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Steve's News from Annapolis


February 22, 2010


The legislature is approaching the half way point. And, while no major legislation has passed, we will soon be debating the budget, increased penalties for sex offenders, job creation, an application for federal Race to the Top funds, foreclosure mediation, banning hand held cell phones while driving and many other issues.


The Great Snows of 2010

The past two weeks have been very unusual. The General Assembly closed on Monday, February 8 for only the second time in nearly 40 years. Then, hearings were cancelled since we knew that the public would not be able to attend and testify on issues important to them. As a result, this past week was quite hectic and each day was more packed with hearings, meetings and bill filings. As of now, more than 1400 bills have been filed in the House.


I want to thank all of the state, county and contractual workers who helped us through these massive snows. Such extraordinary and continuous snowfalls kept roads, schools, and businesses closed. Clearly, businesses suffered greatly. I applaud the workers who did an amazing job clearing streets and helping all of us. And, in my own neighborhood, the Community Association organized a Snow Removal event on February 16 that brought out more than 40 hard working volunteers to clear paths and intersections. What a great community spirit helping others!


Baltimore County Schools

Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston met with the County’s House and Senate delegations last week to answer questions about budget, staffing and, mainly, the Articulated Instructional Module (AIM) program. The content of this program has been developed by County teachers and specialists yet has become a part of a privately copyrighted instructional program. Importantly, the “progress report” component would have required teachers to spend hundreds of hours filling out reports but would add no value to the instruction or reports for students and parents. Fortunately, we were able to get Dr. Hairston to withdraw his commitment to mandating this progress report.


Unfortunately, he was less than clear about budgeting of positions. Parents and alums from Carver School for the Arts and Technology had openly questioned why there were plans to take teachers from this highly successful school and from Patapsco on the east side. He has backed away from that plan, too, but I certainly am not clear about whether the mentors will remain in place and how supervisory and specialist positions will be created without hurting in-school services. I plan to pursue this issue.


I have also been disappointed in the school board. Baltimore County is one of six in the state that is not elected. Two years ago, I failed in my attempt to change the way the Board members were nominated. This year, I have filed a bill, HB 1072, to provide for the election of the 11 school board members (but not the student member). A hearing is set for March 10 in the Ways and Means Committee.


Some of my Other Bills

I also filed a bill, HB 391, that will allow smaller restaurants in Towson to obtain a liquor license. Currently, there must be a $500,000 investment in the business and seat more than 100. My bill opens the chance for smaller “Mom and Pop” businesses to be part of Towson’s business growth.


Another bill with widespread importance is HB 1042 that will prevent state agencies and branches of government from posting social security or driver’s license numbers on line. It is startling to see this and other private information on the web where identity thieves can steal and misuse this information.


I am also taking a recommendation from the Task Force on Financial Literacy to require that all residential mortgage lenders recommend to borrowers that they should get mortgage counseling or education. Too often, we react to problems rather than try to anticipate them. This bill can help people avoid problems we have seen many, many people encounter as they try to buy a home.


The State Budget

While hearings have been held in both the House and Senate, no votes have been taken on the next state budget. Unemployment insurance, college tuitions, education funding, and Medicaid are all on the table. You may want to share your own priorities on the state budget by going to and, then, going to Budget Survey.  In addition to my own outreach, House Democrats are seeking your input as we deliberate on budget savings and potential cuts.


In Memory of Betsy Kahl

The Towson communities and those who believe in social justice have lost a real friend. I attended the memorial service for my long time friend and community leader, Betsy Kahl. Sitting in a packed church, her son and the minister told of her wonderful qualities and humorously poked fun at her. She was smart, committed, and dedicated to her family, her church, her community and to helping others. Those of us who knew Betsy learned from her how to make our communities better, to be diligent and never lose sight of our goal to make the world around us better. Betsy will be missed.


I know that there are many other issues which concern you and other constituents. Please feel free to contact me at 410-841-3487 or to share your opinions.


Best wishes,



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