May 2009 Update
From Delegate Al Carr
May 7, 2009
In This Issue
Strenthening the Safety Net for Families
The Environment and Energy Efficiency
Cleaning up our Waterways
Criminal Justice
Government Reform and Transparency
Protecting our Animal Friends
Empowering Local Communities
Carr Scholarships Available
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May 7th was "bill signing day" in Annapolis and we are celebrating Governor O'Malley's signing six of my bills into law. I would like to thank the many constituents and advocates who provided input and helped with testimony.
My fellow District 18 legislators and I sent our "end of session" letter to constituents a couple of weeks ago providing an overview of the major issues during the session. You can read the letter by visiting the District 18 blog at
My office received thousands of e-mails and letters during the 90-day session on many different topics. I would like to take this opportunity to report to you on some additional issues about which constituents had contacted us.
Strengthening the Safety Net for Families
The General Assembly passed the Governor's bill that extends unemployment benefits to part-time workers and another bill that increases the maximum amount of unemployment benefits.
On a related note, we also passed the Governor's bill that restricts the employer practice of cheating employees and shortchanging state coffers by intentionally misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of as employees.
We adopted the Governor's reforms to driver licensensing rules for teens and to penalties for driving while intoxicated. We passed the Governor's bill that allows the use of Speed Cameras in school zones and highway work zones across the state. Under the new bill, the threshold for receiving a ticket was raised from 10 to 12 mph over the limit. Also, cameras in school zones can only be operated from 6am to 8pm.
A bill I co-sponsored to halt construction of the ICC by withdrawing funding for this wasteful project did not pass a House committee. However, we passed legislation amending the regional compact for Metro so that WMATA can take advantage of new federal matching funds.
My bill HB199 to give riders a greater voice in state transit decisions passed both the House and Senate. Another of my bills HB822 promises to improve the quality of life in Montgomery County communities by helping to enable safe and quieter at-grade railroad crossings.

Governor O'Malley signs HB199

Governor O'Malley signs HB199 into law on May 7, 2009
The governor signed my bill HB841 to increase the transparency of Montgomery County Public Schools spending decisions. This bill requires MCPS to post expenditures on a searchable web site and was modeled after a law that President Obama sponsored when he was a U.S. Senator.

Did you know? Maryland's state education system was recently ranked the #1 public school system in the nation.
The Environment and Energy Efficiency
The General Assembly passed a bill that requires the state to adopt stricter building codes that will improve the energy efficiency of newly constructed buildings.

I introduced the Marilyn J. Praisner Safe and Earth Friendly Roadway Act which aimed to reduce energy waste and light pollution by adopting best practices for roadway lighting. The bill failed in a Senate committee but I plan to introduce it again next year.

We passed HB1569 a bill I co-sponsored that gives communities a greater voice in environmental decisions by amending state court "standing" rules to match federal rules.

Carr & Cheh announce bills addressing light pollution

Del. Carr with Washington DC Councilmember Mary Cheh announcing legislation to address light pollution across state lines.
Cleaning up our Waterways
The House Environmental Matters Committee heard my bill HB1210 that would clean up our waterways by encouraging the use of re-usable shopping bags. I worked closely with colleagues in Washington DC and Virginia on this regional effort and plan to introduce the bill again in Maryland next year. If you have friends who live in Washington DC, ask them to support the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 which will be voted on by the DC Council in the coming weeks.

Delegate Carr and Councilmember wells at Rock Creek cleanup

 Del. Carr and DC Councilmember Tommy Wells celebrate a successful Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup in April. Friends of Rock Creek's Environment reports tha an enormous amount of trash was removed by volunteers including over 6,000 plastic bags.
Criminal Justice
Last year the story of my friend, Mayor Cheye Calvo, received international attention after a SWAT team mistakenly raided his home. The Calvo's family dogs were shot during the incident, which shed light on the increasing militarization of local police and the failure to perform basic investigatory work. We passed a bill I co-sponsored HB1267 that will increase accountability by requiring local police organizations to report on their use of SWAT teams.
Governor O'Malley championed a bill to end the use of the death penalty in Maryland following a report by a Commission which studied the issue. The resulting bill we passed did not end capital punishment but limited the circumstances it which in can be used. We also passed the Governor's legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Government Reform and Transparency
Late in the session, Delegate Peņa-Melnyk and I introduced a bill to reform the Maryland Public Information Act. This important "sunshine law" has been on the books for many years but was written when most government records were on paper. My bill proposed to update this law to reflect the fact that many government records are now stored electronically. The federal government and many other states have already made this change.

A bill I supported to institute Public Financing of Campaigns gained the support of the Senate President and advanced to the Senate floor for debate.

Another interesting development is the video recording of all House and Senate committee bill hearings. The system is still being tested but promises to enhance our legislative and democratic process.
Protecting our Animal Friends
A bill to crack down on commercial "puppy mill" practices failed to pass. A local bill to ban the use of steel-jaw leghold and body gripping traps in Montgomery County passed the County Delegation and the full House but failed in a Senate committee at the end of the session. A bill to require the labeling of clothing containing fur passed the Senate but failed in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Empowering Local Communities
My bill to expand and improve the Enterprise Zone tax credit program to aid areas like Wheaton's commercial district, was heard but not voted on by the House Ways and Means Committee. I co-sponsored the Governor's bill to reauthorize the Maryland Heritage Tax credit program which passed the House but failed in the Senate.
Town of Kensington residents will gain more dining options within walking distance because of the passage of my bill to modify the restaurant district boundaries. Municipal authority to regulate commercial signs was confirmed by passage of another one of my bills. Finally, municipalities across the state gained the authority to more easily annex small parcels of property that straddle their boundaries by passage of my HB220.
My staff and I are already preparing for next year's session. Please let us know you have ideas or suggestions for legislation or if you would like me to meet with you or your group to discuss issues of concern.

Thank you again for keeping in touch. Working together, we can continue to improve the quality of life in our community.
My Annapolis office can be reached at 301 858-3110 or

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Alfred Carr
Maryland State Delegate
18th Legislative District

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photos of Delegate Carr's Annapolis staff
The Annapolis staff from left to right: Legislative Aide Kristin Fulkerson, Office Manager Fred Gundry, Delegate Carr, Intern David Davenport, Legacy Leader Ginny Goble
High School Seniors and College Students May Apply for Delegate Carr's Scholarship
Delegate Carr has state scholarship money available for local students. Students must be enrolled in a Maryland College or University (of if attending an out-of-state school, must be in a field of study not offered by a Maryland School).
Interested students must fill out a short application and write a brief letter detailing their accomplishments. Students must also have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file.
The application deadline is May 30, 2009. For more information, please contact Legislative Aide Kristin Fulkerson via phone on 301 858-3638 or via email at