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Steve's News from Annapolis

2019-01-27

The General Assembly has been in session for little more than two weeks.

As a member of the Environment and Transportation Committee, a lot of my time has been consumed by briefings on the State of the Chesapeake Bay and the agencies whose legislation we handle: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Housing and Community Development and Transportation. We have had one bill hearing on the plans for a public-private partnership to widen the DC Beltway and I-270.  My bill hearings begin on Tuesday.

Baltimore County House Delegation’s Legislative Town Hall

While I could not attend our Delegation’s first town hall meeting on January 2, 2019, I was represented by my Legislative Aide, Marsha Tracey. I have heard it was a huge success!  More than 100 people attended to share their thoughts and concerns. I know that residents from 42A commented on the need for more City/County cooperation, the need for the legislature to work on climate change, increasing funds for our school facilities and classrooms (including Towson HS), increasing hourly pay for those who work with people with disabilities, and addressing various environmental challenges.   I want to thank the many residents of District 42A who attended and spoke.

Governor’s FY 2020 Budget

Last week, the Governor presented the operating and capital budget for the coming year. He sets the budget; the legislature cannot add to the operating budget but can only make cuts and, possibly, re-allocate funds. The Governor’s budget increases general fund spending by almost 9% and includes legislative mandated increases for public education and rate increases for behavioral health and developmental disability service providers. It includes a 3% raise for state employees but does not have any money to continue funding retirees’ prescription benefits. I will work with my colleagues to provide funds for these benefits that retirees were promised. The Governor did increase the amount of money available for school construction and has introduced a separate bill to fund school construction in Maryland.

Since the budget was just introduced, the analysis and work on it has only begun.

Appointment to the Chesapeake Bay Commission

I am honored and thrilled to have been appointed by Speaker Busch to serve on the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The Commission is an interstate legislative organization dedicated to the development of collaborative and practical policies for restoring the Bay. It is composed of elected representatives from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as departmental and citizen representatives from the three states.

Bills and Legislative Initiatives

I have been working on a number of issues this year. My first two bill hearings are this week. On Tuesday, I will present (HB 1) in the Environment and Transportation Committee to prevent the dredging of the ancient Man O’War shoal. Then, on Wednesday,( HB 83) will be heard in the Judiciary Committee to change the process for a minor who seeks a name change.

I have also filed bills to increase the penalties for serious injury or death to bicyclists and other vulnerable road users (HB 112), to create an investment fund to stimulate and encourage development in challenged areas (HB 117) and to establish governmental accountability for the payment of fees-in-lieu of planting trees and forests by developers (HB 272).  I am working on other bills but have not filed them, yet. You can track my legislation and any other bills that are filed at www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

I have also been in touch with a number of community leaders about legislative bond initiatives that will help fund valuable capital improvements.

Success of Previous Legislation

When we pass legislation, we look to make a positive change and impact.  It is not always clear that we have succeeded.  Let me comment on two recent bills that have definitely made a difference. 

Last year, we passed the “red flag” law to enable individuals to go into court and seek to have firearms removed from someone who is a threat to themselves or others.  Since the law went into effect on October 1, Maryland Courts have ordered that guns be removed from 148 people where they found probable cause that the person was a danger to themselves or others.  The majority of the petitions to the courts came from household or family members!

And, in 2017, the legislature passed my bill (HB 270) that created protocols for testing for lead in all schools’ drinking water. To date, testing in counties throughout the state has found that there are fixtures that contain lead and need to be shut down or replaced. The law also required public posting on the school system’s  website and notification to parents. It is working as intended and the media has helped by reporting on problems in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore County schools!  It is one step to better ensuring that children are not exposed to lead poisoning.

Please feel free to contact me if you want to share your points of view or concerns on legislation.  I can be reached at 410-841-3487 and at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us.

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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