Meet Your Legislators-2022
LWVBCo Legislative Luncheon: What to Expect in 2022*
While we missed being at the Woodbrook Baptist Church, our virtual Legislative Meeting went off without a hitch thanks to Sharalyn Luciani, Ericka McDonald and Neilson Andrews. The Legislators attending were also a great help in that they kept their comments to the specified three minutes each, which allowed for more questions and answers. More than 68 members, guests and state legislators attended the Zoom meeting.
What follows is a brief review of comments from the legislators who accepted our invitation to participate. To look up bills by number or subject, track bill actions, watch hearings, register to testify, and see the whole history including votes on bills, visit the General Assembly website at mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/. To contact Baltimore County legislators, visit the LWV Baltimore County website’s resource page at www.lwvbaltimorecounty.org/resources to access the brochure, 2021 Your Elected Officials, for contact information. You can find the complete discussion on our LWV Baltimore County youtube page.
Senator Shelly Hettleman, District 11, is a member of the Judicial Proceeding Committee. She has a bill on medical parole for inmates over 60 years of age, who have much less chance of recidivism than younger inmates and also suffer from more medical issues. She also hopes to pass a grant program for schools to teach and monitor the recycling of organic waste in the schools. While Sen. Hettleman’s housing bills passed last year, there was no funding for legal counsel during the eviction process; she said this is a priority for her.
Senator Clarence Lam, District 12, is Chair of the Environmental Subcommittee of Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee (EHE). This subcommittee has been focused on the Health Department efforts during the pandemic, first monitoring the roll out of vaccines and now monitoring the roll out of testing equipment. Senator Lam would like better protections for Health Officers who have been under fire during the pandemic. He also thinks there should be caps on the price of insulin.
Senator Delores Kelley, District 10, is Chair of the Finance Committee which hears the financial aspects of health care, insurance, energy and utility issues before the Senate. She wants to see that legislators live in the districts that they represent, citing a good example in legislation from Florida. She would like to further delineate the tax structure for developments with an HOA so owners are not being double taxed. She stated there are more than 16,000 assisted living facilities in Maryland that currently are not adequately monitored or regulated. She also wants to assure Marylanders do not lose the right to an abortion and that there is some funding for affordable access to the services.
Senator Charles Sydnor, District 44, thanked League members for their work on the County Council redistricting plan. He wants to assure legislators live in the districts that they represent and would like to enact a Maryland Voting Rights Act. He has a continued interest in cleaning up the legislation on the use of body cameras by local and State Police, stating there should be some control for defendants or bystanders in an action to monitor or cover up the coverage in these tapes.
Delegate Lisa Belcastro, District 11, will be focused on the emotional growth of students during the pandemic. She is particularly interested in a grant program for schools to upgrade their playgrounds. She thinks the amount of testing is excessive as it disrupts the learning process. Delegate Belcastro is also concerned about the rate of suicide among young people and would like to create a Suicide Fatality Board. She would like to see a bill passed allowing transgendered people to self-edit their official documents with a name change.
Delegate Harry Bhandari, District 8, would like to see elderly patients be able to monitor their health from home. He would also like to make it possible for pharmacists to be able to prescribe or assist with smoking cessation products and prescriptions.
Kim Shiloh, legislative aide for Delegate Benjamin Brooks, District 10, said the Delegate will again advocate for tax credits for veterans and senior citizens. He will also sponsor a healthy homes bill to increase the standards of ventilation in homes. He is worried about certain food deserts in Baltimore County.
Delegate Jon Cardin is also on Ways and Means and is interested in economic justice and in the no-knock laws, as Maryland’s neglected to include bounty hunters in the law. He also thinks the Good Samaritan law needs to include people who call 911 for an overdose, and that Grace’s law, which covers cyber bullying, needs updating.
Delegate Eric Ebersole, District 12, indicated there are plethora of educational issues before the House. He agrees that there is excessive testing in our schools. He is concerned about the number of child care facilities that have closed their doors during the pandemic, so he wants to fund new child care initiatives in the state. He also would like to see increased presence of mental health professionals in schools. Last but not least, he would like to see the student member of the School Board able to vote on the budget.
an expansion of the local campaign funding to cover the state positions. Delegate Feldmark would like to assure that home owners make use of the home owners tax credit, as too many people going to tax sale for failure to pay their taxes who have not accessed the credit. During the question period she noted that there will be a hearing on the Health Department Cyber-attack on Jan 13 in Ways and Means.
Delegate Catherine Forbes, District 44A, sits on the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget and education and economic development. Her first priority is to bridge the pandemic gap in funding for housing, teachers, and health care workers. On the environmental front, she would like to see a mandate for State funding for green building restoration. She explained that due to the veto override in the special session, the Blueprint for Education is funded through 2027. However, she would like to see additional capital funding for school construction.
Delegate Terri Hill, District 12, wants to make a change in the state constitution by stripping out language requiring a belief in God in order for religious freedom to be protected under the state constitution. She also wants to change certain constitutional clauses to gender neutral. She is sponsoring with Delegate Michelle Guyton a bill for equity in housing and to encourage the passing on of wealth.
Delegate Sheila Ruth, District 44B, is particularly interested in ethical and racial justice. She is sponsoring HB84/SB119, which would amend the law governing student offenses on the school grounds. Disciplinary action would be taken by the school rather than the courts. She is also sponsoring HB141 which would mandate equity in planning transportation routes. On the environmental front she would like to see additional setbacks for gas stations and pesticides regulated by the Department of the Environment, which understand this issue better.
Delegate Dana Stein, District 11, is vice chair of Environment and Transportation Committee and is focused on climate change and rising sea levels. He is concerned with making our buildings all electric by 2040 to eliminate the greenhouse gases. He also would like to see an update on the gun storage laws currently on the books. Delegate Stein thinks that financial literacy should be a stand-alone requirement for graduations from our high schools. He would like to eliminate the possibility of faceless electors following our presidential elections.
Delegate Pat Young, District 44B, will be working on climate change. He is also amending the guidelines for governmental offices regarding cyber-attacks, stating our data is insecure. He would like to see members of the National Guard, discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, able to change their discharge classification to honorable.
There were many interesting questions from the members attending. In response to questions around redistricting, Senator Hettleman directed attendees to the link for the Legislative maps which in all likelihood will be the maps used for redistricting redistricting.mgaleg.maryland.gov/planviewer-01072022/#LRAC-FINALRECOMMENDEDLEGISLATIVEPLAN-Jan7; input your address into this map to determine which district you are in. The new maps creates several new single member districts. In response to questions on safe needle exchange and consumption facilities, Senators Lam and Hettleman explained that there would not be a bill because there are six pilot programs for needle exchange in the counties and significant funds for safe consumption facilities. Regarding immigration, Senator Hettleman reiterated the need for legal assistance for people in the immigration process while Del Stein stated he would like to see a bill that stops ICE from obtaining information from Maryland databases, such as drivers’ licenses and prison records. Finally, Delegates Feldmark and Cardin discussed help for prisoners reentering society, such as tax credits for businesses that hire ex-prisoners, expungement of records from the web, and re-entry support prior to re-entry.