Annapolis Report: Holiday Edition!

The joy of the holiday season is upon us all.  Meanwhile, my staff and I are hard at work preparing for the 2012 legislative session, set to begin January 11.  We are busy holding meetings and drafting legislation to get our state on a path of fiscal responsibility, modernize and protect our voting system, empower individuals to help alleviate the state’s mounting uncompensated health care costs, protect our environment, and improve the quality of life of all Marylanders.  I look forward to discussing these matters with you in further detail in my upcoming session reports.  Below, I share with you a pre-session Ways and Means briefing from the State Secretary of Transportation as well as the most recent meeting of the State Election Reform Commission.

This past week the House Ways and Means Committee held a briefing with the Secretary of Transportation to discuss the condition of the state’s transportation fund, the progress of existing projects, and legislative options for restoring funding for other important transportation improvements.  While my colleagues and I continue to deliberate and discuss these options, it is increasingly clear that regaining a stable, secured funding source for the necessities of our state’s transit systems and infrastructure is no easy task.  Crafting a solution to this challenge is sure to be a top priority of the 2012 legislative session.  I look forward to discussing this important issue with you further as the session progresses.

Also last week, the State Election Reform Commission met in advance of the 2012 legislative session.  I am a proud member of the commission and the author of its enabling legislation.  The purpose of the commission is to produce deliberative recommendations on necessary improvements to our voting system.  The commission includes state legislators, lawyers, judges, and policy experts, in collaboration with staff of the State Board of Elections.  At this most recent meeting the commission discussed its interim report, which includes recommendations for the 2012 legislative session, as well as a final report to be released in advance of the 2013 session.  The commission expects the interim report to be addressed by the General Assembly this year.  As chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the House, I will continue to carefully consider these recommendations and work with the commission to determine which recommendations are appropriate to entertain at this time.

The Governor and his policy team have published the proposed state legislative redistricting maps in response to new population figures.  I encourage you to review prospective changes to your district at http://www.mdp.state.md.us/Redistricting/2010/legiDist.shtml.  Suffice it to say, major changes are being proposed and everyone should be aware of how those changes may affect them.  Also, stay tuned for more information on the fate of the Congressional redistricting map which you may recall was passed by the General Assembly in a special October session and is now weathering a federal court challenge.

On a lighter note, I want to remind you that the annual Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Maryland will take place the last Saturday of January.  This will be my 10th year jumping into the frigid Bay in the dead of winter to benefit Special Olympics Maryland.  As always, I welcome you to join me on the balmy beaches of Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, but if you choose to stay warm you can always lend your support for the event by donating to the organization.  For further information please feel free to contact my office or visit http://plungemd.com.

Please stay tuned for my next Annapolis Report, a preview of the 2012 legislative session.  Until then, I wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday and a happy New Year.  I wish good luck to the Ravens as they get back on track and hopefully head into the playoffs running on all cylinders.  2011 has been a challenging year for our state, but I am proud of the resolve we all have shown in facing these challenges head-on.  I hope our legislature will come together to make the tough choices necessary to regain fiscal stability without sacrificing the quality of life we Marylanders are proud to enjoy.

Sincerely,
Jon S. Cardin