Friends & Neighbors:
It was great to see so many people for our 4th Annual Town Hall this past Saturday! If you missed it, check out my Facebook page – we did a live stream of it and you can go back and watch the video anytime: www.facebook.com/
Passing gun safety legislation at the state level and continuing to advocate for it at the federal level has been and continues to be a huge priority for me. The hundreds of deaths from guns in Baltimore and the horrific rampage in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas are unconscionable – and preventable. No other modern country has these problems… it’s just us. I do not believe there is any reason for a private citizen to have access to rapid-shooting and high-powered rifles like an AR-15. It is with great admiration and much enthusiasm that I have been watching and cheering on the students from Parkland who have transferred their grief into anger and activism. It’s what we need if we are going to defeat the NRA’s grip on power. My colleagues and I sent a letter to the Douglas students today expressing our support for their efforts and discussing broadly some of the bills we are championing here in Maryland this year to reduce gun violence (including my own HB 432 – read that letter of support here).
Women’s Caucus – Breakfast with the Governor
Every year the Women’s Caucus has breakfast with the Governor and presents our legislative priorities. As the Caucus Subcommittee Chair on Working Families, I was responsible this year for presenting our priorities, I presented to him our concern about the state of child care availability and affordability in Maryland. Maryland is currently ranked 31st in availability of childcare and has 33% of its zip codes considered “child care deserts” a zip code with at least 30 children under the age of 5 and either no child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers. This has been a problem for many years, but we need to get serious about addressing it *now.* Ensuring children have access to high-quality child care from the earliest age results in higher graduation rates, higher likelihood of home ownership, and less likelihood of future conflicts with the law. Two bills this year will help: HB 519 and HB 430. The first bill expands the child care tax credit to additional families in Maryland. The income guidelines have not kept up with rising income levels in Maryland. The second bill will increase the funding to the Child Care Subsidy Program reimbursement rates.
Interested in volunteering or getting involved in my campaign!? I’d love to have your help! Just email me at [email protected] or click here.
Brooke’s Budget Work: Appropriations Committee
We had a busy two weeks with many bill hearings, and budget briefings on the capital and operating budgets. Bond Bill Saturday is next Saturday, March 10, when every legislator is invited to come testify on behalf of the local bond bills they have introduced. In District 46, we have introduced bills on behalf of and are working with many great groups who need bond money, including the Friends of Patterson Park, CASA, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Westport CEDC, Creative Alliance, Port Discovery, Habitat for Humanity, and more!
Kirwan Commission – The Kirwan Commission released its preliminary report. You can read it here. Its report made specific policy recommendations that would enable Maryland’s preK-12 system to perform at the level of the best-performing systems in the world. I have co-sponsored a bill taking into account some of the Commission’s initial recommendations, including a literacy program that I have been working to launch – the Maryland Early Literacy Initiative (MELI). The Commission’s work is not yet complete, and they will continue working this year and release their FINAL recommendations mid-year in preparation from next session.
In each Annapolis Dispatch I discuss a couple of the bills that I am sponsoring this year. For past editions of this newsletter, see www.brookelierman.com. February 9th was the date by which legislation needed to be introduced to be guaranteed a hearing in the House of Delegates – and over 1700 bills have been filed. You can see a complete list here.
HB 538 – Styrofoam Ban
On Feb 21, I was pleased to present my bill to ban styrofoam food containers to the Environment & Transportation Committee. Our hearing – which lasted nearly 4 hours – presented testimony from environmental and business advocates, as well as the NAACP, who noted the environmental justice issues associated with plastic trash. The opponents of the bill include the Maryland Retailers Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Chemistry Council (the plastics industry). We had a great hearing with Committee members highly engaged throughout the entire four hours. Our testimony highlighted the insidious problem of styrofoam – that *no* municipality/county recycles it, how it breaks up into small pieces and therefore is impossible to clean up, and that it acts like a pollutant sponge that sucks up chemicals and is then ingested by fish and other marine creatures – who we then eat! It lines the shores of the Harbor and rivers, and Mr. Trash Wheel has had enough! Now we are working to secure the support of the Committee leadership so that we can have a vote on the bill!
HB 420 – Expanding Access to Financial Aid for Undocumented Students
Several years ago, Maryland voted overwhelmingly to grant in-state tuition to many undocumented students. Those students, however, are still shut out of access to financial aid – they cannot apply for federal aid like Pell Grants, and all state public assistance is also off-limits. This bill seeks to remedy that failure by tying eligibility for in-state tuition to eligibility for MHEC financial aid and scholarships. I was proud to present this bill to the Ways & Means Committee last week, and to be joined by a college counselor and student from Ben Franklin H.S. in Brooklyn!
Baltimore Updates & Opportunities
College Scholarships Available! If you are a senior in high school or attending an in-state college or university and you reside in 46th District, you are eligible to apply for a Delegate scholarship. You can access the application on my website and follow instructions to apply. Please do not hesitate to call our office with any questions at 410-841-3319. To see if you live in the 46th district you can check your address at mdelect.net.
2018 Summer Camps & Programs Fair
This past Sunday Baltimore’s Child had a camp and programs fair. There were sports clinics, crafts, petting zoo, DJ, facepainting, demonstrations, and more! Look to sign your child up for a summer camp and/or program now! http://baltimoreschild.com/
Nursing & Allied Health Career Fair
Employment Connection Center AFSCME Union Hall 1st Floor
1410 Bush Street, 3/29/18, 10:00 a.m.
Come meet with employers looking for registered nurses, LPN nurses, patient care technicians, pharmacy technicians, home health care aides, etc.
Live Baltimore Buying into Baltimore Information Session
343 N. Charles Street, 3/7/18 – 6:00 p.m.; Learn all about the first step to buying a home: getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan. Find out how to plan your budget, gather the required documents, prepare your credit score, and locate the right lender for you.
The Central Church of Christ along with the East Baltimore Church of Christ will host two FREE College and Career Workshops on Saturday, March 10, 2018, and Saturday, March 17, 2018, from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. For more information or to register contact click here. Breakfast and lunch are provided.
In the News
MDOT’s ineptitude in overseeing the MTA Subway is unacceptable. You can find some of my comments here and some of my questioning of Deputy Secretary James Ports here. I continue to call for an audit of the system, as does the author of this article in the Sun.
I am once again introducing a bill to incentivize early investments in local startups – the Angel Investor Tax Credit. You can find more information and comments from me in an article on Technically Baltimore.
Replicating the Safe Streets program throughout Baltimore is something we as the Legislature can do to help reduce the gun violence plaguing our City. It is a cost-effective program to dramatically reduce gun violence, and I provided comments in support of it here.
Please feel free to contact me throughout session on the issues that are most important to you, your family, and your community. Our office phone number is 410-841-3319 and email address is [email protected]
PS: I have loved welcoming constituents to our office so far this session! Come down and see me! And make sure to follow me on Facebook.