Delegate Al Carr - representing Maryland's 18th Legislative District: Kensington. Wheaton. Chevy Chase. Silver Spring. Bethesda. Rockville
|June 2010 Legislative Update
From Delegate Al Carr
June 4, 2009
|Dear (Contact First Name), |
On June 1st, 2010 many new state laws became effective in Maryland after being approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor O'Malley. I would like to thank the many constituents and advocates who provided input and helped with testimony during the 2010 legislative session.
My staff fielded thousands of e-mails and letters during the 90-day session on many different topics. This email message is a further update on a number of issues about which constituents had contacted us.
|Making Education our top Priority, even in Tough Times|
Did you know?
education system was ranked again this year as the #1 public school
system in the nation.
- The governor signed a bill I co-sponsored to help students with disabilities and their parents by improving the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process.
- I co-sponsored a bill to establish a Task Force on Universal Design
for Learning in Maryland Schools.
- The General Assembly granted Montgomery County public schools a waiver from a fine imposed by the state school board regarding the Maintenance of Effort law.
|Strengthening the Safety Net for Families|
I co-sponsored the Governor's bill
to help prevent foreclosures by requiring mediation between the homeowner and the lender. This common-sense step has been working well in other states and builds on Maryland's leadership in stemming this tide.
I supported helps to protect tenants who occupy a property affected by a foreclosure.
The General Assembly also passed a bill
I co-sponsored that help prevent the loss of a home in the event of bankruptcy.
And finally, we passed a bill
to help ensure that Marylanders cannot lose their home solely due to collection activity for hospital debt from an illness.
|Preserving our Heritage, Celebrating our Progress|
This past summer, I enjoyed a continued exploration of my family's African-American heritage with my sons. We visited a grave site where many generations of my family members are buried. We placed flowers on the grave marker of my grandfather's grandfather and heard oral history about his life as a slave who escaped north to freedom and fought for the Union in the Civil War.
- Because I appreciate the need to preserve our heritage, I was pleased to co-sponsor the African American Heritage Preservation Program which will help to preserve many important historical sites around Maryland.
- The District 18 team was successful in obtaining additional state bond bill funding this year to
rehabilitate and preserve the historic Warner property in Kensington. Brainard Warner was a prominent Washingtonian and land developer who founded the Town of Kensington in the 1890s. He also served as a trustee for Howard University in Washington DC, the historically black university where my Dad attended medical school in the late 1950s when there were still few schools admitting African-American medical students. I am glad I can return the favor and celebrate his heritage by helping to preserve his historic estate.
|Helping Small Businesses to Create Jobs|
Governor O'Malley signs a bill on May 20th, to help Wheaton businesses
- My bill to expand and improve the Enterprise Zone tax credit program in Montgomery County to support smart growth and boost revitalizing areas like Wheaton's commercial district, was signed into law by Governor O'Malley on May 20th (Click here to read more in this week's Gazette newspaper).
- A second bill I authored adds further enhancements to the Enterprise Zone tax credit program across the entire state of Maryland.
- We also Instituted
a Small Business Credit Recovery Program, which would offer
loan guarantees up to $50,000 for small businesses through an existing Department of Business and Economic Development loan
guaranty program. The program is capped at $5M. This program will streamline the loan approval process and allow
the State to guarantee a small percentage of loans, helping banks provide
much-needed capital for our small businesses.
- We provided Property Tax Relief for Small Businesses by
passing a law I supported giving them the ability to pay their property taxes in two installments instead
one lump sum payment, if the property tax assessment is under $50,000. This bill provides over 93,000 small business properties with added
- I co-sponsored a bill creating the
Sustainable Communities Tax Credit which replaces the Heritage Tax Credit with a
new program designed to create and sustain construction and design jobs in
redeveloping historic structures, and support environmentally-friendly building
standards. The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit is funded at $10M, maintains the commercial project cap at $3 million and
residential project cap at $50,000, but also provides a bonus credit
of 5% for LEED certified construction on a commercial project.
|Sustainable Transportation Policies and Better Roadway Safety|
- Building on last year's law banning texting while driving, the General Assembly passed a law making it illegal to use a handheld phone while driving in Maryland. Effective October 1st, this will be a secondary offense (a motorist can receive a ticket only if he/she is stopped for another offense such as speeding).
- The Governor signed a bill I co-sponsored that puts pedestrian safety improvements on an equal footing with roadway improvements for cars.
- Two bills I supported improve Maryland's transportation planning process by requiring that future projects are evaluated based on our land use and transportation plans and strike a better balance between planning for roads, bicycling and pedestrian access.
- Montgomery County was recently awarded a Federal "TIGER" grant to install special enhancements on Veirs Mill Road to give buses priority over other vehicles. Priority bus features such as "queue jumpers", real time information and smart traffic signals have been proven in other North American cities to be a cost effective way to get more people out of their cars and onto transit.I worked to advance HB1404, a bill that would add priority bus features to our menu of transportation planning options in Maryland.
- I was honored to work with Sen. Brian Frosh and fellow cyclists on a bill to encourage bicycling by updating Maryland's rules of the road. The bill makes several changes including eliminating an outdated rule that mandates riding on the "shoulder". Under the new law, Maryland joins 44 states that give cyclists the discretion to ride where it is safest.
A Smarter Energy Future
- The General Assembly passed a bill that I co-sponsored that expands the High Performance Building Act so that newly constructed public buildings at community colleges meet the highest energy efficiency standards.
- We passed a bill to strengthen Maryland's rules for net energy metering so that homeowners and businesses that generate their own electricity through solar or wind get full credit on their electric bill when the meter "spins backwards".
- We also advanced several initiatives to accelerate the adoption of Solar Energy in Maryland including a bill I co-sponsored to increases the percentage requirements of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) that must be purchased from Tier 1 solar energy sources between 2011 and 2020.
|Cleaning up Maryland's Environment|
- I co-sponsored a bill to encourage counties to adopt plans for the recycling of Compact Fluorescent light bulbs that contain mercury.
- I supported a bill to require the Maryland Department of the Environment, for the next three years,
to use the Bay
Restoration Funds to pay 100%
of the cost difference between a conventional septic system and one that utilizes best available technology (BAT)
for nitrogen removal for a homeowner required to replace a failing
system in the Critical Area per a new 2009 law. The
bill also allows MDE to use an economic
means test to determine the financial assistance awarded to a homeowner
for the cost difference between a conventional septic system and one
utilizing nitrogen removal technology.
- Another bill I supported promotes the use of
environmentally preferable purchasing throughout State government
establishment of the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee. It also
increases the percentage of paper purchased by the State that must be recycled from 40% to 90%.
- I worked with DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, Virginia Del. Adam Ebbin and Sen. Jamie Raskin on regional legislation to address the problem of plastic bag trash clogging our waterways by encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. Similar legislation in Washington DC has surpassed expectations for its effectiveness. Monthly Plastic bag usage there dropped from 33 million down to 3 million within the first few months of implementation. I am continuing to work over the summer with environmental advocates in preparation for next year's session. Read More
Al Carr & son participate in the annual Rock Creek Cleanup
|Government Reform and Transparency|
- I introduced a bill again this year 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 proposes to update this law to require that public records stored electronically must be share in usable formats. The federal government and many other states have already made this change. In unanimous votes, the bill passed the House of Delegates and received a favorable Senate committee vote. However it missed the deadline for a full Senate vote by a few minutes. I plan to introduce the bill again next year! More information
- The recently released film Casino Jack and the United States of Money documented the exploits of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the corrosive effect of big money on our politics at the federal level. I continue to support Public Financing of Campaigns at the state and local level.
- I co-sponsored two bills to improve the transparency of the state legislative process. The bills did not receive a committee vote but many of the proposals in the bill were implemented administratively. Legislative Committee roll call votes are now listed online. Citizens will also soon be able to view Committee bill hearings over the internet.
- I also led the initiative to post committee and subcommitte votes for local bills on the Montgomery County Delegation web site so that citizens can better track their progress.
|Creating a More Inclusive Maryland|
- I enjoyed working with Equality Maryland this year as the lead sponsor on a bill to add Gender Identity and Expression to our list of protections against discrimination. Currently 40% of Americans live in states or cities with such protections.
|Womens' Issues: Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault|
|Another bill I supported helps protect women and other victims of domestic violence who are tenants. |
- House Bill 1382 permits a
residential tenant or legal occupant who is a victim of domestic
violence or sexual assault and who obtains a protective Order or Peace Order to terminate a lease within
30 days of giving the landlord notice and providing a copy of the Protective Order or Peace Order, and permits
them to change the locks if the protective order or peace order issued for the benefit
of the tenant or legal occupant requires the respondent to refrain from
entering or to vacate the residence of the tenant or legal occupant.
The bill prohibits a landlord from
bringing an action for possession of the property against a victim
because an act of domestic violence or sexual assault occurred.
If you wish to contact me about a legislative or constituent service matter, my Annapolis office normally remains open during the summer on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The office can be reached at 301 858-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org. My staff would be glad to arrange for me to have a face-to-face meeting with you or your group. I am always glad to listen, provide assistance with a state or county agency or give an update about state legislation.
To contact me about a campaign-related or personal matter, please send an email to email@example.com or call (240) 389-3367.
Thank you again for keeping in touch. Working together, we can continue to improve the quality of life in our community.
The Annapolis staff from left to right: Office Manager Jay Stearman, Legislative Aide Kristin Fulkerson, Delegate Carr, Legislative Assistant Hannah Oh
|Meet the newest member of the Carr Family!|
|Mom and baby are doing well as are proud older brothers Miles and Toby!
We are pleased to announce the arrival of our third son, Oliver Douglass Carr! He was born on May 11, 2010 weighing 6 lbs, 15 ounces.