Annapolis Report - Week 6

Cardin Annapolis Report

February 15, 2013 – Week Six

Last Thursday’s deadline for bill introduction saw a very light 1,390 bills filed. I am proud of the package of twenty one bills I introduced as well as the sixty-three others I was asked to co-sponsor. We are focusing our legislative efforts on bills to protect schoolchildren from public bullying on the internet, to keep bicyclists safe on our roads, to reign in rampant abuses in county speed camera programs, to prevent energy companies from bullying homeowners into granting far-reaching easements to their land, and to close loopholes in campaign finance law that will put citizens on equal footing with nasty special interests.

As always, I will keep fighting for fairness and equality for all Marylanders regardless of race, income or age, transparency in government operations, and most importantly, I will fight to make sure all Marylanders feel safe and secure in their homes, businesses and schools.

This week, Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown both offered testimony in the Senate to advocate for their respective jobs agendas. The Governor, jointly with Senate President Mike Miller, offered the Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) initiative which allots $2.5 million to create a competitive grant process to bridge the gap between specific workforce needs and skilled Maryland workers able to fill these critical needs. The Lt. Governor, an Iraq War veteran, was in the Senate to support his initiative to locally employ those brave men and women who have honorably served our country in the armed forces by removing barriers to employment such as red tape in professional and occupational licensing. With the recovery slowly picking up speed, I hope both of these jobs measures pass the Senate and come to the House for a vote.

On an important non-legislative note, my beautiful baby girl Dorothy turned 1-year old this past Friday! While the last year has been filled with many sleepless nights, I could not ask for anything more. Together with my incredible wife, Megan, my family could not be happier. I want to thank each and every one of you for your compassion and support as we continue to grow and move forward together.

Jon’s Featured Bill of the Week:

Healthy Maryland Act – HB 185

73.4% of males in Maryland are overweight or obese and healthcare costs have risen by $28.5 billion since 1997 with an estimated $3.3 billion increase expected by 2015. Something must be done to curb the runaway costs of chronic medical care. In response, I have introduced HB 185, which creates a pilot program to monetarily incentivize Maryland State employees and their dependents to adopt healthier lifestyles such as weight loss, smoking cessation and chronic pain management. State employees and their dependents will be eligible to receive a $50 health insurance premium support, up to $150 per family, for participating in qualifying health improvement or wellness programs.

These programs are already in place and saving money in Canada, Texas, California and even Gaithersburg. As healthcare costs skyrocket without an end in sight, bold action is needed, and although this program does not solve the entire problem, it is an important step in the right direction.

Gas Pipeline Update – A Modern Day David vs. Goliath

As you know, I have joined Senator Zirkin and Delegates Morhaim and Stein to oppose Columbia Gas’ pipeline going through our community. We have proposed a number of bills to reign in private energy companies who now have the authority to come into your backyard and start taking land for their projects.  Some of our legislation will mandate the use of safest and most technologically advanced methods available. Unfortunately, opposing energy companies is an uphill battle as we have to contend not only with the resources of big energy but also the fact that the federal government has the power to overrule or “pre-empt” many proposed State safeguards.

As someone looking to be the chief legal officer of the State, I have no illusions that federal pre-emption neutralizes some of our bills, but as someone who aspires to be the protector and enforcer of safe practices within Maryland’s borders, I will fight for citizen protection and use my bully pulpit to start the conversation and bring the gas company to the table so we may actually find middle ground on which we can compromise. States’ rights and individual property freedoms depend on that vision for the future.

Dates to Remember:

Don’t miss the Sales Tax Holiday for Energy Star Appliances going on Statewide over the weekend of February 16-18. This is a great time to get that much needed upgrade for your kitchen, laundry room, or bath while helping our environment in the process! Click here for a Baltimore Sun blog post on this great promotion.

Following up on the success of last week’s Campaign Finance Rally, I will be hosting a rally forCyberbullying awareness and action on Wednesday February 27th at 11am on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. Too often, my constituents share with me their stories of public internet bullying and the brutal, sometimes fatal, affects bullying has on their lives. Please join me and many other advocates to speak out on this issue of fairness and safety.

Finally, I am excited to announce this year’s Bicycle Symposium on February 27th from 9am to 4pm in the Miller Senate Building. The symposium includes presentations by infrastructure and planning experts as well as the opportunity to meet with decision makers and other bicycle enthusiasts. I will be speaking at 11:45am just after Howard County Executive Ken Ulmanaddresses the symposium.