I am excited for the 2020 Session, which begins on Wednesday, January 8, and the opportunities to build a More Just and Inclusive Maryland. As you know, I have been working on developing several important pieces of legislation since last spring.
INCREASING LOCALLY-GROWN FOOD
Through my efforts on the Maryland Food for Maryland Institutions Study Group, we have developed draft legislation to create a procurement process that will require large prime contractors to engage with local farmers in order to bid on state contracts. We are also developing a system for regional aggregation and processing, to allow groups of smaller farmers to engage directly with state and private institutional procurement opportunities. We have been hosting regional meetings across the state and have received excellent feedback on these proposals. Check out my video on food systems (https://youtu.be/lbSlfVc4hO8).
MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY AT LOWER RATES AND FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
My Community Choice Energy bill, which will allow local governments to purchase energy on behalf of residents to achieve more renewable energy at lower rates for customers, is gaining momentum, with advocacy from climate groups across the county and the state. I am working on legislation to require the Public Service Commission to consider climate change in energy infrastructure decisions and more.
I have been working with several legislators to put together a group of bills to move Maryland toward zero waste, including bills to promote an infrastructure for composting, create greater transparency and accountability in recycling, and removing incineration from the renewable energy portfolio standards.
STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS FOR WORKERS AND OTHERS
I am also working on legislation to strengthen protection for workers from retaliation when they assert their rights for wages and overtime; improve police response to individuals in mental health crisis; ensure reasonable accommodations in the hiring process for individuals with disabilities;and strengthen consumer protections within the medical debt collection processes.
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY and TRANSPORTATION
In addition, I have been working with the State Highway Administration (SHA) to address pedestrian safety issues on several state roads that run through our district. Most recently, we held a safety walk with SHA and other Maryland Department of Transportation agencies on University Blvd, where Purple Line construction has made an area already unsafe for pedestrians, even more treacherous. At the same time, we continue to fight the Governor’s plan to widen 495 and 270, and to insist that instead we invest in real transit-oriented and equitable solutions to traffic issues in our region.
FLOWER BRANCH APARTMENT EXPLOSION
In my last email I mentioned the work I’ve been doing on the Flower Branch Apartment Explosion. This natural gas explosion happened three years ago, taking the lives of 7 people and injuring many others. In my efforts to ensure community members have a voice on this issue, I have been working with the Public Service Commission to hold a public comment hearing in Silver Spring. This hearing is now finalized and will take place on December 17th, 2019, at 6pm at the Long Branch Library, 8800 Garland Avenue, Silver Spring Maryland 20901. I encourage you to please come and join the community at this hearing. If you would like to submit a comment, reply to this email and we can assist you. Spanish interpretation services will be available.
I was honored to win the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) Up-and-Coming Legislator of the Year Award in November. MCRC does crucial work to advance economic inclusion and ensure economic rights. Later in the month, I was thrilled to receive the Solar Champion of the Year Award from the Maryland DC Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association.
Finally, I was delighted to see many of you at the Silver Spring Thanksgiving parade. We marched with the District 20 people-powered float, vegetables, and many of our amazing supporters.
As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of these topics or other ideas you may have. I will keep you posted as I further refine my legislative plans for the next session. Please follow me on Twitter for regular updates and send me email at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.