dramatic changes in Maryland’s health care.

There seems to be a consensus that Maryland’s individual health insurance market may be in danger of collapse or imploding unless the government and insurance industry can get younger and healthier people to buy health insurance. The Protect Maryland Health Care Act (HB 1167/SB 1011) is intended to address this potential chaos.

The bill creates a state individual health insurance mandate and requires a payment for failure to maintain minimum, essential coverage. These payments could be used for a down payment to purchase coverage. The bill also creates a fund for reinsurance, additional assistance for individuals and incentives for insurance carriers to provide policies in underserved counties.

Another important bill is HB 1194/SB 1023 that will create a Drug Cost Review Commission.  Its stated purpose is “to protect state residents, state and local governments, commercial health plans, health care providers, pharmacies licensed in the state and other stakeholders within the health care system from excessive costs of prescription drugs.”

Some of My Bills this Legislative Session

My own legislation covers a wide range of issues this year.  As in the past, I have bills that address pollution that gets into Maryland’s streams and waters as well as the Bay:

  • HB 458 requires that a property owner who is on a septic system in the state’s Critical Areas, must upgrade or have an upgrade made to the best available technology system (BAT) upon transfer or sale of that property. A BAT system is able to reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution by at least 50%!
  • HB 719 would require that a BAT system must be installed with new construction or redevelopment within 1000 feet of a stream in an impaired watershed.
  • HB 1765 enables local governments to establish Septic Management or Stewardship Plans in order to address septic issues and receive financial help to reduce septic pollution.
  • HB 1381 involves the gathering and reporting of information and data about violations of sediment and erosion control laws. Since sediment is one of the biggest sources of pollution, we need to ensure that there is compliance with, and enforcement of, the laws.

As a result of the work of the Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety that I created in the 2017 legislature, I have two bills:

  • HB 744 would require Maryland’s transportation agencies to develop “Complete Streets” policies for the design, engineering and construction of roads and other facilities.  The principle of Complete Streets is to make the transportation network safe and accessible for all users- pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders – regardless of age, disability or where they live.
  • HB 1099 increase the penalties for anyone who injures, harms or causes death to one identified as a vulnerable road user. This would include highway workers, pedestrians, bicyclists and those on motor scooters or using wheelchairs.

In response to concerns I heard about the new Starbucks at York Road and Regester Ave, I introduced HB 1380 to require the State Highway Administration (SHA) to consider pedestrians and bicyclists when reviewing plans and granting access permits to properties.  Since SHA is not required to consider anything other than motorists, it would have been better for them to have considered pedestrian (primarily student) activity with the new Starbucks.

Two of my bills also support efforts to strengthen and revitalize communities in the state:

  • HB 109 establishes a Community Development Fund in order to provide operating and other support for community development organizations.
  • HB 817 creates the Smart Growth Investment Fund, a unique public-private partnership that can provide capital investments in communities where there are few assets and where there has been disinvestment. This capital would be catalytic for new housing and commercial opportunities.

Legislative Scholarships Are Now Available 

I am now accepting applications for my Maryland House of Delegates Scholarship Program for 2018-2019 . Current residents of legislative district 42A who are high school seniors, students attending a private career school, and degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. Scholarship awards are only given to students applying to an institution of higher learning in Maryland, unless they have a unique major that is approved for a non-Maryland school by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

If you know of a student who is interested in receiving a scholarship from me, he/she would go to my web site, www.delegatelafferty.com. Further information can be obtained by calling 410-841-3487.

Applications will be due to my office by April 2, 2018.

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed as a  Comcast Newsmaker.  You can see it here https://comcastnewsmakers.com/Videos/2018/2/9/Annapolis/District-42-A-Update.

Feel free to contact me at 410-841-3487 or at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us with questions, your thoughts on legislation or if we can be of assistance.

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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