Lawmakers from District 16 met with more than 50 of their constituents to talk about the past legislative session and to answer questions. "This has been the most difficult two years," said Del. Marilyn Goldwater (D-16) of the past session. Goldwater has served in the General Assembly for 22 years. "The Republicans are mean spirited. … they are obstructionists."
Goldwater, and the rest of the state’s Democrats are dealing with a Republican governor for the first time in decades and are finding it difficult.
"The governor knows only two things, slots and no taxes," Goldwater said. "It is very difficult to craft a message that says, ‘people need services.’"
Goldwater, who has spent a lot of her time dealing with healthcare issues, saw several bills of hers pass the House only to fail in the Senate. "We’ll work on that again next year," she said.
There were some legislative victories for the delegation, as well. One of the first actions this session was to override Gov. Ehrlich’s veto of a bill, sponsored by Del. Bill Bronrott (D-16), which would encourage the use of energy efficient appliances, particularly in commercial establishments.
Bronrott also worked on a bill which will place a surcharge on Marylander’s water bills, and septic bills. The funding will go to help remove pollutants from the sewage and is being touted as a measure to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. "This is really important in removing a lot of the natural pollution that goes into the bay," Bronrott said.
Bronrott was also pleased about a measure to double the fine for failing to stop at a school bus from $500-$1,000, and defeating a measure which would have closed the state Office of Smart Growth.
He also continued work on the Corridor Cities Transitway, a mass transit project planned to run from the Shady Grove Metro into Clarksburg. "The hope is to take a lot of cars off I-270," Bronrott said.
Bronrott also spoke out against the governor’s proposal to bring slot machine gambling to the state.
"I’ve about had it," he said. "It’s all predicated on people losing millions of dollars every day. … Those are the people that can least afford [it]."
Del. Susan Lee (D-16) also expressed frustration with the last session, and with the failure of several pieces of legislation. "We were disappointed that the ban on assault weapons did not go forth," Lee said. The ban, introduced by Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15) failed in the Senate by one vote.
Lee was happy to see some of her balls pass. Her primary area of expertise is new technology, and she worked on several bills in areas like trying to put a stop to spam, internet-child pornography and fraud.
She also worked on a bill to allow Maryland to prosecute people suspected of identity theft. "I think Identity theft is an extremely complex problem," Lee said.
Sen. Brian Frosh (D-16) also had his share of defeats. He introduced a bill which he said would help the University of Maryland system. The bill would have given the university system a guaranteed revenue stream, but would have coupled that with a five percent annual cap on tuition increases.
That bill was vetoed, but Frosh is not done. "At our next session, look for an attempt to override this veto," he said.
Frosh, is also looking at issues surrounding Juvenile Justice. After touring different facilities in Maryland and Virginia Frosh was disgusted with the state of juvenile prisons in Maryland. "It is really a disgrace. It is a shock that in Maryland in the 21st century we just throw these kids away," Frosh said.
While he is trying to address the situation, he is finding it difficult. "What we are talking about is really an executive department," Frosh said.