From Delegate Virginia Clagett... ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

From Delegate Virginia Clagett...

CP is pleased to provide you with the official "wrap up" to the 2008 session from Delegate Virginia Clagett. I can personally vouch that she is one great lady, a dedicated public servant with a conscience and real concern for her constituents.

Dear Constituent:

Thank you for letting me know your views on so many and various subjects during this year’s Legislative Session. Of course the Budget is the main duty of the Legislature each year. As a result of the 2007 and 2008 sessions, we passed a balanced budget with over $1.1 billion in cuts from the general fund and nearly $1.5 million in cuts from the budget overall. With these cuts, Maryland remains a low-spending State on a per capita basis.

After enormous input from the business community, the Legislature repealed the new tax on computer services that would have come into effect July 1, 2008. That sector of our economy can continue to thrive.

In the Capital Budget our votes provided for $333 million for public school construction, $262 million for higher education facilities, $40 million for environmental programs, as well as, $107.4 million for hospitals, state health facilities, senior centers and juvenile detention facilities.

All of us have been following the drastic foreclosure and housing crisis in our state as well as the nation. We passed legislation to enhance protection for home buyers and those facing foreclosures. Maryland is widely expected to become a national model in solving this mortgage crisis.

One problem that became apparent after the session started was the inability of animal shelters to keep appropriate sedatives for animals in the euthanasia process. Several of us took the lead in restoring animal facilities’ access to those necessary, humane drugs.

As you know, I am on the Environmental Matters Committee and have devoted most of my career to addressing environmental issues. This year was no exception, and the environment faired quite well. The 20 year old Critical Areas legislation got a strong boost and very much needed regulatory enhancement with HB 1253. The buffer zone was increased from 100’ to 200’ and criminal and civil penalties were appropriately increased among other measures.

The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund (HB 369/SB 213) provided the framework for allocating $25 million to control non-point source pollution including projects to 1. enhance agricultural best management practices, 2. address urban and suburban stormwater methods, 3. achieve sustainable forest management and 4. help wetland and stream restoration.

Many energy bills passed that set a goal to reduce statewide energy use 15% by 2012 and to increase the amount of renewable energy sold in Maryland. The settlement between the State and Constellation energy will provide nearly $2 billion in rate relief to customers l. by providing $187 million in rate relief in a one-time $170 refund to 1.1 million ratepayers. Based on projected rates for the coming year, this equates to over a 10% reduction on the total annual bill for more than 50% of all BGE customers. 2. by eliminating a $1.5 billion consumer obligation for the cost of de-commissioning Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and 3. by protecting $346 million in credits to ratepayers the Legislature secured during the 2006 Special Session.

With regard to social issues, HB 40, providing for flexible leave for working families, passed. Domestic partners will be able to make medical and burial decisions for each other, and they will also have the same tax benefits as married people when transferring property.

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 which aimed to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and by 90% by 2050 was killed in the Economic Matters Committee. The push to reduce emissions will be back next year. This is a critical issue, and these goals are realistic and attainable.

Again thank you for your input. You do have an impact on your government, and we need your thoughts.


Virginia P. Clagett


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