End of Session Letter

Dear Neighbor,

I write to you from Annapolis, following the close of the 2014 Legislative session; proud of the work the State Legislature has accomplished this year. We increased the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour; banned discrimination based on gender identity; passed a balanced budget that maintains essential public services; decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana; and continued to work on cleaning up one of Maryland’s greatest assets and treasures—the Chesapeake Bay. Indeed, it has been a productive session.

 Here are a few of our accomplishments this year:

  • SB 212 – Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014
    Currently, it is illegal to discriminate in public accommodations, labor and employment, and housing on the basis of race, sex, age, creed, color, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, and sexual orientation. This bill, which has been the law in Montgomery County for several years already, simply adds gender identity to the list. The passage of this bill was very important for the advancement of civil rights and I was proud to vote in favor of it.

  • HB 297 – Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014
    This bill is the beginning of what I hope will become a universal Pre-K program for all Marylanders. While only $4.3 million was allocated, it will provide grants for 1,600 students and is a good foundation for future expansion of the program.

  • HB 296 – Natural Resources – Wildlands – Designation of New Wildlands
    On the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act which was signed into law by President Johnson, Maryland has decided to expand its own wildlands by over 20,000 acres. I was proud to be the second sponsor of this important piece of legislation.

  • SB 364 – Criminal Law – Possession of Marijuana – Civil Offense
    Assuming that Governor O’Malley signs SB 364 into law, then beginning on October 1, 2014 possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will no longer be considered a criminal offense, but instead a civil penalty. This will ensure that many nonviolent offenders will stay out of prison and not have their lives ruined by simply possessing marijuana in small amounts. Please keep in mind that possession of any amount of marijuana will remain illegal.

  • HB 295 – Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014
    Maryland’s minimum wage will increase incrementally to $10.10 per hour by 2018. While I would have preferred that we link Maryland’s minimum wage to the state’s living wage (currently $13.20 in Montgomery County), this bill is certainly an improvement over the current rate of $7.25.

  • HB 73 – Civil Actions – Personal Injury or Death Caused by a Dog – Rebuttable Presumption
    This bill is important because it removes landlord liability and breed specific standards for dogs, but it makes each owner strictly liable for their dogs. Many of you wrote to me on this issue and I welcome your thoughts on the legislation that we ultimately passed.

 Several of my bills were also successful, including two bills that will help the Chesapeake Bay Trust continue to support projects that benefit the health of the Bay, as well as a bill that will help improve the air quality in relocatable classrooms.

This legislative session was the fourth session in what has been a very successful term for the people of Maryland. Over the course of the last three years we have passed marriage equality; abolished the death penalty; passed the Dream Act; tightened our gun control laws; improved access to voting; implemented a medical marijuana pilot program; increased funding for developmental disabilities; implemented a program to deal with stormwater pollution; incentivized the construction of a major offshore wind energy project; and promoted smarter local planning and zoning policies to curb pollution into the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waterways.

In looking at our State’s recent accomplishments I can’t help but remain especially honored to be a Maryland delegate.

Sincerely,

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P.S. – Please continue to contact me in the interim with any ideas, concerns, or issues you may have: Shane.Robinson@house.state.md.us; (301)-337-7284.

P.P.S. – The Primary Election is earlier this year than in most years. This year the Primary Election is Tuesday, June 24th.

The Time is Now. Vote for Equality. Vote FOR Question 6.

Friends,

It’s that time again. Tomorrow, we head to the polls and exercise the right at the core of our democracy: the right to vote. On the ballot, you will be asked to vote “for” or “against” several questions; I write to request you to vote for Question 6–the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which provides civil marriage licenses to committed gay and lesbian couples.

Last session, I was proud to be part of the legislature that passed this bill because I felt extending equal marriage rights to all Americans was, simply put, the right thing to do. Our nation was founded on the principles codified in this legislation. Should Question 6 pass, all of Maryland’s children, no matter their parents’ sexual orientation, would be treated equally under the law; gay and lesbian spouses would be assured of hospital visitation rights when their loved ones fell ill; and families across the state would be solidified by the unparalleled bond of marriage. We owe it to those who conceived of a nation characterized by liberty and justice, and to our gay neighbors, friends, doctors, teachers, first responders, and veterans, to create a more just Maryland. Please join me in voting for Question 6 tomorrow.

(If you need to find your polling location click here.)

Best,
Shane

Annapolis Update 4/1/11

This week in Annapolis:

  • The Montgomery County Gazette featured me in a piece you can check out here.
  • The PEPCO reliability bill was amended in the Senate to allow for the possibility of stronger and more immediate penalties if PEPCO fails to meet reliability standards. Now, the amended bill will head back to the House. The new bill looks promising, as Senator Frosh said: “All they have to do is give us decent electrical service.” Montgomery County residents deserve better than PEPCO has been able to provide over the past few years, it is time for something to change.
  • Also in the Senate, the alcohol tax passed by a 27-19 margin. Once fully adopted, the measure is expected to raise $85 million at a time when funding for essential public services is difficult to find. I’m hopeful this bill will pass the House as well.The Direct Wine Shipping bill has now passed both the House and Senate, and once Governor O’Malley signs the legislation, Maryland will join three-dozen other states that allow wineries to ship directly to consumers. Now, Maryland residents can have their favorite wines sent directly to their homes. This is a common sense bill, and I’m happy to have supported it.
  • Unfortunately, it appears as though a bill to prevent discrimination of transgendered individuals has stalled in the Senate after passing the House. The bill is being unfairly subjected to frustration over marriage equality making it through the Senate but not the House. I was a proud supporter of the legislation, and as my colleague Senator Raskin said: “We shouldn’t express our disappointment in the failure of one major civil rights bill by killing another one.”

With only one full week left in this year’s legislative session I want to thank all those who contacted me over the past few months. It has been a pleasure listening to you weigh in on the issues, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,
Shane

Annapolis Update 3/12/11

An empty House and still no equality

By now most of you have heard about the House’s failure to pass marriage equality.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t amass the votes required, and as a result gay and lesbian Marylanders will go at least another year without equal marriage rights.

As disappointed as I am, I can’t begin to imagine how my gay and lesbian colleagues and friends feel. To be told you aren’t worthy of certain rights merely because you were born a certain way is as unfair as it is degrading. Further, it stands in stark contrast to what I understand American values to be.

For me, this is a matter of what kind of country we want to be. Do we want to be a country that tells some citizens they are not worthy of the right to build a family through a strong marriage, simply because the person they love is of the same sex? Do we want to be a country that sends a message to gay and lesbian children across America that they are, as my friend Delegate Luke Clippinger put it, “less than human”? Or do we want to recognize that one of our country’s biggest assets has always been its diversity? Do we want to live up to the expectations of those who delegated us to uphold the constitution?

In spite of yesterday’s setback, I remain confident that marriage equality’s day will come in Maryland. You can only stand in the way of progress for so long before the tides of virtue wash away prejudice, and justice ultimately prevails. We have seen this throughout America’s history, and, with your help, we will see it once more when marriage equality is signed into law.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me on this issue over the past few months. I look forward to hearing from you in the future, as we focus on what the next steps will be.

Sincerely,
Shane

 

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