2017 Session of the Legislature Begins

Dear Neighbors:
Thank you for the honor that you have given me to serve you in the Maryland Senate. I greatly appreciate our work together, and I welcome the opportunity to update you on our progress.
The 2017 Session of the General Assembly began this week, and I am proud to continue serving as 1 of 3 Montgomery County senators on the Budget and Taxation Committee. I am also pleased to continue serving as Senate Chair of both the Spending Affordability Committee and the AELR Committee, to be appointed to serve on the Legislative Policy Committee, and to have recently been appointed Majority Whip by the Senate President and the Majority Leader.
NEW INITIATIVES
1.       REVENGE OF THE NERDS:  there comes a time when good old nerdy wonkiness is necessary to figure out solutions to problems.  As Senate Chair of the Spending Affordability Committee which sets spending targets, I have led efforts to reign-in wildly fluctuating revenue projections which have resulted in consistent budget shortfalls under the last 2 governors. To address the harm caused by inaccurate revenue projections, we have developed a new “tool” to more conservatively project the most volatile types of revenue: capital gains and nonwithholding income tax revenue.
2.       LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE: As people live longer and healthier, Long Term Care Insurance policies are becoming necessary tools in the delivery and management of care. They are, however, extremely expensive – particularly when those policies are purchased late in life. Regardless of when they are purchased, those policies should remain insulated from enormous rate hikes. But that’s not been the case. Year after year, the Maryland Insurance Commissioner has continued to approve annual rate hikes at the maximum amount allowable rate under law: 15 percent every year. That’s why I recently wrote to the Commissioner to freeze rates, met with his agency this week, and will be introducing legislation to freeze rates despite industry threats.
3.       RELIEF FROM OUTRAGEOUS TOLLS: In recent years, my office has received calls from dozens of residents who have minor toll violations, which have compounded into thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in penalties. In many cases, those minor violations have been forwarded to the “Central Collections Unit” where assets are attached, accounts are raided, and residents are left unable to register their vehicles. It is outrageous that a $2.00 toll violation could end up destroying someone’s credit or ability to provide for their families. That’s why I have introduced bi-partisan legislation, capping penalties at 25% of the actual toll, preventing outrageous compounding of fines, and blocking any further actions by the Central Collections Unit.
OUR OFFICE
Our office works year-round to serve you and your family. In addition to our Chief of Staff Ruthie Herman and Legislative Director Katie Mullen, I am pleased to welcome law students Patrician Tuon, a District 19 resident in her third year at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and Emily Cruikshank, in her second year at the University of Baltimore School of Law. We are also pleased to be joined by Dylan Laconich, a senior at Broadneck High School, and District 19’s Senate Page, Adam Schneider.
PERSONAL NOTE
I would be remiss if I did not take this (and every) opportunity to thank you for the many prayers and well-wishes that I have received from folks over the last over the last 15 months since my Cancer surgery. Today, thankfully, I am healthy, strong, Cancer free, and extremely blessed. Please — Cancer screenings and early treatment are incredibly important, and can save your life — so get yourself and your loved-ones tested.
Throughout the 90-day legislative session, and beyond, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff if we can be of any assistance. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you in the Maryland Senate.
Sincerely at your service,