Maggie’s Legislative Update: March 11, 2016

Posted by Matt on March 11, 2016  |   Comments Off on Maggie’s Legislative Update: March 11, 2016

Friends,

How about this beautiful weather!?

hearingsIt was another full week in Annapolis, with plenty going on in committee and on the floor. Yesterday, I presented two bills I’d told you about a couple of weeks ago – HB 1402, the Maryland Extended Day & Summer Enhancement Program Act and HB 1403, the Next Generation Scholars of Maryland Program. I was honored to be joined by former State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy Grasmick, school superintendents from throughout the state, representatives from our colleges and universities, and people in the non-profit sector who are doing tremendous work helping to close the achievement gap for low-income students. I was especially proud to be joined by Councilman Brandon Scott, who spoke about his own experiences as a middle and high school student enrolled in the College Bound program. The program gave him the support and guidance he needed to be college-ready, which is an opportunity I want more low-income students to have.

Combating Drunk Driving:

Today, we had a floor debate on HB 1342, also known as Noah’s Law. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), approximately 1/3 of all drivers convicted or arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. In 2015, participants in the ignition interlock program in Maryland were stopped from driving more than 27,000 times because the device detected alcohol, and in 4,000 of those instances, the drivers were legally drunk.

Maryland has had a model administrative program for the use of interlock but stronger legislation was needed to put protections in place for Maryland drivers. HB 1342 is aimed at curbing drunk driving by doing the following:

  • Increases the length of license suspensions and interlock periods for blood alcohol content at .08 or higher – the legal limit for intoxication – for first time offenders and repeat offenders.
  • Increases the license suspensions and interlock periods for offenders with high blood alcohol content (.15 under Maryland law).
  • Encouraging the broader use of interlock for convictions at .08, .15 and refusing to take a breath test.

Bond Bill Saturday:

Tomorrow marks an annual Annapolis tradition known as “Bond Bill Saturday”. That is the day that requests for local capital grants are all heard in the House and Senate. These initiatives include construction capital for projects like parks, community centers, places of historical significance, and small museums.  This year, as he did last year, Governor Hogan has not provided funding in his submitted capital budget for these legislature-driven initiatives.

This session, I’ve introduced one of these bond bills to finish construction of foot bridges and other improvements to the Stony Run walking trail. Several years ago, I helped to secure Open Space funds for enhancements to the walking path along the Stony Run in Baltimore City. The walking path follows the Stony Run through Roland Park, Tuscany-Canterbury, Hampden, and Wyman Park before meeting the Jones Falls. Between the Stony Run path and Jones Falls Trail, one could walk from the City line to the inner harbor.

Along the path are several small pockets and neighborhood parks that are enjoyed by families year-round. Nature lovers are able to see flora and fauna along the path they are unlikely to see anywhere else in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, despite the Open Space funds there is still left some work to be completed. HB 1218 would provide the Friends of Stony Run, in conjunction with Strong City Baltimore, the $300,000 that is needed to finish work on the path. The two primary projects remaining are the replacement of one wooden foot bridge that had collapsed and the construction of another new bridge. These two bridges will connect the Tuscany-Canterbury and Hampden sections of the path, near Linkwood Road. The project is ready to move forward as soon as funding is secured.

Protecting & Preserving Program Open Space:

Today, the Baltimore Sun published an editorial of mine regarding the importance of Program Open Space. It begins: “There is an old saying that you get what you pay for. Now is the time for Baltimore voters and those throughout our state to get the open space funding that was promised to them decades ago. Recently, the House Appropriations Committee, which I chair, held a hearing on a bill that will restore full funding for Maryland’s premier green infrastructure program. I am proud to be one of the sponsors of House Bill 1464, the Program Open Space Trust Fund of 2016, along with our Vice-Chair, Delegate Tawanna Gaines, and 35 of our colleagues.”

HB 1464 will make sure that Program Open Space is fully funded and that, should we experience lean budget times and need to borrow from the program, the money is repaid fully, quickly, and that there is a plan in place to do it.

You can read my full editorial on HB 1464 and the importance of open space here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

maggie sig

 

 

– Maggie