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Delegate Steve Lafferty's News from Annapolis


The past two weeks have been extremely busy with visits from numerous constituents and advocates, hearings on six of my bills, a delegation meeting with Dr. Hairston and intense conversations regarding taxes and the introduction of my legislation regarding development on septic systems at a press conference with the Governor. So far, our work has been in Committee or in meetings. Bills will be coming out to “the floor” this week for votes. Please visit to see hearing schedules or to see Committee sessions live.

Thank you to my Constituents

Our democracy is strengthened when people lend their voices on issues that are important to them. I am always impressed by how many people come to Annapolis to share their personal stories, to explain bills that are important and to try to persuade me. It always helps to hear from constituents. During the past couple of weeks, I was visited by students at Goucher College, Equality Maryland, pharmacy students, wine merchants, Baltimore County’s Teacher of the Year, Ralene Jacobson, homebuilders, environmental advocates, the Maryland Presbytery, Healthcare for the Homeless, and the Humane Society.

Transparency and Funding Accountability by our School System

I introduced HB 160 to require the school system to publicly provide its contracts over $25,000 to help us know how taxpayer money is being spent and to increase accountability. I had bi-partisan support in our Delegation for this bill. It has been well received and I expect it to be passed. It was only coincidental that news broke about Dr. Hairston’s entry into a no-bid with EduTrax contract 10 years ago and the Board’s repeated renewal without further bids! My bill will help to shed further light on transactions like this.

Wine Sales at Farmers’ Markets

At the request of the Towson Chamber of Commerce –that has a terrific farmers’ market - I introduced HB 326 to allow Maryland wineries to obtain a special permit to sell bottles of wine at the 13 farmers’ markets in Baltimore County. This idea is supported by other markets as another way to support local agriculture and wineries. We are still working out details but I am optimistic we will get this bill passed.

Expanded Recycling

There are a number of bills regarding recycling, including one which requires a five cent fee for each plastic bag you get in a store. My two recycling bills were heard in the Environmental Matters Committee this past week. One (HB 179) would require all apartment complexes and condominiums with more than 10 units to establish a recycling program. Most counties have focused on individual homes and “curbside” pickup. While Baltimore County is ahead of most others, we need to expand this opportunity to all, reduce the waste going into landfills and to reuse as many products as possible.

My other recycling bill, HB 341, will require all stores with more than 1,000 square feet to establish an in store recycling bin for plastic bags and provide alternative bags for customers. We see too many bags in trees, running down the street and in the water where they can be eaten by animals causing their death. And, while many stores voluntarily provided this, we need to expand this effort, as well.

Towson University

Perhaps the biggest news at Towson University is the decision of Dr. Robert Caret to leave to become the President of the University of Massachusetts. Congratulations are in order to Dr. Caret since he has improved the relationship of the University with the community and helped Towson grow as an outstanding university.

There is also a lot of construction going on. While, for now, the bridge over Osler Drive has been deferred, there are three projects that will take place on Towsontown Boulevard. First, the road and intersection at Osler Drive will be widened to accommodate the growing traffic. A new Public Safety Building is also planned at the site of the current one. Thirdly, Towson will realign the Public Safety Building entrance with the current entrance and traffic light. I will work with the University and neighborhoods to best ensure minimal disruption.

I have also been in touch with Towson regarding Tiger Fest. This year, it will be better controlled and held at Unitas Stadium. After last year’s outrageous student behavior, TU is working to exercise more control and limit off-campus problems. Students will not be free to come and go and buses will be provided. I remain skeptical, but appreciate their willingness to take a hard look at the problems that occurred and address them.

Pollution from Septic Systems in Maryland

By far, most of my time has been spent on three of my bills intended to stop the continued pollution of our waters from septic systems. Two years ago, I led efforts to improve the technology used in septics so that less nitrogen and phosphorous would leak into the soil and our waters. But, the problems continue. Septic systems are one of the major causes of pollution we have not reduced enough. We must continue to push the best available nitrogen removal technology (“BAT”). With BAT, we can reduce nitrogen pollution by 50% or more!

Two of my bills had bill hearings in Environmental Matters last week. Everyone seems to agree with HB 347 which requires that performance of the systems, and not cost alone, should be a basis for the state to approve new systems. The other, HB 177, would require that all new homes built in Maryland must have BAT. Yes, there is an added cost to homeowners, but without it, we will have a dead Bay and waterways.

My other bill is much more controversial. HB 1107 is intended to prevent housing developments of 5 units or more from being built with individual septic systems. It will not stop all development as has been reported. This bill will reduce pollution, manage our growth better and help to preserve farms and farm land. I had the opportunity to be a guest on MPT’s “State Circle” to discuss this important bill and joined Governor O’Malley and Sen. Paul Pinsky at a press conference to present and explain the legislation. If we do not act,the amount of nitrogen will more than double by 2035.

One Senator escalated the rhetoric and called it the “War on Rural Maryland”. It is not and far from it. I want to reduce pollution of the Bay. I don’t want farmers to sell off their land for housing developments that rely on septics. And, I don’t want development in rural areas that puts more pressure to build roads and schools and to provide services at a great expense. We can grow smarter in Maryland.

As always, feel free to contact me at  or 410-841-3487 if you have any questions or concerns or if I can be of help to you.

Best wishes,


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