Monday, Jan. 9 marked the first day of the Maryland General Assembly 90-day session for 2019. Three days prior to opening day of the General Assembly state district 17 representatives invited the public to meet with them at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg.
More than 150 people filled the room to hear Senator Cheryl Kagan, Delegates Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist and Julie Palakovich Carr share their priorities in the upcoming session.
Delegate Kumar Barve spoke about how he opposed tolls and the widening of Interstate 270 southbound. Although, he said, “I am okay with adding a lane in Frederick County.” He was very supportive of increasing use of electric vehicles. “We should do everything possible for electrification, adding charging stations, using electric buses and more,” he said.
Barve also stated after this past state election for governor, he would like to see candidates for governor be required to name their running mate within 14 days following the primary election.
Gilchrist spoke about his continued support for tax relief for lower income individuals and the need to lobby for more money to support Montgomery College, which he pointed out has more students than the University of Maryland.
Delegate Palakovich Carr spoke about making it easier to cast an absentee ballot and suggested changing the name to “vote by mail.” She added she wants to look at allowing unaffiliated voters to affiliate and cast a ballot during the primary election.
Palakovich Carr also spoke about her interest in creating a state task force to examine implementing Montgomery County Vision Zero to reduce severe and fatal collisions statewide. She also wanted to look at taxing Airbnbs.
Senator Kagan discussed her desire to introduce Next Generation 911 technology, pointing out that Frederick County, which is home to the Maryland School for the Deaf, is the only county with the capability to text. Next Generation 911 would allow people to send texts, videos and pictures to call-takers.
Kagan also spoke of her legislation that will allow Legal Permanent Residents who have been honorably discharged from the military to apply to be police officers.
“Veterans who have served our country should be able to continue to serve and protect their communities,” she said. She added her support for a new police station in Gaithersburg and a Styrofoam ban.
One question from the audience pertained to implementing ranked choice voting where voters would have the opportunity to rank their choices in multicandidate races. This seemed to have support from some of the state delegation.
Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, who attended the meeting, shared the city’s legislative priorities for the session with this reporter:
- Secure funding in FY20 budget for new Gaithersburg police station
- Maintain local authority over small cellular facility regulation and fees
- Amend state law to remove exemption in hotel/motel tax authorization (to apply to short term rentals, such as Airbnbs, in
- Support Montgomery County Public Schools in their efforts to bring more construction funding home to address overcapacity in city schools
Mayor Ashman added, “We believe we have a strong team representing us for the next four years. Senator Kagan has worked very closely, and effectively, with the city. As chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee, Delegate Barve is in a position to get a lot of good things done. Delegate Gilchrist has established a supporting role for Kumar and others. And our newly-elected Delegate Palakovich Carr looks like she’s focused and ready to get things done, right out of the box. I think we’re all optimistic.”
Also present at the meeting was former Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz, who was recently elected vice president of the Montgomery County Council. He said, “I am honored to have been elected vice president and am looking forward to working with the County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich.”