Annapolis Update — 1/31/13

Friend,

Yesterday, Governor O’Malley delivered his State of the State address, a stirring reminder of all that we have to be grateful for as Marylanders and the difficult work that remains on issues like climate change and job creation. For video of the speech click here.

First, the good news: Through hard work and difficult budget choices we have been named the #1 state in public education, innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital capacity, research and development, businesses owned by women, and median family income. We have passed marriage equality and the DREAM act, two vital measures for moving us closer to full legal equality for all minorities. We have taken decisive action to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We have cut spending without sacrificing public safety and health. And we have added jobs more rapidly than our neighbors. With your help, we will continue these positive trends.

But for Maryland to truly lead on the seminal issues of our time we must remain diligent in pursuing true change. As Governor O’Malley stated, the debate on climate change is over. There is no question that our planet is fundamentally changing. And so I enthusiastically welcomed the governor’s assertion that we must ignore those who say Maryland is merely a state, and any action we take will be too minuscule to have a significant impact. We have a duty to lead on this issue, part of which includes positioning Maryland at the forefront of the green energy revolution. Becoming the first eastern state to build an offshore wind farm would be a boon to our economy and a clean energy example for other states to follow. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to vote for this legislation this session.

And, hopefully, I will have the opportunity to vote to end the death penalty in Maryland as well. Politicians obsessed with cutting spending should look at this as an opportunity: The death penalty–which does not deter crime–is a financial burden. Life imprisonment is cheaper and ensures that no innocent man or woman is executed.

As always, I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Shane

Annapolis Update — 1/25/13

Friend,

I want to share some highlights from Governor O’Malley’s budget proposal. Should this budget be adopted:

  • 83 cents of every general fund dollar would be spent on education, health and public safety;
  • Maryland would retain its Triple A bond rating–a signal to investors that they can remain confident in our fiscal health;
  • Public education would receive more funding than any budget to date;
  • College tuition rates would remain steady (Maryland has gone from being the 6th costliest state in which to attend a public institution in 2007 to the 27th today);
  • $336 million would be allocated for school construction and $280 million for public colleges and universities;
  • Programs credited with allowing Maryland to recoup 80% of the jobs lost during the recession would remain funded;
  • Local police aid would increase to a 20-year high and two new State Trooper classes would be formed (violent crime has decreased 25% in Maryland over the past seven years);
  • Environmental programs that position Maryland at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution would be prioritized;
  • $325 million in spending cuts would be implemented.

Indeed, there is a lot to like about Governor O’Malley’s proposal. As the session continues, I will work diligently with my colleagues to ensure that Montgomery County’s priorities are sufficiently funded. I want us to pass a budget that continues to invest in our #1 ranked education system, positions Maryland to lead the clean energy revolution, and keeps us on the path of declining crime rates; Mr. O’Malley’s proposal is a good starting point. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best,
Shane

Annapolis Update — 1/18/13

Friend,
I wanted to update you on several bills I will be working on this session:

Fracking Ban–You have heard from me numerous times on this issue before. At a time when we should be investing in renewable energy sources we should not permit companies to implement a process of natural gas extraction that has contaminated water, caused earthquakes, and contributed to global warming. Instead, let’s ban fracking and invest in renewable energy sources like wind. There is a tremendous opportunity for us to create jobs and implement renewable energy practices that other states can follow; we just need to seize it.

Toxic Materials– Would you be comfortable letting your children play on ball fields or in school yards that have been contaminated with dangerous chemicals? Me neither. This session, I am putting in two bills that deal with this issue. One requires that any dredged material from lakes be tested for contaminants prior to being spread on public fields; another prevents pesticides from being used on ornamental lawns outside schools and childcare centers.

Beavers– Beavers have occasionally caused problems for the population of district 39, but as it stands now they are on a list of animals that must be euthanized rather than relocated. As an animal rights activist, I feel strongly that our environmental professionals need room in our laws to operate in the manner they see fit. Wildlife management officials should be empowered with the capacity to relocate populations of animals consistent with best practices in the field.

Chesapeake Bay Conservation Corps — This program has been successful since its infancy in providing opportunities for AmeriCorps members to work towards maintaining and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, one of Maryland’s most vital economic and environmental resources. My bill would ensure that the CBCC remains fiscally sustainable.

I am also looking at filing several other bills and promise to keep you updated as the session progresses.

Best,
Shane

Annapolis Update — 1/11/13

Friend,

This week marks the beginning of my third legislative session representing you in Annapolis. As such, I write to update you on some of my legislative priorities for the next three months:

  • First, some good news. This week, Maryland’s schools were ranked first in the nation for the fifth year in a row. This is a testament to the tireless dedication of our teachers and school administrators and years of policy that have prioritized education in our state. I’m proud to live in Maryland where sending my children to public school is a privilege rather than a compromise. As long as I represent you in Annapolis, promoting and implementing sound education policy will be one of my chief priorities.
  • Ensuring that “fracking”–a process of natural gas extraction that has contaminated water and caused earthquakes–never occurs in Maryland, will also be a focus of mine this year. I have not seen evidence that fracking can be done safely, and it is bad policy to proceed as though there are no public health concerns associated with the practice. Furthermore, we should be spending more time and energy focusing on promoting investment in renewable energy sources. To that end, I will be supporting Governor O’Malley’s wind power initiative. As a member of the Environmental Matters Committee, I feel a particular responsibility to be working on these issues and hope that you will contact me with any ideas you have to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.
  • My inbox has been flooded with inquiries regarding potential gun control efforts. In the wake of the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, I think it is clear that we need to do what we can in Maryland to restrict access to assault weapons. As President Obama said: “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction…If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.
  • “We also have an opportunity this session to abolish the death penalty. In short, I feel that the practice is immoral–the risk of executing an innocent man or woman is too high to continue instituting capital punishment. DNA testing has cast doubts on numerous prior cases, an unfortunate fact that should serve to remind us that our justice system, while undoubtedly one of the world’s best, is not infallible.

As always, please continue to contact my office with your ideas and concerns. I am in Annapolis to serve you and look forward to getting to know more of my constituents this session.

Best,
Shane

p.s.- Next week, I will be updating you on the bills I plan to file this year.

By Authority: Friends of Shane Robinson; Mary Robinson, Treasurer.