LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO HOGAN VETO OF HB 1281: BIKEWAYS FUNDING & TRANSIT PLANNING

LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO HOGAN VETO OF HB 1281: BIKEWAYS FUNDING & TRANSIT PLANNING

Both the greater Washington area and the Baltimore region regularly make the country’s list for most-congested areas. Forty percent of trips that Americans take, however, are within two miles – a 30-minute walk, 10-minute bike ride, or short trip on transit. This year, the Maryland General Assembly acted to pass legislation that would codify and fund our state’s Bikeways Program and ensure that the new MTA Regional Transit Plan will create a system that will meet the needs of all residents who live or work in Central Maryland. Championed by Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jim Rosapepe, this bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. Today, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill.

Maryland’s bikeways infrastructure is vital to the growth and long-term success of our state. The Great Allegheny Trail, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Oxford Loop and more provide tourist attractions and economic development options for counties and municipalities. Our urban bikeways programs ensure alternatives for commuters and take cars off the road, in addition to providing public health benefits to riders and walkers.

The MTA Regional Transit Plan, due in October 2020 and originally mandated in legislation in 2018, will be the first new transit plan for Central Maryland in decades.  HB 1281 requires that a goal of the plan is for MTA to provide “reliable and safe public transportation service to enable residents … to access job opportunities.” By vetoing HB 1281, the Governor demonstrates that his Administration does not take the Regional Transit Plan seriously and is not interested in finding transit solutions for companies, workers and residents in Central Maryland.

“I guess the Governor just never saw a gridlocked highway he didn’t like. Otherwise, why would he propose billions of dollars for more gridlocked roads — and veto peanuts for bike paths and regional transit planning? Marylanders are tired of traffic jams. We need to override his veto,” said Senator Jim Rosapepe, sponsor of the cross-filed bill and of many bike and transit bills.

 “HB 1281 was unique in that it signaled the General Assembly’s understanding of and investment in multi-modal transportation options – bikes and transit. The Governor’s veto indicates that he and Secretary Rahn are not interested in anything but building more paved highways. Marylanders need and deserve more than that – we must have transportation options,” House sponsor Delegate Brooke Lierman said.

Because Maryland has no mandated funding for bikeways, the lack of certainty regarding whether and how much funding MDOT will provide for bikeways discourages counties from pursuing important projects. This bill remedied that problem by creating a steady funding stream for the Bikeways Network Program. In addition, rejecting amendments that would have clarified and strengthened elements of the new Regional Transit Plan indicates that Governor Hogan and MDOT are not seriously interested in creating a robust transit plan that would allow for an expansion of the light rail, MARC, and bus service that is needed throughout Central Maryland. 

Brooke’s Brief: End of Session Report

The 2019 legislative session is over and I am back home in Baltimore full time. It was a session for the history books, but not necessarily for all good reasons. As you probably know, our Speaker Michael Busch died this past Sunday, the day before Sine Die (the last day of session). Although I was heartbroken to hear the news on Sunday, walking into the House chamber on Monday morning and seeing his empty chair, I felt the enormity of the loss. We passed his final bill later that day (to help reform the University of Maryland Medical System), and held a short memorial with tributes from members that evening just before midnight. I will never forget the Speaker and am so grateful for his mentorship and leadership. I will always strive to live up to the example he set as a public servant leader.

Below you will find a short recap of some of the major pieces of legislation we passed this session and information about the FY20 budget. For my full End of Session Report, please click HERE.

FY20 BUDGET

The budget the House passed is fiscally prudent and socially responsible. It maintains our current commitments to public education and health, makes sound investments in the future, and leaves over $1.2 billion in cash and reserves in the event of economic downturn. We were able to accomplish all of this without raising any taxes or fees.

Some key accomplishments in this year’s budget include:

  • Providing $320 million to support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which will provide funds for full-day prekindergarten for 4-year olds, special education programs, teacher salary incentives, and many other needs to transform Maryland’s education institutions into a world-class system
  • $7 billion of support for public schools, the largest budget for our children ever
  • $500 million for school construction, funded through the operating budget and the capital budget
  • $80 million to combat the opioid crisis, including services for individuals with mental and behavioral health disorders
  • $13 million for crime reduction initiatives that will bolster public safety efforts in Baltimore City and statewide

BROOKE’S BILLS

I passed seven bills this session, and two others that were combined into one Senate bill and passed. Below is a quick recap:

Protecting the Environment: I am thrilled to help lead the charge to protect our environment, by being the first state in the country to ban foam food containers. With the help of community organizations like @MDLCV, @sierraclubmd, and @TrashFreeMD, HB 109/SB285 was approved by both chambers and is awaiting signature by the Governor. The House also passed the Natural Resources Protection Program, HB 1194 that creates a whistleblower program to help ensure we are enforcing our natural resources laws, however this bill was not given a vote in the Senate.

Creating sustainable transportation infrastructure: The Maryland Bikeways Program bill (HB 1281) will codify the Bikeways program and provide mandated funding of $3.8 m/year for projects around the state. This bill also contained a provision to strengthen the requirement for an MTA Regional Transit Plan.

Creating healthy and inclusive communities: I authored and passed a bill to require for the first time that all local governments address the need for affordable/workforce housing in their local comprehensive plans (HB 1045). This planning is essential to meeting the needs of Marylanders who lack opportunity to purchase or rent affordable homes. I worked with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative closely to pass funding for the Breathe Easy East Baltimore pilot program to remediate triggers for asthma in homes in East Baltimore. Asthma is the number one reason for absenteeism in schools – renovating unhealthy homes is key to ensuring students can succeed in school (HB1160). I also worked with Sen. Ferguson to pass a bill to create the Opportunity Zone Enhancement Program, a first-of-its-kind in the nation program to incentivize developers to be inclusive and take community input when developing in an opportunity zone.

Reducing maternal and infant mortality: Research shows that the the first three years of our children’s lives lives are the most important for healthy growth and development and we know that it takes coordinates services to reduce maternal and infant mortality. HB 520 will fund the Thrive by Three Care Coordination program to help make sure all parents have access to support services.

Providing legal services and support for those in need: A number of bills I introduced that passed the House this session will provide legal access and support for Marylanders. First, the Child Sex Trafficking Services & Screening Act, HB 827, protects child victims of sex trafficking and provides services to help those victims recover. Second, HB 633 creates the Legal Representation Fund for Title IX Proceedings to make sure legal support is available for students involved in Title IX hearings on college campuses. Finally, a bill that I passed through the House and stalled in the Senate creates the Family Law Services for Sustained Safety Fund for legal support for victims of domestic violence or child abuse, and to help families in times of crisis to ensure a more stable future (HB 665).

Continuing Efforts:There were also a number of important bills that we were able to make progress on but were unable to pass this session and that I’ll work on next year – including enabling legislation to allow Baltimore City voter to choose our City leaders through Ranked Choice Voting, increasing enforcement of truck routes through City neighborhoods, protecting our student athletes from exploitation and unsafe conditions, and removing laws that criminalize poverty, including ending the practice of suspending drivers licenses for unpaid fees and fines that have nothing to do with driving. 

NOTABLE LEGISLATION

Putting Maryland’s Students First :Although prior to session we learned that the full Kirwan Commission recommendations would not be implemented this year, we still worked to pass the first phase of those recommendations in HB1413/SB1030, The Education Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. This bill establishes principles to transform public education, including (1) investing in high-quality early childhood education and care; (2) elevating teachers and school leaders; (3) creating a world-class instructional system; (4) providing more support to students who need it most, including English language learners, students in poverty, and special education students; and (5) ensuring excellence through accountability and oversight. In addition to funding these measures through the education lockbox funds, we also passed HB1301/SB728, which closes a loophole that currently allows some online retailers to avoid collecting sales tax.  These bills will ensure that all online sales tax revenues collected by the state that is over $100 million will go to funding the Education Blueprint.  This year we passed a major bill that requires school boards to incorporate the use of restorative approaches for school discipline (HB725/SB766).

Reforming our Criminal Justice System & Increasing Public Safety:I continued this year to focus on ongoing concerns of violent crime.  I am encouraged by the hiring and confirmation of Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael C. Harrison last month and am hopeful his leadership will help to continue the transformation of the BPD. One bill that I cosponsored, HB528/SB39, will require that following the decennial census the BPD Commissioner will present a plan to the Baltimore Mayor’s Office to reconsider each police district and its resource allocation. Statewide, I was sorry to see the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency Act fail to advance. This bill would have required an independent investigation of officer-involved deaths (SB898/HB983). HB116, a bipartisan bill, puts Maryland on track to offer full medication-assisted-treatment to inmates suffering from opiate use disorder in all local jails by 2023. SB 774 will restrict placing juveniles in solitary confinement, unless there is clear evidence of an immediate risk of harm to the minor, or others. We did successfully pass SB346 which closes a loophole that previously allowed gun owners or dealers from transferring guns to someone not legally allowed to own a gun – as long as the Governor signs the bill, that loophole will close! 

Although it didn’t make the headlines, a major public safety measure was made with a complete overhaul of the 911 system. HB397The 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Act, modernizes our state’s outdated 911 system in a number of ways, including allowing for texting and updating improving location accuracy. This bill successfully passed both chambers!

We also passed a bill to create a Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, which is a first-step to implementing comprehensive juvenile justice reform measures to ensure our state is working holistically to keep kids out of the criminal justice system and in school and reaching their full potential, but also ensuring where necessary that serious offenders are kept away from harming others. This will allow for a data-driven approach and will ensure we are using best practices from across the country to work with our children.

Making Healthcare More Accessible:We passed two landmark health care bills this year: we created the nation’s first Prescription Drug Affordability Board and we will now allow Marylanders the chance to enroll in health insurance by checking a box on their annual state income tax returns. The Affordability Board will establish maximum costs to be paid by state and local governments for certain high-cost medications, and the second measure will ensure that we are expanding the pool of people who are insured and bringing down premiums for all enrollees.

Under a 2011 law, if a pending lawsuit is decided in favor of the state, all state benefits would have ended and retirees would have had only benefits from Medicare Part D. By passing SB946/HB1120 we have created 3 new state programs to limit out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for state retirees and require ongoing study and discussion of the challenge of funding these important benefits.

Cleaning Our State + Protecting our Environment:Along with passing my bill (HB109/SB285) to ban expanded polystyrene foam food containers (the first in the nation!), I also worked hard to champion and pass other environmental measures. We passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB516) to require that 50% of our energy come from renewable energy sources by 2030, including 14.5% from solar energy! We also took steps to preserve and restore Maryland’s oyster population and increase enforcement of environmental laws. We overrode the Governor’s veto to pass HB298/SB448 to provide permanent protection of restored oyster sanctuaries in five tributaries, protecting public investments and serving as oyster nurseries.

Unfortunately, a key environmental bill that I cosponsored didn’t advance out of the House this Session. HB 961/SB548 would have removed trash incineration from Tier 1 of the renewable energy portfolio. I am hopeful that we will be able to advance this measure next year and I plan to meet with constituents and organizations about it during the interim.

To read more about what I worked on this session, please check out my full End of Session report HERE.

Brooke’s Brief: Special Saturday Edition

I am headed down to Annapolis for a Saturday session and Monday is Sine Die (the last day of session). Before the end of session and my final End of Session report, I wanted to give you a quick update on a few big things! We’ve worked on a huge variety of issues – public safety, criminal justice reform, education, environmental issues, transportation, healthcare – but here are a few quick hits from this past week:

Education: The General Assembly has now approved a major bill called the Education Blueprint for Maryland, which will provide $800 million more for schools over the next two years. This is the first bill to phase in the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission — increasing teacher salaries, expanding pre-kindergarten, supporting students with special needs, investing more in schools with high levels of concentrated poverty, investing in tech ed, and providing more health-based services to students and families.

Veto Overrides: The Governor vetoed four bills we sent him early this year and we voted last week to override all four vetoes to: (1) ensure local school boards can control their own school calendars to meet the needs of the kids they are educating, (2) ensure workers’ wages continue to increase annually up to $15/hour in 2026, (3) create a better system to enforce alcohol and tobacco laws (like the majority of other states) by using an objective commission rather than an elected official; and (4) create sanctuaries for oysters, which are at 1% of their historic population.

UMMS Reform: After reporting by the Baltimore Sun revealed that the University of Maryland Medical System was awarding sole-source contracts (and more!), the General Assembly has moved to pass legislation sponsored by Sen. Jill Carter and Speaker Busch to require all Board members to resign, prohibit sole-source contracts, and implement audit requirements. What was going on at UMMS was completely unacceptable, and this bill is an important first step toward ensuring that we are protecting taxpayers (and patients!) from footing the bill for grift.

#FoamFreeMD: After three years of trying, I am thrilled to report that the General Assembly just passed my bill and Sen. Cheryl Kagan’s companion bill to make Maryland the FIRST state in the country to ban EPS foam (styrofoam) food containers! Foam is the worst form of plastic because it breaks down into pieces that are too small to pick up and end up in our waterways and beaches, but those small pieces attract wildlife who eat them and ingest the toxic chemicals they absorb. Our state, our country, our world are overrun with single-use plastics – it’s up to us to start cleaning up the mess that we have created and this legislation is an important FIRST step to demonstrate that we have the political will and know-how to make that happen.

Brooke’s Brief: Annapolis Report #6

Last Monday was Crossover Day — the day each Session when a bill that originates in the House must crossover to the Senate to guarantee a bill hearing before the end of Session (and when the Senate sends their bills over to the House!). There is always a flurry of activity leading up to Crossover Day, and I’m happy to report progress on a number of my bills this Session. With only two weeks left before Sine Die on Monday, April 8, there is still so much work left to do, especially related to education funding!

Appropriations & Education Funding

Two weeks ago, over 8,000 teachers, students and public education supporters came to Annapolis to rally for education funding. It was an amazing event and I was thrilled to be able to take the stage with my colleagues to let everyone know we hear them and support them!

Education is a key component of the FY20 Maryland budget that my Committee – Appropriations – worked on. The House has passed our versions of the capital and operating budgets for Maryland and we are now conferring with the Senate over differences. This was not an easy fiscal year. We came into the session expecting a balanced budget and surplus revenues; instead, we had a forecast of downward revenue of the General Fund by $269 million across the 2019 and 2020 budgets.

The budget the House passed is fiscally prudent and socially responsible. It maintains our current commitments to public education and health, makes sound investments in the future, and leaves over $1.2 billion in cash and reserves in the event of economic downturn. We were able to accomplish all of this without raising any taxes or fees.  Some key accomplishments in this year’s budget include:

  • Providing $320 million to support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which will provide funds for full-day prekindergarten for 4-year olds, special education programs, teacher salary incentives, and many other needs to transform Maryland’s education institutions into a world-class system.
  • $7 billion of support for public schools, the largest budget for our children ever.
  • $500 million for school construction, funded through the operating budget and the capital budget
  • $80 million to combat the opioid crisis, including services for individuals with mental and behavioral health disorders
  • $13 million for crime reduction initiatives that will bolster public safety efforts in Baltimore City and statewide

The Build to Learn Act of 2019: While Maryland invests millions into school construction, repair, and renovation every year, Baltimore City and many counties still have significant unmet needs. Last week, the House of Delegates passed the largest school construction bill in Maryland history, the Build to Learn Act of 2019. Now it’s up to the Senate to act!

This bill will invest an additional $2.2 billion into school construction statewide. This would result in hundreds of millions in additional investment into Baltimore City to continue the momentum of the 21st Century Schools Program. When 21st Century Schools was originally passed, the goal was to build or fully renovate nearly 45 schools. When the program is complete, the Maryland Stadium Authority anticipates completing 27 or 28 schools. The additional investment contained in the Build to Learn Act will fulfill that original promise.

Brooke’s Bills

Eight of the bills I introduced this Session were passed by the House and are another step closer to passage this year, as they’re considered in the Senate. These bills include many issues important to Baltimoreans:

Protecting the Environment: I am thrilled to help lead the charge to protect our environment, by being the first state in the country to ban foam food containers. With the help of community organizations like @MDLCV, @sierraclubmd, and @TrashFreeMD, HB 109 passed the House and is a key step to make sure Maryland is foam free. #FoamFreeMD. The house also passed the Natural Resources Protection Program, HB 1194 that creates a whistleblower program to help ensure we are enforcing our natural resources laws.

Creating sustainable bikeways infrastructure and affordable housing: The Maryland Bikeways Program would be a created in statute through the passage of HB 1281, with a mandated minimum level of funding for the program going forward. Another bill, HB 1045, requires that all local governments address the need for affordable housing in their comprehensive plans, including both workforce housing and affordable housing below 60% of the AMI. This planning is essential to meeting the needs of Marylanders who lack opportunity to purchase or rent affordable homes.

Funding for early childhood development: Research shows that the beginning our kids’ lives are the most important for healthy growth and development. HB 520 will help make sure all kids have the tools they need for success, by providing funding for the Thrive by Three Care Coordination program.

Providing legal services and support for those in need: A number of bills I introduced that passed the House this session will provide legal and support services for victims seeking justice and help. First, the Child Sex Trafficking Services & Screening Act, HB 827, protects child victims of sex trafficking and provides services to help those victims recover. Second, HB 665 creates the Family Law Services for Sustained Safety Fund for legal support for victims of domestic violence or child abuse, and to help families in times of crisis to ensure a more stable future. And third, HB 633 creates the Legal Representation Fund for Title IX Proceedings to make sure legal support is available for students involved in Title IX hearings on college campuses. The General Assembly created this legal services program last Session, and this bill provides funding to make sure the services are actually available to those who need them.

In Annapolis

As the Vice Chair of the Oversight on Pensions Subcommittee, we are working to make sure prescription drug coverage remains viable for state retirees who depend on it.  We recently amended SB 946 to help restore some funding to the Maryland State Retiree Prescription Drug Coverage Program. I will post links and information on my Facebook page with information on the amended bill this week.

UMMS: Review my statement on my Facebook page. The House suspended the rules on Thursday to introduce an emergency bill, HB 1428, to require comprehensive audits of the University of Maryland Medical System. This bill had bipartisan support to address self-dealing and ethical breaches in our government systems.

PIMLICO: The Baltimore City Delegation remains committed to keeping the Preakness in the City. Some legislators and the Stronach Group have proposed legislation to allow money from the racing fund to be bonded to be used to rebuild Laurel into a “super track,” leaving nothing in or for Pimlico. This is unacceptable. Please review the short video here explaining how amazing rebuilding Pimlico could be: www.savepreaknessbaltimore.org. Mayor Pugh filed suit last week against the Stronach Group and the Black Caucus of the General Assembly hosted Mayor Pugh and three former city mayors to discuss how to address this key issue affecting Baltimore City.

Guns in Schools: I voted against a measure to arm school resource officers in Baltimore City schools. This is a controversial, charged issue within our city, and I understand that our disagreement stems from our passion to keep all students, teachers, staff, and community members within our schools safe. I voted against this proposal, because was just as likely, if not more likely, to jeopardize the safety of our kids, rather than make schools safer. When tragedy strikes, it’s natural to want to act, and we should be taking steps to ensure school safety. However, we must take care not to put our children in harm’s way again with poorly planned policies that jeopardize their safety.  Armed officers can make schools less safe for our kids, and also disintegrate the educational atmosphere necessary for students to thrive.  Research has found that security guards are consistently ineffective at protecting students and are associated with more incidents of school crime, and higher levels of disorder in schools.  Data also show that access to firearms is associated with an increased risk of firearm-related death and injury.  This is a risk my colleagues and I in the legislature, who voted against arming officers in Baltimore City schools, are unwilling to take. There is also little empirical evidence that fortifying schools with increased security measures like metal detectors, surveillance cameras, or lockdown procedures are effective to prevent attacks.  These additions in schools may put our minds at ease, but students at schools like Columbine and Sandy Hook were not saved by these measures. A study conducted by the Safe School Initiative reported by U.S. Secret Service recommends training for teachers and administrators to make threat assessments and recognize behaviors that are linked to violent outburst.  More guns do not equal more safety.  Instead, creating trusting environments where students, teachers, and administrators feel comfortable identifying and responding to at-risk behaviors can help to ensure safe schools.

Johns Hopkins Security: Johns Hopkins’ proposal seeking state approval to replace off-duty Baltimore police officers that currently patrol the campuses with JHU’s own sworn officers has also been a contentious issue. This proposal is not about guns – Hopkins already has 65+ armed officers patrolling – it is about Hopkins having the ability to train its employees and give them limited arrest powers. Although I could not have supported the bill as introduced, I believe the amendments make the bill one that that will provide for safeguards for the community, more oversight into what Hopkins is doing (i.e. they already are using armed guards with no oversight at all – and could hire an unlimited number if this legislation isn’t passed), and although I am still concerned about the idea of giving a private entity this police power, I believe it is a fair compromise.

Several of the amendments make it a very different bill than that as introduced. (1) As introduced, the police force would have been able to patrol neighborhoods. As amended, it is limited to just the campus and adjacent sidewalks/parking lots. In addition, there is a geographically defined area so that even if Hopkins were to purchase land elsewhere, it could not extend its police there. (For those wondering, Hopkins police will not patrol the Bayview campus.) (2) The grant of authority to Hopkins will expire in ten years. (3) There are three layers of accountability – the accountability board, whose members now must be confirmed by the State Senate to ensure they are a fair representation, the civilian review board, and trial boards. While I recognize the imperfection of these latter two methods as they exist now, I will continue to push for reforms. (4) The ultimate accountability – the ability to sue – will exist for plaintiffs. Hopkins will be fully liable (with no public/sovereign immunity) for any violations. (5) The Public Information Act, as imperfect as it is, will apply to these officers. I will continue to push for that law to be stronger and more meaningful as well. I have been very impressed with Commissioner Harrison as well and believe that his experience in NOLA will help him to craft a good MOU with JHU.

I heard from many people opposed to this bill and many people in favor of it. I even heard from some people who were originally opposed to the bill, but supported it after they learned about the amendments. I was incredibly impressed by the thoughtful organizing of many of the medical students who were opposed to the bill and I kept in touch with them and connected several of them to a community president who was looking for another viewpoint from Hopkins – I think it is important to have full engagement with all views on these complex policy questions. I tried to be very transparent and honest with everyone I talked to about how I was deliberating on the bill. There are challenging issues that confront us these days and I try to bring the best thinking I can as I confront them.

In Baltimore

TODAY: there will be an Expungement Clinic hosted at Cherry Hill Elementary School at 801 Bridgeview Road in Brooklyn, Maryland. At this clinic, individuals with a criminal history will be able to receive advice from legal professionals about how to approach getting a record expunged, from determining eligibility to steps forward. Registration through Eventbrite is encouraged, but it is not required for attendance. The Expungement Clinic is hosted by the Port Covington Development Impact Team in partnership with Maryland Legal Aid and Out for Justice.

Join ACLU of Maryland’s Legislative Counsel for Education, Sonja Santelises on Thursday March 28 from 6-8 pm for a community conversation about achieving equity in Baltimore City’s schools. Join in for dinner and conversation at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School – 1400 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231. RVSP and more info here.

The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance is now accepting applications for its Transportation 101 workshops! Transportation 101 is a 7-week class in which participants meet to learn from local experts and leaders, meet other interested residents and ultimately put what they learn into action. Candidates can learn more and may apply through April 10 here:  https://www.cmtalliance.org/transportation-101/

In the News

This important Sun Editorial on funding for education is well worth a read: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-0318-kirwan-20190315-story.html?fbclid=IwAR3jr0GgoEzYmyXUXnJexTmPv2tcexBrh3idQsUVyF-kFHTiDjQzPrV-0kw

The efforts to make Maryland foam free has garnered national attention, and we are excited to be another step closer to banning expanded polystyrene foam in our state.

I am grateful to be recognized alongside so many other fantastic women leaders in Maryland as a part of The Daily Record’s Top 100 Maryland Women.


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

Annapolis Report: Crossover!

Every year, the first big deadline during session is the crossover deadline. This is deadline to pass a bill out of one chamber in order to guarantee a hearing in the other chamber. Most bills that don’t make the crossover deadline will not be passed – although there are always exceptions, especially for bills that address late-breaking issues (i.e. the scandal that came to light regarding the self-dealing at UMMS). Below are the bills that I passed through the House by this week!

Brooke’s Brief: Annapolis Report #5

Phew! Last week I presented nine bills to various committees, in addition to bill hearings in Appropriations, budget decisions, and passing the operating budget on Friday. We have one week until the crossover deadline and less than a month of session left so it’s an all out sprint to the finish from now on. I’ll be detailing our FY20 budget in my next newsletter, but below I offer some highlights from Annapolis from the past week.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email or call me! I can be reached at brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3319.
Bond Bills: This past Saturday I spent the day in Annapolis listening – as a member of the Capital Budget Subcommittee – to 160 bond bill presentations. It was a fascinating day listening to the needs of the myriad number of organizations around the state doing great work. Sen. Ferguson and I (on behalf of the entire team) presented our local bond initiatives as well – for projects like the South Baltimore Learning Center, Westport CDC, Garrett Park master plan, Cherry Hill Town Center, Chesapeake Shakespeare, Port Discovery, and more… Although we may not be able to secure funding for every project, we will do our best to ensure that these important projects get completed!  

Blueprint for Maryland’s Future: Last week I participated in a press conference where our House and Senate leaders unveiled the first bill to implement the Kirwan Commission recommendations. This bill – HB 1413 – will provide $1 bn of funding from the state’s budget over the next two years to begin implementing the recommendations. The money in these first two years will go toward:implementing full-day prekindergarten for low-income three and four year olds and expanding services like Judy Centershiring and retaining high-quality and diverse teachers, and increasing certification standardsincreasing services in schools with concentrations of poverty and increasing funding for children with special needs; andestablishing a robust accountability system for the state and for locals.As many of you know, the Thornton Commission’s work was enacted over a few different legislative sessions in the early 2000’s. Similarly, the recommendations of this updated Commission’s work will be implemented over several years. You can read more here and review the Kirwan report here

End of Life Options Act: Many constituents called or emailed me in support of the End of Life Options Act, a bill that creates a pathway for individuals with terminal illnesses to end their lives in a safe and legal way – only if they wish to and only after going through multiple steps. The debate on this bill was incredibly emotional. After several years of thought (the bill has been pending for at least three yeras), I voted to support this bill.Read more about it here.   The Baltimore Sun keeps a bill tracker on a few big bills moving through session. You can check it out here to see how things are moving: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-general-assembly-bill-tracker-20190102-htmlstory.html. 
The final two bills I presented last week (after seven others!) were two important bills for Baltimore focused on enhancing community development opportunities to ensure that all communities can benefit.  HB1260: Creating the Opportunity Zone Enhancement ProgramHB1162: Updating the Historic Tax Credit program to ease use for renovating multiple rowhomes and to allow smaller developers to more easily use it The Opportunity Zone program was created in the tax bill passed by the federal government in 2017 to incentivize commercial development in traditionally underdeveloped neighborhoods.  Without action by the legislature, however, such development would likely ignore longtime residents of communities in these zones and be done without disclosing any information on who is investing. HB 1260 would incentivize developers to work with community members to create their development plans and hire members of the community to work on these projects. I am excited to be working on both of these bills with my Senator, Bill Ferguson, who has the companion legislation in the Senate! Since my last newsletter, I have also introduced a new bill in the House to establish the Maryland Arts and Culture Capital Grant Program.

Every year our capital budget is more constrained and we have numerous arts and cultural institutions requesting capital dollars. It is impossible for the Legislature to fairly decide which projects are ready to go and which can wait a year. This program will award increasingly scarce in a more fair and meritocratic way to ensure that institutions around the state who need capital dollars can receive them as they are ready to use them.  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.
MTA Regional Transit Plan: Last year, we passed a bill to require MTA to create an updated long-term transit plan for Central Maryland. The planning begins this month! Take a moment to complete and share MTA’s initial survey: https://rtp.mta.maryland.gov/.  The Baltimore Police Department Consent Decree Monitoring Team is steadfastly continuing its work and welcoming a new era with BPD Commissioner nominee Michael Harrison coming to Baltimore.  Please reach out directly to the Monitoring Team if you’d like to learn more about their work, have comments or concerns — info@bpdmonitor.com.  

Less Waste, Better Baltimore is looking for your input on recycling and trash issues in our city. Take this survey to make your voice heard! 

The Port Continues to Break Records – A critical component of the 46th District, the Port of Baltimore surpassed last year’s record for the amount of cargo after handling 10.9 million tons in 2019. 

Howard Street Tunnel – In the effort to continue modernizing transportation of cargo out of the Port and increasing its capacity, the State has once again applied for federal funding to expand the Howard Street Tunnel
I joined Aaron Henkin on Life in the Balance on WYPR last week to discuss gun violence as a public health crisis. I discussed the bill I passed last year – the Violence Intervention & Prevention Act – and its implementation. Listen here: http://www.wypr.org/post/gun-violence-public-health-crisis.  

Progress to make Maryland the first state in the nation to ban foam food containers continues! The Senate passed companion legislation (SB0285)  to my House version of the bill (HB0109) and my bill will be up for a final vote either TONIGHT or TOMORROW!

Maryland will be the FIRST state in the country to ban this ubiquitous form of single-use plastic if we succeed in passing this legislation this year. On March 2, I moved to amend my proposed student athlete bill to first create a commission of a experts from across the state to study the fair treatment of college athletes.  

To fundamentally reshape the power imbalance in college sports will require a methodical approach that includes diverse perspectives. I look forward to continuing this important work in this session and beyond. 

The Washington Post reported on the toll road legislation I introduced this session (HB102) to ensure that local governments have the opportunity for input and approval on any new toll road construction. This measure is key to make sure the state thoughtfully plans transportation policy, in ways that won’t simply delay the fundamental causes of traffic congestion. I am consistently reminded that the General Assembly must not only pass laws, but also ensure that adequate resources are allocated for those laws to make a difference. 

My legislation to establish a legal representation fund for those involved in Title IX Proceedings, would provide funding for a law that the legislature passed last year. HB0633 will ensure that we keep the promises we made to our state last year by funding these key legal services.  

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.  My best, Brooke

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.  


Annapolis Update #3: Legislation Deadlines

In February, we celebrate Black History Month and take time to learn about and commemorate the important and often-overlooked contributions of African Americans. This week marks the 101st birthday of one of the most important and influential Marylanders of all time – Frederick Douglass. Although his exact birthdate was unknown, he chose to celebrate February 14 as the date of his birth. A new biography has recently been released to complement his own writings and past biographies. Douglass not only escaped slavery and was one of the greatest orators and abolitionists of his day, he also attended the Seneca Falls Convention and spoke out in favor of women’s suffrage. He was an exceptional American – who lived for a time in District 46 – from whom we still have much to learn.

Find the book locally at Pyewacket Books or Greedy Reads – both in Fell’s Point!

We are now more than 30 days into the 90-day legislative session and the bill deadline has passed for both chambers – that means that if any more bills are filed, they require special permission to have a hearing. The final bill I filed last week was to increase funding for bike infrastructure around the state through MDOT’s Bikeways Program. This statewide program helps create and maintain trails around the state, from adding bikeshares near Grosvenor Metro to installing bike routes in Ocean City to designing bike lanes on Eutaw Street in Baltimore City. The program could do much more though, and as recent studies highlight, the bulk of those riding bikes cannot afford cars and depend on bikes to access work.

We have had thousands of Marylanders come to Annapolis to testify on bills, join for a rally, or simply come about a bill they care about. We had hundreds of Baltimore residents come last Monday for Baltimore Night in Annapolis – it was great to see our Youth Commission there!

In Annapolis

I am thrilled to announce that we have formed a Public Transit Caucus in the General Assembly. For several years, my colleagues Dels. Marc Korman and Erek Barron led a workgroup on WMATA. This year, we have expanded it into a new Caucus – with both Delegates and Senators – to learn about and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing public transit in our state. We meet weekly on Fridays at noon in Room 170 of the House Office Building and the public is welcome to join for the presentations. This past Friday we had an overview of MTA and next week we’ll learn more about Southern Maryland’s transportation needs and the work of the WMATA Inspector General. I’m excited to be leading this endeavour with Dels. Korman, Barron, Fraser-Hidalgo and Senators Augustine and Beidle.


I was appointed by House Speaker Michael Busch to the new House of Delegates Study Group on Economic Stability in Maryland. This working group will explore pathways to opportunity for all Marylanders and be led by Del. Steve Lafferty. We must do better as a state to combat poverty by creating opportunities and breaking down barriers. Our study group meets on Monday afternoons to review challenges and discuss solutions.

Appropriations Committee

I spend much of my time each week in budget briefings and hearings. Here are a couple highlights from the past two weeks – 

On February 5th, my subcommittee held a hearing to review the budget of the Public Service Commission (PSC). I had many questions about third-party retail suppliers offering variable rate contracts that end up costing Maryland consumers more in the long run. Some of these providers are targeting low-income neighborhoods and the salesmen sometimes get paid based on how many plans they sell. Maryland consumers overpaid for energy by more than $55 million in 2017! Our Public Service Commission is currently not equipped to adequately  is not curtailing bad actors and intervention is needed. This is an issue many of us are following and we will be meeting with the PSC and suppliers and advocates for consumers more in the coming year to determine next steps. Click here to learn more about third party energy supply. You can see the hearing here.

On Friday, we held a thorough budget hearing with the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Rahn, to receive an overview of the Department of Transportation. Although we will have more hearings with the individual modes – MTA, MVA, etc. – it was an important hearing to highlight some of the failures to invest in transit and expose some of their disingenuous scoring of potential transportation projects. For the first time in my time, we also had a robust showing from the public – folks from Southern Maryland, Baltimore City and County, and business and environmental and bicycle leaders who also came to present compelling testimony about the lack of investment in transit. We face huge transportation challenges in our state with very limited dedicated resources. To see the hearing, visit here.
You can see all the budget overviews online here and watch videos of the proceedings by clicking the camera icon next to each Department’s budget briefing date – http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmbgtnfiscal.aspx?pid=bnfpage&stab=06&id=sk001_tab06&tab=subject4

Brooke’s Bills

I spend a lot of time working on budget issues and focusing on Baltimore City, but I also introduce statewide legislation. If my legislation this year could be summed up in one phrase, it would be “standing up for the little guy (or gal).” I have a bill to help right the balance of power between college student athletes and Universities (read about it here), a bill to provide funding for students with Title IX claims against assailants (HB 633), funding for the Thrive by Three infant care coordination program (HB 520), legislation to help victims of domestic violence access family law attorneys even if they can’t afford to pay (HB 665), a bill ending unfair drivers license suspensions on people who cannot afford to pay court fees (HB 1267)… and a bill to require local jurisdictions to (finally!) make plans on how to build adequate affordable housing for their residents (HB 1045)… not to mention my environmental bills and my ranked choice voting bill. I’m also working hard through the budget process to ensure Baltimore City is receiving needed public safety and violence prevention dollars and will be continuing to push for a strong Kirwan Commission bill, also setting aside funding to implement the program. I have a robust package of legislation and I’m looking forward to continuing to present it to the Committees this session.

If you have any questions about these bills or any other, please be in touch!

In Baltimore

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.


Join us!

Join me and Senator Ferguson and Delegates Clippinger and Lewis for ourAnnual Town Hall on February 23 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the National Federation of the Blind in South Baltimore.
RSVP here to let us know you’re coming!


In the News

  • Debate over Post-Labor Day school year start continues as Democrats try to give local school boards back their traditional authority that was taken by the Governor several years ago through executive order.
  • Johns Hopkins University has submitted its bill to create private police force. What do you think?
  • The Washington Post covered one of my bills that would require additional local input before creating toll roads – read here.
  • I made my debut in the Post’s sports section with an article about my bill to protect college student athletes – see here.
  • A new report from the Urban Institute shows how African American neighborhoods in Baltimore are continuing to face disinvestment compared to white neighborhoods

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.

My best,

Brooke

2019 Session: Back in Annapolis

Greetings! Welcome to the fifth edition of my biweekly newsletter from Annapolis! Every other Monday, I’ll send news and updates on what we are working on. You can also follow me on Facebook to see additional information between newsletters!

On Wednesday, the first day of the General Assembly Session, I was sworn in for my Second Term in the Maryland House of Delegates. It was an exciting day, and I loved having my husband and kids with me. Thank you to all of you who have supported me and continue to support me – entering the House Chamber and doing this work is the honor of my life. I am also very excited to be joined by so many great new legislators this year, including many women and America’s very first Nepali-American legislator. Our House of Delegates is diverse in so many ways – age, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation – and we are continuing to become more and more reflective of the Marylanders we serve. I am so proud to be a part of it!

In Annapolis

This term, I will continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee and have been named the Vice Chair of the Transportation & Environment Subcommittee and Pensions Subcommittee.  I’m excited to continue my work on transportation and environmental issues in a leadership role!

Our full Committee has already held a hearing – on the status of the Hogan Administration’s proposed public-private partnership (P3) to add privately-managed toll lanes around 495 and 270. Although the traffic around the Beltway and 270 is incredible (truly awful), I am not convinced that adding toll lanes like those in Northern Virginia will actually solve the problem. In addition to being unaffordable for many people, adding more lanes does not solve traffic congestion (just as in baseball, if you build it, they will come…). Like any transportation project, the Executive Branch has the authority to move ahead with a P3 without the Legislature’s approval, but I am very concerned about the long-term costs about this idea and project (not just to our state taxpayers but also to our environment).

The Appropriations Committee and/or Subcommittees meet every day of the week – our schedule can be found HERE. If you’d ever like to come visit and see a budget hearing, please let me know – we’d love to have you! Every single Maryland resident has the right to come down and share their thoughts at our budget briefings.

Brooke’s Bills

I am going to have a robust plate of legislation this session – from #RankedChoiceVoting to the Styrofoam ban to community development and Opportunity Zones to ensuring civil representation for victims of violence. Every week I will highlight just a couple bills I am working on. The first two bills I have filed this session are my two local initiatives (meaning they only affect Baltimore City) –

Ranked Choice Voting/Open Primaries: The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board declared last week that they “love love love” my bill to allow Baltimore City to change how elections are held by allowing either Ranked Choice Voting or Open Primaries (in which the top-two people advance from one primary election to the general). Our system of voting in America is largely broken, but many cities and even two states – California and Maine – now use different ways of voting that allow for citizens to express their true preferences and for our elected officials to be more representative of the people they serve. Learn more about Ranked Choice Voting here.

Stopping Dangerous Truck Traffic: With the completion of the Panama Canal upgrade in 2016, Baltimore City’s containerized truck traffic increased nearly 10%. Although the work at our Port is vital to our area and economy, there is not need for this truck traffic to impede quality of life and safety on neighborhood streets. The deployment of the City’s height monitoring cameras is useful, but for those truck drivers who insist on flouting the law and drive from out of state, state law makes it difficult to enforce the penalty they receive. My bill allows for additional enforcement when truck drivers get tickets, which would ensure that rogue drivers are not endangering residents, pedestrians, bikers, and more.

In Baltimore

Although I drive back and forth to Annapolis, my days are long during the legislative session and I’m largely unavailable for evening events in the district. However, on Friday night I made sure to leave early enough for the kickoff of the Harbor West Collaborative, a new community development organization partnership among the neighborhoods of Westport, Lakeland, Mt. Winans, and St. Paul. It is exciting to see this new collaboration take shape and I look forward to partnering with them to create safe, green, and thriving communities!

Yard 56 in Bayview has achieved the status of first development project in Baltimore to receive investment from an Opportunity Zone Fund. Yard 56 will transform an old he East Baltimore manufacturing site by alleviating pre-existing environmental concerns while bringing fresh food and health care services to the area. The revitalization will also benefit Baltimoreans without displacing any residents.

In the News

In addition to the editorial support for the Ranked Choice Voting bill linked above, you can see the full story about it here.

Take a look at the Baltimore Sun’s analysis of the opening of the 2019 Legislative Session here and WYPR’s coverage here.

In case you missed some of the coverage about Mayor Pugh’s pick to lead the BPD, this piece has good information about Michael Harrison and his time in New Orleans. Although the process was unnecessarily long and nontransparent, I am looking forward to meeting Superintendent Harrison and am optimistic about him and his dedication to implementing the consent decree while also supporting our public safety needs.

The Afro recently highlighted one of the two brand new schools in Cherry Hill, and published an excellent article by my Senate colleague, Cory McCray about legislation that the state must pass to help make changes at BPD.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

There are so many ways to honor Dr. King and the work he did, and one way is to participate in a service project. To find one near you, visit this link: https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service. The Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Baltimore will be next Monday! For more information, visit here. https://mlkday.baltimorecity.gov/mlk

Thank you for reading! Please keep in touch during session (and feel free to come visit!). My phone number is 410-841-3319 and you can reach me and my legislative aide, Kim Shiloh, at brooke.lierman@house.state.md.us.

Every Election is Essential

Early Voting is October 25 – November 1 at selected location, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Election Day is November 6, 2018 – Polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

For more information on voting, visit the State Board’s website: https://elections.maryland.gov/

Happy fall! The chill in the air and the costumes in the stores indicate only one thing (at least to me!): it’s almost time to VOTE! And VOTE is something I hope you will do.

The past two months have been so busy  – I’ve attended public safety discussions, guest lectured at college courses and met new medical students, met with advocates to discuss public transportation, community development, abating truck traffic, developing more open space, supporting our institutions like the South Baltimore Learning Center, and I’ve been speaking with bill drafters about legislation for next session (not to mention two meetings of the Joint Cmte to End Homelessness in Annapolis!).  I’ve also spent some time on the weekends outside of the City – knocking on doors around the state talking to voters to make sure they know that we have exceptional State Senate, House, and local candidates running in their district. It is so important that we elect great Democrats from every corner of Maryland so we can ensure we have an effective General Assembly, making positive changes that benefit all Marylanders at a time when our President is doing just the opposite.

Here in Maryland, early voting starts TOMORROW! Early voting is an easy way to make sure you can find time to cast your ballot in this important election. There are two early voting polls in District 46 – the Southeast Anchor Library and Patapsco Elementary School – but you can go to any of the 7 sites in Baltimore.

Make a plan today to Vote Early  so you don’t miss your chance! 

Thursday, October 25 – Thursday, November 1

10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Not registered? No problem. You can register to vote during early voting – but only during early voting! Check your registration here.

There are two constitutional amendments on the ballot! I hope you’ll vote YES on Question 1 to create a lockbox and ensure that all revenue from casinos go to education and YES on Question 2 to amend our Maryland Constitution to allow voter registration on Election Day!

I need you to vote – but I also need you to help me spread the word: remind your neighbors to vote and check in to make sure they have! And, if you can, help spread the word in Baltimore during the final weeks of the campaign and on Election Day!

Please click here to sign up to volunteer in Baltimore City or here to donate.

See you at the doors or at the early voting locations! Thank you for all you do to help build a better Baltimore and a better Maryland!