Category: Government

495/270 P3 Program: BPW Should Vote No

On June 5, 2019, the Board of Public Works will review and have the opportunity to vote on whether to allow a Public Private Partnership program to move forward in the state of Maryland. The BPW will review a PreSolicitation report created by MDOT and submitted earlier this year to the General Assembly budget committees, including Appropriations on which I serve. Although we held a hearing and discussed this report – and its inadequacies – the P3 process, created by a 2013 law, is almost entirely out of the control of the Legislature. It was designed to give flexibility to our Governor and Transportation Secretary to pursue P3s to complete infrastructure projects in the state. One such project that is currently underway is the Purple Line. Unfortunately, Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn has subverted the 2013 law in an attempt to push through a massive P3 – one of the largest in the country in fact – and is doing so without the support of the counties through which the project will run. This P3 seeks to add lanes to some of our most congested highways – 495 and 270 – in an attempt to relieve congestion. This P3 is a bad idea: it will not solve our transportation challenges, it will cost drivers an excessive amount of money, and it will add to air pollution/carbon emissions.

It will not solve traffic congestion: I hate sitting in traffic. I go see my family in Montgomery County frequently, I drive around the state – I know how bad traffic is and I hate it. But I want to support solutions to truly alleviate traffic, not just pretend. Every year, more studies come out and more examples abound that demonstrate that adding lanes to highways has the reverse effect: it actually creates worse traffic. We need a Transportation Department who takes creating alternatives seriously – MDOT simply hasn’t studied increasing MARC service to Frederick, expanding lanes strategically to end bottlenecks, or adding BRT where helpful.

In addition to creating more traffic, adding more highways will increase air pollution – car emissions are the number one source of dangerous carbon pollution in Maryland today. We can’t afford to keep adding more pollution when our kids and the Bay are already suffering the effects of air pollution in the state.

Finally, these roads don’t make economic sense – to drivers or the state. These roads will be prohibitively expensive to drivers – Virginia has had numerous experiences that should give our state leaders serious pause. And, although Secretary Rahn likes to claim that he wants to do a P3 because it will have no cost to the state, we know that isn’t true. Inevitably, the state will be on the hook for payments, for costs, and if the project were to fail, for everything. Because MDOT has not seriously looked at how much it would cost for MDTA to build out lanes and keep them publicly-created though, we don’t even know how much it is likely to cost us. (And this isn’t discussing the fact that it will cost people their homes!)

Because I am opposed to this project, I have signed several letters to the BPW explaining my opposition. THIS LETTER is from 60 legislators, and THIS LETTER is from Appropriations Leaders asking the members of the BPW to carefully consider our concerns.


Although our country faces many challenges, right now we are facing an extreme and urgent situation as we confront and demand an end to President Trump’s horrific new policy of separating children and parents as they seek asylum in our country.  Since May 5, more than two thousand children have been separated from their mothers and fathers and placed in the custody of the government. To say that I am outraged, incensed, and heartbroken by this new practice does not do it justice. There are no words to express the devastation that is being wrought on these migrant families or on our country itself. Indeed, every day the situation grows worse as the number of children increases, the resources are not in place to properly care for them, and their health and well-being is permanently damaged. This policy – enacted unilaterally by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and DHS Secretary Nielsen – is a national and moral outrage. It is shameful.

This Administration’s family-separation policy is unnecessary, immoral, cruel, and contrary to the aspirations of our country. This type of policy has been practiced in the past by slaveholders, Nazis, and morally repugnant governments. It is not a policy that any moral society should countenance. As a state legislator, a parent, and a human being, I will continue to speak up and out against this policy and encourage all Marylanders to do so as well. Our Governor and all our federal elected officials should continue to raise their voices and do all they can to end this horrific policy. Children are not a negotiating tool. I hope that our President, Attorney General, and DHS Secretary will stop this policy and that DHS and other federal employees will actively resist implementing this policy.

Don’t understand what’s happening? Read here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are things we can do – and there will be more – so I have created this entry and will continue to update it and add to it as a resource to be shared. Please send me your links, updates, and ideas to add to it as well:

UPDATED AS OF 6/20/18 at 9:30 A.M.

From Maryland or elsewhere: 
  • Join the “Families Belong Together Rally” on June 30th in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Distributed actions will be planned across the country and you can find more information here:
  • Call our Senators – demand ask them to stop Homeland Security from separating children from their parents at the border
  • Sign and share this petition – This administration has shown signs that it will bend to public pressure. That tells us that if enough of us raise our voices, we can help end family separation.
  • DONATE to organizations doing great work on family separation and immigration – in Texas, nationally, and in Maryland: 
    • Al Otro Lado:
    • RAICES:
    • CLINIC:
    • Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley:
    • CASA de Maryland:
Check out Moms Rising’s Suggestions for Action here.
If you’re in Texas or are willing to travel to Texas:
  • Join the “Families Belong Together Rally” on June 28th in Brownsville, Texas –  South Texas is ground zero for this administration’s inhuman practice of family separation. Federal courts in South Texas have been prosecuting people en mass (up to 60 at a time), which has led to mass family separations. Join ACLU, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, NWDA, United We Dream and more at a rally in front of the Brownsville Federal Court demanding an end to family separation. (RSVP Here and Share on Facebook). We will have buses leaving from Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo – sign up sheets to come!
  • Volunteer at Sacred Heart Church – Sacred Heart Church is working around the clock to help migrants who have been provisionally cleared and released by Border Protection with temporary papers a future court date (and an ankle monitor in tow). After being processed they are dropped off at the McAllen bus terminal where they wait before leaving to their next destination. The church picks up people from the bus terminal, brings them to their welcome center, and offers them their first warm meal, a bath, a change of clothes, hygiene products, a call home, and assistance with translating their paper work and travel itinerary. They need volunteers to help assist and prepare items for families.
  • Join NETA to deliver food/water to asylum seekers stuck at ports of entry or donate to them here – People currently showing at ports of entry seeking asylum are being  denied that right. When they arrive, officers tells them that the port of entry is at capacity and that they’re not processing asylum applicants. This back-log has created long lines of people (+50) who have essentially been living on the bridge, patiently waiting their turn. They’ve been sleeping on the hard concrete floors and have been enduring the Texas heat that reaches up to 110 degrees. Some have been there anywhere from 5 to 17 days, and they arrive with nothing. Join NETA to take these individuals food, water, and other necessities.
  • Be a Volunteer Attorney with ProBar or donate to them here – ProBar, the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project. This is a project of the American Bar Association, and they are currently supporting over 1,000 ‘unaccompanied children’ in detention centers. They’re also working hard to reconnect these children with their parents. They’re looking for volunteer attorneys who could help with these children prepare for credible fear interviews (will take several days to a week), and in the longer term help with assistance for bond cases (some of this work could be remote, but would have to be periodically present). I’ve created the google doc above to try to help them identify volunteer attorneys. If you’re unable to volunteer, you could donate here.
  • Help Texas Civil Rights Project take declarations from families or donate to them here – Everyday, TCRP is taking declarations from families and need help with intake efforts in Brownsville, Laredo, El Paso and Alpine. They’re able to train people and organize legal intakes in these cities. They also need help in McAllen with interviewing families. Note — Volunteers are required to speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistance experience.

2018 Annapolis Dispatch | Back in Session

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friends & Neighbors:

The 2018 General Assembly has begun! On Wednesday, January 10, the House and Senate convened to start the 438th legislative session. It is the final session of my first term in office, and I will continue to serve as a member of the Appropriations Committee. As I have done in the past three session, I’ll send out an email every other week with an update about what is going on in Annapolis. (more…)