October 19, 2015
Many County residents don't realize that these few weeks are some of the busiest for County Council. Our 2015 year-long legislative session ends on Tuesday, November 17. To meet this timeline, 2015 legislation essentially must be heard in committee this week. Any legislation that doesn't fit this timeline will not move forward, but can certainly be presented again in 2016.
I'm pleased that several legislative items I've been working on have passed and others are on track to pass this year. In January I started thinking about the need to bring high-quality food trucks to Prince George's County to promote place-making and economic development, especially around our Metro and MARC stations. I engaged in countless meetings and conversations with a group of stakeholders and my colleagues. We had several committee discussions on the legislation and numerous residents testified.
On October 6, we passed four pieces of legislation to strengthen health and safety regulations for all food trucks operating in the County and to create a process for licensed Food Truck Hubs in limited, designated locations.
Food Trucks are still not allowed to park in residential neighborhoods and are not allowed to vend from the side of the road. Through this legislative package, we dramatically strengthened enforcement of illegally operating food trucks by increasing fines and giving the Prince George's County Revenue Authority (which operates 24/7) the ability to ticket, fine and tow. Click here to view The Washington Post article or read the legislation at these links: CB-51-2015
Currently in committee is a resolution to improve transparency and citizen engagement in our County Boards and Commissions. Our new Blue Ribbon Commission on the Structural Deficit is one example of the way our government increasingly relies on the input and advice of boards and commissions. We have incredible talent among our citizens, yet, the average citizen - and even average Councilwoman! - may find it difficult to know what our boards and commissions do; let alone how to apply to serve. My resolution, CR-14-2015, takes several steps to increase transparency and citizen engagement and forms a work group to offer additional recommendations. Thank you to our many civic associations who sent in letters of support for this resolution.
Out of committee and awaiting public hearing is CB-95-2015. This is legislation I drafted which will require the County to match 50% of the State Renters' Tax Credit for those with low income who are over age 60 or 100% disabled. This will cost a relatively small amount to our operating budget but will help some of our most vulnerable seniors in a very meaningful way. In researching this, I found that few Prince George's County seniors who likely qualify for the state tax credit have applied for it. Please look into it for yourself or a friend or neighbor. If my legislation passes, our low-income senior and disabled renters will receive additional assistance.
, also in the 30-day public comment phase, is legislation to regulate electronic cigarette use, also known as "vaping" in public places. This legislation restricts the use of electronic cigarettes inside of public housing, senior citizen housing and eating and drinking establishments.
CB-71-2015 will help the County crack down on the owners of vacant properties and other who do not properly maintain their property, causing health and safety concerns for their neighbors. The County currently maintains these properties by mowing the lawn, removing bulky trash, etc. While the property owners are billed for these services, there currently is no process in place to enforce payment prior to sale of property. That means the County is basically picking up the tab for negligent property owners. This legislation will impose a tax lien to ensure the fines and fees are collected.
On October 13, I joined several of my colleagues to favorably vote out of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee resolution CR-52-2015 to support the state legislation on paid sick and safe leave legislation. More details on this effort can be found here. You may have heard that some of my colleagues supported a different piece of legislation, CB-65-2015, which would have implemented earned sick and safe leave for only businesses and nonprofits who operate in our County. Unfortunately, there was very limited time for discussion and questions and new information was brought up at the last minute. Because of these factors, I supported tabling CB-65-2015 rather then moving forward legislation without review. I fully support paid sick and safe leave. Our residents need and deserve this right.
I look forward to working with our state delegation to support this legislation and to continuing discussion on this issue which will improve the lives of Prince George's families.
As always, never hesitate to reach out to me at CouncilDistrict3@co.pg.md.us or 301-952-3060. You can reach my staff via the same phone number or their email address on the right. I share news and updates daily on social media so please like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter if you use social media, too.
Together Strengthening our Community,
P.S. If you use, or would like to use, our trail network, you may be interested to know that M-NCPPC is working to connect the Anacostia River Trails network and the WB&A Trail. Please attend a public meeting and workshop about this project on Tuesday, October 20 at 7pm at the New Carrollton City Hall Multi-Purpose Room, 6016 Princess Garden Parkway.