Valentine’s Day 2018
Friends & Neighbors:
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sending my biweekly email two days late this week so that I could share with you my new website – please take a moment and check it out and let me know what you think! www.brookelierman.com
Today is not only Valentine’s Day, it’s also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass, one of the most important Marylanders in history. Douglass spent much of his early years in District 46 and you can still see places where he lived and worked in Southeast. One of the books I have in my office in Annapolis is “Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years,” a fascinating account of Frederick Douglass’ time in Baltimore and Maryland. This year the City will be honoring his life, legacy, and work throughout the year through events and banners hanging around Fell’s Point and the City.
I had my first bill hearing last week on HB 432, a bill to create a gun violence prevention & intervention fund. We had a phenomenal hearing with national, local, and state support and I am hopeful that we will be able to pass this bill out committee and to the full House for a vote. Today I have a hearing in front of Ways & Means on my Angel Investor Tax Credit bill to spur entrepreneurship (read more below).
Digital Harbor Students in Annapolis: As a state legislator, there are big and small ways we can make a difference. One small thing I try to do is involve Baltimore City students in different aspects of my job. Every year, I work with the art teacher at Digital Harbor High School to select several pieces of artwork to hang in my office in Annapolis. I arrange a day for students who take art at Digital to come see the artwork, take a tour of Annapolis, and meet with me. Last week, a dozen Digital seniors came to visit Annapolis, learn about state government, and see their art work displayed! It was a great visit. This week, the visits continued when Digital Harbor’s bike club came to present to the state bike symposium and stopped by my office to say hello as well!
Work2LiveWell – Training Baltimoreans to work in natural resources – I was delighted to join Secretary and Deputy Secretary of DNR and the Secretary of DLLR for the official launch of a new job training program this week – Work2LiveWell. When the Deputy Secretary of DNR came to me last year with an idea about creating a way to train individuals to work in the field of natural resources, I jumped at the chance to have it operate in Baltimore, and it is indeed launching in the City! They have already received 26 applications to join the program and will be making selections soon. Effective and innovative job training programs like this one are more important than ever. For more information, visit the website here. http://dnr.maryland.gov/ccs/Pa
Healthy Working Families Act Takes Effect
After 6 years of efforts to ensure that every Marylander has access to earn up to 5 days off from work, the earned paid sick leave bill took effect on Sunday. DLLR is responsible for implementing this new law, and if you are a business who has questions about implementation, feel free to visit their website to see the resources they have published: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/p
Brooke’s Budget Work: Appropriations Committee
In addition to holding budget hearings four days a week, my Committee also holds bill hearings every Tuesday. They are long days! This week we had several important bills presented, including a bill to finally properly fund the child care subsidy program, HB430. The Child Care Subsidy program in Maryland provides low-income families with vouchers for child care – allowing kids to succeed from an early age and parents to continue working. Unfortunately, Maryland has one of the worst funded and least accessible child care subsidy programs in the country – not only does it regularly leave thousands of families on the waitlist (and really, what good is a waitlist for a service you need immediately??), but it also provides such a limited amount of money that even if parents receive it, they can only access around 10% of child care facilities in their area – the federal government recommends that states provide enough to access 75% to ensure equity of opportunity. HB 430 would increase funding to the subsidy program to ensure we continue to receive federal funding and provide more access to Maryland families. There is not much better investment than quality accessible child care, so I’m hopeful that we can pass this important bill this year. To learn more about this work, check out www.acy.org and www.marylandfamilynetwork.org.
We also heard HB 372, the Metro Funding Act. This bill would provide – for the very first time – a dedicated funding stream for WMATA. It will only go into effect if both Virginia and D.C. also dedicate money to WMATA. As a transit advocate, I recognize the need for this bill and support it. Given the lack of funding for MTA, however – as manifested by the closure of the MTA Metro this month – I will continue to advocate for more oversight and more resources for MTA. You can read a letter that I sent to Secretary Rahn about the subway closure here.
Briefing on Federal Tax Impact for Maryland Residents: Interested in what the Comptroller has to say about how the federal tax reform package will affect Marylanders? You can read all about it in a new report, published online here. Last week, the Maryland Senate passed a bill to allow personal exemptions at the state level when filing taxes. Without this bill, exemptions for children or dependents may have been eliminated from Maryland’s tax structure. We believe the bill will save Maryland families millions of dollars on taxes to help cover the costs associated with taking care of family members. The House will vote on a similar bill soon.
See the full Appropriations briefing schedule here.
To see a complete list of the bills that I am sponsoring this year, visit my official bio page. Each week I’ll highlight a couple bills I’m working on.
HB 526 – Angel Investor Tax Credit: Finding early stage investors is one of the greatest hurdles to starting a business. Maryland currently lags behind other states in having ready capital available for entrepreneurs. One of the bills I am championing this year will provide a tax credit for investments in qualified businesses that have their HQ in Maryland, have fewer than 35 full-time employees, are not public, and have been in business fewer than 10 years. This bill is based on the incredibly successful 2007 Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit. The bill hearing is on Wednesday in the Ways & Means Committee! Read the BBJ’s coverage of the bill here.
HB 535 – Complete Streets Incentive Program: Complete Streets are streets designed to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. This bill creates a grant program for non-capital “Complete Streets” work for eligible jurisdictions and a work group to help with design, creation, and planning of the grant program. Too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars or creeping traffic jams. This design flaw has led to congestion, increased air pollution, and has made it more difficult for people to utilize alternative modes of transportation. Many states have enacted similar legislation and have seen advances in economic, health, and community vibrancy. I’m excited to have support for this bill from Bike Maryland, AARP, Smart Growth America, and others.
College Scholarships Available! If you are a senior in high school or attending an in-state college or university and you reside in 46th District, you are eligible to apply for a Delegate scholarship. You can access the application on my website and follow instructions to apply. Please do not hesitate to call our office with any questions at 410-841-3319. To see if you live in the 46th district you can check your address at mdelect.net.
Team46 Legislative Town Hall – Team46 invites all constituents to attend a legislative town hall on Saturday, February 24 from 10:30 AM – 12:30 pm at The National Federation of the Blind – 200 E Wells St, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Please RSVP here if you can join us.
Legends & Legacies Jubilee – In Honor of Black History Month and the bicentennial celebration of Frederick Douglass’ birth, many of the city’s top cultural attractions will gather under one roof on February 17, 2018 for an afternoon of FREE interactive and family-friendly activities.
I confronted the Police Commissioner at the City Delegation hearing on February 2 and asked what his plan was to “block by block restore trust” in the police department given the horrific stories of the gun trace task force. See it here and read more here.
I was also quoted in the Sun yesterday discussing the MTA Metro shutdown – see here.
Please feel free to contact me throughout session on the issues that are most important to you, your family, and your community. Our office phone number is 410-841-3319 and email address is Brooke.Lierman@house.state.md.
PS: I have loved welcoming constituents to our office so far this session! Come down and see me! And make sure to follow me on Facebook.