Montgomery County’s Priorities for the 2015 Session

As the Chair of the Montgomery County House Delegation, Montgomery County’s Priorities are my priorities. Below is a list of the County’s priorities. You can also find them on the Montgomery County Office of Intergovernmental Relations website.

Montgomery County’s Priorities for the 2015 Session

  1. Public School Construction
    Montgomery County continues to seek supplementary funding from the State to address critical capacity needs across the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Today’s enrollment of 154,230 is expected to grow to more than 165,300 by 2020. Between 2007 and
    2020, enrollment will have increased by more than 27,600 – more growth than that of Anne Arundel, Howard, Frederick, and Baltimore Counties combined. This enrollment growth, coupled with maintenance needs in older schools, is placing enormous pressures on MCPS
    facilities. Montgomery County continues to provide substantial financial support for its school construction program; but, it cannot keep pace. In order to break the logjam of projects, the State needs to provide the County with a steady source of funds over and above
    the amounts it has traditionally allocated for MCPS school construction projects. (See Attachment 1 for listing of MCPS projects).
  2. Transportation
    The State must be a full partner in investing in Montgomery County’s transportation infrastructure to create transportation capacity necessary for reducing congestion and supporting job creation objectives. The Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway remain at the top of the County’s long list of priority transportation projects. (See Attachment 2 for listing of transportation priorities).
  3. Montgomery County Businesses
    Montgomery County must establish an active partnership with the State to unlock the County’s potential as a leader in biotech, cybersecurity, and health IT supported by a diverse economic base, state-of-the-art transit and digital networks, a ready and able workforce, and a business-friendly regulatory and tax climate.
  4. Health Care
    Because the State actively embraced the Affordable Care Act, 55,000 residents of Montgomery County that were previously uninsured now have access to quality health and behavioral health services. The County is also working on improving health access, building networks, and being innovative. The State must continue to support full implementation of the law in order for the County to maintain this momentum.
  5. Other Capital Projects
    • Libraries – $1.5 million to help underwrite the costs of capital maintenance projects at Aspen Hill (Rockville), Davis (Bethesda), and Little Falls (Bethesda)
    • National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence – $2 million to complete renovations
    • Music Center at Strathmore – $833,000 to help underwrite capital improvement costs
    • Avery Road Treatment Center – $140,000 to complete the planning phase for full replacement of this substance abuse treatment and detox facility serving suburban Maryland counties
    • Montgomery College, Germantown Campus – $15.4 million to renovate the Science and Applied Studies building
    • Universities at Shady Grove – $6 million to complete design of the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Educational Facility. The $20 million parking garage funded by Montgomery County to help support the new facility is under construction.

Annapolis Update — 1/28/14 — expanding healthcare, designating wildlands, and animal rights

Expanding Healthcare Coverage
Today the House passed SB 134 – Maryland Health Insurance Plan – Access for Bridge Eligible Individuals — which is an emergency bill that expands the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) to retroactively include individuals that through no fault of their own thought they had coverage through MHIP, but in fact did not. I voted in favor of this bill, and it was actually the first bill that the House voted on this year.

Designating New Wildlands
I’m proud to be the second sponsor on HB 296 – Natural Resources – Wildlands – Designation of New Wildlands, which would add approximately 25,000 acres of new wildlands across Maryland. Good biodiversity is essential if we are to protect the environment, and new protected wilderness areas will help.

Animals Rights
Next week I plan to introduce the Maryland Animal Welfare Act, which would require caretakers to take positive steps to ensure for the following welfare needs: the need for a suitable environment; the need for a suitable diet, the need to be able to exhibit normal behavior patterns; the need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals; and the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury, and disease. Animals are sentient beings that share this planet with us. This bill would ensure that they are treated accordingly.

Also, I recently cosponsored two important bills authored by my colleague, Delegate Ben Kramer:

  • Devocalization of cats and dogs – This legislation would prohibit the cruel practice of severing vocal chords of any cat or dog.
  • Research use of cats and dogs – humane treatment – This legislation would establish a licensing procedure for research facilities using dogs and cats for experimentation, and would provide for humane treatment of dogs and cats who are often exposed to painful and frightening experiments. The bill also requires alternative methods to animal experimentation be used whenever possible, along with routine inspection of these facilities to ensure proper treatment of dogs and cats. My personal opinion is that we should not be experimenting on animals at all, but for the time being this bill is a good step forward.

Finally, I’m opposed to the 2012 opinion issued by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Tracey vs. Solesky declaring pit bull-type dogs to be “inherently dangerous,” and am working hard with my colleagues to repeal the ruling.

On a personal note…
This has nothing to do with the legislative session in Annapolis, but I can’t help myself. I am very happy this week because my little sister just had a baby girl. My first niece!