Annapolis Brief #4

February 25th, 2019 | Volume IV 
Friends & Neighbors,

We may be halfway through session, but we have about 90% of the work left to do!

I have 9 bill hearings in the next two weeks – a record for me! – and I’m excited to present these ideas to the Committees. Although many of these bills may not pass this year, because this is the first year of a new term, it’s important to start the work now to pass important legislation encouraging investment in neighborhoods, protecting victims of violence, investing in our newborns and toddlers, protecting our environment, and expanding access to civil legal services – just to name a few!

The Kirwan Commission has released its interim report.  The Commission has been meeting for two years with a mission that is two-fold:
– Review and recommend any needed changes to update the current education funding formulas (known as the Thornton formulas); and
– Make policy recommendations that would enable Maryland’s preK-12 system to perform at the level of the best-performing systems in the world.

In the Interim ​Report, the Commission explains its proposals for expanding early childhood education; improving the teaching profession; increasing college and career readiness pathways; investing in students by focusing on resources for special needs, English language learners, and concentrated poverty; and by creating a new governance model.  The Commission is recommending an approximately $325 million increase above the mandated education funding increases in year one. Although much of this work will take place next year, a bill to create a framework to implement its recommendations will be introduced this week!

And, finally, the “crossover” deadline is coming soon – that is the date by which you must have passed a bill in one chamber in order to guarantee a hearing in the other chamber. Bills that don’t pass by “crossover,” are less likely to be passed this session. 
I attended the first meeting of the Violence Intervention & Prevention Advisory Council. The Council was created by HB 432 last session to advise the Governor on spending funds allocated for gun violence prevention programs with public health approaches — like Safe Streets, Hospital-Based Interventions, and others. I look forward to keeping you posted on this important work.

I was honored to be named the 2018 Legislator of the Year by the Maryland Public Health Association for my work in a variety of fields, including environmental issues and preventing gun violence! Thank you to everyone who came to the event and who works on improving the public health of all Marylanders.

The companion legislation to the statewide foam ban I introduced in the House passed out of the Senate committee on Feb. 21st, moving one step closer to full passage! I expect it to the pass the House committee this week!

One of the responsibilities of the Maryland General Assembly is to elect a State Treasurer, with each Delegate and Senator getting one vote. The State Treasurer sits on the Board of Public Works, the Board of Trustees for the state pension, and the Maryland 529 board, among other responsibilities. I have worked with our Treasurer, Nancy Kopp, for the past four years and also known her for much of my adulthood. I was pleased to support her for Treasurer and very happy she was re-elected overwhelmingly!
On Thursday, I had hearings on two important bills to ensure we stand up for victims of abuse:

Safe Harbor for Child Victims of Sex Trafficking — HB 827 ensures children who are victims of sex trafficking are not criminalized by being prosecuted for prostitution.  Often referred to as a “Safe Harbor” law, this bill grants immunity to any child picked up for prostitution and then requires that that child receive the necessary support services to address the trauma they experience, instead of traumatizing them further within the criminal justice system. Child sex trafficking is happening in Maryland and the state must do more to take care of our children.

Legal Advocates for Students in Title IX Proceedings — HB 633 creates a legal representation fund for Title IX Proceedings for college students involved in sexual assault proceedings. ALthough last year the General Assembly passed a policy requiring institutions to have access to an attorney, the Governor failed to fund the program. This bill remedies that error and ensures that students have a trained ally when they need one most.
Upcoming HearingsThis week I have three bill hearings – to expand funding for the Thrive by Three grant program (HB 520), to provide legal representation in certain family law proceedings (HB 665), and to enable college athletes to collectively bargain with their universities regarding issues like health insurance and scholarship terms (HB 548) will all be heard in the House.

The best place to keep track of all of this activity is my legislation page on the MGA website. From here you can live stream bill hearings, read the bills, and keep track of a bill’s progress throughout session.
New Health Commissioner – I’m looking forward to meeting our new Health Commissioner soon! Mayor Pugh appointed Dr. Letitia Dzirasa as our new Commissioner this month. Read about her background at WBAL

Apply to be a Neighborhood Liaison to Assist the Consent Decree Monitoring Team Implementing the Consent Decree well and thoroughly over the next few years is a hugely important issue. The Monitoring Team that acts as the Judge’s oversight arm is seeking individuals to serve as neighborhood liaisons to keep folks updated and take feedback. Each Neighborhood Liaison is paid $20 per hour, up to a total of fifteen (15) hours per month and $25 monthly for travel expenses. Please consider applying to get involved in this important work!

Applications are Open for Delegate Scholarships! Scholarship applications are now available for District 46 constituents.  There are separate steps for Returning Applicants and New Applicants and applications must be submitted by May 1, 2019. Read more and download the application here.

Less Waste, Better Baltimore. Get involved in the Less Waste, Better Baltimore Plan. DPW needs your help as it conducts a master planning effort to identify options for improving solid waste diversion, recycling, and disposal in the City.
MPT – I had a great time joining Republican Delegate Andrew Cassilly on State Circle on Friday night! Check out it – and other past episodes – online here: http://www.mpt.org/programs/state-circle-guests/

College AthletesWith the highly publicized injury of Duke basketball player Zion Williamson last week, there’s heightened conversation around protections for student athletes. I have a bill (HB 548) that would create collective bargaining rights for Maryland student athletes and it has been contributing to ongoing nationwide and local conversation. We must do more in Maryland to protect the lives and livelihood of our student athletes, and I look forward to the upcoming hearing on this issue.

Gun Trace Task Force: Sen. Ferguson lead the charge last year to create the Commission to Restore Trust in Policing to examine the Gun Trace Task Force. There is a bill this year to extend their timeline – see it profiled in this article by the Baltimore Sun

Ranked Choice Voting: Although I withdrew my bill on Ranked Choice Voting and Open Primaries for consideration this session, I was inspired by the number of people who reached out to let me know they support it! I withdrew the bill this year to allow us more time to organize around this important issue for reconsideration next session. Onward to 2020! 

Toll Roads: Montgomery County delegates and local legislators support my bill that provides for counties to have input before toll roads are built in their communities. 

Biking: Learn more about the bills that provide for infrastructure and traffic safety for cyclists in Maryland, including mine!

Thank you for reading! Please keep in touch during session – and consider coming to visit. My phone number is 410-841-3319 and you can reach me at brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us.