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Delegate Steve Lafferty's News from Annapolis


The past week in Annapolis was marked by rallies and demonstrations by opponents and supporters of marriage equality, education advocates, supporters of immigrant rights and opponents of a potential gas tax. I was reminded of the strength of our democracy and that exercising First Amendment rights enables citizens to lobby me and other elected officials and to have their voices heard without the threat of reprisal or harm like in other countries.

The Fight for Marriage Equality

This week was filled with political and personal tension. Following the delay in the House Judiciary’s vote on the Civil Marriage Protection Act, the Committee voted the bill out to the full House. As a result, there was an increase in the emails and calls for and against the bill. In the Democratic caucus, we discussed and debated the bill and potential amendments before it went to the House for a vote. When the full House took it up on “2nd Reader”, there was extended debate and further attempts to amend the bill.

This issue is a matter of conscience, values and the law. While I could discuss the issues of equality and tolerance with many of my colleagues, shifting someone’s values can never be easy. As you would expect, there were a lot of meetings leading up to the expected vote on Friday.

The floor debate was very personal and passionate. Gay members of the House shared personal stories of love, of coming out to parents and their response to assertions that they are lesser than others because they are gay. One member publicly announced for the first time that he is gay, to the applause of many of us. Pleas for equality, for civil rights and tolerance were made following a colloquy by an opponent decrying the claim that this issue is one of civil rights or that it is moral.

But, we did not have the 71 votes needed to pass this important legislation. As a result, the bill was sent back to Committee, effectively killing the bill for this year. This was a great disappointment to me.

Stoneleigh Elementary School

For the second week in a row, I want to applaud Stoneleigh Elementary School parents and “Stoneleigh United”.  It appears that they have gotten County Executive Kamenetz to agree to retain proposed funds for the design and engineering of an addition to the school and to hear their concerns about moving any children to Dumbarton as a short term answer to overcrowding.

I spoke with the County Executive twice and to his aides two or three times to emphasize the need for short term and long term solutions. I told him that the only viable long term answer is to put an addition on the building – starting with design funds in this coming year. I want to thank the Executive for working with me and taking his time to meet with parents on this critical issue.

My Bill to Limit Development on Septic Systems and Better Manage Growth

I was honored to have Governor O’Malley and three of his Cabinet Secretaries join me to present my bill, HB 1107, to limit large developments on septic systems, better manage our state’s growth and preserve farm land. He made a strong case for the need to change the way we rely on septics and the severe damage they cause pointing to data from “BayStat” to help make his case.

Close to 40 people testified over two and a half hours, addressing the need for change in our approach to controlling pollution and growth and opposing the bill as being a “one size fits all” approach or destructive of the homebuilding industry. The hearing generated a lot of good information for the Committee to consider.

A Few Additional Items

Septic systems are not the only cause of pollution. We heard bills to limit the use of lawn fertilizers that have nitrogen and phosphorous and to require counties to establish a way to pay for destructive storm water run-off.

The House also passed legislation to prohibit the reading of text messages on cell phones. Drivers cannot send or read a text while on the traveled portion of the road. These restrictions are in addition to making the use of a hand held cell phone while driving a primary offense.

We will be getting the proposed budget this week. Obviously, it will lead to extensive debate.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at or 410-841-3487. The status of bills and hearing schedules can be found at

Best wishes,


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