2018 End of Session Letter
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In 2014 you elected me to serve and represent your interests. I truly value and appreciate your trust in me to represent District 44B in Annapolis. While national politics may not always produce the results that we wish, I strongly believe it is still important to ensure that state government is working for all Marylanders. As I represent you in Annapolis, I am working for a more prosperous district and state.
The 2018 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly has just concluded. This was a busy session and I sponsored and supported significant legislation that will improve the lives of Marylanders. I was the primary sponsor on a total of 21 bills this session which were introduced to improve the lives of citizens within our district and across the state. A number of the ideas for bills I sponsored came from conversations I had with some of you after the 2017 session. The themes of these bills can be summed up into four categories: Protection of Individual Rights, Consumer Protections, Juvenile Law, and Education. Below is a brief summary.
Elections are the bedrock of our political system. Now that the legislative session is over, I would like to turn my attention to the upcoming primary which is set for June 26, 2018. This session, the General Assembly passed two bills which will change the paradigm for voting in this state.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I will sometimes look to song to draw upon which capture life. I could not help but to think about Abel Meeropol’s poem, sung and performed by Billie Holliday. The lyrics are:
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
One of the best parts about representing the people of the district is being able to work with them to address a problem, whether it is legislatively or otherwise. This summer, my constituent, Mr. Phillips, reached out to me regarding a situation he experienced which he felt was unfair. After reading his email I too felt it was an issue that needed to be addressed. According to Mr. Phillips, his son has had tardiness and attendance problems since he was a sophomore. There were days that Mr. Phillips would drop his son off outside the front door and watch him walk into the building, only later to receive a message from the school that his son was not in attendance. Mr. Phillips contacted the school about giving him consequences for his actions. All it offered was detention, and when his son ignored it, no further disciplinary actions were taken in holding his son responsible for his lack of attendance.
2017 End of Session Letter
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
The 2017 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly has just concluded and while some things my colleagues and I worked to accomplish fell short, I would describe this session as successful in many other ways. At the beginning of the session, I was appointed Chair of the Civil Law and Procedure Subcommittee, thus a member of the leadership of the Judiciary Committee and the Maryland House of Delegates.
As your delegate, I have an opportunity to help address individual concerns every day. In fact, much of our work done is focused on constituent services. During session, as well as when session is adjourned, much of our time is devoted to responding to your emails, telephone calls, and letters that express concerns regarding legislation, personal matters, and issues in the community. By way of example, my office was successful in responding to a constituent request to have a new bus shelter and bench installed at a bus stop on Ingleside in Catonsville. In addition, we have worked with a variety of state agencies to address constituent concerns like street racing on I-70, storm drain backups, trash dumping, MTA bus service, grass cutting along Route 40, and the maintenance of Western Star Cemetery. Raising these concerns have helped me to help you address our community’s needs and this has been extremely helpful. I do not take any of this for granted.
By John Bleiweis
The approval of legislation that will allow a Guinness brewery and tourist attraction in Relay and concern about the state's medical marijuana licensing system were among top issues facing Catonsville and Arbutus area legislators as the 2017 Maryland General Assembly came to a close this week.
By Justin Lee
April 10, 2017 - A bill passed in the Maryland House of Delegates and currently under consideration by a Senate committee would see a task force formed to study police use of surveillance technologies, such as facial recognition software, according to a report by Capital News Service.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A bill making its way through the Maryland legislature would create a taskforce to study police use of surveillance technologies, such as facial recognition software.
The bill, HB 1065, establishing the Task Force to Study Law Enforcement Surveillance Technologies, passed in the Maryland House and is now under consideration by a Senate committee.
2016 End of Session Letter
Dear Friend and Constituent,
The Maryland General Assembly 2016 Legislative Session has concluded and I wanted to take the opportunity to share what has transpired since our last session. I want to thank each of you for your phone calls, emails and personal visits to share with me what's important to you. It is through our communications that I know what is important to you. I truly appreciate the trust you have placed in me to represent you in Annapolis.
Since last session, I was appointed to the Commission Regarding the Implementation and Use of Body Cameras by Law Enforcement Officers and to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Additionally, I traveled to San Francisco during the fall of 2015, as a member of the Maryland Delegation for the National Conference of State Legislatures/ National Center State Courts' "Juvenile Justice Reform State Teams' Meeting" with Senator Delores G. Kelley, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, Court Administrator Pamela Harris, and Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Sam Abid. Each of these experiences informed some of the legislation that I sponsored or cross-filed. Finally, at the end of this session, I was also appointed Parliamentarian of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
This session, the House Judiciary held hearings for 348 bills, many of which were very intense. As a member of its Committee's Criminal Justice Subcommittee, I had a role in formulating two major pieces of legislation, the Public Safety and Policing Workgroup - Recommendations and the "Justice Reinvestment Act". While I will discuss them both more in depth below, I am confident that our work will produce outcomes that greatly improve our criminal justice system.
Privacy advocates from the ACLU and other organizations have raised concerns about the Baltimore Police Department’s use of the stingray device and the secrecy that surrounds it. So in a rare turn of events last week, an Annapolis hearing room became a venue for law enforcement to publicly speak about the illicit gathering of cellphone data.