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!
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.