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 4/12/11

The flag in the State House dome

Dear Friend,

 

I write you from Annapolis, following the close of my first legislative session, proud of the work the state legislature has accomplished this year. We passed a balanced budget in a fiscally depressed climate that maintains essential public services; increased revenue in order to allocate more funds to education and programs that assist the developmentally disabled; instituted in-state tuition rates for the children of tax-paying immigrants; targeted funds to encourage innovative companies to bring their business and jobs to Maryland under Governor O’Malley’s Invest Maryland initiative; eased the burden on seriously ill patients who need medicinal marijuana to ease their pain; 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.

Also, I feel particularly fortunate to have personally passed three bills:

  • HB-329 (cross-filed by Senator Nancy King) exempts senior centers from the public information act. Prior to this bill, predatory marketers could force senior centers to hand over the private information of their members. Thanks to HB-329 that is no longer the case in Maryland.
  • 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.
  • HB-831, which was signed into law this morning, was initially conceived of by eight-year-old Jacob Robinson (no relation to me). It sets up a system through the Department of Natural Resources to curb the spread of invasive plants species. Invasive plants harm the environment and the economy; this bill will help get them under control.

I was also encouraged that the electricity service reliability bill passed. This vital piece of legislation creates significant penalties if PEPCO fails to meet reliability standards. Montgomery County residents deserve decent utility service, and PEPCO’s record of service is far from decent. Hopefully, this will start to change that.

As proud as I am of the bills I’ve worked on personally and collectively, I’m equally disappointed with the failure to pass marriage equality. 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 this 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. 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.

In closing, I must add, that as I look at the political developments across the country—both local and federal—I can’t help but remain especially honored to be a Maryland delegate. For, in Maryland, we know collective bargaining rights are a necessity not a burden; we work to strengthen women’s health services not tear them down; we understand that diversity is an asset not a threat; and we have the foresight to invest in our future through our children’s education. It means something to be a Marylander. And it means an incredible amount to represent you in Annapolis.

Sincerely,

Shane Robinson

P.S. – On the local front, three bond bill projects were approved for District 39: $20,000 for Battleridge Place Stream Valley Restoration; $30,000 for Glenbrooke Stormwater Management Renovation; and $30,000 for Lewisberry Corridor Lighting Improvement. Also, the water park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg got $225,000 for upgrades.

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

 

 

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 2/25/11

Here is what happened this week in Annapolis:

  • In what was truly an amazing moment to be a Marylander, marriage equality legislation passed the Senate. Now, it’s on to the House, where it’s important not to take anything for granted. Please call your legislators and make your voice heard. And remember, as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once said :  ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Let’s end the injustice of treating our gay and lesbian friends as second-class citizens.
  • Earlier this week, a bill that would require PEPCO to abide by reliability standards was heard in the Economic Matters Committee. I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation crafted by Delegate Feldman, Governor O’Malley and Councilman Berliner. Hopefully, with bi-partisan support, this vital bill will pass.
  • In Environmental Matters we heard a bill–presented by Delegates Holmes and Mizeur–that would put a hold on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Maryland until a study is completed determining whether or not it can be done safely. There have been significant issues in other areas of the country with this process of natural gas extraction, and many environmental experts feel we should hold off until we figure out how to utilize this method without risking public health.

Further, I have enjoyed hearing from my constituents this session, and encourage you to continue to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns you may have: shane.robinson@house.state.md.us.

Best,
Shane

Annapolis Update 2/4/11

Dear Friends,

Here is this week’s legislative update:

  • Delegate Brian Feldman is introducing a bill– the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act– that would require the Public Service Commission to adopt reliability standards relating to the delivery of electricity, enforce penalties when the standards are not met, and credit customers as a result. I’m a proud co-sponsor, and am eager to hear PEPCO representatives answer for their failures during the public hearing this Tuesday, February 8th, here in Annapolis.
  • Today, I introduced a bill that would discourage the disposal of printer cartridges and closed electronic devices in landfills. When disposed of improperly, these devices severly pollute the environment. If we are to improve the health of this region’s economic stalwart–the Chesapeake Bay–we must get serious about targeting the most egregious pollutants.

Further, over the past few weeks I’ve been encouraged by the amount of constituent correspondence I’ve received. Hearing from you is the best part of this job, and I urge you to contact me with any ideas, questions, comments or concerns you may have. Again, my door is always open, my phone always on, and my inbox just a click away: shane.robinson@house.state.md.us.

Best,
Shane

P.S.- Be sure to “like” my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and check out the Montgomery County delegation website.

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