Annapolis Report - Week 7

Cardin Annapolis Report

February 22, 2013 – Week Seven

This week all six of our standing committees are in full swing with long days of bill hearings and voting sessions. Two of my bills, Healthy Maryland (HB 185) and this year’s bicycle passing law (HB 445), which I discussed in detail in previous editions of the Annapolis Report, were heard last week, and I believe both were engaging policy matters taken up by the committees. This week, I will have hearings on two tax payer rights bills attempting to correct unfair  interest rates you pay (but the State does not) on tax deficiencies.  Look out for the progress of House Bills 205 and 208!

My Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, has already heard a handful of election bills, numerous tax bills, and some enlightening education bills. Tomorrow we will hear both my bill (HB 242) and the Governor’s bill on Election Day voter registration and expansion of early voting (HB 224). In fact, there is a rumor that either the Governor or Lt. Governor Brown may come to testify.  My attention will be focused on expanded early voting and voter registration; I have gone on record advocating for expansion of the franchise instead of supporting efforts to restrict the right to vote through onerous ID laws. Click here to read my letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal on February 13, 2013!

Jon’s Featured Bill of the Week:

Youth Girls’ Lacrosse Safety – HB 1123

This past week, I received emotional correspondence about legislation that Delegate Stein introduced and I co-sponsored requiring protective head gear for girls’ lacrosse as a way to ensure protection against the increasing number of concussions in the sport as highlighted by the State Concussion Task Force and studies published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.  The issue was prompted by the growing concern among parents who have contacted me with stories of their daughters who can no longer play the sport they love because one more concussion is too much for them to risk.  Let me be clear -- I have heard the concerns of opponents of head gear protection and its effect on the integrity of the game and possible inverse impact on injuries.  My goal is not now, nor ever, to create more mandates, but rather it is to create as safe a playing environment as possible for our student athletes while simultaneously allowing them to realize their athletic potential.

The original bill would have required protection recommended by the State Concussion Task Force encompassed by experts in sports injury management and would only have applied to state sponsored youth programs or public schools. After lengthy discussions with U.S. Lacrosse and many in the lacrosse community, we were assured that the best practices standards being developed by U.S. Lacrosse will be completed as soon as possible and will include recommendations for head protection in girls’ youth programs. 

Because of these assurances, we have decided to amend our bill mandating head gear.  Additionally, as a result of the discussion our legislation engendered, we received a recommendation that public school referees be certified by U.S. Lacrosse to better enforce the rules of the game and keep youth athletes safer.  After discussing this idea with U.S. Lacrosse and its director, Steve Stenersen, we have decided to collaborate and pursue this concept with U.S. Lacrosse.

This is another great example of making progress without enacting legislation, which is always my ideal outcome. As I continue to explore running for Attorney General, issues of children’s safety will be on the top of my agenda whether they relate to firearms, athletics, cyberbullying or the environment. My goal is to hold those responsible for protecting our children accountable and to bring all stakeholders to the table for compromise – legislation is a last resort.

Dates to Remember:

Voices for Meir Panim Final Round on February 24th at 7pm at Goucher’s Kraushaar Auditorim – Please come out and see me appear as a guest voice judge for this important cause. Meir Panim is raising $2.5 million to open the brand new Israel Nutrition Center in Kiryat Gat. It will be a fun night for a great cause!

Following up on the success of our Campaign Finance Rally, I will be hosting a rally forCyberbullying Awareness and Action on Wednesday, February 27th at 11am on Lawyers’ Mall in Annapolis. Attorney General Doug Gansler has noted that this is the new frontier of protection and safety in the realm of electronic communications.  This rally and the associated bill(HB 396), which reins in publicly posted cyberbullying, substantiate the Attorney General’s important assessment.  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.