Information from my latest eNewsletter, "This Week in Annapolis". Are you receiving it? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list!
Halfway Mark in Annapolis!
February 23rd was the halfway mark of the legislative session, and I’m preparing for the very busy second half which will include daily voting sessions on the House floor and in the Economic Matters (ECM) Committee. We’ve had long hearings in ECM, listening to testimony on minimum wage (expect a vote in the House soon), allowing cellular companies to circumvent local zoning laws for 5G cellular equipment installation, and modernizing brewery laws, among other topics. I was appointed to the Minimum Wage Workgroup for the House and I expect changes will be debated to the bill in both the House and the Senate.
HoCo Bill 3-19 Building Excise Tax for Schools
HoCo Bill 3-19 Building Excise Tax for Schools was partially voted on this week before the state delegation ran out of time. I supported the bill sponsored by Delegate Atterbeary that sought to raise the building impact fee for schools from its current $1.32 to $4.00 a square foot. Delegates Atterbeary, Hill, Terrasa and I supported this, with the remaining members voting in favor of not specifying a higher fee, but allowing the County Council to set the fee. I understand the alternate position and I typically support complete local control. However, I believe we have an extraordinary situation with inadequate funding for school construction; therefore, I chose to support the state delegation setting the fee now. As long as the bill passes when the final vote is taken (scheduled this Wednesday February 27 at 8:30 a.m.), the County Council will gain the authority to charge the fee they feel is necessary with no cap while they work to fit it into a spectrum of tools that they have to collect more funding for school construction.
I am always happy to welcome Howard Countians to Annapolis. The Howard County Arts Council was recently in the State Capital to advocate for the arts. Members of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce visited me to discuss the impact of the proposed minimum wage law. I also met with members of CASA who were advocating for minimum wage workers. My staff and I have met with advocates for increasing the renewable energy standards and with the Chesapeake Climate Action Fund. Last week’s state delegation hearing in Howard County had to be rescheduled due to snow and was held in Annapolis on Thursday night. Several citizens came to Annapolis to testify including members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots movement of Maryland Moms fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
The General Assembly is waiting on the school calendar bills to wind their way out of the committees in the House and Senate. Several bills working their way through the General Assembly will impact the environment including a Styrofoam ban, a bill to increase the amount of clean energy used, and a bill to prohibit clear cutting of trees for solar farms. The Death with Dignity bill remains in its committee so far. A bill adding two teacher members to the State Board of Education has passed the House, as has a bill that gives a judge the discretion to fine someone up to $500 for driving while using a cell phone. This distracted driving bill still needs to pass the Senate to become law.
Ellicott City Flood Bill HB 428 - Comprehensive Flood Management Grant Program
Last week I testified before the Environment and Transportation Committee along with County Executive Dr. Ball and Councilmember Liz Walsh. We spoke in favor of an annual funding stream for the state’s Flood Mitigation Grant Fund that first passed in 1976, but has not been funded since 2002. The hearing went well and we await action by the committee to move the bill forward. You can watch the testimony HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy4v0AJz3t0...
Join us to watch a floor session, receive a tour, and be introduced to the General Assembly. Call Terry Chaconas to arrange it. We love to have visitors!
How to Contact My Office
Your thoughts are always welcome. Please contact me by phone or email with your thoughts on bills we are reviewing in Annapolis.
Delegate Courtney Watson
Howard County District 9B
Member, Economic Matters Committee
Maryland House of Delegates
6 Bladen Street, Room 209
Annapolis, MD 21401
Email: Courtney.Watson@house.state. md.us