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.

Maryland DREAM Act and PEPCO Bill Signed into Law

This week, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the DREAM Act and the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act–commonly referred to as the PEPCO Bill–into law. I was a proud co-sponsor of both of these bills, and am thrilled that they are now law.

  • The Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act requires the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to set strict reliability standards for electric companies doing business in Maryland.  Penalties will be imposed on companies that do not meet these standards, and under this law penalties may not be passed onto the consumers. Residents of Montgomery County have suffered greatly during numerous power outages in recent history, and this bill begins the process of holding PEPCO accountable.
  • The DREAM Act allows undocumented students that have been attending Maryland public high schools to attend community college at in-state tuition rates. For students to qualify for the DREAM Act they, or their parents, must prove that they’ve been paying Maryland taxes for three years. After two years in community college, qualifying students may continue their education at one of Maryland’s universities if accepted. This bill is a good step towards ensuring that more of our children receive as much education as possible. We know education leads to safer, healthier, more prosperous communities, and this bill helps solidify that foundation.
  • Governor O’Malley also signed one of the three bills I passed this session. HB-881 sets up a regulatory framework for the bio-diesel/waste kitchen grease industry. If we are to successfully urge consumers to seek out greener energy sources, we need to address the issues that arise as a result. This bill targets the issue of waste kitchen grease theft from restaurants.

In the next few weeks I plan on announcing an the date for my first post-session event. I plan on making this an annual opportunity to meet with constituents, and hear directly from them about their concerns. Please look out for this announcement, and I hope to see you there.
Best,Shane

Annapolis Update 3/18/11

Jacob Robinson giving testimony before the Environmental Matters Committee

The latest from Annapolis:

I’m happy to report that my bill designed to curb the spread of invasive plant species was voted out of committee. As I mentioned last week, House Bill 831 is a particularly exciting piece of legislation for me, because it was initially conceived of by 8-year-old Jacob Robinson. I’m hopeful the House will pass this bill sometime next week, and then the Senate will follow suit.

Also in committee, we voted to adopt a favorable report on the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act. I’m a strong supporter of this bill, requiring further study of the hydraulic fracturing process of natural gas extraction. Other states have had serious issues as a result of gas companies using this process. The New York Times published an informative piece on the issue that you can find here.

Over in the Senate, the DREAM Act– a bill extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants, was passed by a vote of 27-20. I support this important piece of legislation, and hope to see it passed in the House.

As always, please continue to contact my office with any questions, ideas, or concerns you may have.

Best,
Shane

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