2018 Legislation Update
   
Dear Friends,
 
     I wanted to share a little about my legislative priorities for this year. This is my second term on the Appropriation Committee, where I sit on the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. I have enjoyed getting to know our budget process in greater detail and I will continue to have budget hearings for much of the remainder of this session.  Working on the budget provides an opportunity for me to advocate for funding for our County including education, healthcare, public safety and the needs of the most vulnerable in our District.   
 
This year I am spearheading these issues by sponsoring the following legislation: 
 
In continuing my fight against impaired driving :   I am reintroducing my bill to make smoking or consuming marijuana by the driver of a vehicle a misdemeanor the same as our open alcohol in a vehicle law. This bill passed in the House of Delegates the last two years, but unfortunately did not get out of the Judicial Proceeding Committee in the Senate. In addition, I have legislation to create a Task Force to Study New Technologies in the fight against drugged and drunk driving. I remain concerned that our state has not incorporated any new methods to test drivers for drugs in their system, thereby allowing many to avoid prosecution. The drug impaired driving rates are increasing. We did lower the blood alcohol level for mandatory breathalyzers for drunk driving, however, there are many new technologies such as oral fluid swabs, cell phone analysis, and among other methods to help combat impaired driving fatalities. We need to study these advances and develop a policy for our approach to this rising problem. 
 
In the area of Health and Human Services for the most needy of our citizens: Our state has not given an increase to the neediest of the needy for fifteen years, those citizens who are unable to work and are waiting for social security disability to be approved.I am proud to be the lead sponsor on legislation for this increase. I am also introducing legislation to make Community Action Agencies hold harmless for funding commitments from the federal government should those payments on which they depend be cut or reduced by the federal government, legislation to provide some gender neutral language for homeless shelters and  a change in regulatory language that would clarify that shelters cannot charge fees for the shelter and services, and to allow a modest increase in the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)  to 63% of the state minimum living level this year and then go up two percent each successive year until it reaches 71 percent.  Those on TCA have not seen an increase in over 15 years and are some of the neediest individuals and families in our communities. 
 
To address the potential disruption of the MAGLEV high-speed train I have three bills which attempt to address the need for public notification and transparency in the building process of infrastructure programs. One requires Counties to have agreements with municipalities should the county transfer assets or grant building permits for the construction of a high-speed transportation system, one requires Counties to have a public hearing, notify citizens and have a super-majority vote on the transfer of assets or granting of building permits. Another bill under consideration will require greater notification to the public for Public Private Partnerships involving transportation systems, as well as a state approval when more than 25% of the project is funded by a foreign entity or built with foreign owned technology. 
 
Education needs and policies:   I am proud of a bill to require additional reporting on follow up to students who fail vision and hearing screenings to assure that these children are actually receiving the necessary glasses or hearing aids to help them in learning.  Records show that in 2015-16 school year, only 34.8% of those children reported follow up medical assistance.  Another study shows that 69% of those students with an Individual Education Program (IEP) were shown to have vision impairments.  I also have several bills aimed at increasing funding levels for Prince George's County and a select number of other counties which fall below certain adequacy levels, certain counties in need of funding for Pre-K funding and funding to address school crowding issues.  Another bill would require schools to prominently post a child abuse reporting phone number.
 
For vulnerable populations : I am again introducing a bill to allow social service workers and others to file a report when they believe a threat of harm to a child is serious.  Our current law only mandates abuse reporting after the abuse has occurred.  This bill would hope to prevent tragedies before potentially deadly abuse occurs. I am also introducing a bill which would allow a family member to petition the courts for a protective order to remove a gun from an individual if he or she has demonstrated a tendency towards harm to themselves or others.  In addition, I have sponsored legislation to bring Residential Treatment Centers into the guidelines for state run Centers in regards to sexual abuse reporting requirements.  
 
Various other legislation For many years I have been fighting to see Racial Impact Statements included in our Department of Legislative Services' Fiscal Impact Analyses.  This year, I have introduced legislation which would seek to have a racial equity focus created to identify disparate impact of agency policy on youth, families and individual of color followed by strategic actions to achieve more racially equitable outcomes within the agencies of the state departments of Education, Health, Human Resources, Housing and Public Safety and Correctional Services.
 
I am introducing a bill to bring members of the Maryland National Guard under the guidelines for the Service Members Civil Relief Act when they are deployed outside of Maryland for extended periods of time.
               
And finally, I am introducing legislation to introduce guidelines for advertising regulations in the field of medical marijuana.  This legislation will address false medical claims, size and location of signs for both the brand of cannabis and location of dispensaries, and the intended age of the targets of the advertising.
 
You can see the text of these bills once they are introduced if you click on the bill under my sponsor profile here.

If the bill is not yet listed under my name as primary sponsor, it has not yet been introduced and assigned a HB number. Check back In a few weeks as most of my bills will have made it through the bill drafting process by then.
 
If I can answer any other questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact me at Geraldine.Valentino@house.state.md.us or call 301-858-3101

     If you would like to share your comments in person, please attend one of my Cider and Donuts sessions this month. I would love to meet you and hear what is on your mind. 
  
 
Tuesday February 13th   
Huntington Community Center 
13022 8th Street
Bowie, MD 20720

7:30-9:00 PM    

Wednesday February 21st
Tabernacle Church of Laurel 
11601 S. Laurel Dr.
Laurel, MD 20708
  
7:30-9:00 PM

     I hope to see you for Cider and Donuts.  Again, I am always happy to hear from my constituents at Geraldine.Valentino@house.state.md.us or call me at 301-858-3101.  It remains my privilege to represent you and as you can see, I will be very busy this session working to improve the quality of life for all in our District, County and State.

Sincerely,
Geraldine  
Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate, Maryland House of Delegates, District 23A
 

By Authority of Friends For Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Elizabeth Ryan, Treasurer