Annapolis Report - Week 4

Cardin Annapolis Report

January 30, 2013 – Week Four

As the session gets into full swing and more than 1000 bills have been introduced, Maryland received great news on jobs and the economy this week. We found out that Maryland is the 9thfastest State in the nation in job recovery with 80% of jobs lost during the recession recovered. Further, Maryland created 30,300 jobs in December including 7,700 jobs created in the private sector. Finally, unemployment decreased to 6.6%, 1.5% below the national average.

On the legislative front, I want to draw attention to a hot topic this Session – permission for chain stores to sell beer and wine. I have met with a number of individuals on both sides of this debate, and while I am open to discussion, I have concluded that the existing system protects jobs, increases public safety, and minimizes incidences of underage and binge drinking. Allowing chain stores to sell alcohol will lead to more underage drinking while driving up crime and drunk driving. At the same time, our local, independent liquor stores will be threatened with potential for the loss of thousands of jobs while leaving unsightly vacancies in our shopping and business centers around the State. I worry about the slippery slope once one chain gets it, will every 7/11 and CVS sell beer and wine? Finally, evidence from other states shows loss of quality and variety in beer and wine; something potential customers will not be happy about.

Jon’s Featured Bills of the Week: Speed Camera Reform Act

At the end of last week, I introduced a comprehensive bill addressing the myriad problems with the speed camera programs adopted by the local jurisdictions. My bill ends the perverse “bounty” or fee per ticket system in which camera operators are incentivized to issue more tickets instead of working harder to keep the public safe. The bill also creates a $1,000 fine paid by the speed camera operator for each erroneously issued citation, a verifiable system of checks and balances that you can use to fight your citation in court and a mandatory 30 day notice period for each new camera installation.

I believe this balanced legislation addresses the serious problems in the speed camera systems statewide more than any of the other proposed speed camera bills. I am confident that after these reforms are implemented, the motoring public can again be confident that speed cameras will keep you safe while only citing motorists for valid violations.

Bicycling Safety Act

I have also introduced a new and improved Bicycle Safety bill for this year. In the past, I worked with Bike Maryland and other interested groups to pass legislation mandating a safe three foot passing distance from a bicyclist. The law already allows motorists to drive on the left side of the road to pass a cyclist, and this legislation will clarify the situations in which it is safe.

Cyclists on Maryland roads have increased by the tens of thousands over the last decade.  Those commuters and exercisers bring no pollution but rather an appetite and credit card to the communities they visit.  Unfortunately, when cars and bicycles collide, it is ALWAYS the bicyclist whose life is at risk. We should not wait for another tragic accident such as those that took the lives of Natasha Pettigrew, Nathan Krasnopoler and Larry Bensky to make the roads safe for cycling and make sure drivers are given flexibility to pass when safe.

Dates to Remember:

Join me for a Campaign Finance and Election Law Reform Rally on Tuesday February 7th at 11am on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis as me, other elected officials and executives from national and statewide good government groups such as Common Cause, Maryland PIRG and Progressive MD drum up support for the numerous voter access laws coming before my committee this Session. Some of these important measures include closing the LLC loophole, expanding early voting dates and voting centers and creating a system of public funding for certain State elections. I am very excited about this opportunity to share my passions with you, so please come out and join us! 

Finally, I want to thank all of you who contributed and participated in the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge this past weekend. Special Olympics Maryland raised over $2.8 million and my Maryland State Bar Association team contributed more than $10,000 to help those special athletes in our midst.

It was a balmy 28 degrees with the sun shining and 34 degree water. Along with Delegates Aruna Miller and Herb McMillan and joined by Gold Medalist Kimmie Meissner and Governor Martin O’Malley, we plunged into the Chesapeake and had a great day helping great people.