We have crossed the mid-way point in our Legislative Session of 2015. I wanted to bring you up-to-date on some of the bills I am working on for Prince George's and for Maryland. Often it takes a few years to get worthy legislation passed but it is important to begin these serious discussions.
Our County is central in all our lives. For that reason, I have introduced a few important bills to address how your money is being spent. I was proud to see that our County received the number one rating in the state for waste reduction to landfills and number two in recycling efforts. I applaud our efforts in this field and I am happy to report that my bill to require a report on how the Clean Water Fee money is being spent within the County has passed out of Delegation for the first part of the journey to becoming law. I am also proud of the many awards and accomplishments that our Park and Planning Commission has received statewide and nationwide. I am also working on an important joint effort with them to do an audit of their capital programing.
I am very happy that my efforts from the past two years to create a Task Force on School Safety has resulted in nationwide recognition for the County on the Juvenile Diversion programs from the schools. This program has resulted in a reduction of over 500 juvenile cases from the courts. This means more kids staying in school instead of ending up on a path to possible incarceration making a productive adult life that much harder to attain.
These are just a few of the County wide bills that I will continue to work on toward passage in the next few months.
Statewide, I have introduced several bills with the goal of protecting our children from abuse, a bill to help with difficult child custody issues for military members who are being deployed, as well as several victim rights bills for restitution and permanent protective orders. I am proud that I am helping to craft legislation to allow foster kids to begin a savings account with their Social Security survivor benefits which currently go to the state, and several bills to continue my fight to strengthen our state laws to prevent impaired driving while under the influence of either alcohol or marijuana.
One of the bills of which I am the proudest would require the fiscal note for all legislation to report the impact on a minority, either racial, ethnic or gender, before major changes to criminal justice policies are enacted. As a Member of the Judiciary, I see many policy changes that most likely would have been crafted in a different way had we had the facts beforehand to consider the impact these changes may have had on certain populations, in particular regarding juvenile justice policies.
Of course, along with my legislation, I remain actively involved in budget discussions with the Administration to help ensure that our County retains so many projects vital to our growth. Our top priorities remain funding for education, the new regional hospital center and the Purple Line. Please know that your Delegation is representing you well in these budget negotiations.
If you would like more information on any of these bills or any topic before us in Annapolis, please email me at Geraldine.Valentino@house.state.md.us or feel free to call my office at 301-858-3340. I value your input and opinion as I represent you. That is why I am here.
By Authorityof Friends for Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Elizabeth Ryan, Treasurer