Friday, June 9, 2017

Hogan Vetoes Two Bills

Governor Hogan vetoes paid sick leave and ban the box legislation.

Last week Governor Hogan vetoed two important pieces of legislation that the General Assembly passed during the legislative session. 

The first bill was the Paid Sick Leave Act which  would have covered 700,000 Maryland workers.  It would have given employees in business of more than 15 people five days of paid sick leave a year.  Liz Richards, Director of Working Matters Coalition got it right when she said:  “Make no mistake – the victims of this decision are Maryland parents and children. Instead of being able to take the time they need to care for their families, these Marylanders will continue to be forced to make decisions like taking off work to visit their sick child in the hospital or paying the rent that month.”

The second bill was the Ban the Box Act.  This bill would have barred colleges in the state from asking about criminal history on admissions applications.  It is important to note that the bill would not stop colleges from doing background checks on prospective students. The legislation would have allowed colleges to reject applicants with criminal records as long as they did not “automatically or unreasonably restrict” admission based on that factor, and schools could have developed policies restricting such students from campus housing or certain academic programs, such as pharmacy studies and law enforcement.

The General Assembly will attempt to over-ride both vetoes when it goes back into session in January.

Governor Hogan Signs My Public School Employee Whistle Blower Act

Governor Hogan signed my Public Employee Whistle Blower Act (HB 1145). It protects public school employees from retaliation if they report abuses in the school system. I meet many school employees who tell me they are scared of making such reports because they feel they will be fired or suspended. Hopefully this legislation will help to improve our schools by exposing more of the problems that exist but aren't reported. Thanks to my friends at Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) for encouraging me to introduce this legislation.

Hogan signs hundreds of  other bills and allows others to pass into law without his signature

One of the most important bills authorizes state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to sue drug companies that dramatically increase the price of drugs. The anti-price-gouging measure, which is the first of its kind in the nation, is limited to generic and off-patent pharmaceuticals that are subject to “unconscionable” price increases. It allows the attorney general to take action if a manufacturer raises the cost of such drugs to a level considered unjustifiable.

Other important bills that became law without his signature were legislation to
 
     Allow pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives without a physician's prescription;
 
     Make it easier for people convicted of possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana to have their records expunged by cutting the waiting period from 10 years to four;

    Place new restrictions on the use of antibiotics in raising farm animals as part of an effort to maintain their effectiveness in treating human diseases;

     Curb the suspensions and expulsions of children in pre-K through second grade. The legislation would require schools in most cases to offer specialized treatment to young children with behavioral problems rather than to simply send them home.

Some of the 200 plus bills he signed were:

     Three bills overhauling the state's dated system for procuring goods and services

     Making it easier for divorced people to resume the use of their former names and

     Requiring schools to grant an excused absence to students who have conflicts due to pregnancy or parenting responsibilities.

     A bill (first of its kind nationally) to protect bees and other pollinators on state land.

     Amber's Law, a measure sponsored by Del. Aruna Miller, which allows domestic violence victims to ask a judge to require accused abusers to wear a GPS-tracking device to monitor compliance with protective orders.

Warning:  Road Work on MD 202 (Landover Road)

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is providing a new driving surface as part of a $2.8 million safety and resurfacing project on MD 202 (Landover Road) between US 50 and MD 450. The work also includes resurfacing of the ramps to and from MD 202 to US 50. Weather and progress permitting, the 1.6-mile project should be completed by fall.
In addition to resurfacing, which will be performed at the end of the project, SHA is:

•         Replacing damaged brick medians;
•         Constructing new sidewalks and ramps;
•         Repairing or replacing damaged concrete curb and gutter;
•         Cleaning and repairing drainage inlets and pipes;
•         Installing new guardrail; and
•         Replacing all pavement markings once all final resurfacing is completed.
 
Crews may close a single lane Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and two lanes Sundays through Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.  Additional work or lane closure times may be needed throughout the lifetime of the project to expedite work and keep the project on schedule.
Initial project activity will include daytime sidewalk ramp, curb and gutter work and overnight ramp resurfacing and ramp pavement-marking work. You are Invited to
 
My Midsummer Dinner Celebration - Tuesday, July 11th
 
Please join me and
Congressman Anthony Brown
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser
Senator Victor Ramirez
Delegates Diana Fennell and Carlo Sanchez
 

July 116 to 8 pm
Three Brothers Italian Restaurant
4521 Kenilworth Ave.,   Bladensburg, MD
 
Hear about my progress in Annapolis
Tell me about your concerns
Let me tell you about my plans for next year’s session
Meet your neighbors

 
$100 Supporter - $50 Friend
$5 for District 47 residents

Checks can be made out to:
Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, 4213 34th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712

 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hurry Up to Get State Matching Grants for College Savings – June 1 Deadline

Last year the Maryland General Assembly  passed legislation to encourage Maryland residents to use the already existing tax deductible 529 College Investment Plans.  If you set up a plan the State will add another $250 to your fund when you make a contribution of as little as a $25, depending on your annual income.  But the deadline to apply for this state grant is June 1st.  So if you are interested, you should set up a plan today and apply for a grant by June 1. If you already have a plan think of having a relative set up a plan for one of your chilrden or set one up for one of your relatives who needs savings for college in order to get the state matching grant.

Saving for college is a challenge for many families. That's why the State of Maryland and Maryland 529 want to help Maryland families through the Save4College State Contribution Program.

The Save4College State Contribution Program is designed to help lower- to middle-income families in Maryland save money for higher education. Individuals who open a new Maryland College Investment Plan (MCIP) after December 31, 2016, file an application prior June 1, 2017, and make at least the minimum contribution to the account ($25, $100, or $250, depending on income – see the table on their website) may receive a $250 contribution by the State.


How Does It Work?

To be eligible, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

The beneficiary must be a Maryland resident.  It can be for any relative (through blood or marriage).

Your Maryland taxable income cannot exceed $112,500 as an individual or $175,000 as a couple.

You must open a Maryland College Investment Plan and submit your application for the Save4College State Contribution Program and file an application prior to June 1 of each year. 
If you open a new account the initial contribution requirement will be waived, and you do not need to make a contribution at the time you open the account. You must make the minimum contribution of $25, $100, or $250, based on your household income, between July 1 and November 1.

For more information and to file an application:  https://maryland529.com/MDMatch250 . Do it today.

Filing Papers for Re-Election As A State Delegate

Filing Papers for Re-Election as a State Delegate

            Earlier this spring, Delegate Diana Fennel and I filed papers to run for re-election as State Delegates representing District 47A.  While the Democratic primary election is still over a year away, we want to let everyone know that we think we have been doing well working as a team and hope to represent the residents of District 47A for another 4 years.

            I believe I’ve done what you elected me to do: to be a voice for progressive values in the House of Delegates.  I have tried to get input from everybody (through surveys and newsletters) and to communicate to everyone what is happening in Annapolis.  I continue to walk the streets of every neighborhood in our district to tell you what I’m doing in Annapolis, find out what’s on your mind, and help with any problems you might be having. Expect to see me in your neighborhood!

            As you know, running for office requires both money and volunteers. If you would like to make a small donation, you can do that online at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/jimmy-tarlau-1, or send a check to Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, 4213 34th St., Mount Rainier, MD 20712. If you’d like to help on our campaign as we get going later this year, please send me an email and we’ll put you to work.

Governor Hogan Signs 200 Bills

         Last week Governor Hogan signed 200 bills into law.  Among the 200  bills  were more than a dozen environmental bills. A few of those bills were:
          A bill broadening and extending an existing state program giving tax credits to buyers of qualified electric cars and to businesses that install charging stations
          A bill that would jump ­start a water pollution credits trading program  with up to $10 million on pollution reduction projects.
          A bill establishing a Maryland Energy Innovation Institute on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park.
           A bill that directs the state Department of Agriculture to help farmers with research, education, technical assistance, and  to improve soil health on Maryland farms. Healthy soil captures carbon and reduces greenhouses gas emissions while producing crops with greater yields and more drought resistance.

            He also signed a bill to give the comptroller new power to seek arrest and search warrants against  preparers of fraudulent tax forms and individuals who file multiple returns under other people's names to collect their refunds.  This fraud has become an epidemic in recent years. The Comptroller has blocked $174 million in suspicious returns over the past decade but has been unable to bring the kinds of cases that would deter fraudulent filers

            He also signed Delegate Fennell’s bill that would take all unclaimed winnings at the casinos and use the funds for education instead of it going back to the casinos.
            
             The Governor vetoed a redistricting bill which would have enacted nonpartisan redistricting in the state if five nearby states also decided to do so.  Hogan believes that  a nonpartisan commission should be created to draw districts that more fairly represent the political leanings of a geographic area.  While I believe that this is a good idea I also feel that we should only do this if other states that  favor Republicans also do fair re-districting. I hope we can overturn the veto in the beginning of the next legislative session.

                We are all still waiting to see if he vetoes the paid sick leave legislation.  He has until the end of May to make that decision
 

Tax Credits for Seniors and Low-Income Families

Low-income Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit


Under this program, there’s a property tax break for people regardless of age who make less than $60,000 per year and have a net worth of less than $200,000  (not including retirement accounts or the value of your home). The amount of tax credit depends on how much property tax exceeds a certain percentage of your income. Call 800-944-7403 (Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation) for more information.

Accessibility Tax Credit 

There’s a tax credit for 50% of the cost of any permanent modifications to your home that help make the home more accessible (e.g., widening doors, installing ramps, etc.), up to $2,500.
 
Renters Tax Credit for Seniors and the Disabled 

If you rent and are over 60 or disabled, you may also be eligible for a tax credit. The tax credit requires that you make under $80,000 a year and have a net worth of less than $200,000 (including retirement accounts).  The amount of the tax credit depends on how high your rent is compared to your income. The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation has a chart showing amounts and eligibility: http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Renters'-Tax-Credits.aspx. You can call them at 800-944-7403 for more information.

Gateway Arts District Open Studios Tour

Sat May 13th – Noon to 4 PM

               
                  It’s one of my favorite days of the year: artists of the Gateway communities of Prince George’s County open their doors, and we get a glimpse of the vast creative energy around us.   The 13th annual Gateway Arts District Open Studios Tour features hundreds of artists and many galleries along the Rhode Island/Baltimore Ave. corridor, through Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood, Hyattsville, and Edmonston. It's the region's largest open studio event and your best opportunity to meet local artists. Visitors and residents get to meet the artists and view the enormous range of art work (with plenty of refreshments served along the way). From Gateway’s website:

                  The Gateway Arts District is home to hundreds of artists representing every artistic medium. On this self-guided tour, you are invited to visit over 100 participating studios, galleries, and other cultural venues for a behind-the-scenes experience. All ages are welcome, and since there is SO much to do, we recommend you look ahead and plan your tour route in advance. Be sure to join us for the After Party from 5-8pm at the Gateway Arts Center!

                   The Tour map and more information are at www.gatewayopenstudios.org.  
 
Take Pride Festival – Sat May 13th Noon – 4 PM
            Northwestern High School, 7000 Adelphi Rd, Hyattsville
                        Sponsored by County Council Member Deni Taveras
                        Interactive games for kids
                        County information for residents
                        Taste of the Gateways.

Spaces Available in Summer Arts Education Programs at Joe's Movement Emporium in Mt Rainier

The Camp Joe's program serves children ages 4 - 13 with performing arts-based learning that is diverse, inclusive, and fun. Reasonable rates and financial aid available:  www.joesmovement.org.
 

SAVE THE DATE – Tuesday, July 11th

My Midsummer Dinner Celebration

Please join me and
 

Congressman Anthony Brown
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser
Senator Victor Ramirez
Delegates Diana Fennell and Carlo Sanchez


July 11, 6 to 8 pm
Three Brothers Italian Restaurant
4521 Kenilworth Ave., Bladensburg


Hear about my progress in Annapolis
Tell me about your concerns
Let me tell you about my plans for next year’s session
Meet your neighbors

$100 Supporter - $50 Friend
$5 for District 47 residents

Checks can be made out to: 
Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, 4213 34th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712