During my eight years representing Maryland’s District 20 in the General Assembly, my priorities have always been protecting women, children, working families and our environment. During this Week of Action, I’ll be doing everything I can to enact legislation to further these priorities and improve the lives of many Marylanders. Some proposals before the House of Delegates don’t go far enough, but I’ve learned as a legislator that sometimes the race to the finish is a marathon and not a sprint!
Maryland is poised to raise the minimum wage. Not enough, and we didn’t get the wage tied to the inflation index, but it’s a strong step in the right direction… and a place to start next year. We have also passed legislation, authored by my good friend Delegate Ariana Kelly, to ensure workers a minimum of 6 weeks unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. In my view it’s unconscionable that employees – especially women – have legitimately feared for their jobs when taking parental leave. I’m a father, and I know how important those early weeks and months with your child are. Six weeks isn’t enough, and ideally we’d guarantee paid parental leave, but this is a beginning.
I’ve long been a proponent of expanding pre-k programs, and strongly supported this year’s expansion of legislation I sponsored in 2009. This year the General Assembly guaranteed at least $3.4 million annually be directed to providing more children the opportunity for early education, and provided substantial grants to ensure quality pre-k programs in under-served areas. And we’ve expanded a different type of opportunity, too, directed at individuals trying to start or grow a small business. My bill, introducing ‘crowdfunding’, passed both houses of the General Assembly. The bill, strongly supported by local small business owners, allows individuals the opportunity to invest small amounts ($100 maximum) in local small businesses, and provides those businesses a very local source of funding ($100,000 annual maximum) from the customers and community members who want to see that business start, grow and succeed.
We’ve done more this year to expand Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio, regulate pesticide use, and clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Competing interests are always a challenge, but I know that the work we’re doing – even if sometimes we can move only incrementally – is making Maryland better, safer, cleaner and more fair.