Category: From Dan’s Desk

Transportation: It’s time to get moving

Maryland needs a better transportation system to be successful in the 21st century. Creating a comprehensive plan is necessary. The plan should have the following goals:

  • Make public transportation affordable, accessible, convenient, effective and safe.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint for transportation.
  • Encourage mass transit opportunities
  • Reduce traffic on existing roadways
  • Invest in correcting bottle necks that impede traffic.

To address Transportation issues, a broader approach to community outreach is required. Too often transportation is limited by the boundaries of a county, city or other jurisdiction. In fact, decisions should be driven by cost effectively getting travelers to their destination.

One thing is clear: we cannot build our way out of the current transportation snarls. Drivers have learned that bigger road ways have not reduced traffic or delays.

So, we need a 21st century solution that will include more rail and group travel – buses and other options. We also will need to add a bike option as millennials and others are changing the way that people get to their destinations.

In addition to saving travelers time and expense, the new transportation system will also be a boon for jobs and business as builders of the new system will get to work providing creative ways of getting us from home to work to school and to recreation.

Too often a transportation plan has been stymied by the cost. But the cost of doing nothing is also very high as the average commuter wastes hours of time each day.

A 21st century transportation system will propel Maryland to the forefront of recruiting big firms to join our state and to bring in a new generation of the work force looking for mass transit options as part of their lifestyle choices.

All of us have a role to play in getting a 21st Century transportation system moving forward. We need to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of regional transportation issues and the critical role transportation plays in our lives.
  • Educate fellow citizens about transportation and its important linkages to quality of life.
  • Educate fellow citizens about the importance of investing in transportation service and infrastructure.
  • Become empowered advocates who implement their own action plans related to transportation.

It’s time for policy makers, business leaders, and the public make informed decisions about transportation choices and transportation infrastructure investments in our region.

Unfortunately, right now, there is little planning. Too often intimidated by the cost – as if the entire system will be done in only a few years – the plans are not fully formed and nothing gets done. We need plans, we need public input and we need action and investment to make our state the leader in transportation, as we were in previous generations. Let’s get going.

2018 Legislative Environmental Victories and Losses

As a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, I will be a champion for the environment. Following is a summary of the Maryland Legislative victories and losses in the 2018 session, shared by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

2018 Legislative Victories

  • Offshore Drilling Strict Liability (HB 1456/SB 1128)- Maryland fought back against President Trump’s plan to open up our coast to offshore drilling by passing a strict liability bill that would hold companies responsible for damages caused by oil spills. This will discourage Big Oil from exploiting our shores or threatening our coastal economy.
  • US Climate Alliance – Membership (HB 3 Delegate Stein/SB 138 Senator Conway) – After Trump’s announcement to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, Maryland lawmakers affirmed their support for the goals of the international climate plan. They passed a law which states that only the General Assembly may withdraw the state from the U.S. Climate Alliance, a nationwide bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Preserving Offshore Wind (voting down HB 1135 Delegate Adams/SB 1058 Senator Hershey) – Opponents of offshore wind tried to pass a measure that would have thwarted the development of two offshore wind projects by forcing them to move at least 26 miles off of the coast. This move would have increased the costs of the projects by millions of dollars and slowed down Maryland’s offshore wind development, which is poised to become a driver of Maryland’s renewable energy economy. Thankfully, our champions defeated this harmful bill.
  • Addressing Sea Level Rise (HB 1350 Delegate Stein/SB 1006 Senator Pinksy) – Maryland’s coastal communities face the threat of flooding and sea level rise. Delegate Stein and Senator Pinsky both introduced legislation that would require local communities to submit adaptation plans and for state and local projects to take into account sea level rise in their planning.
  • Securing Metro Funding (HB 372 Delegate Korman/SB 277 Senator Feldman) – Legislators in both houses passed legislation to secure long-term dedicated funding for the state’s Metro transit system.

2018 Environmental Losses

  • The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act – (HB 1453 Delegate Frick/SB 732 Senator Feldman) – would have increased Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 and invested millions of dollars in women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses in the clean energy economy. The legislation failed in a House of Delegates subcommittee and was tabled in the Senate.
  • Potomac Pipeline Emergency Legislation – (HB 1826 Delegate Robinson) – This legislation would have mandated that the Maryland Department of Environment deny the Potomac Pipeline permit and would require that all future pipeline projects through karst geology undergo a full 401 review under the Clean Water Act. However, it was introduced late in the game —after the Hogan Administration issued approval for the Potomac Pipeline —and was stalled in committee, so did not come to a full vote this year.

Yes, good things are happening but more needs to be done. With your help, I will make Maryland a leader in the U.S. for environmental issues. Join us now.

Join a Candid Conversation

Aging in Community: Challenges and Opportunities

Dialog with Dan Medinger

You are invited for an informative and energizing conversation
about Aging and its impact on individuals, families, our community and our state.

Date: Friday, April 6
Time: 9-11 a. m.
Glory Days Restaurant
10035 Baltimore National Pike,
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Cost: $10 pp: includes continental breakfast
and a raffle ticket for a giveaway gift basket

Sign up for the event here.

Health Care: A Road Map for the Future

All Marylanders deserve the right to quality affordable and accessible health care. Even before the Affordable Care Act, Maryland successfully expanded access to affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of its citizens.

It’s time to push toward a single payer system that provides health care for all. It is essential for fairness, equity and so that more Marylanders have the long-term security that they deserve.

With a Congress that’s especially dysfunctional about health care, states across the country will be called on to implement new and innovative solution to lower health care costs and expand access. That includes creating a contingency fund to ensure that children in Maryland have health care if the federal government does not fund CHIP. And, we may need a statewide mandate to replace what the Republican-controlled Congress removed from its Tax Bill.

In Maryland, the health care sector is innovating every day. It’s time to convene a state-wide commission – including doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients – to find workable solutions for more quality and affordable health care for all Marylanders. We need to reward preventative care services that lower costs and create a healthier population. We need to work with schools to ensure that children are being cared for and develop healthy habits.

Healthcare is a big driver of both the federal and Maryland’s budgets. These budgets – and, our lives – depend on high quality care. And what we are doing isn’t working for many people.

Currently, the United States spends more than twice per capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world and yet with regards to healthcare quality on a population level, we rank well below many developed, Western nations on basic health metrics.

Today, about 400,000 Marylanders are uninsured or underinsured. While uninsured, many are getting the most expensive health care in emergency rooms after ambulance rides. The cost of providing uncompensated care is paid by the rest of the population by increased health insurance premiums. To meet the need, it has become apparent to thinking people that universal health insurance coverage, perhaps in the form of Medicaid for All on the state level, is morally correct and fiscally responsible.

For prescriptions, the State should leverage its purchasing power to drive down prescription drug prices for Medicaid beneficiaries and State employees. Reducing prices will benefit all. Maryland has shown its willingness to tame pharmaceutical excesses by passing legislation to control price gouging efforts, starting last October. Now is the time to build on this success and take further action to drive down drug prices affecting Medicare recipients.

On the delivery side, Maryland can do better providing financial incentives that reward physicians for providing appropriate levels of care. Maryland should extend the Health Services and Cost Review Commission’s All Payer Single Rate Setting authority to all ambulatory and outpatient settings so as to realize the proven cost-saving and disparity-reducing benefits that have been found in the inpatient setting. Standardizing pricing for health care services across all settings of care will introduce transparency, accountability, and affordability for premium-payers and tax-payers.

Maryland will benefit from a Medicaid for All public option healthcare plan that will be provided on a sliding income scale. Individuals making up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) would continue to get coverage at no cost to them. Individuals, for example, who earn up to 300% FPL would be eligible to buy into this public option for perhaps $100 per month which would be more affordable than purchasing a comparable commercial plan in the open market for perhaps $500 per month.

Publicly administrated healthcare plans have been consistently shown to have significantly lower overhead costs (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services averages about 3%) than commercial plans (averaging 18%).

Congressional inaction on healthcare reform need not incapacitate Maryland from ensuring that Marylanders continue progressing towards higher value healthcare. We should not be satisfied until every single citizen in Maryland has access to quality and affordable care.

What is the future for gun safety in our community?

Gun violence is a public health crisis in need of immediate redress and the best way to prevent gun violence is to reduce the number of guns in society, improve tracking of those guns, and to ensure that all gun owners meet legal requirements of gun ownership. As someone said recently, if more guns made us safer then Baltimore City would be one of the safest cities in America but clearly it is not.

So, we need to reframe the conversation. This is not a political issue; it’s a civic issue. What kind of society do we want to be? My recommendations are as follows and I invite you to share yours, too.

ENFORCE ALL EXISTING LAWS.
For example, when courts order that guns be removed, such as when a restraining order is issued for domestic abuse, only about 7% of the time does anyone go to collect the guns. There are other examples of existing laws not being enforced.

IMPROVE DATABASE FOR GUN PURCHASES.
In the Parkland school shooting, the gun dealer said there was nothing unusual about the sale of the AR-15 to a 19-year old. That’s a problem. There were multiple warning signs that he was not stable and may be a menace to himself and others. We need a database that flags multiple sources to find out if there is anything outstanding. And if there are flags, we at least need a waiting period.

The Maryland Firearm Safety Act was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond. This law requires individuals who wish to purchase a handgun to obtain a license from the state prior to the purchase. To obtain a license one must first pass a gun safety course, submit one’s fingerprints to law enforcement authorities, pay a $50 fee, wait for the license to arrive in the mail, and upon purchase, one must register the gun in a statewide registry. A registry will reduce straw purchasing of weapons that are subsequently used to commit acts of violence.

ELIMINATE “WEAPONS OF WAR.”
We need to remove assault type weapons from being sold to the general public. Some Americans believe that they need a gun for protection. This isn’t necessarily true. We already have more than 300 million guns in private hands. There are more guns than people. So, while there are divergent views on gun ownership, there is broad consensus that automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons have no place in gun shops, gun shows, gun catalogs on our streets or in our homes.

The courts have agreed that “weapons of war” are not protected by the Second Amendment.

It would seem that all parties agree that there are limits to what sort of firearms should be available to whom, where, and when.

REDUCE SELF INFLICTED HARM.
Not all gun violence is aimed at others. According to Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, each year there are 11,000 gun homicides in the United States and there are an additional 20,000 gun suicides during those same 12 months. Reducing access to guns would not eliminate suicides, but it is possible that it could curb the number of suicides since suicide attempts are sometimes impulsive acts that are instigated by an acute crisis that could be mitigated given time. Firearm regulation advocates argue that their proposed policies would provide that gift of time and, for some, life.

We need to stop people from being able to purchase a gun quickly. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, requiring a license to purchase a handgun will reduce homicides by 40% and suicides by 15%.

CHANGE THE SUPREME COURT.
In 1791 the Founders drafted the Second Amendment for a specific purpose at that time, which was to provide safety to the community. Today, those words can also be interpreted to protect our community. It’s time to get a Court to have an honest and correct reading of what it means for a “well ordered militia” and the right to bear arms – in 2018.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS.

  • Gun purchases should be limited to those age 21 and over. Those who own guns also should be held responsible for keeping guns out of the hands of children, not eligible to purchase firearms.
  • We need a thorough study of gun violence in America. It’s time to lift the ban on gun violence research by the Center for Disease Controls. Gun violence is too important of an issue to not have reliable, trusted data when considering public policy for our children and the future.
  • Red Flag Laws, which are used to reduce gun violence before it happens, needs adequate resources for enforcement. Too often those who are charged with keeping us safe are over taxed, understaffed and poorly funded to take action to follow court orders.

What are your ideas? You can share your thoughts here. But let’s move from conversation to action!!!

 

Former County Executive and MD Sen. Majority Leader Jim Robey Endorses Dan Medinger for MD State Delegate for District 9B

Robey: Medinger is a new, progressive leader needed in Annapolis for smart policies on education, environment, women’s and senior citizen’s rights and small businesses

February 6, 2018, Ellicott City, MD – Jim Robey, the venerable former Howard County executive and Maryland State Senate majority leader, has endorsed Dan Medinger for the House of Delegates.

Robey, a two-term county executive, said that Medinger is committed to public service. “He is not a politician. He is a public servant. He is running because he wants to help people and he cares for the future of our community,” Senator Robey said at a campaign fundraising event for Medinger. “I have known Dan for many years and I endorse him 100% and if anyone asks, you can tell them that Jim Robey is behind him all the way.”

Medinger announced his candidacy for the seat, which includes much of Ellicott City and some of Elkridge, last June. A Republican, Bob Flanagan, currently holds the seat. Former county council member Courtney Watson is also running for the office.

Senator Robey, who retired as Maryland’s State Senate Majority Leader in 2015, said Medinger represents a new, energetic voice for residents of District 9B. He cited Medinger’s policy focus on improving education, the environment, women’s and senior citizens’ rights, and helping small businesses create jobs and thrive. Robey also said Medinger’s candidacy heralds a new era of fresh, progressive voices who are needed more than ever in Maryland’s General Assembly.

“Dan wants to do public service and I know that he will work hard every day to be the very best representative he can be,” said Senator Robey. “He has the experience that we need, and we can trust him.”

Medinger said, “I’m grateful to have Senator Robey’s endorsement for my campaign for the Maryland House of Delegates. Senator Robey’s career and legacy as a public servant are an inspiration to me and my family – and I look forward to carrying these values forward as Delegate for District 9B.”

Medinger, a Howard County small business owner and former journalist whose work has appeared in numerous national publications, has been active in Democratic politics since his childhood when he volunteered for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.

Medinger served as President of the Ellicott City Western Howard Democratic Club and in 2016 was honored as “Democrat of the Year.” He currently serves on a number of community boards, including the Community Foundation of Howard County, Rebuilding Together Howard County and the Operating Budget Review Committee for the Howard County Public School System.

Robey, a native of Daniels, MD in Howard County, was a 32-year veteran of the Howard County Police Department, serving seven years as Police Chief before retiring in 1998. He later served two terms as Howard County Executive followed by two terms as Maryland State Senator, representing Howard County. Robey currently is a member of the Maryland General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment Commission.

Voters looking for more than a name

As I have met voters door to door, I have been so encouraged that they want to know what I stand for, what I have done and how they will hold me accountable as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

It is encouraging to learn that in 2018 voters will go beyond name recognition and really seek information about who wants to represent them.  Voters have learned that too often candidates have a reputation that is very different than their record or their values.  In the past, big name recognition was enough to win elections. Not any more.

I have met so many voters who told me that in this election they will be taking time to fulfill their civic duty by going deeper than just name recognition. That’s how change will happen.

Onward and upward.

PHONE BANKING

Some of the doors in our district are “inaccessible” because they are in gated apartments, etc. We will be doing a phone banking to these residences from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 4. Orientation, a script and assistance will be provided. We also will have pizza and soda. If you can join us for this 90-minute call-a-thon, please let me know.