Category: House of Delegates

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.

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.

Mailers, Mailers, Mailers

Have You Seen My Mail?
You may have noticed that other candidates and I are inundating you with mail! That’s because we want you to know what we’ve been doing and why we’re running again. (And of course, the Postal Service needs our support!)
In case you missed any pieces, or would like to see what I have sent this year, check out the images below. We’ll add new ones as they come out as well.
Apologies to all the mail carriers out there – I’m grateful that you are there to help transport our heavy flyers around, especially through all this rain.
Have a question about a piece of mail? Email me: brooke@brookelierman.com
See you at the polls!

Mail Piece 1
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Mail Piece 2
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Mail Piece 3
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Mail PIece 4
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Get Ready to Vote!

Get Ready to Vote!

 

This post has information about voting in this year’s primary election in June.

 

Need to register to vote or check your registration status? Visit the State Board website here.
*Note that you can register to vote at early voting locations, but not on Election Day (June 26)*

 

Want to vote early? Early voting is so easy! Learn more online here. This year you can vote early from June 14 – 21, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There are TWO locations in District 46

 

– The Southeast Anchor Library: 3601 Eastern Avenue

 

– Carter G. Woodson School: 2501 Seabury Road

 

You can also early vote at any other location in Baltimore City – the complete list can be found here.

 

Vote on Election Day, Tuesday June 26: You can vote on June 26 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at your local polling place. To find your polling place, put in your address here.

 

Make a plan to vote – your vote matters! We have big choices this year for Governor, Lt. Governor, and more – so please look at your calendar and make a plan for when you will vote… and bring a friend!
Questions? Email me at brooke@brookelierman.com

2018 End of Session Report

 2018 End of Session Report

After a demanding 90 days, the General Assembly’s 2018 legislative session has ended. From January 10th – April 9th, the General Assembly met to debate and pass bills that affect residents across the State, including the FY19 operating and capital budgets. In addition to my work on our state budget, I championed causes to support our public schools, create more reliable public transit, protect our environment, support working families, and increase public safety. I am so pleased to share this final report of this term with you. To read more about my work, please sign up for my email updates and visit my blog at www.brookelierman.com, or email or call me.  

To download this End of Session Report in a PDF format, click here.

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2018 Annapolis Dispatch #6: FY19 Budget

The weeks and weekends are packed these days! It was a beautiful weekend in Baltimore (although we did get about 10 minutes of snow on Sunday), and I was thrilled to join my colleagues, thousands of Baltimoreans, and many great student speakers at the March for Our Lives in Baltimore on Saturday. We are less than 2 weeks away from the end of session on April 9 and every day is more full of hearings, voting, and floor speeches than the last. Yesterday we passed the FY19 operating budget of the State of Maryland, and I’m going to share a few highlights of that below, as well as an update on some gun and gun violence prevention bills working their way through the Assembly.

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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…)

Gov Hogan: Work with Baltimore to Stop the Violence

Last week alone we lost 5 people to homicides in Baltimore City, including two constituents – Dashon Griffin and Alexander Wroblewski – as well as a police officer, an 18-year veteran of the force dedicated to keeping every neighborhood in Baltimore safe for families and residents. These deaths are tragic and this violence is unacceptable. It has continued for far too long, and we are calling on our state’s executive to take actions to help curb the tide of violence that is engulfing so many neighborhoods around Baltimore. It’s easy to succumb to grief and anger in moments like these, but we refuse. (more…)