Maggie’s Legislative Update: January 27, 2012

Posted by Matt on January 27, 2012  |   Comments Off on Maggie’s Legislative Update: January 27, 2012

Dear Friends,

The legislative session has just started and already we’re in full swing. I wanted to take this time to update you on some of the legislation I am working on and to provide some information on the issues you have written and emailed about. For daily updates and information from Annapolis, please connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Delegate Scholarship Applications

Applications are now available for my 2012-13 Delegate Scholarships. Please visit my website for additional information and to download an application. The submission deadline is June 1st.

 

Marriage Equality

This week Governor O’Malley hosted a breakfast for marriage equality activists and held a press conference to introduce marriage equality legislation for the 2012 session. It was moving to see so many leaders from the religious community, legislative advocates, and loving couples from around our state come out to support the cause of equal protection under the law for all Marylander. I was honored to share the podium to introduce the Civil Marriage Protection Act with Senator Rich Madaleno, Governor O’Malley, and a couple who plan to get married once we pass this historic legislation.

Last year, Marriage Equality legislation passed the State Senate but was not voted on in the House of Delegates. In response to some of the concerns voiced by House members, this year’s bill specifically outlines the protections afforded to religious organizations to practice their beliefs as they see fit while protecting the full rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples and their families. Many religious leaders, including those whose own faith does not permit same-sex marriage, have expressed their support for this legislation and I am hopeful that this session we will have the support to pass this bill. For more information on the Civil Marriage Protection Act visit http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/billfile/SB0241.htm.

 

Redistricting

The Governor has released his plan for legislative redistricting. Under Maryland law, the legislature has 45 days from when the Governor submits his map to make alterations to the map or the Governor’s plan becomes law. To see if your legislative district will change under Governor O’Malley’s proposed plan, visit http://www.mdp.state.md.us/Redistricting/redistrictingLegislativeIMap.shtml

 

Ground Rents

If you live in Baltimore City, you know that the ground rent system can sometimes be frustrating and disorganized. In many cases the leases are essentially defunct, with no living person holding land leases. Several years ago, in response to reports of homeowners being evicted over small amounts of unpaid ground rents, I sponsored legislation to reform the system that would have extinguished any claim not registered with the State of Maryland by 2010. This law was overturned late last year by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

HB 177, which I introduced this week, is an effort to reform the ground rent system in a way that is fair and consistent with the Maryland Constitution. The bill would still protect home owners by requiring a lease holder to register with the state to collect rent payments, sue for back payments, or place a lien on a home. The registry would give homeowners a verified point of contact should they encounter an issue with their ground rent.

 

Smart Growth and Stormwater Management

At the conclusion of the 2011 session the Governor created the Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal, to which I was appointed chair, to study how septic system use impacts the health of the Chesapeake Bay and how best to regulate their use. The Governor’s legislation was crafted with the recognition that outdated wastewater technologies—septic systems—are one of the few nitrogen pollutant sources in Maryland that continues to increase and which often supports wasteful land development practices outside of our sewered areas.

If left unchecked, such practices could undermine Maryland’s Bay restoration efforts. Maryland’s population continues to grow and is projected to increase by 1 million people by 2035. Implementing protective measures now will ensure that the land use and pollution impact of future Marylanders is minimized, giving us the greatest chance of success in restoring the Chesapeake Bay and protecting our rural landscape.

This year’s legislation will address the pollution and land use impacts of septic systems and follows the recommendations made by the Task Force, a group that consisted of Marylanders representing a wide spectrum of stakeholders.  The bill creates four tiers for inclusion in local comprehensive plans to guide growth on central sewer and septic systems.  Instead of banning septic systems, with optional new tiers to aid local, comprehensive planning – it assists local communities in moving septic growth away from areas where it will contribute to sprawl and pollution.

 

In the weeks and months ahead, please continue to contact me to share your thoughts on the issues being considered in the House of Delegates. Your input is important and helps me to better serve the people of the 43rd District.

Until next time, keep enjoying this beautiful, mild winter weather!

 

Sincerely,

 

Maggie McIntosh