Author: Brooke Lierman

2018 Annapolis Dispatch #5: Moving Bills

Friends & Neighbors:

We are springing forward into the final stretch of session – this comingMonday, March 19, is the “crossover” deadline. Any bill introduced in the House must be passed out of the House by midnight on March 19 to be guaranteed a hearing in the Senate. So this is make-or-break week for many bills!

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2018: A Hopeful New Year

January 1, 2018

Friends & Neighbors:

Another year ends, and a new one begins. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season, and are looking forward to a peaceful, healthy, and happy 2018.

Although I ran to be a State Delegate and represent District 46 in the General Assembly, being an elected official representing Baltimore City is about much more than passing bills in Annapolis — it also involves being a problem-solver and advocate for my constituents and institutions.  The past year was a challenging one for our City (and country), and it was that much more important that we have active elected officials doing all we can to promote the interests of the people of Baltimore City residents.

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2017 Annapolis Update: My bills

Last week was a big week for Team Lierman: while the City weathered the brief snow storm, the House of Delegates voted on (and passed!) five of my bills. District support has been key, so I didn’t want to wait for the newsletter to share the wonderful update and thank all of you and all the advocates who have helped us advance this far. These bills still need to pass the Senate – but even getting out the House before the crossover deadline on Monday is a huge first step.

The General Assembly doesn’t stop for the snow, and on Tuesday the House voted in favor of my bill to ensure Legal Aid staff at District Court self-help centers continue to have health insurance coverage. HB 991 passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support (138-2).

On Wednesday night, the House voted for HB 271 to repeal the farebox recovery mandate! Improving public transit has always been and will remain high on my priority list, and the farebox recovery mandate was an impediment to MTA providing better service. See the article here for more information about why the farebox recovery is such a problem. I am incredibly grateful to Get Maryland Moving, 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, and other advocates helped educate delegates about the importance of this bill. Thanks to our work, HB 271 passed 85-50.

My colleagues also voted to provide more transitional support to ex-drug offenders by loosening our random limits on SNAP (food stamps) and temporary cash assistance eligibility. Under current Maryland law, individuals with felony drug convictions are ineligible for food and cash assistance during the first year after their conviction, while those convicted of fraud or violent crime remain fully eligible. My bill reforms the law to better align with the restorative justice model and ensures that drug offenders are not arbitrarily denied basic support during such a critical time in their lives. HB 860, which was amended to exclude repeat offenders, passed on Third Reading by a 83-52 vote.

On Thursday, the House considered HB 425, the bill to prohibit suspensions and expulsions of PreK to Second Graders. The practice of suspending and expelling children from prekindergarten through second grade has no place in Maryland schools. Imposing these harsh disciplinary measures on our youngest students is completely at odds with data on child development and feeds the school to prison pipeline. Since the bill’s inception, we’ve had the science on our side, widespread support on the ground, and tailored language that addressed every concern we heard. As a result, HB 425 passed without debate. Ninety of my colleagues joined me in voting green. Thanks to Disability Rights Maryland, the ACLU, ACY, and every parent, teacher and advocate who championed this cause!

On Saturday, the House passed a heavily-amended version of the Paystub Transparency Act of 2017 (HB 1143). My original version set a minimum standard for written notice provided upon hiring and required each paystub to report information about overtime, wage rates, and location. The bill saw many revisions, and ultimately passed with robust notice requirements but none of the paystub demands than I hoped for. But compromise is key, and the bill moves the needle one step forward.

The General Assembly had already passed HB 224, a bill that would help Maryland’s non-profits recruit AmeriCorps volunteers and the state to keep these great people in our state by waiving the 12-month residency requirement for in-state tuition at our public universities.

These five bills will now crossover to the Senate. Crossover is the process in which the House version of a bill is transmitted to the Senate (or vice versa) for consideration by the other chamber. A bill has to pass both houses of the General Assembly before it can be signed into law by the Governor. I now have six bills in the crossover stage, so please cross your fingers that they make it to Gov. Hogan’s desk! Until then, standby for my final report.

2017 Annapolis Dispatch: Halfway done

February 27, 2017

Friends & Neighbors:

We are officially halfway through the 2017 session! Last week was a great week of action in Annapolis: starting with the Women’s Rally in Annapolis on Monday night highlighting a variety of legislation concerning women and family issues, and then great rallies for the Keep the Door Open Act (supporting mental health services) and a huge one on Thursday night in support of Baltimore City Public Schools! It was an exciting week and great to see so many Marylanders come out to show support for bills and issues they care about.

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Schools Should Not Start After Labor Day

The Gov & Comptroller are Wrong: Schools Should Not Start After Labor Day

On August 31, the Governor stood with the Comptroller and announced that beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, no school would be able to start prior to Labor Day, and all schools must end by June 15. I disagree strongly with this action, and believe it is moving away from where we should be going – year-round school. Not only will this action not help our state – it will hurt our most vulnerable families and create additional barriers to success for many working parents. In fact, so few school districts think it’s a good idea that only one school district in the entire state does it right now – Worcester County, where Ocean City is located. And, in other nearby areas like D.C., public schools are moving to year-round schedules.  (Anne Arundel Board of Education has released this press release about the matter: http://www.aacps.org/calendar.pdf).

 

Working parents pay the consequences. Although initially many Marylanders may think this idea sounds good for families, it is anything but. For working parents, summer can be a devastatingly difficult time. The average cost of summer camp in Maryland is $304/week, $500-1,000/week for specialty camps, ad $690/week for overnight camps. This type of expenditure is simply not possible for many working families around the state – in every county. Thus, self-care for 6-12 year olds increases during the summer months when kids are left alone or with an older sibling or neighbor while parents go to work.  Often older adults may remember a time when they started after Labor Day – and that was the case for some of America’s history. During that period, however, almost every child had one parent at home and one parent working. That is simply not the case today when most families have two parents working.

Maryland kids need school meals. Over 403,000 students in Maryland schools (72,000 in Baltimore City) receive free or reduced-price meals – including 86% of the students in Baltimore City schools. For many students, these meals are their only full meals of the day. Despite resource centers and soup kitchens open during the summer, for many students the summer months are not full of fun – they are full of hunger pangs.  According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), only 17.5 of every 100 low-income students nationwide received Summer Nutrition who received free or reduced price lunch during the 2006-2007 school year (Food Research and Action Council, 2008).

Summer Slide is Real. The few extra dollars spent at the Jolly Roger (instead of elsewhere in Maryland) would mean huge academic losses for our most vulnerable students. Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make gains. Most youth also lose two months of math skills in the summer. As was reported recently on WYPR, reading and math losses add up. By 5th grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students almost 3 years behind their peers.  As reported in a Hopkins study, two-thirds of the ninth grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years; nearly one-third of the gap is already present when children begin school. Early summer learning losses have later life consequences, including high school curriculum placement, whether kids drop out of high school, and whether they attend college.

Educational Decisions Require Educational Analysis. The bottom line is that when we are shaping educational policy in our state, we should focus on educational studies – not economic development concerns. It is unbelievable to me that our Governor and Comptroller would willingly institute a policy change that will increase the summer learning loss and lead to more hungry students and more stressed working parents. And yet, that is what Gov. Hogan plans to do. D.C. Public Schools are moving in the right direction – 10 traditional public schools will become basically year-round schools starting this year. Maryland should start moving forward toward year-round schools as well. And, at the very least, Gov. Hogan should retain the status quo, if nothing else, and leave the decision where it has always been – with local school districts.

(I commend the Sun for their strong editorial on this issue: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-first-day-20160830-story.html).

(Edited, 9/1/16 to reflect the press conference)

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2016 DNC Convention: Making History

2016 DNC Convention: Making History

What a week! After spending 5 days in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, I am exhausted but enthusiastic and wanted to drop you a quick note. It was an incredibly humbling experience to be able to represent Maryland as a convention delegate for Hillary Clinton. Maryland was well-represented on the national stage, as well – Rep. Elijah Cummings, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and former Governor Martin O’Malley all spoke to the Convention (and even Nancy Pelosi gave a shout-out to her home state of Maryland)!

Whether you were a Bernie Sanders supporter or a Hillary Clinton supporter – or if you supported someone else entirely – there was no denying the historic import of the occasion. The Maryland delegation was seated directly behind the Vermont delegation, and it was incredibly powerful to watch Sen. Sanders make a motion to nominate Secretary Clinton by acclamation (just as she did 8 years ago for Pres. Obama).  As I wrote during the primary season, I believe that Hillary Clinton is the candidate we need to continue and increase investments in our urban core.

 

I posted several photos from the week on my Facebook profile and have uploaded a few more to share with you on my Flickr page here. I have never seen so many inspiring speeches in such a short amount of time – from the parents of gun-violence victims (including children and police) to our First Lady to local leaders around the country to Michael Bloomberg to Khzir Khan to two Presidents, the diversity and enthusiasm of the speakers was contagious and exciting.

Seeing the first woman nominated for President accept her nomination was an incredible thrill – and so was seeing so many other women elected public servants. Sen. Mikulski led the Democratic women Senators on stage for speeches, and several other delegates and I attended an event honoring all the Democratic women in the House of Representatives – where we even met Baltimore-born Nancy Pelosi! These women are breaking barriers not just for women, but for everyone.

Being an elected official is the most rewarding experience of my life – and the most challenging. Seeing so many other elected officials – including spending time with other state senators and delegates and our federal elected officials – was a great reminder of the many, many people who are truly committed to breaking down barriers in our state to ensuring that every Marylander can reach his or her full potential.

As Secretary Clinton remarked on Thursday night:

“When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going, until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.” – Hillary Clinton

I’ll be heading to Pennsylvania (or wherever the campaign sends me) this fall on weekends to doorknock for Clinton-Kaine, and I hope you’ll consider going as well! If you are interested in getting involved, fill out this form and I will share all the results with the new State Director for the Clinton-Kaine campaign.

I also hope you’ll save the date for my first ever Women for Brooke Breakfast Friday, October 14! More details will be forthcoming soon – but please save the date now!

 

Going on Around District 46 . . .

BaltimoreLink Community briefing in Brooklyn

August 29th 6:00 PM-7:30PM

Enoch Pratt Library Branch-Brooklyn Branch

300 E Patapsco Ave, Baltimore MD 21224

 

Friends of Patterson Park Concert Series

8/9 and 8/21

All concerts are held from 6:30-8:30pm on Pagoda Hill (enter the park at Lombard and Patterson Park Avenue, near the Marble Fountain)

 

Riverside Concert Series

August 14th and September 11th

Join us at the gazebo from 5-8pm. Miss Twist, beer and wine sales at all concerts!

 

National Night Out

August 2nd – In Communities all over the district!

 

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Back to School Rally and Community Day Family Expo

August 6, 2016 11:00am-5:00pm

Baltimore Convention center Expo Hall

 

Estate Planning Clinic

August 17, 2016 10:00am-3:00pm

Keswick Multi-Care Center (700 W. 40th Street.)

 

Cherry Hill Schools Construction Meeting

August 18, 5:30 p.m. (and every third Thursday thereafter)

Rotation between Arundel and Cherry Hill Elementary Schools

 

Finally, our neighbors in Ellicott City suffered severe damage this Saturday night in the storm. For information on how to help, or to donate, visit: http://www.helpellicottcity.com/.

I hope to see you on October 14 – save the date now and look for future emails with more information – and on the trail this fall as we work to elect our first woman President.

Thank you for your support!

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2016 DNC Convention: Making History

What a week! After spending 5 days in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, I am exhausted but enthusiastic and wanted to drop you a quick note. It was an incredibly humbling experience to be able to represent Maryland as a convention delegate for Hillary Clinton. Maryland was well-represented on the national stage, as well – Rep. Elijah Cummings, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and former Governor Martin O’Malley all spoke to the Convention (and even Nancy Pelosi gave a shout-out to her home state of Maryland)!

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June 24, 2016: Two Years Later

June 24: Two Years After Primary Election

Two years have come and gone so fast. Two years ago today, the polls had just opened and I was standing at William Paca Elementary School greeting voters. Today, I’ll be starting my day at Maree Farring Elementary/Middle School in Brooklyn, talking with the principal and others about expanding its capacity to make room for more students who want to attend this thriving school.

For me, June 24th marks a great time each year for reflection on why I ran and what I am doing to serve as your State Delegate – and also a good excuse to share photos from my Community Picnic. Breaking down invisible barriers between neighborhoods is a job I take seriously – my Community Picnic invites residents from all over the district (and state!) to come together for an opportunity to learn about non-profits, meet elected officials, and enjoy some great food and good fun.

 

This year’s picnic was hugely successful, despite the stormy day! We held it in a fun covered space at Patterson Park Public Charter School, and welcomed nearly 250 adults and dozens of children for BBQ, ice cream, face painting, games, and camaraderie. We had numerous community organizations, like Creative Alliance and Downtown Sailing, bring volunteers and information to share.  And, we were joined by a variety of public servants – local and federal – including incoming BCPS CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, Sen. Cardin, and Reps. Sarbanes and Ruppersberger – in addition to Sen. Catherine Pugh, many Delegates and Councilmembers, and Council President Jack Young.

Check out the pictures here.

Save the date for next year’s picnic on the Sunday after Memorial Day – June 4, 2017.

Continuing to Advocate …

When I ran for office, I didn’t run just to hold the job – I ran to do the job. Although session is over, the work certainly is not. My nights have been filled since session ended in April with visits to community association meetings and events, where I’ve discussed the work we did and the continuing work we have to do. I’ve shared my End of Session Report as well – which you can find on my website here.

PHoto of Brooke giving a speech in front of a big American flagI passed several bills during session, and all of them (or their Senate cross-files) were signed into law except one – the MTA Board of Oversight & Planning, HB 1010. Unfortunately, the Governor decided to veto HB 1010 on the last day that he had the option. Many of you wrote in to tell me that you supported an override of the Governor’s veto – I have not heard yet whether the House and Senate leadership will support an override, but I’m hopeful and continuing discussions with them. This is a vitally important bill that will help improve transit for the region.

The Baltimore Sun ran a very strong editorial in support of an override of the Governor’s veto on this bill.  The Sun noted:

Perhaps the most inexplicable of the vetoes was Mr. Hogan’s vituperative rejection of Del. Brooke Lierman’s legislation to create an advisory council for the Maryland Transit Administration. . . . . Planning and oversight boards like this one are common in transit agencies, and it would help the MTA in its efforts at long-term planning and building support for its priorities. In announcing his effort to revamp Baltimore bus lines, Mr. Hogan called the MTA deeply dysfunctional. He should welcome the help to fix it.

Public transit is not just a matter of convenience – it is a matter of social justice.  I will continue to work for better public transit to ensure that people have access to good jobs, and we are reducing traffic and congestion in our city.  To that end, see below for a list of workshops that MTA is holding around the City regarding the updated Baltimore Link system.

In the Community…

In addition to attending community meetings all around District 46, I have also been busy going to community and advocacy events! For instance –

  • Speaking at the release of the 2015 Harbor Report Card, sponsored by Blue Water Baltimore and Healthy Harbors  Picture of Brooke with students from Curtis Bay Elementary
  • Receiving an award for passage of Alicia’s Law from the Baltimore Child Abuse Center
  • Speaking on June 14th – Flag Day – at the Flag House on Pratt Street (see photo above)
  • Visiting schools around the district, including Highlandtown 237, Federal Hill Prep, Maree Farring Elementary/Middle, and having lunch with students at Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School
  • Awarding ~$40,000 in scholarships to District 46 students who are attending college or graduate school next year
  • Celebrating the anniversary of Sail Baltimore, the organization responsible for bringing the Tall Ships to Baltimore since 1976
  • Joining residents for the annual Prayer Walk in Cherry Hill

Coming up in District 46 . . .

MTA Baltimore Link Workshops: Please attend one of the upcoming MTA workshops on BaltimoreLink – the new bus service coming to our region. There are several hearings in District 46 in July and September. Check out the information and schedules atwww.baltimorelink.com.

Banner Neighborhoods Crab Feast: Tomorrow (Saturday June 25th) from 1-4 p.m. at 2900 E. Fayette Street (in the yard). Tickets are $45 advance or $50 at the door!

INSPIRE Meeting in Cherry Hill to shape the blocks around the two new schools being built: June 28, 2016 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Arundel Elem/Middle, 2400 Round Road.

Summer Food Lunch Program: From June 27 through August 26, all Community Action Partnership Centers will offer FREE summer lunches from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.. For information, call 410-545-6958 or visit your local community action partnership center. Southern – 606 Cherry Hill Road; Southeast – 3411 Bank Street; Eastern – 1400 E. Federal Street

I am often asked about school construction and demolition, so am sharing the links about those projects with you as well:

21st Century School Reconstructionhttp://baltimore21stcenturyschools.org/  This website provides information on the schools being rebuilt and timelines.

Project CORE: Visit http://dhcd.maryland.gov/ProjectCORE/Pages/default.aspx for information on demolition and deconstruction in Baltimore. This plan is pursuant to a bill passed by the General Assembly and an MOU signed with the Maryland Stadium Authority, which is handling the funds and helping to oversee the project.

 

Constituent Services…

At the end of the day, I am here to serve the residents of District 46!  That means, if you live in District 46 and you have a problem – I’d like to do all I can to help. Brooke and others getting Baltimore Child Abuse Center award You can email me at brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us and my legislative director, Michele Lambert, and I will help figure out how to solve the issues you’re confronting. (And, if you’d like a Brooke Lierman #BmoreLocal reusable bag to use when grocery shopping, just send me an email with your address and we’ll mail you one!)

Two year after one of the most exciting days I my life – June 24, 2014 – I am eternally grateful to all of you for placing your trust in me in this important role. I continue to try to do my best each and every day to build a better Baltimore, and a better Maryland.

Have a great summer, and keep in touch!

My best,

Brooke

 

PS: In case you missed it, I was named one of the Top 10 Freshman Delegates by Josh Kurtz in Center Maryland! Josh wrote:

Born on Valentine’s Day, she combines sweetness with steely determination. No one works harder or is better prepared for a hearing, an election, an issue campaign. No one learns lessons more quickly when she falls short. She has already worked an extraordinary array of issues, and is a very effective advocate for her city and her constituents.

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