Bevins on results of Victory Villa boundary study

(Updated 6/15/17)

- By Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6) -

As part of the $1.3 billion Baltimore County Public School (BCPS) Schools for our Future initiative, a new 700 seat Victory Villa Elementary school is being constructed in Middle River and will be completed and open for the 2018-2019 school year. The goal of the Schools for our Future initiative is to address the issue of increasing enrollment at county schools and to improve existing facilitates.

Pursuant to the Board of Education of Baltimore County Policy 1280, BCPS conducts a boundary study whenever a new school is built. In January 2017, BCPS established a Boundary Study Committee to oversee the process of drawing boundaries for the new Victory Villa Elementary School. The 34 member committee was comprised of principals, teachers, and parents of the schools affected by the study. Those schools included; Victory Villa, Glenmar, Hawthorne, Martin Boulevard, Middlesex, Orems, Shady Spring and Vincent Farm Elementary Schools.

The Boundary Committee met several times over the past few months and my office and I monitored and attended those meetings. The Committee also made available an online comment section where parents could voice their thoughts and concerns.

After considering several boundary options the Committee voted to recommend Option D-1 to the School Board for approval. The Board voted to accept Option D-1 with two recommended amendments. The first amendment restores Planning Block 25 to the Orems Elementary School boundary. This amendment ensures that all current Orems Elementary School students remain at Orems. The second amendment restores Planning Block 38 to the Shady Spring Elementary School boundary.

I want to commend and express my gratitude to all of the stakeholders in this process for their dedication and commitment to the children of the Sixth District.

As a member of the Baltimore County Council, I have no authority over the policy decisions of the School Board or BCPS. The decision to draw and approve school boundary lines is left to the School Board. The County Council has the authority only to approve or reject the BCPS budget.

However, as your councilwoman, I advocate strongly on your behalf to the school board and other BCPS officials. In the last few years my vocal advocacy on behalf of Baltimore County’s Sixth District has resulted in air conditioning being installed at all schools and new schools are being built to meet the growing population of the county. During this process, I have listened to the concerns of parents, communities, and students and discussed those concerns with the school board and school officials.

Particularly, I have advocated that the boundary for the new Victory Villa School not disrupt community schools where a majority if not all the students walk to school. Breaking up these community schools is the wrong approach to take when drawing school boundaries. I am happy that after listening to the concerns of parents that the Board voted to keep the Orems community intact.

While I have limited authority over the school board, I do respect their transparency and the process. I will continue to advocate on behalf of the students of the Sixth District to ensure that they receive the best education possible.

Creating safer, better schools means safer, better students

(Updated 6/13/17)

- By Councilman Todd K. Crandell, State Senator Johnny Ray Salling and delegates Bob Long, Ric Metzgar and Robin Grammer -

This week marks the end of the Baltimore County Public Schools 2016-17 school year. We are so proud of our local high school graduates, the millions of dollars in scholarships they have earned, as well as their many academic, athletic and humanitarian achievements. We are equally proud of the students throughout the BCPS system who contribute positively to their school community.

As the elected leaders of Dundalk, Essex, Rosedale and Edgemere, we must, however, express our deep concerns regarding school safety, student behavior and discipline. Since we took office in 2014, there have been many incidents throughout our district - in elementary, middle and high schools - that include criminal violence, bullying and other forms of harassment that have no place in our schools. That trend continued to the end of this school year, with numerous reports and complaints from parents, leaving us troubled by the seeming lack of consistency, consequences and sound disciplinary policy.

No child should be fearful of attending school or have the behavior of others affect their learning environment and experience. When a child misbehaves, there should be quick, decisive and consistent discipline. In our many discussions with teachers and parents, we are learning that the opposite is the case. What exactly are we teaching our children when there are little to no consequences of their actions? Current policy is setting children up for major failure as they mature into adulthood believing that society will look the other way when they do wrong. We are strongly advocating to both the incoming interim superintendent, and the Board of Education for a change in policy and practices.

Most immediately, the Board should conduct a public hearing as soon as possible so parents can be heard. The Board needs to hear what we as elected representatives are hearing. This discussion should continue throughout the summer so schools can plan now in order to address students and parents when doors reopen in the fall. A letter requesting such a public hearing has also been sent to the Board.

Secondly, we encourage our schools’ leadership to find new ways to engage parents and guardians. The success of a school is directly proportional to parental involvement. Parents and guardians should understand the expectations of them and their children, and also know that bad behavior which disrupts or jeopardizes the safety of others will be met with serious consequences.

For all of the greatness and promise we see in our youth, we strongly believe our school system is in need of a disciplinary policy overhaul and a better enforcement model. What has been described to us as “sweeping it under the rug so the numbers look better” is not sound policy, especially when the safety of both students and faculty is clearly at risk.

As always, please contact us to weigh in on this or any other issue.

County announces Joppa Road water project

(Updated 6/13/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

This month, the Baltimore County Department of Public Works will initiate a $3 million project to replace the water line on Joppa Road between Walther Boulevard and Belair Road. The current water line extends for 7,000 feet, and it has experienced numerous problems with age. This pipe will be replaced with a new, 12-inch diameter line.

The water main will be placed down the center of the road, limiting disturbance to traffic going in both directions. The county has prepared plans for this project that direct the contractor to set up traffic control in a safe manner that provides for ingress and egress in all directions. Resurfacing will restore the disturbed area
to preexisting, if not better, conditions.

The project will last nearly a year. I have raised concerns about the length and complexity of this project and have been told that work will largely be done between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to limit disruptions.

I know this is will be a headache for many commuters. I drive this route nearly every day. But there is no easy way to build these public works projects, and I hope that the disturbances will be limited to non-peak travel hours.

For more information, contact the Department of Public Works at​ There were no community meetings before this project was announced by the county executive’s office through the county newsletter.

The violence needs to stop in our schools

The violence needs to stop in our schools

(Updated 6/12/17)

- By Delegate Bob Long (R-6) -

I was honored to attend many BCPS events such as graduations throughout the Sixth District. I heard many good stories throughout the BCPS school year, but I have also heard some disturbing and frightening news.

I have received many messages from parents from several Baltimore County Public Schools in my district about violence in our schools. I have heard some bad stories in some Sixth District schools and throughout all of Baltimore County. I'm very concerned about the alarming amount of incidents.

It makes me wonder why BCPS Superintendent Dallas Dance is stepping down at the end of the month. Has he been aware of these incidents and could this be a reason for his resignation? I question if some of the BCPS policies in place have escalated these incidents.

As elected officials, we must work together to ensure that these matters are addressed. Disruptive students are depriving other students of their education. I believe that a direct and strict approach to disruptive students would be most effective, teaching them that bad behavior is not acceptable and they must be responsible for their actions.

As a member of the Ways and Means committee in the House of Delegates, I have seen firsthand how liberals want to pass these policies that coddle these troublemakers. Just “talking to” a disruptive student is not the answer. We need to go back to a common-sense, “zero tolerance” approach.

If a student commits a crime and/or brings a weapon to school, that student needs to be expelled. And no, we don’t need to kick out a kindergartener for holding a Pop-Tart that “looks like” a gun either. Again, it is about common sense.

The key to a safe society is to teach our youth discipline while they are young or they will continue to go down the wrong track. It is time as a society to teach our kids responsibility and help them become productive members of society.

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Politicians and crime: Here we go again!

(Updated 6/12/17)

- By Del. Pat McDonough (R-7) -

I recently wrote an article about how decisions by politicians have an impact on public safety. I pointed out the abolition of the death penalty, appointment of judges, sentencing guidelines, the construction of prisons and other key points all based on decisions made by politicians. There are two terrible examples that just occurred to help make my point.

The terrible shootout in Dundalk by a man who attempted a robbery and then decided to take on the police in a gunfight was another repeat offender that should have been in prison and not in a quiet neighborhood in eastern Baltimore County. The reason this violent thug was able to commit this tragic act is because Maryland politicians passed early release laws. Former Governor Martin O’Malley’s gun control act also had no impact on restraining the shooter.

A second example of politicians acting in a way that will put citizens in harm’s way is the Baltimore County Council’s failure to pass the “287(g) Anti-Criminal Immigrant Bill.” This proposal would have established a more effective way of deporting criminal illegals. These criminal illegals, in most cases, are related to gangs that promote the exploding Mexican heroin epidemic in Baltimore County. The 287(g) law would have been helpful. Any Baltimore County Council member who voted against the 287(g) Bill and claims to want to fight the heroin problem is a hypocrite. They are now part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Three cheers for Councilmen Crandell and Kach, who sponsored and voted for the 287(g) bill. They are heroes and the kind of politicians we need to truly fight crime.

Weapons in the Baltimore County school system

(Updated 6/5/17)

- By Del. Pat McDonough (R-7) -

It has been brought to my attention that an alarming increase in weapons incidents have occurred in Baltimore County Public Schools in the past two years. According to Fox 45 News, in a special report, there has been a 35-percent increase during that time period. This percentage translates into 311 weapons incidents. In Baltimore City, which has a much higher and serious crime problem than Baltimore County, there were 329 incidents. At the present rate of increase, the county will surpass the city this year. This situation does not make sense considering the problems confronting Baltimore City.

To make matters worse, the reporters at Fox 45 were told by Dr. Dallas Dance that there are no specific statistics or data available regarding the details of these incidents. For example, was there a firearm, knife or something else involved in an incident? I believe these facts are important in order to develop a strategy or policy that can reduce or prevent this growing problem. It would seem impossible to create an answer to this problem without knowing all of the details.

I believe there may also be a violation of state law if the firearm incidents are not officially reported to law enforcement for investigation and possible prosecution. This problem goes beyond a school responsibility and into the arena of public safety. If a tragedy occurred tomorrow and a child was seriously injured or lost their life in Baltimore County, it would become front page news. The citizens, parents, teachers and other children would want to know - and deserve to know - what the responsible public officials have been doing about this problem. At this point, based on what Dr. Dallas Dance is telling news reporters, nothing in terms of discovery or investigation has been initiated.

I am forwarding a letter to the Attorney General requesting his opinion on this matter. I am asking the Baltimore County Police Department to conduct an investigation into why there is not a serious attempt to address a dangerous situation that appears to be growing worse. I will be researching through the attorneys in the legislative bill office as to whether or not legislation is required to resolve this situation. I will continue to monitor this serious problem and work to develop a solution to protect our children.

Del. McDonough is a declared candidate for Baltimore County Executive in 2018.

Super Track would save racetrack and Preakness

(Updated 5/22/17)

- By Del. Pat McDonough (R-7) -

There is a dark cloud hanging over Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness Classic. The odds of the track and Preakness leaving Baltimore are growing every day. Political leadership is the only remedy that can solve the problem. The governor has finally started to stir, Mayor Pugh is concerned, Speaker Busch wants to negotiate and the legislators are roaming aimlessly around the infield. Before the Mayflower moving van starts turning on its engines, someone had better advance an idea or solution.

As a state legislator, I believe it would be inappropriate to drop one taxpayer dollar into a rehabilitation of the current Pimlico Race Course at its present location. Its owner, Mr. Stronach, and his organization appear to have the same viewpoint.

The budget crunchers are speculating about a $400 million - $500 million investment. I do not believe any bank, investment group or bonding package would support that kind of financial outlay to renovate a lost cause. With a structural budget deficit and educational needs, state taxpayers are in no position to contribute their hard-earned dollars.

We need a bold solution. The Inner Harbor, Harbor East, Camden Yards and many other projects were bold and successful. I propose the creation of a Super Track which is the combination of a horse racing facility, theaters, restaurants, hotel and maybe even a new Baltimore Arena. This complex would be a united package attractive to investments because of its guaranteed success. The Race Track segment would be saved for eternity because the combined revenues would underwrite and sustain the Super Track.

This entertainment complex and tourist attraction would boost Baltimore’s image to a new level. The new Super Track could be used for other events and would probably become the most advanced, state-of-the-art venue in the horse racing industry and in the entire nation. The Super Track, because it is bold, exciting and financially viabile, would attract private investment.

The political leadership and private sector must come together immediately to find land and propose an idea. My idea is a suggestion; it may not be perfect. At least it is an attempt to take action before it is too late.

The nagging question is, what do we do with the current Pimlico Race Course site? The answer is simple - create jobs. Transform the grounds into a job enterprise zone that will provide job training and work opportunities. Utilizing federal, state and city funding, plus private commitment before the shovel hits the dirt, will inspire the community to be encouraged about future economic growth. In the long view, jobs are more important to the area. It is time to cease the hand wringing and build a solution. Build it, they will come, horse racing and the Preakness will survive!

Crandell issues statement on 287(g), immigration bill

Crandell issues statement on 287(g), immigration bill

(Updated 5/16/17)

- By Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7) -

An elected official's first duty is to public safety. Today, there are very real threats to our communities in the form of criminal illegal immigrants who not only disregarded our laws by crossing the border at least once, but continue their criminal behavior and are now incarcerated in our county detention center. They are simply awaiting release back into our communities without local authorities taking direction from federal immigration officials on their immigration status.

As a legislator, in a nation of laws, I find this situation unacceptable.

On Sept. 11, 2001, we all witnessed what happens when our laws are disregarded and the absence of communication between law enforcement agencies allows those who would harm us to carry out their plans. In this age of technology and criminal information databases, we cannot accept the idea of dangerous illegal immigrants being released back into our communities to continue to practice their criminal lifestyles.

A proven federal program already exists which is designed to assist our county detention center, share information and prevent these criminals from returning to our neighborhoods, and I am proud to put forth legislation that would require the Baltimore County Detention Center to participate.

In 1996, Congress passed The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which added Section 287(g). This program allowed local law enforcement to enter into agreements with the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and carry out delegated Immigration law enforcement duties after proper training and under supervision of ICE.

Today, there are 37 active detention model 287(g) programs in 16 states, including Harford and Frederick counties. Anne Arundel county has also applied. Between 2006 and September 2015, these programs have identified more than 400,000 criminal aliens for possible deportation.

It is time for us to bring the program to the Baltimore County Detention Center. My bill, 32-17, will require the detention center to take part in 287(g). The costs are minimal, and ICE pays for all training and equipment. A handful of our best correctional officers could be trained to identify criminal illegal immigrants as part of the work they already do.

This solution isn't about politics, parties or rhetoric. It is common sense public safety. Make your voice heard by the County Council at A public hearing will be held on this bill at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, in the old Towson Courthouse building. The vote follows on Monday, June 5, at 6 p.m.

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Budget Request pushes education, infrastructure and recreational projects

Budget Request pushes education, infrastructure and recreational projects

(Updated 5/15/17)

- By County Executive Kevin Kamenetz -

I recently submitted the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget to the County Council for review. I wanted to share several initiatives in this proposal.

For the 29th consecutive year, the county is not proposing to increase the property tax rate, and, for the 25th year, we are not increasing the income tax rate. Baltimore County continues to maintain the highest of bond ratings and is one of the best fiscally managed counties in the country.

As reflected in my previous six budget proposals, education is the number-one priority in this budget. For some perspective, over 60 percent of the county budget goes towards public schools, community colleges and our public libraries. Education highlights in this budget include:
  - new middle school for the northeast area
  - addition for Pine Grove Middle School
  - speeding up funding for new schools at Berkshire, Colgate,            and Dundalk Elementary so they will open sooner
  - $2.2 million for a new roof at Loch Raven High School
  - $46 million project at Patapsco High School and Center for          the Arts
  - funding for a new $60 million Health Center and Technology            Building for the Community College of Baltimore County,            Essex Campus.

We also continue our push to install air conditioning in our schools. As you may know, after this fall, only 13 schools will not have air conditioning, down from 90 when I took office.

I have also included funding in this budget to highlight our beautiful waterfront, open space and recreation facilities. This year, we are proposing several important projects, including:
  - $4.5 million to dredge Bird River
  - $800,000 new turf field for Perry Hall High School’s stadium
  - $500,000 for a new turf field inside Northeast Regional                      Community Center
  - $500,000 for a capital project at Double Rock Park
  - $1 million for ball diamond upgrades throughout the county
  - $1 million for natural turf field replacements around the county

We also continue to invest in our critical infrastructure and ensure our communities are safe. This budget includes:
  - $470 million in the capital budget to replace and upgrade our          water and sewer systems
  - $38 million for road resurfacing projects
  - $4.3 million to ensure all of our police officers have body                  cameras
  $27 million for a new emergency communication system

It is also important to note that crime is down 8 percent since 2009, and our police department’s case clearance rates are better than state and national averages.

Also, since 2010, our unemployment rate has been cut in half. That translates into 26,000 more county residents now working.

As I mentioned in my budget message, we are committed to keeping Baltimore County a welcoming place for everyone… a place where people want to live.

Thank you, and as always, please feel free to contact my office if you need any assistance.

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Crime and Politicians

Crime and Politicians

(Updated 5/15/17)

- By Del. Pat McDonough (R-7) -

Whenever a tragedy occurs and another innocent victim of crime is created, an outraged public always cries out for more police. Unfortunately, this is the wrong response. Allow me to expose to you a dark and well-kept secret. The reason for a continuing and an expanding cycle of violent crime can be laid at the doorstep of politicians.

The governor and the Maryland General Assembly are the top law enforcement officials in our state. They are responsible for creating criminal laws, prison construction, sentencing guidelines, parole, probation, capital punishment, juvenile justice and public safety in general. It is a complex system which the general public has a difficult time understanding. It is easier to demand that we need more police than it is to force the governor and the General Assembly to provide the police and prosecutors with the laws they need. Moreover, other elected officials or politicians like the mayor, states’ attorney, attorney general and others contribute to the problems.

Let me provide you with a list of examples. The Mayor of Baltimore recently stated, “We cannot arrest our way out of this murder and violence crisis.” The Mayor is wrong. The last time the city had less than 200 murders, there were 65,000 arrests made by police. In the last three years, more than 300 homicides averaged a year in Baltimore, while the average arrest rate by police was less than 25,000 annually. The link between arrests and murder is clear. Furthermore, it was revealed the mayor’s crime office was in disarray and not functioning. This is another indication of how politicians, through poor judgment, contribute to the crime problem.

The States’ Attorney of Baltimore City, Marilyn Mosby, issued a directive to the police that they should not arrest illegal immigrants for so-called minor crimes. The justification for this unconstitutional edict is that President Trump would use the arrests as an excuse to deport them. So if you are an American citizen and commit a minor crime in Baltimore, you will be arrested. Obviously, this is a double standard and certainly not equal enforcement under the law.

The city's delegation to Annapolis are leading advocates for confiscating firearms from innocent citizens. Everyone is aware of the epidemic of gun violence in Baltimore City. Criminals are arrested everyday for using a gun in the commission of a crime, but city judges dismiss the firearm mandatory sentencing laws. This practice sends a message to the criminal community: use a gun and you will receive a free pass. When analyzing the murder and violent incidents in Baltimore City, the political decisions made by elected representatives must be considered.

Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, has become a major contributor to the crime problem. Mr. Frosh recently issued an opinion that the bail system in our state was unconstitutional. The conclusion was supported by the chief judge of the District Court which resulted in a practical elimination of bail required by those committing criminal acts. This decision by the attorney general and chief judge resulted in a skyrocketing number of criminal offenders being released into the streets without bail. The public was put at risk by a policy that was never reviewed by the people’s representatives in Annapolis. When the bail issue finally came before the Senate and House, they dropped the ball and made no decision, which means more criminals in our neighborhoods.

The most serious problem, in my opinion, is the attitude of the Maryland General Assembly regarding crime and public safety. The body is dominated by senators and delegates who are criminal advocates. Legislation that benefits criminals is constantly being brought to the floor for review and action. Legislation ranging from abolition of capital punishment to voting rights of convicted felons and reduced sentencing are passed into law. Crime problems and public safety remain in the shadows, forgotten and ignored. Proposals that promote public safety are regularly killed in committee.

There is a ray of hope at least at the federal level with new Attorney General Jeff Sessions who has issued a “tough-on-crime” policy. The new guidelines will mandate that federal prosecutors across the country will seek the most serious sentencing requirements under the law. The Obama administration, under former Attorney General Eric Holder, sought to reduce sentencing, especially on drug-related offenses. This policy of leniency resulted in a drop of prosecutions for drug offenses.

Why is all this happening at a time when the nation is experiencing an increase in violent crime and drug addiction, especially heroin? First, those advocacy groups that support criminal offenders’ rights and benefits are well financed and are large in numbers. They are constantly lobbying and putting pressure on politicians to promote their cause. Crime victim groups are rare and less vocal. The general public does not understand the complex criminal justice system and how the politicians are manipulating that system against the people’s best interests. The press and media do not pursue in-depth studies related to the reasons for the crime and drug dilemma. Big city newspaper editors generally support so-called liberal “soft-on-crime” agendas. This article would horrify them and they would dismiss it as “racist” or a failed policy of the past. They would be wrong and “lives that matter” will continue to become victims.

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Delegate Miele to hold town hall on crime prevention

(Updated 5/11/17)

- By Del. Christian Miele (R-8) -

During the recent legislative session, I sent out a constituent survey to find out which issues were most important to northeastern Baltimore County residents. I can't say that I was surprised to learn that the uptick in property crime was the top concern in our district.

We choose to live in Baltimore County because it offers great schools and a high quality of life, and because the neighborhoods here have always provided a safe place to raise a family.

Crime can disrupt these expectations, degrade property values and drive people away from their homes. We've got to address this issue head-on.

That's why I hope you'll join me, Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Schellenberger, and Captains Stephen Troutman and Christopher Kelly of the Baltimore County Police Department at the Parkville Senior Center, 8601 Harford Road in Parkville, on May 17 to learn how we can come together as a community to make sure that Baltimore County continues to be an ideal place to live, work and raise a family. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.

Let's send a message that crime has no place here.

To RSVP, email

Message from Councilwoman Bevins

(Updated 5/4/17)

- By Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6) -

On April 13 County Executive Kevin Kamentez presented the Baltimore County Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget to the County Council. Over the month of May the Council will hold hearings with the various county agencies and departments to ensure proper oversight of the county’s spending priorities and that the FY 2018 budget is one that serves all the residents of Baltimore County.

The $3.15 billion budget presented by Kamenetz is in balance. The budget retains spending to the Council’s affordability guidelines, does not include any increase of the property tax rate or the income tax rate, and the county will maintain its Triple AAA bond rating. Funding for public schools, libraries and the Community College of Baltimore County accounts for $1.9 billion - or 60.4 percent - of the entire budget. The budget allocates $212 million for infrastructure improvements across the county and $38 million for road resurfacing, including $7.1 million for the roads in the Sixth District.

Prior to announcing the FY 2018 Budget, I presented the Sixth District priorities to the county executive for his consideration. Those priorities included: requesting that the administration invest in the installation of artificial turf fields at Overlea High School, ensuring the county keep its commitment to the Bird River dredging project, provide $250,000 in matching funds to meet the state’s efforts to make improvements to Double Rock Park and requesting the administration continue Maintenance of Effort funding for the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy.

While not all of my priorities were included in the proposed budget, the FY 2018 budget does provide many positive initiatives for the Sixth District. The budget allocates $800,000 for new turf fields at Perry Hall High School and $500,000 for indoor turf at the Northeast Regional Recreation Center. Money has been set aside for the planning and design of a new 1,500-seat middle school in the north east area, $60 million for a new Health Center and Technology Building at CCBC Essex, new chillers to improve the air conditioning systems at Shady Spring Elementary and McCormick Elementary, and funds for new sidewalks at Chase Elementary. Golden Ring Middle will have a new elevator installed, Vincent Farm Elementary will construct an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp and Orems Elementary has been allocated $312,000 for a new parking lot. The Parkville Senior Center will receive $1 million for a new heating and cooling system, and the Rosedale Senior Center and Lorley Community Center have received funding for the construction of new roofs.

The Sixth District is a large and diverse district and I am happy to report that the FY 2018 county budget includes many initiatives for the schools, senior centers and roads in our communities. I look forward to working with the county executive and the administration over the next couple of weeks as we work toward a budget that is responsive to the needs of Baltimore County.

Baltimore County’s nightmare is over

McDonough comments on resignation of BCPS superintendent

- By Delegate Pat McDonough (R-7) -

Finally, Dallas Dance is gone and our children will have the opportunity to learn again. Dallas Dance’s assault on our children’s education has finally come to an end. Frankly, it should have been ended five years ago. The damage he has done with his policies and social engineering was a disservice to our children. His most egregious action of all was his forcing of the Common Core curriculum upon the children of Baltimore County and excluding parents from having a voice in the education of their children. The disaster he caused at Hereford High School is an example.

Regretfully, we paid this man $287,000 this year ($275,000 per year previously) and he divided our communities and delivered poor results. We are a county populated by working families that should not be compelled to pay an excessive salary and benefits like Dance received. I am thrilled he is gone, even though it took far too long.

We need to replace him with an educator who is committed to removing Common Core, putting more of our tax dollars directly into the classroom, upgrading our school facilities and constructing new schools that are needed. We need to demand accountability from our next superintendent before he or she is hired.

My major concern is the “Golden Parachute” Dallas Dance may receive because of his unexpected resignation. I believe his departure is a violation of his contract and he should not be rewarded. Moreover, until the citizens and taxpayers are provided with the full truth regarding this matter, even his salary should be withheld.

It is important that we proceed with caution and understand the philosophy of the next superintendent. The selection process should be deliberate and involve public hearings in communities throughout the county.

The permanent superintendent should not be selected until the new Baltimore County School Board is elected in November 2018. The “lame duck” board should not be provided with the authority to determine the new superintendent because some of them were responsible for sticking us with Dallas Dance.

I filed a successful ethics complaint against Dallas Dance related to Dance’s income and activities outside the Baltimore County school system. The ethics commission agreed with my assertions and concluded that Dance had committed violations based on my complaint. It was my hope that more elected officials would have joined me in my efforts to remove Dallas Dance from office. Hopefully, they will join me in the future in my efforts to create a deliberative and community involved process in the selection of the new permanent Baltimore County schools superintendent.

Del. McDonough has declared as a candidate for Baltimore County Executive in 2018.

Grammer to school board: Scrap proposed Orems, Victory Villa boundary changes

(Updated 5/1/17)

Board of Education Members,

I write this open letter with regard to the Orems/Victory Villa Boundary Study.

Over the last several decades, southeastern Baltimore County has suffered continual political initiatives to divide, deconstruct, isolate and segregate our communities. As proposed, the current boundary proposals only divide our communities and our people.

Since early this year, I have received feedback from parents and community members regarding these proposals. Every single piece of feedback has voiced overwhelming opposition to every proposal. Not one person supported of any of the proposals.

None of these proposals mitigate the displacement of students. None of these proposals keep the students of these communities together. None of these proposals decrease transportation needs for these students. None of the suggestions that the community put forward seem to be included in any proposal.

It would be a huge disservice to these communities if we forced children in the same neighborhood to attend different schools. I urge you to continue to work with these communities until their concerns have been addressed. Until that time, I urge you to scrap the various proposals that will most certainly divide and isolate these students.

Delegate Robin Grammer
Representing Maryland’s Sixth Legislative District

Marks helps pass incentives to market abandoned Mars site

(Updated 5/1/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

​At its meeting on Monday, May 1, the Baltimore County Council passed legislation that modifies the boundaries of the Perry Hall commercial revitalization district to include the former Mars supermarket site.

I sponsored the legislation, and I hope the designation will help better market the site.

Baltimore County's commercial revitalization program provides tax incentives and technical assistance to property owners in distressed areas. In talking to realtors, I believe this designation may help attract new tenants to the Mars supermarket location.

I also sponsored the original legislation creating the Perry Hall commercial revitalization district in 2011. Since that time, the occupancy rate at the Perry Hall Square Shopping Center has climbed from about 60 percent to more than 90 percent.

'GO' Bonds - tax dollars improving the community

'GO' Bonds - tax dollars improving the community

(Updated 5/1/17)

- By Del. Eric Bromwell (D-8) -

General Obligation ("GO") bonds are our tax dollars working to improve our communities. During the General Assembly session, these bonds are issued upon request by members of the legislature to be used in the construction, expansion, repair or capital equipping of a specified facility.

I sponsored House Bill 1527, which provides $250,000 in GO bonds to Baltimore County and demands a hard match of funds. GO bonds often demand either a "hard" or "soft" match. A hard match means the recipient of the bonds would have to provide a dollar-for-dollar match of the state funds. A soft match is any other kind of match, such as in-kind contributions of materials or construction services. A grant means that no match is demanded. The $250,000 is to be used by Baltimore County for the acquisition, planning and site improvement of Double Rock Park. Anyone who knows or has visited Double Rock Park knows that it is a tremendous asset to the community, and I am happy to report that the project is already under way!

House Bill 301, which I co-sponsored, provides for $75,000 in GO bonds and also demands a hard match of funds. The funds are to be used by the Board of Directors of the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. for the acquisition, planning, design, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company building. This is a vital improvement long overdue and a wise investment for the state and Baltimore County's safety. The station, which serves White Marsh, Rosedale and the surrounding areas, is in the process of moving. Our friends at General Motors/Allison Transmission in White Marsh were kind enough to donate the land for this project. Timing of this bond money was critical, and we worked in a bipartisan fashion to secure this funding in the 2017 session.

I also co-sponsored House Bill 904, which provides $250,000 in GO bonds and requires a hard match of funds from Baltimore County. The $250,000 is to be used by the Board of Directors of the Perry Hall High School Athletic Booster Club, Inc. for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of an artificial turf field at the Perry Hall High School Stadium. As I stated in my remarks at the bill hearings, “this is my home field. This is where I learned to play baseball and football, so bringing this field to Perry Hall is very important to me.”

In an arena that can often be very partisan (particularly as we approach another gubernatorial election), the Eighth Legislative District again stood apart from the partisan fight in Annapolis. I am proud to have worked across the aisle with my two republican district-mates, as well as Senator Kathy Klausmeier, in order to get these important projects funded in our communities.

Please do not hesitate to contact me on these or any other issues of concern to you. Your input is crucial to enabling me to bring your voice to Annapolis. As always, I encourage and welcome your input.

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Senator Johnny Ray Salling named to Comptroller Franchot's 'Reform on Tap' task force

Senator Johnny Ray Salling named to Comptroller Franchot's 'Reform on Tap' task force

Senator Johnny Ray Salling issued the following statement on Wednesday, April 26:

“I am honored to have been named to Comptroller Franchot’s 'Reform on Tap' task force. The goal of the task force is to find ways to innovate Maryland’s beer laws so that we can compete with other states. I am looking forward to working to get meaningful reforms that will benefit the beer industry in Maryland!”

Dutch presents new flag to Middle River senior center

Dutch presents new flag to Middle River senior center

U.S. Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger visited the Victory Villa Senior Center in Middle River on Thursday, April 20, to present them with a new flag for the center.

According to Ruppersberger's director of communications, Jaime Lennon, VVSC reached out to the congressman's office for help in obtaining a new flag for the center.

"The senior center called our office asking for help getting a new U.S. flag for the center and we went ahead and had it flown over the U.S. Capitol first," Lennon explained.

Victory Villa Senior Center now has a brand new flag which is certified to have flown over Washington, D.C. Pictured above is Ruppersberger with the flag and members of the center.

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Delegate Ric Metzgar's 2017 wrap-up

(Updated 4/19/17)

- By Del. Ric Metzgar (R-6) -

It is with pure delight that I communicate with you my report and experience of the  437th convention of the Maryland General Assembly. This year’s session has had its fair share of ups and downs for Maryland. I am proud to admit that this past 90 days has been an honor to serve and represent Legislative District 6 for our great state of Maryland. I am also sincere when I say that I have and will always continue to support and fight for legislation to make government smaller and to award more liberties to the individual.

This year I sponsored four bills personally, one of which passed and will directly make a positive impact to the community of Edgemere and Shiloh Baptist Church. I also co-sponsored over 120 bills with other colleagues. My efforts here have been to develop solutions to problems using fairness, diplomacy and bipartisanship. The content of bills I have supported this year address the issues posed by criminal enterprise of opioids and the residual effects this epidemic has had on our neighborhoods and homes. Legislation that I also supported was aimed at fixing our public education system, which is faced with overcrowding and quality standards declining. I especially take every opportunity I can to vote towards the betterment that we owe our senior and military retirees who paved the way. Having said that, my personally sponsored bill statuses are as follows.

House Bill 368: “Howard’s Law” was one of four bills I sponsored. The purpose of this bill was to repeal annual fees to current active-duty and reserve military service members, honorably or medically retired military retirees, and senior citizens age 65 or older. HB 368 received an unfavorable report from the Environment and Transportation Standing Committee when the Department of Natural Resources issued an informative letter in the hearing. The letter informed that the fiscal note attached to this bill had an unknown impact if passed claiming it would negatively impact DNR’s funding by eliminating federal funding that is matched per individual license sale. After the hearing, an opportunity to save this bill was offered by way of two amendments that were submitted. The first amendment motioned to significantly discount instead of completely repeal and the second amendment was to only include fishing licenses, but neither was accepted by DNR. Howard’s Law received an unfavorable report by the committee. Even though Howard’s Law was stopped after numerous attempts to save this bill, House Bills 4 and 68 passed through which award similar provisions for 100 percent disabled military service members, Purple Heart Award recipients and former American prisoners of war.

House Bill 643: This is a follow-up to House Bill 898, the property tax credit from last year’s session that I sponsored. HB 898 was approved by Governor Hogan on May 10, 2016. This legislation's purpose was to offer a maximum credit of 20 percent of the county or municipal corporation property tax to senior citizens and military retirees who have resided in the same dwelling for 40 years or more by June 30, 2016, for five consecutive years. HB 643 was put in place this year to open qualifications to those who have lived in the same county instead of dwelling. The bill was heard in the Ways and Means and was not communicated after the hearing due to a number of tax bills that were not heard this year.

House Bill 372: Public Schools - Voluntary Nonsectarian Prayer at School-Sponsored Student Events is a reintroduction from last year. HB 372 requires county boards of education to allow nonsectarian student-initiated voluntary prayer during mandatory and voluntary school-sponsored student events, providing that the act does not diminish rights of individuals relating to free speech and the free exercise of religion providing that the exercise of rights may not be construed as a specified support. During the hearing, the ACLU opposed HB372 in the Ways and Means Committee and it was given an unfavorable report. I promise to reintroduce this bill again next year. I believe prayer does wonderful things for Maryland legislators in the General Assembly every morning when we convene. I am certain that prayer can make a tremendous impact in the lives of students who live in our communities.

In conclusion, I have again met resistance to the bills I submit, but I will continue to reintroduce them. I may not always submit popular issues to politicians in Annapolis, but what legislation I bring to the capital is important to the constituents of District 6. I have not and will not support Maryland sanctuary actions as I feel it prohibits law enforcement agencies from effectively enforcing laws in place and handcuffs those who protect us instead. I also do not stand behind legalization of marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead users to other drugs. Prohibited drugs have always attracted criminal and gang activity, violence, addiction and poverty. A tax stamp on marijuana will not help to stop crime and I cannot get behind it.

Finally, I am proud to announce again that for the third year in a row I have never missed a committee meeting, subcommittee meeting, caucus, session and have never missed a single vote. I’m also honored to be invited to be the guest chaplain during the interim on May 2 in the 115th Congress. Again, I thank you for allowing me to serve and represent Baltimore County, and have a blessed rest of the year.

Review of the 2017 Maryland General Assembly

(Updated 4/19/17)

- By Delegate Rick Impallaria (R-7) -

My 15th session as your delegate has ended successfully with several accomplishments to share.

I serve on the House Economic Matters Committee which considers legislation relating to business in general, including alcoholic beverages, banks, business regulation, occupational and professional regulation, commercial law, economic development, e-commerce, employment, various insurances (except health), utilities regulation, and workers’ compensation.  As a business owner, I bring practical experience this committee, and have the opportunity to inform my colleagues of the probable impact of legislation on the economic and business development of the state.

Sick Leave 
The General Assembly pushed forward with HB 1 - Labor and Employment- Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. This legislation mandates up to 40 hours of “sick and safe” leave for employees who work for businesses with 15 or more employees, with heavy fines for non-compliance. This extreme bill also requires paid sick leave for part-timers and temporary seasonal employees who work as little as 8 hours per week. So a teenager working after school and summer workers in Ocean City will qualify for paid sick leave under this bill.  I could not support a bill which would cripple small business, cause job loss, and make Maryland’s business climate worse.

Opioid Epidemic
The General Assembly has made some head way in dealing with the opioid epidemic. Delegate Bromwell introduced HB 1082 – Start Talking Maryland Act, which requires a county superintendent of schools to approve or disapprove any protected change in the hiring or termination of personnel in connection with the school health services program and HB 1329 – HOPE and Treatment Act of 2017; which provides additional funding for specified drug court programs and to establish one crisis treatment center June 2018.  Delegate Seth Howard’s bill HB 869 - Recovery Residence Residential Rights Protection Act, requires that, when an individual is referred to a recovery residence, he/she be provided with a list of certified recovery residences operating in the State and information on where may be obtained.  These are the bills that have been the beginning of a movement to help in ending the opioid epidemic that is paralyzing Maryland.

My Legislation 
I am very happy to report that my bill HB 231 - Property Tax Credit - Disabled or Fallen Law Enforcement Officers and Rescue Workers – Alteration was passed by the legislature on the final day of session.  It provides that surviving spouse or cohabitant of a law enforcement officer or rescue worker disabled or killed in the line of duty can be granted a property tax credit by local government, starting in the tax years after June 30.

Once again I introduced bills to protect our Second Amendment rights – repeal of “shall issue”, authorization for qualified school employees to be armed on school property – both of which were killed in committee.

Two bills requested by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office which I put in were killed in committee, one to sentence heroin/fentanyl distributors to a maximum of 30 years for deaths from the drugs, the other to mandate reporting of heroin overdoses to county sheriffs, county police, or State Police by persons treating overdoses.

In summary, the momentum to Change Maryland is alive and well in the Maryland General Assembly. I am excited about the direction of the state, and though we did not get everything we wanted this year, many common sense solutions to the issues that face our state passed the legislature unanimously. We are on finally on getting on the right track in Maryland! Your input is always welcome do not hesitate to contact my office with any issues that concern you. It is citizens like you that help make my job at the General Assembly easier.

Post-session 'Thank You' from Delegate Robin Grammer

(Updated 4/17/17)

- By Del. Robin Grammer (R-6) -

The communities of southeastern Baltimore County confronted real threats from legislation proposed in Annapolis in the 2017 session. I am happy to report that while we defeated many terrible bills, we were also successful in passing legislation that will enable us to take action in many problem areas in our communities.

The political establishment in Annapolis schemed to ram a statewide Section 8 mandate through the House of Delegates on the last day before the crossover deadline. This bill would have forced property owners to accept Section 8 housing vouchers and offer 15 percent of their properties to voucher holders. We rallied the people of Baltimore to put pressure on their legislators and we successfully killed this bill in the Senate.

Despite the tragic story of the 14-year-old girl who was violently raped by two of her fellow students in Montgomery County, who were in the country illegally, the Annapolis bosses conspired to push a bill through the legislature that prevented law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws and would make Maryland a "sanctuary state." We put out the call for action on this bill and the people of Maryland stood with us! We were successful in defeating this bill.

After two years of work, I am happy to report that we have finally passed foreclosure reform. Although the language that was passed was not as strong as the language in my bill, the reformed law will enable us to take action on the vacant and abandoned properties that are contributing to rats, crime, drugs and general community blight.

None of these efforts would have come to fruition without the assistance of the public. Thank you for your help and leadership in supporting good legislation and rallying against bad bills!

As always, please let me know if there is ever any way we can help you or your family!

Bromwell's 2017 General Assembly legislative wrap-up

(Updated 4/17/17)

- By Del. Eric Bromwell (D-8) -

The scourge of drug addiction and overdose deaths has left no state untouched. Heroin/opioid addiction in Maryland affects one-third of state residents, according to a recent Washington Post poll. The poll showed that 34 percent of Marylanders have a family member or close friend addicted to prescription pain pills or heroin, up from 29 percent in 2015. Governor Hogan and the Maryland legislature are committed to exploring every possible solution to attack this deadly epidemic. During the session, I chaired a bipartisan heroin/opioid work group which developed the HOPE Act. I was the lead sponsor of this legislation.

The HOPE Act requires the state to increase its reimbursement rate annually for substance abuse clinics and requests $2 million in the next budget to expand Drug Court programs. Under the HOPE Act, access to overdose-reversal drugs, like naloxone, will be expanded. The HOPE Act includes the implementation of a 24/7 crisis treatment center, as well as a new statewide hotline to help those in crisis get immediate attention and access to care. The bill also paves the way for future access by including study language that will be the basis for additional centers (hopefully at least a dozen) to be authorized and opened in 2018. The fact is, these centers are needed from western Maryland to the Eastern Shore. This epidemic is hitting all corners of our state, and hitting us hard. In fact, of those Marylanders who obtained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act expansion, 53 percent have sought substance abuse treatment. That is more than one in two people seeking treatment, especially in the rural areas of Maryland. Hopefully the HOPE Act will help reverse a decade of a lack of money, not enough treatment facilities and decreasing awareness and commitment to confront the deadly heroin/opioid epidemic.

Governor Hogan submitted a $43.5 billion budget that was balanced and did not raise taxes or fees, yet reduced the state's structural deficit by 90 percent. The Rainy Day Fund contains $860 million - equal to 5 percent of the general fund. The budget contained a record $6.4 billion for K-12 education and an additional $32 million for higher education, which will keep tuition increases to 2 percent.

Paid sick leave was approved; I did not support it. Employers with at least 15 employees will have to provide five days of sick leave every year. Maryland has 84,000 businesses with fewer than 15 employees. Now, with many of these businesses struggling to make a profit, the state is going to dump another expense on them. It's like the state is trying to see how much these small businesses can take and still maintain a profit. Having grown up in a family-owned small business, this is just not something that I can support.

Price gouging for essential prescription drugs: I am chairman of the committee to which this bill was assigned. We spent four weeks working on this bill, which led to broad, bipartisan support. The legislation - the first of its kind in the country - is designed to help protect Maryland residents against price gouging. According to the bill, Maryland's attorney general will have the power to investigate and penalize drug companies for price gouging. A price increase of 50 percent or more in one year for an “essential” drug that costs more than $80 for a 30-day supply could be considered price gouging. The bill authorizes the attorney general to investigate and allows the industry ample time to justify such increases. The penalty for price gouging is a civil penalty of $10,000 for each violation.

More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017 was approved. The bill provides a 10-year income tax credit to manufacturers who create new jobs in economically depressed areas (Allegany, Dorchester, Garrett, Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester counties or Baltimore City). If not located in one of those counties, the facility must be located on a site of at least 3,000 acres. The amount of the tax credit is equal to the total wages for qualified positions multiplied by 5.75 percent. The manufacturing industry's share of the Maryland economy - 8 percent - is about double its share of total employment and the industry remains the second largest source of corporate income tax revenue.

The statute of limitations for civil suits against child abusers was finally raised. The age went from 24 to 38. The general recognition and acceptance of the long-term psychological impact of child sexual abuse has led 45 states and Washington D.C. to enact laws to extend the statute of limitations for legal action. While it doesn’t go quite far enough in my opinion (many victims have difficulty coming forward until well into their 50’s and 60’s), it was the first time in decades that legislation of this kind advanced in Maryland. I attribute the bill’s passing to the personal story of my friend and colleague, Delegate C.T. Wilson from Charles County. As a child, C.T. had been sexually and physically abused by his stepfather. C.T. later wrote a book about his experiences. This year was the third time Delegate Wilson had made his plea to the House Judiciary Committee to increase the statute by telling his personal story. It is also no coincidence that 2017 marked the first time in the decades-long history of the legislation that the Maryland Catholic Conference supported the bill.

It is an honor representing you in Annapolis. I greatly value your opinion on these and any other issues that are important to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me, as I look forward to our continued correspondence.

Efforts to curb opioid deaths stepped up - but is it enough?

Efforts to curb opioid deaths stepped up - but is it enough?
Delegate Eric Bromwell (at podium) led the fight in Maryland to keep pharmaceutical costs from skyrocketing while providing transparency for citizens. File photo.

(Updated 4/11/17)

- By Patrick Taylor - 

Earlier this week, the General Assembly approved a slew of bills aimed at curbing the opioid and heroin pandemic wreaking havoc across the state and country. Overall, the bills passed show that our legislators are treating this issue with the utmost urgency.

And urgency is exactly what is required. As of March 31, there have been 82 unofficial overdose fatalities in Baltimore County in 2017, while emergency services responded to 766 overdose calls. An exact figure on deaths related to opioids and heroin is unknown - the Office of the State Medical Examiner provides the official stats for overdose fatalities - but as it stands, it looks like Baltimore County is in for a big leap in overdose deaths this year.

As we reported in the April 6 issue, the number of overdose deaths was merely 86 between Jan. 1 and September 2015, but that number jumped to 151 in the same time period in 2016. Based on current numbers, Baltimore County will be looking at around 240 overdose deaths by September of this year if things stay the same.

There is hope that with the legislation passed this session the number of overdoses and deaths will take a big hit. A measure sponsored by State Senator Kathy Klausmeier (D-8) will see the creation of 24/7 crisis treatment centers while also increasing reimbursement rates for treatment to keep up with inflation, making treatment affordable for families who foot the bill.

Another bill that made it through the both the House of Delegates and State Senate will create a drug awareness program for students beginning in third grade, while Gov. Hogan saw two of his bills passed - one that increases the penalty for those convicted of selling drugs involving fentanyl and another that aims to diminish the amount of opioids administered by doctors. Hogan also added $10 million to the budget over five years to help tackle the issue.

By June of 2016, there were 566 heroin overdoses, 446 fentanyl overdoses and 210 opioid pill overdoses across the state.

“I’m surprised by the magnitude of the increase,” Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told The Baltimore Sun last year. “The fact that you see such a large number of fentanyl-related deaths demonstrates the need for greater resources dedicated to identifying and treating opioid dependence.”

Alexander went on to mention that another area that really needed to be addressed was pain pills being overprescribed by physicians.

And that, in my opinion, is where the fight against overdoses really needs to focus.

Over the course of the War on Drugs, the focus has often been on what leads to drug use - what are the proverbial gateways. What is that one thing - alcohol, tobacco, marijuana - that leads one down a path of addiction? While those (specifically marijuana) may have been the easy scapegoats in the past, it has become increasingly apparent that gateways aren’t the issue when opioids are being overprescribed.

I saw that firsthand as an athlete up until college. A player gets hurt - hernia, ACL, etc. - and gets oxycontin, oxycodone, percocet or some other drug to help them recover after surgery. But after days, weeks or months of daily medication of what is essentially heroin, cutting that out of your life can be nearly impossible. Because of doctors doling out pain pills like they’re breath mints at a restaurant, there are almost always pills available for purchase. So when Johnny Football Star’s prescription runs out, he has a friend who can keep him supplied.

And here is where things get bad. A lot of times a prescription is cheaper than the black market. So someone who has recently found themselves addicted to percocet might be a little cash strapped and only have $10 to spare instead of the $25 or $30 necessary for a pill, and that’s when heroin rears its ugly head.

Nowadays, it is common for heroin to be cut with fentanyl. Fentanyl is usually made abroad, typically in Asia. Cutting the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. would be a huge step in cutting down on overdose deaths.

For his efforts, Hogan deserves a lot of credit. Increasing the penalty for crimes involving fentanyl and pressing doctors to prescribe less will do a world of good. Klausmeier deserves applause, too, for helping make treatment affordable while working to ensure emergency services are available at all times. And Delegate Eric Bromwell (D-8) deserves recognition for his tireless efforts throughout the course of the session to achieve these goals.

But do these bills truly do enough, and what else could possibly be done? It all depends on how radical you want to get. There are those who advocate for the approach adopted by Portugal. In 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized all drugs. If you get caught with drugs, you pay a fine and maybe seek treatment if deemed necessary. As of 2015, there were three overdose deaths per million citizens. The average for the entire European Union was 17.3 overdose deaths per million citizens.

Others would like to see only marijuana legalized to help curb opioid abuse. Recent studies have shown declining overdose deaths in states with legalized marijuana, though it’s too early to tell if there is real correlation.

Legislators hoped to pass a new set of laws to help guide the medical marijuana industry, but that legislation failed to make it through the General Assembly. Part of the bill would have allowed opioid addicts to be treated with medicinal marijuana.

Advocates argued that marijuana works as a pain killer that comes without the risk of overdose.

While there isn’t the risk of overdose with marijuana, it does have its own baggage. While physical dependence isn’t something largely observed, it is a habit-forming substance. Breaking a psychological dependence can be just as grueling as breaking from a physical one.

Looking at the slew of bills passed this session that target opioid abuse, there is reason to be hopeful in Maryland. Bromwell told reporters he wanted Maryland to be the blueprint for other states, and that very well may happen. I’m hopeful, but not exactly optimistic.

For decades, we as a country have been fighting a battle against drug abuse, throwing over $1 trillion into the War on Drugs. And where exactly has it gotten us? I don’t want to say we have nothing to show for it, because we do - it’s just negative.

When it comes to dealing with an issue like addiction, there is no perfect answer. There is no panacea that will make everything better. But everyone also knows that insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results. For too long we’ve been going about addiction the wrong way. Addicts are reviled and looked down upon instead of being shown empathy and compassion. Those suffering with addiction need treatment, not time behind bars. While you would like to think that time in prison would allow someone to get clean, we can’t even keep drugs out of our correctional facilities.

Ideally, a shift away from opiates in the medical world would be the best remedy. The creation of non-habit forming pain medication should be the ultimate goal, and we should be exploring every other potential fix we can think of. But as I mentioned earlier, worrying about gateway drugs is essentially moot when doctors are prescribing what’s comparable to a small dose of heroin in opioids.

So whether the measures undertaken by the General Assembly are enough or not remains to be seen. What’s undeniable, however, is that these measures are a crucial first step in addressing what has become a major emergency across the country.

The views expressed above are solely those of the writer and not The East County Times. Patrick Taylor formerly worked with Project HEALTH, counseling and trying to secure public benefits for those struggling with addiction.

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Message from the Councilwoman

Message from the Councilwoman

(Updated 4/10/17)

- By Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6) -

At the March 20 legislative session, the County Council unanimously passed Resolution 28-17-Review of Regulations on Development Plans & Plats, which I introduced and sponsored. Resolution 28-17 directs the Planning Board to review relevant county laws and regulations relating to the applicability of current federal, state and local standards to development plans which were approved years ago under now-outdated standards and regulations. Findings and recommendations are to be submitted to the County Council on or before Sept. 20 of this year.

When a development plan is approved, the project is held to the regulations and standards at the date and time it was approved, regardless of when construction actually begins. Over the years, regulations have become more stringent and protective, particularly in the areas of the environment, critical areas and stormwater management. The issue then arises where a development project that was approved under older regulations with weaker standards does not begin construction until many years later, and it does so under those older and weaker standards.

This resolution is an effort to solve that problem. Directing the Planning Board to examine and review the applicability of regulations to development projects approved under older standards will allow the Council to have a fuller picture of the problem and be better informed when considering future legislation. My goal is not to deter future development or punish existing development projects, but simply to have the Planning Board look at the costs and benefits of applying current regulations to those development projects that were approved years ago under older standards and have yet to begin construction.

This issue is of particular importance to the Sixth District and eastern Baltimore County due to the nearly 200 miles of coastline and numerous waterways. Ensuring that developers are held to the most current and stringent regulations will go a long way in improving the many streams and rivers in the Sixth District.

I believe developers should be held responsible for the effects of their development projects. Allowing the Planning Board to examine and review the applicability of regulations to development plans is a first step to hold developers accountable and another tool to protect the environment. I look forward to the Planning Board’s recommendations.

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Sidewalks, curbs coming to Cross Road

Sidewalks, curbs coming to Cross Road

(Updated 4/7/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

Construction will occur this summer on a project to complete missing curbs and sidewalks on Cross Road between Chapel Road and Forge Road in Perry Hall.

The project will cost approximately $200,000. It should be done in the summer or fall.

With these improvements, we are completing some of the infrastructure requirements envisioned in the Honeygo Plan more than two decades ago. The sidewalks will allow residents to better access destinations such as Angel Park and Perry Hall Park.

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Councilman Marks updates community on Kingsville Park upgrades

Councilman Marks updates community on Kingsville Park upgrades

(Updated 3/30/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

I recently toured Kingsville Park, where my office has been working with Baltimore County to upgrade the deteriorating fields. Kingsville Park is a 23-acre recreational area located at 11700 Franklinville Road.

The $636,500 project will improve drainage at the ballfields, upgrade the parking area and make areas accessible to disabled visitors. At this point, the Department of Recreation and Parks anticipates that the upper fields will be finished this summer, then work will start on the lower fields.

We have been working with the Kingsville Recreation Council and the Department of Recreation and Parks for several years on this project. Many thanks to Director Barry F. Williams and county staff, as well as all the volunteers and parents with the recreation council for their patience as this work advances.

Kingsville Park is one of five recreation projects completed or underway in the northeast since 2010. I also worked on Angel Park, Soukup Arena, the Perry Paw Dog Park and Gough Park, All in Perry Hall. The Kingsville Park project has been especially complicated because work is also underway to air condition Kingsville Elementary School, forcing teams to use other nearby parks.

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Miele passes jobs bill for veterans

(Updated 3/29/17)

- By Delegate Christian Miele (R-8) -

On March 18, the Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill 349, the Hire Our Veterans Act of 2017, by a vote of 132–0.

The bill, introduced by Delegate Christian Miele (Legislative District 8), incentivizes small businesses to hire honorably discharged veterans in exchange for a tax credit in an amount equal to 30 percent of up to the first $6,000 of the veteran’s wages.

This bipartisan legislation will not only help veterans re-enter the workforce and earn a living for their families, but allow Maryland’s small businesses to invest the savings from the earned tax credit in new equipment or in the expansion of their operations, creating even more jobs downstream.

“There are currently over 6,000 unemployed veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 living in Maryland,” said Miele. “These brave men and women not only risked their lives for you, me, and our families, but sacrificed precious time away from their own families in the defense of our nation. The very least we can do to honor their service is to provide them with opportunities for gainful employment here at home.”

Construction contracts approved for new Honeygo Elementary School

(Updated 3/22/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

On March 21, the Baltimore County Board of Education approved construction contracts that will advance the new Honeygo area elementary school. That school, the first one built in Perry Hall in a quarter-century, will be constructed on land located near the intersection of Joppa and Chapel Roads.

The $45.6 million project is expected to open in the fall of 2018. It will enroll an estimated 700 students.

I thank the School Board and my colleagues on the Baltimore County Council for their support. This elementary school will reduce overcrowding at Perry Hall’s schools that will, in some cases, surpass 40 percent by 2018. At the same time, we need to continue to press for a strategy to relieve overcrowding at Perry Hall Middle and High schools.

Julie Henn, an at-large member of the Board of Education appointed by Governor Hogan, commented, “I am very pleased that the board has moved forward on the construction of the new northeast elementary school, which is scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year. We will continue to push for a solution for area middle and high school needs.”

Periodic Update: Paid sick leave strains small business

(Updated 3/15/16)

- By Del. Eric Bromwell (D-8) -

Legislation (HB 1) to require businesses with more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave was recently approved by the House of Delegates. I voted against that bill last year, and again voted no in 2017.

There is no way around it - paid sick leave hurts small business. Small business has always been the engine of job creation. The ADP National Employment Report shows that in 2015, small business created more than double the new jobs compared with large business. Small business, defined as those with under 50 employees, created 75,000 jobs to the 34,000 jobs created by big business. We cannot expect small business to keep producing new jobs at the current rate if government keeps burdening it with requirements like paid sick leave.

Many have characterized paid sick leave as another nail in the coffin of small business. I agree. Only seven states and the District of Columbia offer paid sick leave (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington).

It can neither be denied, nor glossed over, that passage of the paid sick leave bill will have a significant impact on small business.  Based on U.S. Census data, the Department of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 1.9 million employees work for Maryland employers with 15 or more employees.

Approximately 20,000 businesses have at least 15 employees and would be required to provide paid sick leave. Fewer than 20 percent of businesses in the state have 15 or more employees, however, these businesses employ 86 percent of the workers.

It should be obvious that when government starts chipping away at small business' bottom line, the business owner tightens his/her belt. And part of that belt tightening is pulling back from hiring additional employees.

We are a part-time legislature. We each bring our own expertise and experiences to this legislature. Having grown-up in a small business that would have been negatively impacted by this bill, I have to use my knowledge and my experiences to make a decision. While my parents would have loved to provide this benefit to their employees, they simply could not afford it. I think there are many business owners in Maryland who share that opinion.

Please do not hesitate to contact me about this or any other issue of concern to you. Your input is important to me; it enables me to bring your voice to Annapolis. As always, I encourage your input and welcome it.

As county executive, McDonough would enforce immigration law

(Updated 3/2/17)

- By Del. Pat McDonough (R-7) -

As a candidate for Baltimore County Executive, if elected, I pledge that one of my top priorities will be to enforce the Federal Immigration Act. In fact, on my first day in office, I will abolish all sanctuary policies. As soon as possible, I will sign a contract with the Federal Immigration authorities to operate the 287G anti crime program which will bring federal funding to the county.

In all of my years in the General Assembly, I have been fighting against the illegal immigration advocates. Our state has become a Disneyland for illegals who are receiving free rides and benefits. State taxpayers are forced to pay over $1 billion to educate, medicate and incarcerate the so-called new Marylanders.

Baltimore County, which is suffering from declining neighborhoods and growing poverty, has become a victim. MS-13 and other violent gangs have settled into some of our neighborhoods to hustle heroin and other drugs. Mexico is the main source of heroin coming through our borders.

Now the times have changed. The age of amnesty, promoted by Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, has finally come to an end. There is a new sheriff in town who will enforce the law.

On Jan. 25, President Trump issued an executive order that will accomplish the following:
  • Hire 10,000 immigration agents
  • Hire 5,000 border agents
  • Contracts are already being negotiated to build the wall.
  • Illegal immigrants who abuse the public welfare programs will now be included with criminal illegals as a top priority.
  • An end to Obama’s “catch and release” policy
  • Eliminate President Obama’s order prohibiting private correction centers so that more illegal immigrants can be detained
  • Finally, a serious and aggressive war on sanctuary policies will be put into place and their jurisdictions including fines and loss of federal revenue will be initiated.
Although the rest of Maryland may be a sanctuary hotbed, I want Baltimore County to be a place where citizens and real immigrants can reside in peace and will be protected by the rule of law.

Delegate Grammer revives foreclosure reform

(Updated 3/1/17)

- By Delegate Robin Grammer (R-6) -

Hopes of addressing the vacant housing epidemic in Baltimore County were revived on Feb. 17 as Delegate Robin Grammer passed a foreclosure reform bill through a key legislative committee.

The issue of abandoned and vacant properties has cascaded into a multitude of community issues. These houses are abandoned, which leads to high grass, property neglect and dumping. These are key signs of a vulnerable property for squatters, drug dealers and copper thieves.

A few days prior to the vote, several community leaders released a video of a tour through one such vacant house. The video revealed the all too typical problems with these blighted properties: rat infestations, dumping on the property and drug needles scattered throughout the house. Theft of all the copper on the property left the sump pump disabled, endangering the neighboring houses.

The issue stems from foreclosure law changes that occurred between 2008 and 2012 that have left community leaders and elected officials with no legal recourse to take action on a vacant and abandoned property for sometimes three or more years.

Cliff O’Connell of Essex, who volunteers his personal time and efforts cleaning up vacant houses in local communities, joined Delegate Grammer in Annapolis to testify on this issue. They shared powerful stories about these properties and provided media that detailed examples of how these houses are impacting our communities.

The Baltimore County Delegation passed the reform measure via a split vote in 2016. The Delegation passed House Bill 220 unanimously this year. The issue was put forward in 2016 but failed in the Senate.

The measure now moves to the policy committee, Environment and Transportation, which handles policies related to housing and foreclosure law.

Board of Education takes steps to address Perry Hall Middle overcrowding

(Updated 2/9/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Baltimore County Board of Education approved two measures to deal with overcrowding at Perry Hall Middle School.

Without immediate relief, Perry Hall Middle School’s enrollment is expected to climb from 1,737 students in 2015 to 2,048 students by 2024, according to Baltimore County Public Schools projections. More than 25 parents and advocates packed the School Board meeting to demand a solution.

School Board member Julie Henn, a Perry Hall Middle parent, made the two motions. The first measure added funding in the amount of $250,000 for a comprehensive middle and high school enrollment study. The study aims to address enrollment growth and distribution and will result in recommendations to address overcrowding at the county's middle and high schools. Those recommendations could include redistricting, new construction or both. The study will look across all schools countywide and will include opportunity for community input which will factor into the recommendations.

The second motion added funding in the amount of $1 million for increased contracted student transportation services to lower the student-to-bus seat ratio from 3-to-1 to 2-to-1.

"I would like to thank the Superintendent for working with me on these measures, and my colleagues for their support of relief at Perry Hall Middle School," Henn commented. "Continued community involvement will be needed during the enrollment study to voice our concerns and make sure Perry Hall is represented in those discussions."

State Delegate Christian Miele and I attended the meeting to lend support.

As Perry Hall's Councilman and the parent of a student at this school, I know it is critical to advance solutions to overcrowding. We lowered the development potential of thousands of acres during the 2016 rezoning cycle, but much of this overcrowding comes from demographic changes as younger families move into older communities."

Delegate Miele added: "I will do all I can to help the parents and children at Perry Hall Middle School. The advocates who came to this School Board meeting were motivated and are ready for action."

Tree plantings, public education campaign, and other projects to improve water quality in eastern Perry Hall

Tree plantings, public education campaign, and other projects to improve water quality in eastern Perry Hall

(Updated 2/3/17)

- By Councilman David Marks (R-5) -

The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, the Maryland State Fish and Game Protective Association, and the Master Gardeners of Baltimore County have kicked off an effort to improve water quality and enhance the environment in a 25-acre region of Perry Hall.

The effort will target the Maryland State Fish and Game Protective Association, one of the largest privately-owned environmental conservation areas in northeastern Baltimore County. An education campaign will target 11,000 local residents. Several on-site projects will also aim to improve conditions at the Maryland State Fish and Game Protective Association. With community participation, for example, volunteers will install 200 trees, three micro-bioretention systems, a rain garden and other improvements to the property. Local Boy Scout units and community organizations will be invited to participate.

The project exceeds $143,000 and is funded by a variety of environmental foundations.

I was delighted to write a letter of support for this project and attend the kickoff for this event. This volunteer effort is a perfect example of how we can work together to improve our local environment.

In 2012, I championed an effort to protect 11 acres of land next to the Maryland State Fish and Game Association. Once threatened by development, that land eventually became part of Honeygo Park.

For more information, visit the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy website at

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Delegate Grammer opens scholarship application

(Updated 1/26/17)

- By Delegate Robin Grammer (R-6) -

This week, my office will begin accepting requests for scholarships for the 2017 - 2018 academic year.

The Maryland State Higher Education Commission has established minimum criteria for the House of Delegates Scholarship Program. To be eligible for a Delegate Scholarship you must currently attend a Maryland college, university or private career school, or must have been accepted into a Maryland college, university or private career school for the 2017-2018 academic year.

If you attend an out-of-state school and the academic program which you are studying is not offered in Maryland you may be eligible for a Delegate scholarship. However, written permission must first be received from the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

You must also be enrolled as an undergraduate full-time or part-time student. You may also be a graduate full-time or part-time student. Audited courses cannot be used to reach the minimum credit hours.

You can acquire an application package at my website,, by calling my office at 410-841-3298 or emailing us at All application packages can be printed and mailed to our office at the address below. Alternatively, electronic copies can be completed and emailed to

Our office has helped hundreds of students achieve their academic goals. Please submit the required information and I will try to help you achieve your goals. Packages can be sent to: Delegate Robin L. Grammer, Jr., House Office Building, Room 307, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401.