Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted by Adam at 1:00 PM
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week marked the end of the 427th legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly. As always, it is an honor and privilege to represent the people of District 18 in the State House. The four of us – Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegates Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutiérrez, and Jeff Waldstreicher – work hard as a team to advance your interests. During the past 90 days, we have benefited from your advice and counsel during our deliberations. We appreciate the thousands of emails, postcards, letters, phone calls, and office visits we received.
Creating Jobs and Promoting Fiscal Responsibility
This session, our top priorities were creating jobs and promoting fiscal responsibility. That’s why we were proud to pass the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit, which has already been signed by Governor O’Malley. This important legislation created a $5,000 tax credit for businesses that hire an unemployed worker. We also reformed our unemployment benefits to make sure Marylanders have the safety net they need to get through these difficult economic times.
We also worked hard to be fiscally prudent. We passed a balanced budget this year, one that is 2.9% smaller than 2010. In doing so, we fought to protect Maryland's critical commitment to our most vulnerable citizens. We safeguarded funding for the developmentally disabled and for vulnerable children and seniors. Until our state revenues once again reach more sustainable levels, our budget continues to benefit from federal recovery dollars, especially in support of Medicaid and transportation projects. Two of us -- Sen. Rich Madaleno and Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez -- serve on the budget committees. We reined in future spending, cutting more than $566 million from the governor’s initial budget while leaving an ample Rainy Day Fund and not raising taxes.
Investing in Education
We secured a record level of state investment for Montgomery County Public Schools ($696 million). Indeed, our proudest achievement this term is our unwavering commitment to public education. Over the past four years, even in the face of severe budget challenges, we increased investment in our schools every year. This funding went to maintaining high-quality educational services, constructing new schools, renovating old ones, and making sure our teachers are paid competitively with other jurisdictions. You can continue to count on us to be vigorous advocates of public education in Annapolis.
Preserving the Environment, Promoting Alternative Energy
Your District 18 Team again championed environmental protection and alternative energy. Del. Al Carr serves as a strong voice on these issues on the Environmental Matters Committee. The District 18 Team fought for bills to dramatically reduce coal by-products, eliminate poisonous chemicals in children’s toys, reduce light pollution, and increase recycling efforts. We also worked hard on a bill that enhances our state’s renewable energy portfolio by encouraging more development of solar energy.
Ensuring Community Safety, Protecting Victims
We also fought hard this year to ensure the safety of our community and protect victims. A member of the Judiciary Committee, Del. Jeff Waldstreicher championed these issues. We successfully passed legislation that provides lifetime monitoring for sex offenders and protects our children. We also championed legislation to crack down on the heinous crime of human trafficking. Finally, we successfully passed a bill that doubles the duration of a protective order for victims of domestic violence. We will continue to work hard to ensure safety and security for all residents of Montgomery County.
Fighting for Local Priorities
We also passed several pieces of legislation that directly impact our neighborhoods. We secured a capital bond bill for $275,000 for the renovation of Warner Manor in Kensington and were successful in passing legislation that could allow Montgomery County to keep the Sligo Creek Golf Course open. We secured passage of another local bill that will nurture small business growth in revitalizing commercial areas like Wheaton.
Over the next few weeks, we will be preparing individual responses to many of the letters and emails we received during the session. We will also be posting items to this blog. In addition, the General Assembly's website (mlis.state.md.us) contains a great deal of information about our work, including the soon-to-be-released 90 Day Report. We hope you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns with us. Our individual contact information is listed below.
Thank you again for your comments and support this year. We are proud to serve as your District 18 representatives in Annapolis.
Senator Rich Madaleno
Delegate Al Carr
Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher
Posted by Rich Madaleno at 4:05 PM
Monday, April 20, 2009
Last week marked the end of the 426th legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly. In prior years, we have each mailed end-of-session letters. This year, we decided to conserve resources by forgoing our four individual mailings and instead prepared this single, joint summary.
It is an honor and privilege to represent the people of District 18 in the State House. The four of us work hard as a team to advance your interests. During the past 90 days, we have benefited from your advice and counsel during our deliberations on a wide range of issues. We appreciate the thousands of e-mails, postcards, letters, phone calls, and office visits we received.
With state revenues suffering from the effects of the global economic downturn, the state budget was a focal point of discussion this session. In the face of a billion dollar budget deficit, we passed a $13.8 billion balanced 2010 budget, 3.3% smaller than 2009. In doing so, we worked hard to protect Maryland’s critical support of public education and its commitment to our most vulnerable citizens. Two of us -- Sen. Rich Madaleno and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez -- serve on the budget committees in our respective chambers. We reined in future spending, cutting more than $825 million from the budget overall while leaving an ample Rainy Day Fund. We were also able to secure a record level of state investment for the Montgomery County Public Schools ($624.4 million). In addition, we blocked attempts to transfer responsibility of the state-controlled teacher retirement system to the county.
We successfully fought to defend Gov. O’Malley’s tuition freeze at our state universities and increase funding for community colleges. Maryland is one of only a few states nationally that balanced its budget without significant tuition increases. We also worked to protect our investment in community services for Marylanders with physical and developmental disabilities.
Your District 18 Team also championed a number of issues related to energy and the environment. Del. Al Carr serves as a strong voice for our community on these issues on the Environmental Matters Committee. The District 18 Team championed bills to strengthen forest conservation laws, increase community participation in environmental decisions, and accelerate Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. These new laws will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the discharge of harmful phosphorus into the Bay. We passed a bill to improve septic systems located near our vulnerable tidal wetlands.
We also successfully advocated for and passed all of the Governor's Smart, Green, & Growing initiative, an effort to curb sprawl by directing growth toward priority areas that have existing infrastructure. In addition, we passed legislation that improves the counties’ ability to invest in revitalization and transit-oriented development. After much debate, we were unfortunately unable to pass legislation to re-regulate the electric utility market.
We also worked hard this year to ensure the safety of our community and preserve our civil rights and liberties. A member of the Judiciary Committee, Del. Jeff Waldstreicher championed these issues. As you may know, in a widespread scandal, the Maryland State Police were found spying on peaceful activists such as antiwar protesters. The District 18 Team worked extensively to pass legislation to end this unconstitutional practice. He also led the effort to ban texting while driving, an extremely dangerous and distracting practice. In the area of child protection, the General Assembly passed two bills, authored by Del. Waldstreicher, making possession of child pornography a felony and allowing social service agencies to share crucial information to protect our most vulnerable children. These bills will be signed into law by Gov. O’Malley.
Driver’s licenses for undocumented residents and federal Real ID compliance became the dominant, controversial issue at the end of session. The final compromise, reached minutes before adjournment, changes the law to require proof of lawful presence for all new licenses issued after June 1, 2009. Current foreign-born license holders who cannot prove lawful status are permitted to keep their licenses until July 1, 2015. All license renewals will require proof of legal status and full compliance with Real ID after that date. We worked with our Montgomery County colleagues to reject more extreme measures that would have negatively impacted public safety and led to a significant increase in unlicensed and uninsured drivers on our roads.
Working together, we passed several bills aimed at improving local services, including one authored by Del. Carr to increase the transparency of procurement decisions made by the county school system. The delegation also secured $675,000 to renovate the MacDonald Knolls Center, a service center for the developmentally disabled in Silver Spring, and $175,000 to help complete the Latino Economic Development Corporation’s small business center in Wheaton.
Over the next few weeks, we will be preparing individual responses to many of the letters and e-mails we received during the session. We will also be posting items to this blog. In addition, the General Assembly’s website contains a great deal of information about our work, including the just released 90 Day Report. We hope you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns with us. Our individual contact information is listed below if you are interested in our individual positions on specific issues.
Thank you again for your comments and support this year.
Senator Rich Madaleno firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegate Al Carr
Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez email@example.com
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher
Posted by Rich Madaleno at 6:13 PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
LIGHT POLLUTION IS A SAFETY HAZARD and A WASTE OF RESOURCES
(Washington DC) Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh of the Council of the District of Columbia and Delegate Alfred Carr of the Maryland House of Delegates held a press conference to discuss the importance of reducing light pollution across state lines. Both Councilmember Cheh and Delegate Carr have introduced light pollution legislation in their respective jurisdictions.
In the District, the "Smart Lighting Act of 2009" directs the Department of the Environment to consult experts and industry standards such as the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design initiative to determine outdoor lighting standards for the District of Columbia. The standards will eliminate unnecessary light that is emitted horizontally and upwards.
"We can no longer afford dumb lighting," said Cheh. "With smart lighting, people will be safer, the environment will be protected, and we will save money.. It's time to stop being wasteful and careless with our lighting."
In Maryland, "The Marilyn J. Praisner Safe and Earth Friendly Roadway Act" sets standards for the design of roadway lighting in order to maximize energy efficiency, minimize harmful glare and light pollution. The legislation is named in honor of Montgomery County Councilmember Marilyn Praisner. Ms. Praisner was a champion of this cause and was pursuing similar legislation before her untimely death.
The timing is right for this kind of legislation because PEPCO will be replacing obsolete mercury vapor streetlights in Maryland over the next few years. This bill will help ensure that the replacement lights are designed using the most environmentally friendly practices.
"I am proud to work in regional partnership with Mary Cheh on this important issue," said Carr. "When it comes to environmental progress, the government needs to lead by example. Establishing tougher outdoor lighting standards is important because it helps us save energy, improve safety and preserve our view of the night sky."
# # #
Coverage on NewsChannel 8
Coverage on WAMU
Posted by Delegate Al Carr at 2:34 PM
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I am a big fan of Wheaton and its commercial district. Like a suburban Adams Morgan, it is an eclectic and diverse collection of restaurants, and businesses of all types and sizes. It is easily accessible via roads, bus and metro.
Veteran El Pollo Rico and newcomer DejaBel Cafe are located in the new building on the former Anchor Inn site.
Despite whatever stigmas people have, I think Wheaton has tremendous potential. I was thrilled last year when plans were announced for the opening of the Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse on the Westfield property.
Friend Curtis Abernathy and your humble Delegate enjoy election night 2008 at the Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse.
A core principle of smart growth is to direct resources to places where transportation and infrastructure already exist. The more we can do to encourage investment in our existing communities like Wheaton, the better.
Montgomery County and the State of Maryland agree with me. They have given Wheaton special designation as an "Enterprise Zone" to encourage investment through County tax credits. Wheaton's Enterprize Zone status is currently up for renewal. The other Enterprise Zones in Montgomery County are in Old Town Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
I am disheartened at the number of vacant storefronts that have popped up lately.
Blockbuster became e-beauty which is now closed. Too bad Sabang (the only area Indonesian restaurant) closed before we had a President that spent some of his early years Indonesia
I don't miss the pawn shop!
I had a hard time explaining to my six year old son why the Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse closed. We had spent a fun afternoon there together having lunch and watching the movie Wall-E. This is a business that chose to locate in Wheaton but had to close their doors after only two months because of an adversarial relationship with their landlord and difficulties with the Montgomery County permitting process.
I have a few insights into what happened. A couple of years ago, I was tasked by my employer with selecting a new flagship retail store location for a high-technology consumer product. After looking at locations throughout the County, we chose Wheaton.
Mid-way through the process, I was surprised to learn that we were not eligible for Enterprise Zone tax credits despite bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in the fit-out of the store (which happened to be located in the same building as the Cinema and Drafthouse). The Drafthouse also received no Enterprise Zone Tax Credits despite the fact that they invested over $1 Million in downtown Wheaton.
Wheaton Mall is owned by Westfield Corporatation - a large multinational developer with U.S. headquarters in California. Westfield has been very aggressive about appealing the assessed value of their property as a way to lower their property tax burden. On the six properties that comprise the mall, Westfield filed appeals 20 times out of 30 annual appeal opportunities over the last five years. This means that they filed appeals not only after the triennial re-assessment, but even in the out years.
The Westfield shopping strip building that housed the Drafthouse has seen several other closures in recent months. Unitech and Checkers closed up shop. Circuit City is having a going out of business sale. The new Office Depot building nearby is also in the process of closing its doors and Bally's is in chapter 11.
The current Enterprise Zone program, as authorized by the state, provides tax credits to a property owner based on the increase in assessed value. However, many businesses in downtown Wheaton are tenants. A tenant business who wants to invest in Wheaton is ineligible for tax credits unless they can negotiate a pass-through arrangement with their landlord. This can present a conflict of interest - the property owner who is appealing to lower their tax assessment probably does not want to apply for a tax credit program that relies on an increasing assessment.
My bill HB614 addresses this problem. It would enable Counties to expand and improve the Enterprise Zone tax credit program so that tenant businesses could receive tax credits directly.
With the economic downturn in full swing, it is more important than ever that we take steps to help our economic development programs work as intended.
HB614 will be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on the afternoon of March 5th in Annapolis. Senator Madaleno has sponsored the companion bill SB788 in the Senate.
I have re-introduced this legislation as a Montgomery-County-only bill (MC 2-10/HB861). It will be heard on the evening of December 1, 2009 before the House Delegation in Rockville. For more information, see the Montgomery County Delegation web site.
My local bill received a favorable vote from the County Affairs Committee on 2/25/2010.
The bill received a unanimous favorable vote from the House Delegation on 3/5/2010 and a unanimous favorable vote from the Senate Delegation on 3/11/2010. It was heard in the Ways and Means Committee on 3/11/2010 and awaits a committee vote.
The bill received a unanimous favorable committee vote on 3/27/2010 and it unanimously passed the House of Delegates on 3/30/2010)
HB861 bill received a unanimous favorable report by the Senate Committee and the full Senate. It is headed to the Governor's desk for signature.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
- HB1210: Chesapeake Bay Restoration Retail Consumer Choice Act - encourages the use of reusable grocery bags. Maryland retailers would collect five cents for each non-reusable consumer bag and the funds would be devoted to Chesapeake Bay restoration with a small portion going back to the retailer. I have been working closely with DC Council Member Tommy Wells on this issue and was quoted recently in the New York Times. Read the press release and get more information here. This bill will be heard on March 11th in the Environmental Matters Committee on which I sit.
- HB816: Marilyn J. Praisner Safe and Earth-Friendly Roadway Act - Requires that engineers planning new and replacement roadway lighting use fixtures that maximize energy efficiency, minimize harmful glare and minimize light pollution. Implements recommendations of a state task force that Maryland Treasurer Nancy Kopp championed when she was a legislator. The bill is modeled after legislation adopted in Connecticut earlier this decade. Council Member Praisner had championed similar legislation for Montgomery County before her untimely death. The hearing is on March 10th. Senator Jennie Forehand has filed a companion bill in the Senate SB891.
- HB1289: Demolition Reform Act - Lead contamination from demolished buildings can be a dangerous environmental hazard for children. This bill requires that contractors who are hired to demolish houses be licensed and follow basic standards for environmental protection. The hearing is on March 17th.
- HB1238: Energy Efficient Televisions - Many Marylanders are complaining about sharply higher electric bills. Television sets and related equipment account for a large and growing portion of home energy consumption. Some of the new flat screen tv sets are not as energy efficient as they should be. This bill follows California's lead in establishing energy efficiency standards for television sets purchased in Maryland.
- HB614: Enterprise Zones - County Tax Credits - Supports smart growth by expanding and improving an existing government program that encourages investment in downtowns like Wheaton and Silver Spring. The hearing is on March 5th before the Ways and Means Committee. Senator Madaleno has filed companion bill SB788.
Please feel free to contact my Annapolis office at any time. We can be reached at 301 858-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hearing from you about your priorities is very important to me.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kristin Fulkerson
DATE: 2/12/09 Legislative Aide
Delegate Al Carr Joined by Colleagues to Introduce Chesapeake Bay Restoration Consumer Retail Choice Act of 2009
(Annapolis, MD) Delegate Alfred Carr, Montgomery County, District 18, announced that he will introduce today the "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Consumer Retail Choice Act of 2009". The legislation puts a new focus on reducing the amount of trash that enters Maryland waterways and will raise money for Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. Delegate Carr will be joined by Washington DC Council Member Tommy Wells who will introduce similar legislation that would fund restoration of the Anacostia River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
"One way we can preserve the environment for our kids is to reduce the trash that clogs our waterways. A bird that is entangled in a plastic bag doesn't care whether it was discarded in Maryland or the District. I am proud to work with Councilmember Wells to make progress on cleaning up our interconnected natural areas" - said Carr
The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Consumer Retail Choice Act of 2009 will place a small 5 cent fee on all single-use plastic and paper carryout bags from retail establishments that provide carryout bags to their customers including grocery stores, food vendors, convenience stores, and drug stores.
The 5 cent fee will be divided between the business and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. Businesses will retain either 1 or 2 cents of the fee, depending whether they offer customers a carryout bag credit program for reusable bags. The remaining amount of the fee will be deposited into the fund to target environmental cleanup and restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.
Other jurisdictions are moving in this direction. New York, Seattle, and many European nations have already required, or plan to require, a small charge for plastic and paper bags. These initiatives have dramatically cut down on these single-use bags--by as much as 90% in some places. Also, many businesses are already taking similar steps on their own in addition to selling low-cost durable, reusable bags. Discount food stores like ALDI and Save-A-Lot, and even IKEA, charge customers a nominal fee for every bag--greatly reducing the number of plastic and paper bags used and encouraging people to bring reusable bags.
Councilmember Wells and I will be holding a press event today at 10:30am on the banks of the Anacostia.
Councilmember Tommy Wells' press announcement
Washington Post front page article on Carr and Wells' bills
Greater Greater Washington blog post
HB1210 will be heard on March 11. Track its progress here
Washington Post graphic on paper vs. plastic
Salon Magazine Article on plastic bags
Feb 24 2009 New York Times Article
Posted by Delegate Al Carr at 7:18 AM