19 Oct October Update – The Barron Report
Here is some important information regarding upcoming meeting dates as well as highlights of a few laws that have recently taken effect.
Education Funding — The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (“The KIRWAN COMMISSION”) – is studying the recommendations of consultants for revising the current education funding formula and also studying other ideas for improving the quality of Pre-K to 12 public education. The commission has heard from experts in career education, how teachers are deployed in other countries, how to deal with schools with concentrated poverty, etc. and will finalize recommendations in December. Then, the state legislature will decide whether or not they want to a law mandating a new education funding formula. Tell them what you think at their last hearing on October 25, 2017 at Largo High School, 505 Largo Rd, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774.
***Individuals who wish to testify are asked to sign up by either emailing PreK‑12InnovationandExcellenceCommission@mlis.state.md.us or calling Mindy McConville or Kim Landry at (410) 946-5510 or (301) 970-5510 by NOON on the day of the hearing. More information may be found here: http://www.mabe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Kirwan-Commission-Public-Hearing-Schedule-Revised.pdf.
SCMaglev Update & Meetings — The Maryland Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) has changed its proposed SCMaglev routes, reducing to three the number of alternative routes being considered for study. All of these routes may still affect many county neighborhoods – a map showing current proposed routes can be viewed at the SCMaglev project website, www.bwmaglev.info, which in addition to an interactive map, has a comment form and a video describing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Please sign up for the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting MagLev Project mailing list at http://baltimorewashingtonscmaglevproject.com/index.php, to receive mailings going forward. You may also go to my website at https://erekbarron.com/bwmaglev for updates on this project for information and how to make your voice heard.
If you haven’t been able to make it to one of the MDOT informational meetings, there’s at least two more upcoming local meetings:
- Wednesday, October 18 (5:00 pm – 8:00 pm), Catholic University, Pryzbyla Center, 620 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC
- Tuesday, October 24 (5:00 pm – 8:00 pm), Laurel High School, Cafeteria, 8000 Cherry Ln, Laurel
Utility Rates — WSSC is holding three public hearings on establishing a new rate structure. This is the first consideration of a new rate structure in 25 years and five proposals are under consideration. The next Prince George’s County Public Hearing will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 7:30 p.m. at WSSC’s headquarters. Written comments can be submitted to email@example.com before October 31. Learn more: www.wsscwater.com/ratestudy
Land Use and Zoning — The Prince George’s County Planning Department Zoning Ordinance Rewrite (ZOR) Comprehensive Review Draft is now available. The ZOR team is hosting three listening sessions for public comment. The northern area meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 25, at 7:00 p.m. at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center. In addition, Council Member Taveras and I are hosting a special ZOR meeting for the Rt. 1/Baltimore Avenue Corridor on Monday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the College Park Airport Operations Building. Learn more: http://zoningpgc.pgplanning.com/
New Laws — This month, new laws took effect. Below, I have highlighted a few for your attention:
- Public Integrity Act: The state’s first ethics bill passed in over a decade mandates that lawmakers disclose any conflicts of interest and limits their advocacy for private businesses. (HB879)
Criminal Justice Reform
- Justice Reinvestment Act: Sponsored and co-authored by a panel on which I served, this bill seeks to enhance public safety and reduce Maryland’s prison population by requiring the Division of Parole and Probation to conduct risk assessments on inmates and aims to reduce recidivism with plans for inmates’ rehabilitation and healthcare treatment; reduces incarceration for certain nonviolent crimes including by eliminating mandatory minimums for most drug offenses and eliminates the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing; increases penalties for gang offenses. (SB1005/HB1312)
- Homicides while impaired: Imprisonment increases from three to five years for people who kill others while operating a car or boat under the influence of a controlled substance. (SB229/HB635)
- Police and human trafficking: Requires specific police training about victims of human trafficking, including services, support and appropriate treatment. (HB1279)
- Amber’s Law: Permits victims of domestic abuse to request that the offender use electronic monitoring devices to track their location and provide alerts. Allows victims to request protections. (HB1163/SB0976)
Public Health, Environment
- Drug price-gouging: Manufacturers and wholesale distributors are prohibited from “price gouging” in the sale of an “essential generic drug,” and the state attorney general may sue companies that do not comply. Drug companies sued the state over the summer and a decision is pending. (SB0415/HB0631)
- Attention Deficit Disorder: The Department of Health will be required to identify up-to-date, evidence-based, written information that relates to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD) and post printable information on the department’s website that may be accessed by healthcare practitioners engaged in treating the disorder. (HB184)
- Mercury: Prohibits, with penalties to be determined by the Department of the Environment, a marketer from knowingly selling electric switches, relays and gas valve switches that contain mercury. (SB0713/HB0504)
- Food desert loans: Authorizes the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide small loans ($50,000 or less) for food desert projects, which aim to increase access to affordable, fresh food in low-income neighborhoods. (HB 1492)
- School whistleblower: Prohibits an employer from either taking or refusing to take retaliatory action against a public school employee because the employee discloses or threatens to disclose a policy that might violate a certain law, rule or regulation. (HB1145)
- Anonymous tips: Authorizes a county board of education to create an anonymous two-way electronic tip program for a student, parent, guardian, close adult relative of a student, or a school staff member to report acts of bullying, harassment or intimidation. (HB669)
- Addiction recovery programs: Requires the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland to establish standards and guidelines for addiction recovery programs to be implemented at collegiate institutions. (HB950)
- School safety for hate crimes: Authorizes the Maryland Center for School Safety to make grants for security-related projects to schools and childcare centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks. (SB1191)
Sexual Assault / Child Abuse
- Rape kits: Requires a hospital or child advocacy center to give rape kits to police within 30 days of the victim’s exam. Prohibits police from destroying or disposing of sexual assault evidence within 20 years of collection. (SB349/HB255)
- Physical resistance: Evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove a sexual crime happened. (SB217/HB429)
- Extending deadline for abuse lawsuits: This new law extends the deadline for victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against alleged attackers from age 25 to age 38. (HB642/SB505).
- Broadening the definition of abuse: Alters the definition of “abuse” as the intended physical or mental injury of a child by a person who exercises circumstantial authority over the child. (HB1263/SB996)
If you have any questions or would like to contact me, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maryland State Delegate