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,

sig

 

 

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.

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

2012 Legislative Session: Environmental Issues Update

Dear Friend,

Now that we have had time to digest the results of the 2012 legislative session and the May special session I wish to update you on the state of several vital environmental issues in Maryland:

First, if you agree that the issues below are important, please help me in fighting against those who are resisting change with a donation through my fundraising website here.

Arsenic in Chicken Feed– This bill was one of the biggest reality checks for me upon joining the legislature. Personally, I feel this is a prime example of common sense legislation. I don’t want our children eating arsenic in their chicken. And I also don’t want arsenic from chicken entering agricultural fields and running into the Chesapeake Bay; it is as simple as that. Unfortunately, some felt arsenic in our chicken feed wasn’t a big deal and it took us until this year to pass the bill. But make no mistake: this was a success story and we will continue to look at ways to make the bill we passed even stronger. The bill’s sponsor–Delegate Tom Hucker–did a tremendous job shepherding this through the legislature.

Fracking– While some continue to feel that the best way forward for Maryland on this matter is to enact regulations and taxes so that, if this natural gas extraction process is implemented in our state, we will have a regulatory framework in place to deal with it. I disagree, because I feel strongly that the natural gas industry has failed to prove that this practice can be executed safely. Indeed, we have seen it contaminate water and cause earthquakes in other states. My view is that implementing regulations moves us closer to fracking in Maryland. I look forward to participating in the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission meetings on this issue and voicing my concerns.

Offshore Wind Energy– While this bill passed the House it failed to make it to the Senate floor. As our economy continues to recover, creating jobs that are built to last is key. Renewable energy is the future, and the sooner Maryland realizes this the better our state will be for our children. It is vital that we position Maryland to lead on this issue rather than forcing ourselves to play catch up with other states. This is as much an economic issue as it is an environmental imperative. As long as I am a delegate I will continue to vote for legislation that promotes alternative energy sources.

Chesapeake Bay Pollution–Several bills addressing this matter passed this last session, some stronger than others. Going forward, this will continue to be an issue I will focus on. I continue to hear from critics of Maryland’s actions on this issue that the actions of our neighbors–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia–have been insufficient in this regard, and, as such, we shouldn’t be fighting this fight anymore. I feel this is backwards logic. We have a duty to protect one of our most vital resources, and we can only control our own actions. We can’t sit and wait for others to act; we must lead.

As a member of the Environmental Matters Committee, and a staunch environmentalist, I care deeply about how these issues progress in the next few years, and will do everything in my power to see that Maryland positions itself to lead on investing in renewable energy, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, holding businesses accountable for pollution, and other matters of concern to the environmental community.

If you agree with me that a major element of ensuring that the Maryland we leave for our children is positioned to succeed is by protecting our resources, please help by donating to my campaign here. Also, you can visit my website here.

Thank you,
Shane

P.S. — Here is some information from the 2012 Annapolis Report detailing legislation affecting Chesapeake Bay pollution:

Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation – Instead of an outright ban on septic systems, the legislature created four planning tiers for counties to adopt for use in approving major residential subdivisions served by onsite sewage systems and community or shared systems. Development projects in the pipeline are grandfathered in and there are protections for family farmers to ensure they can continue to farm their land.

Bay Restoration Fee/Flush Tax – In line with the federal requirements for the states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, legislation increased the statewide residential wastewater and sewerage fees (flush tax) from $2.50 to $5 per month to complete installation of enhanced nitrogen removal technology at Maryland’s 67 major publically owned wastewater treatment plants, fund cover crop programs, and replace failing septic systems across the State. The fees will revert to current levels in 2030. Exceptions were made for wastewater facilities, onsite sewage disposal systems, and sewage holding tanks that do not discharge into or are not located within the Watershed.

Stormwater Management – To comply with the federal mandate to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on the waters of the State at the local level, new law requires the State’s largest counties to charge a stormwater fee. Local governments may also install low impact stormwater systems. Governmental properties and organized volunteer fire departments are exempt from the fee.

Annapolis Update 1/27/11

Dear Friends,

As the newest member of the District 39 legislative team, the first few weeks of Maryland’s 428th legislative session have been some of the most invigorating of my life. I feel fortunate to have arrived in Annapolis in time for what could be a landmark year for progressive Democrats:

  • 58 House members have signed onto the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages in Maryland.  The time has come for Maryland to lead on this issue, and I am honored to be a co-sponsor. For more click here.
  • There is no reason that someone suffering from a debilitating disease should be deprived of medicine that could aid in their recovery or in coping with terminal illness. Therefore, I am proud to be co-sponsoring a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. Patients and doctors–not the courts–should decide what medications are suitable. For more click here.
  • On the local front, the Glenbrooke stormwater management pond in District 39 needs repairs. Senator Nancy King and I are introducing a bill that would help fund the renovation. If we are going to save the Chesapeake Bay we need to ensure that our stormwater management infrastructure is in tact. As a member of the Environmental Matters Committee I look forward to working on issues related to the health of the Chesapeake.

These are a few of the many issues I plan to work on this session. As the weeks progress I will keep you updated, and urge you to contact me with any ideas, questions, comments or concerns; my door is always open, my phone always on, and my inbox just a click away: shane.robinson@house.state.md.us.

Best,
Shane

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