We have come to the end of another session and I have been so pleased to have serve you once again. I am Deputy Majority Whip of the Senate and sit on the Finance Committee that deals with all policy issues relating to Government and business including insurance, health and energy. I am also Chair of the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and Chair the Subcommittee on Transportation
It has been a productive session for me. With the assistance of many of my colleagues I was able to pass 21 pieces of legislation including thee bond hills. Both President Mike Miller and Speaker Michael Busch commented at our first bill signing immediately following the session about how productive I had been again this session. I work all year to craft legislation that will benefit my community and I come to Annapolis with an agenda that I am prepared to work hard for and to get passed.
I have listed in this newsletter all the legislation I took the lead on in the Senate and was able to pass in both the Senate and House. I co-sponsored many other bills which you can read about under the legislation section of my website and also on the Maryland legislative website (http://mlis.state.md.us).
I wanted to share with you my thoughts on a few of the bills I was able to pass on behalf of my constituents. A few years ago while campaigning I met a gentleman who had moved to Clipper Mill from East Baltimore. He told me that he was a victim of eminent domain. I asked him to explain. He said he could not afford the taxes in the future on the replacement house and so he chose to rent. I inquired about his issue with Annie E. Casey Foundation, only to learn that approximately 200 people a year in our state suffer this same kind of victimization. I wrote a bill that says that any jurisdiction that claims eminent domain (takes someone's property for their use), has the right to allow that person to continue to pay taxes at the same rate at their replacement house that they were paying in the property that was taken. This new law won't help that gentleman I met while campaigning but it will help our residents in the future.
One of the most significant bills of the session was Senate Bill 400 and House Bill 496, "No Representation without Population," which requires the Governor, for redistricting purposes, to count prisoners at their residents and not as part of the community where the prison resides. Sixty-eight percent of all state and federal prisoners in the state of Maryland come from the City of Baltimore. I think Delegate Pena-Melyk for working so hard with me to pass this bill.
SB 412-Teacher Certification for Career Professionals-this legislation allows the Maryland State Department of Education to provide a special certification for professionals such as architects, engineers, accountants, musicians, artist to provide their expertise in today's classroom.
SB 966-Education High School Diploma by Examination-this legislation closes the waiting period of three months for anyone who has dropped out of school to take the GED.
SB 456/HB 279-Park Heights Redevelopment Area Alcoholic Beverages-at the request of the community Delegate Robinson and I passed a bill regulating the hours that liquor stores can open in our community
We fought very hard to maintain scholarships and bond bills. These two issues were very important to the district. Over the past four years your 40th District delegation has given out over one million dollars in academic scholarships to our community. We have also been able to bring back over a million dollars in bond bill projects. Our efforts this year led to capital funding for the Greenmount West Community Resource Center, The SPCA, and Sandi's Learning Center.
Again, this has been a very productive year. I look forward to continuing to serve you. Please join me on Facebook and Twitter where I seek to continue to keep my constituents updated on legislation and General Assembly activities.