Dear Friends,   
 
     Happy New Year!  I hope you are enjoying your holidays.  As you know, January is the beginning of the new legislative term for the Maryland General Assembly. I am looking forward to getting back to work for all of you and taking on some new exciting legislative priorities.   
     I am enjoying my new position on the Appropriations Committee and in particular my seat on the Subcommittee on Health and Human Resources. I plan on introducing legislation aimed at providing cost of living increases to our neediest Maryland families and exploring additional ways to ensure that new mothers and babies have their nutritional needs met. This is one of the surest methods of helping these families thrive from the earliest days.  
 
     One of my main legislative initiatives this year will be legislation to allow families with suicidal members to obtain a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO).  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults, aged 25-34, and the tenth leading cause of all deaths among Americans. Over half of all completed suicides are with a firearm, accounting for nearly two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States, killing over 21,000 Americans each year. Those numbers are high for a simple reason: because guns are more lethal than almost any other method of self-harm, people who attempt suicide with a gun are overwhelmingly likely to die. Access to a gun is associated with a significant increase in risk of suicide. A review of fourteen studies found that household gun access triples the risk. I will be working with family members and mental health advocates to reach a solution that will hopefully begin to reduce these needless deaths.   
 
     As always, I will continue to push legislation to help improve Maryland's methods of curbing impaired driving. There are new technologies which are being developed to help in this cause but we need to get some studies underway to clarify what are the best approaches for both our police and our citizens to most effectively implement these tools.  
 
Don't Drive After Celebrating - Get a $15 coupon off LYFT  
 
In light of my efforts to strengthen our impaired driving laws, I am happy to share this reminder from WRAP, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, to call a taxi,  ride service or a friend if you have been celebrating, please don't drive while intoxicated or impaired.   SoberRide has partnered with LYFT this year to provide a safe way home for impaired drivers during high risk times of the year. Go to www.soberride.com for more information and get their $15 LYFT coupon between 8 p.m. December 15th and 4 a.m. Monday, January 1st. It is good for new and existing LYFT customers.      
 
     I will continue to stay in touch throughout the year as all legislative priorities move along this session. I value input from my constituents on what is of central importance in your lives. Please share your thoughts with me at Geraldine.Valentino@house.state.md.us on these matters or feel free to call my office at 301-858-3101.
 
     It remains my pleasure to represent you. Again, best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Sincerely,
Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
6 Bladen Street Room 427
Annapolis, MD  21401
301-858-3101/410-841-3101

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