Friends & Neighbors:
We are springing forward into the final stretch of session – this comingMonday, March 19, is the “crossover” deadline. Any bill introduced in the House must be passed out of the House by midnight on March 19 to be guaranteed a hearing in the Senate. So this is make-or-break week for many bills!
Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act
Last week we passed a major transit bill out of the House of Delegates!HB 372 as originally introduced provided capital funding just for WMATA as part of a deal with Virginia and D.C. to add money into the DC Metro system. Given the recent breakdown of the Baltimore Metro and the chronic underfunding of the MTA system, I worked with my Appropriations Cmte colleagues to secure inclusion of an amendment on HB372 to (1) increase operating funding for MTA and provide additional capital support, (2) require a full capital needs assessment by MTA, and (3) require MTA to work with local riders and stakeholders to develop a new transit plan for Central Maryland. This is a huge step for our beleaguered transit system and I’ll keep working on public transit issues! You can read more about the bill in the Sun.
Maryland Family Network Day in Annapolis
I was honored to speak to hundreds of parents and children at Maryland Family Network’s Day in Annapolis this past month. Research shows that the early years (ages 0-5) are the most sensitive for brain development and that over 90% of brain growth occurs during that period. Fostering a healthy, successful, future workforce is essential to everyone’s well-being because it allows parents to work, and reduces the stress to have quality reliable childcare. Throughout Maryland, child care costs ranked between second and third compared to other household expenses with 19% of a household’s median income spent on child care. I’m co-sponsoring two bills this session to help (1) provide more access to child care for low-income families and (2) provide tax credit support to more middle income families in Maryland for spending on child care (you can look them up at the General Assembly website as well: HB 519 and HB 430).
On the Campaign Trail
Did you see my new website? Check it out here: www.brookelierman.com
We opened our campaign office this weekend! Come by 1635 Eastern Avenue between 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday to say hi or get involved!
Brooke’s Budget Work: Appropriations Committee
Bill hearings continue and budget hearings are wrapping up! Today, my subcommittee on Transportation & the Environment will announce our decisions.
Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2018 (BRFA)
Earlier this month, my Committee – the Appropriations Committee – held a hearing on the Governor’s Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2018. The BRFA is used to implement a variety of actions necessary to bring the State budget into balance, including altering statutory formulas and mandates, and transferring money between various special funds and the state’s general fund. Additionally, many appropriations in the Governor’s proposed budget are contingent to the passage and enactment of the BRFA. Unfortunately, just like last year, this year the Governor yet again cut out required funding for many Baltimore programs.
Some of the cuts the Governor included in his budget that we are working hard to restore funds to are:
- A cut in the rate paid to providers of services for developmentally-disabled Marylanders. The rate paid to service providers has not kept pace with inflation or with the growth in the minimum wage. The General Assembly passed a rate increase in the past to ensure we can attract people to work with the developmentally disabled and compensate them at a rate above minimum wage.
- A multi-million dollar cut to the Public Schools Opportunities program. This law provides grants for summer and after school activities in schools with high concentrations of poor students.
- Elimination of funding for the Next Generation Scholars Program. The program provides low-income students academic, mentorship, and employment opportunities to make sure that they are ready to succeed when they reach college.
- Deep cuts to the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative program. This program funds community development initiatives around Baltimore, including through the Greater Baybrook Alliance and Southeast CDC
Maryland’s AAA Bond Rating
We learned this month that Maryland’s Triple-A bond rating has been re-affirmed by all three rating agencies. Maryland is a national leader in fiscal responsibility and because of this fiscal leadership, Maryland spends millions of dollars less on repaying debt and invests more in the things we care about. Maryland is one of just 11 states to earn the AAA rating.
In each Annapolis Dispatch I discuss a couple of the bills that I am sponsoring this year. For past editions of this newsletter, seewww.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 acomplete list here.
Maryland VIPP Program up for vote in the House!
Last week the House Appropriations Committee voted favorably on one of my bills – HB 432 – a bill to create the MD Violence Intervention and Prevention Program, which would provide funding to evidence-based programs to reduce gun violence in Maryland. The bill, which also provides funding for a program within the Baltimore Police Department to target hotspots, money for victim relocation services, funding for the LEAD Program administered by Behavioral Health Systems of Baltimore, and money for a program pairing BPD and Baltimore youth run by Outward Bound, will be on the House floor tonight and voted ontomorrow or Wednesday!
Two Bill Hearings This Week
My final two sponsored bills will be heard in committees tomorrow. My bill giving control to local jurisdictions to regulate splash pads will be heard in the Health and Government Operations Committee, and my bill giving power to the MVA and local jurisdictions to enforce trucking violations in Baltimore will be heard in the Environment and Transportation Committee. Both of these issues came to me from individuals and communities concerned about problems in Baltimore.
Baltimore Updates & Opportunities
Delegate Scholarships Available!
If you are a senior in high school or attending an in-state college or university and you reside in the 46th District, you are eligible to apply to my Delegate Scholarship. You can access the application on my website and follow the instructions to apply by May 1st. 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.
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance is now accepting applications for our Transportation 101 workshop! Transportation 101 is a FREE, 7-week class in which participants learn from local experts and leaders, network with other interested residents, and ultimately put what they learn into action. Classes are held from 6 pm-9 pm every Thursday from May 3 – June 14.
2018 Annual Taxpayers’ Night
Budget for a Better Baltimore is hosting a public hearing on the Preliminary 2019 Baltimore city budget on April 4, at 6:00 p.m. at the War Memorial. Find more information on attending here.
BGE StRIDE 2 Public Hearings
The Maryland Public Service Commission will hold two public hearings on the proposal by Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) of a new, accelerated gas system strategic infrastructure development and enhancement plan (STRIDE 2) and an accompanying cost recovery mechanism. You can find more information on the program in thisBaltimore Sun article and on BGE’s website. Members of the public who wish to comment on the matter are welcome to attend one of the hearings.
Boston Street Corridor Meeting – The Baltimore City Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting to discuss Boston Street thisWednesday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at The Church on the Square in Canton.
Brooke in the News
When the Maryland Judiciary’s CaseSearch website removed officers’ names, I found the lack of transparency troubling and immediately reached out to the Judiciary. Although I was preparing an amendment t0 deal with this issue, I did not need to take action because the Judiciary reversed the policy and officers’ names can once again be found on CaseSearch.
We need to make sure that our students in Baltimore City receive healthy, wholesome food each day, but unfortunately some schools have been hit hard by joining the federal universal free lunch program because of federal rules on counting undocumented families. We are working to fix it to ensure that no students fall through the cracks.
With the Baltimore Metro Subway reopening this past Friday, we also need to look forward to the future to ensure a stable public transportation system on which so many people rely.
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]. I encourage you to come to visit Annapolis between now and the end of session in April. Please email or call my office to let us know if you are interested in visiting.
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.