Greetings Neighbors and Friends,
I want to thank you for your support and feedback about important legislative issues during the 2016 legislative session. Many of you received my End-Of-Session Report through the mail; however, for those of you that did not, I wanted to make sure that I shared some important information with you.
Together, we've accomplished much for District 26, as well as the county and state. As we close the 436th legislative session we passed a $42-billion dollar budget, which includes funding for public schools, public safety, the health care system and resources for substance abuse treatment and opioid addiction.
As it relates to Prince George's County, I was able to work with my colleagues to bring back: $27.5-million in capital funds for Prince George's County Hospital Center, $15-million to the Prince George's County Regional Medical Center (Senate Bill 324), over $1-billion in direct education aid, $7.2-million for our public libraries, $28.5-million to community college funding, a $30-million disparity grant, and much more.
In addition, I worked hard to address a number of issues from domestic violence prevention, funding for those with developmental disabilities, clean energy, tax relief and "equal pay for equal work". In a very competitive environment where money is scarce, I was able to bring back money for a number of community projects in our district.
Summary of Legislation
It is my intent in representing you, to sponsor and support significant legislation that will enhance the quality of life for citizens of Prince George's County and the entire state of Maryland. I was the lead sponsor of 28 bills during this session and I was able to get 7 bills passed into law. Below is a summary of some of the measures that I sponsored.
SB 1143: Neshante' and Chloe Davis Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force Passed Into Law
NeShante' Davis and her 2 -year-old daughter Chloe lost their lives in an unfortunate domestic violence tragedy in our community in February 2016. SB 1143 as amended is a state-wide task force that will study the effectiveness of current intervention strategies and explore new strategies for "intervention before escalation" of such violence. It will also focus on expanding programs to engage and educate community stakeholders to be better informed about ways to identify, report, defend against and prevent domestic violence in the home and the community.
SB 1072/ HB 1634: Juveniles Restraint and Searches - Limitations
Passed Into Law
Senate Bill 1072 as amended establishes a task force that will review the policies and practices of the Department of Juveniles Services regarding the shackling and strip-searches of children within DJS, examine when, by whom and for what purposes a child is strip-searched or shackled, and make recommendations concerning the capital expenditures necessary to address issues pertaining to the restraint and searches of children. (i.e.: the feasibility of purchasing a body scanner).
SB 815/ HB 989: Residential Real Property - Sales Contracts - Notice of Water and Sewer Charges
Passed Into Law
SB 815 is similar to local laws in Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties. It will require sellers to inform buyers entering into residential real property contracts whether outstanding, deferred water and sewer charges, frequently referred to as "front foot fees" exist, the amount of the fee and the number of years that remain to complete the payment.
SB 816/ HB 1192: Real Property - Condominiums and Homeowners Associations - Resales - Disclosures and Fees
Passed Into Law
SB 816 requires that Home Owners Associations (HOA) or any other authorized agent of an HOA disclose the current operating budget of the condominium and provide details of any unsatisfied judgments or pending lawsuits to which the council of unit owners is a party. SB 816 also caps the cost of the "resale packets" at a reasonable price, which can be adjusted by the Department of Housing and Community Development every 2 years.
SB 962: Child Custody - Rebuttable Presumption of Joint Custody
SB 962 is similar to legislation I sponsored last year to update our current laws and bring them in line with our ever-changing culture by acknowledging that both parents should equally share in the responsibility of rearing a child.This legislation created a rebuttable presumption in an initial court proceeding that (1) joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child and (2) joint physical custody for approximately equal periods of time is in the best interest of the child. However, the court would have the ability to award sole custody to one parent if there was a preponderance of evidence that co-parenting was not in the child's best interest.
SB 1071: Office of the Public Defender - Caseload Standards
SB 1071 was another attempt (for the 2nd year) to put into place a reasonable standard by which the Office of the Public Defender, within the realities of its budget, could begin to address the issue of caseloads by dividing its case work between employees and the private criminal defense bar. In many jurisdictions, like Prince George's County, district court public defenders are handling 9,000 - 10,000 cases above the standard caseload.
Below is a list of the bond bill projects for which I was able to bring back funding that will directly impact District 26:
SB 1048: Camp Springs Elks Lodge No. 2332
$20,000.00 for outreach programs for children and adults with special needs and for renovations to allow the lodge to be used as a community disaster emergency shelter
SB 1049: Piscataway Park
$100,000.00for improvements at Piscataway Park to better serve the educational and recreational needs of Prince George's County residents and provide national and international visitors with the opportunity to experience Maryland's remarkable natural and cultural resources
SB 1050: Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department
$150,000.00 for renovations to the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department Station 24
I co-sponsored and supported hundreds of bills during this session that will benefit constituents across the state of Maryland. Here are a few pieces of legislation that I think are important to you. (To see a complete list of all bills for the 2016 legislative session go to
SB 324: Prince George's County Regional Medical Center Act of 2016
requires the state and Prince George's County to keep their commitment by providing $15-million in operating funds from FY17-FY19 and $5-million from FY20-FY21 for a new Prince George's County Regional Medical Center (PGCRMC).
SB 481: Labor and Employment - Equal Pay for Equal Work
SB 481 expands the Equal Pay for Equal Work law by ensuring that businesses cannot penalize employees for discussing salaries; and it prohibits wage discrimination based on gender identity.
SB 797: Housing and Community Development - Shelter and Transitional Housing
SB 797 requires the governor to include in the annual budget bill at least $3 million for the Shelter and Transitional Housing Facilities Grant Program within the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Food Stamp Program - Minimum Benefit - State Supplement (SENIORS)
SB 758 requires the state to provide a minimum of $30 per month in food stamps to "our" seniors (62+ years) who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SB 376: Pathways in Technology Early College High (P-TECH) 3 Schools Act of 2016
SB 376 establishes 6 planning grants to create P-TECH schools (2 of which will be located in Prince George's County). The state-funded Pathways in Technology Early College High (P-TECH) Schools will provide a course of study leading to a high school degree and an associate's degree or approved certificate in six years.
SB 921: Clean Energy Jobs - Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions
SB 921 will increase the annual percentage requirements for Tier 1 Non-Solar and Tier 1 Solar sources to meet the State's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The total Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard percentage requirements will increase from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020.
In closing, I want you to know that it is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Annapolis. I have kept my word to represent "you" and not to cave-in to "political bosses" and special interest groups. Rest assured that I will continue to stand up for you, do what is right, and not be intimidated by those who do not make your best interests their priority.
In addition, in preparation for the 2017 legislative session, I welcome your ideas about potential legislation that you want to see enacted. As always, feel free to contact my office at 301-858-3092 and or email me at
to discuss your ideas and concerns.