Friends & Neighbors,
I'm over halfway through my first legislative session in Annapolis, and I wanted to let you know where things stand. While we haven't changed the world overnight, I'm proud of the progress we've made so far. I have not shied away from some of the more politically charged and difficult issues, and we're starting some long-needed conversations in the General Assembly this year. Below you can read about some of my priorities this legislative session, as well as an update on the state of Maryland's budget:
FIGHTING CUTS TO SCHOOLS, HEALTH CARE & DISABILITY SERVICES - When Maryland elected a Republican Governor last November, I worked quickly to extend an olive branch to our new GOP executive. But I simultaneously joined twenty-seven lawmakers in delivering a message to Larry Hogan urging him to defend our middle/working class and most vulnerable residents during this legislative session. Our letter asked Gov. Hogan to protect our social safety net, investments in public schools and colleges, and the transportation infrastructure that services our residents and fuels our economic development. You can read our letter to Larry Hogan at Maryland Reporter.
Unfortunately, our Governor submitted a budget that gutted tens of millions of dollars in funding for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) -- the system with the fastest-growing student enrollment in the state. Hogan's drastic, across-the-board cuts to every state service also shredded budgets for the disabled, Medicare, and countless other safety-net programs. After much hard work over the past few weeks, my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee are moving forward with plans to restore millions in funding for MCPS, health care, and services for the disabled. I'm also co-sponsoring a few bills to reverse some of these budget cuts. Stay tuned for more details on this effort -- we're not in the clear yet. Contact Governor Hogan.
Visiting a group home for the disabled in District 20
DEFENDING THE PURPLE LINE - Maryland's light rail Purple Line project will bring seven new transit stations to residents of Silver Spring and Takoma Park, allowing them to commute quickly to neighborhoods between the Bethesda and New Carrollton Metro Stations. This project was due to break ground imminently, but during last year's gubernatorial campaign, Larry Hogan questioned the need for this critical transit line. The morning after our new Governor's election, I sprang into action with smart growth advocates and business leaders to defend the nearly $1.5 billion in federal and private investment Maryland is due to receive for the Purple Line. Governor Hogan has now delayed the project and will make a decision in May on whether to proceed. The Purple Line project has been under discussion for nearly two decades and our state and local governments have already invested hundreds of millions on the project. Cancelling this light rail project now would eliminate thousands of jobs in Montgomery County and almost $1 billion of federal funds would instead go to another state. Contact Governor Hogan.
Purple Line supporters rallying in Annapolis
CUTTING RED TAPE FOR SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS (HB 466) - To help facilitate economic development (without engaging in senseless corporate welfare or taxpayer giveaways), I've been working with Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegates Shane Robinson & Anne Healey on legislation to help cut bureaucratic red-tape for shovel-ready projects. Maryland's State Highway Administration (SHA) often overrules community land use decisions and creates unpredictable and arbitrary hurdles for economic development projects that have already been approved by our counties. This bill would help create sensible standards and timelines for regulatory approval of job-creating plans in Maryland. More importantly, it would push SHA to respect Montgomery County's land-use decisions and the community input that went into these plans.
ENDING RE-JAILING FOR MARIJUANA (HB 615) - Last year, Maryland decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, but there are still loopholes in the law that could unnessarily land people in hot water. I'm the lead sponsor on legislation to stop sending people back into the criminal justice system due to minor marijuana offenses when they are out on parole. In short, if Maryland no longer jails for pot, we shouldn't re-jail for pot either. Southern Maryland News explained one of the consequences of continuing to fixate on marijuana use among parolees: "Another bill would exclude a civil marijuana offense from the list of parole violations. Under HB615, sponsored by Delegate David Moon, D-Montgomery, the Division of Parole and Probation would not be allowed to revoke parole for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, or because of a urinalysis that tested positive for marijuana. Caryn Aslan, a senior policy advocate with the Job Opportunities Task Force, said she supported 'less punitive' penalties compared to parole revocation. She referred to parolees who had to leave a vocational training program run by the Job Opportunities Task Force, which supports low-wage workers, because of marijuana violations."
Bill hearing on my marijuana parole legislation.
ELECTION REFORMS TO EMPOWER VOTERS (HB 595 & HB 626) - I'm sponsoring a few bills that would give voters a bigger say and more choices in our elections. Many vacancies in Maryland's elected offices are currently filled by special election, but vacancies for the United States Senate are currently filled by the Governor. I've introduced legislation to require special elections for the U.S. Senate so that voters (not politicians), get to choose their representatives. The Baltimore Sun wrote about this bill that I'm working on with Senator Jamie Raskin: "Two Montgomery County Democratic legislators have introduced legislation that would strip the governor of the power to name a long-term replacement to the U.S. Senate in the event of a vacancy and instead fill the post through a special election.... Moon said the bill is intended to give voters a say in who represents them. 'I'm for special elections across the board,' he said. 'If O'Malley were the governor or if Anthony Brown were the governor, I would still prefer special elections.'"
I'm also sponsoring legislation to give voters more choices by allowing third parties a fair opportunity to be on the ballot. Maryland law currently has onerous requirements for small political parties seeking to run candidates for office. Even though I'm a Democrat, I don't believe in squashing the political rights of the little guy/gal. Let's have a fair fight.
CHEMICAL-FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL LUNCHES (HB 679) - I'm working with Real Food for Kids on a bill to eliminate dangerous chemical additives and dyes from public school lunches in Maryland. Many of these chemicals serve only a cosmetic purpose and are banned in other countries. Fairfax County was able to reduce by 90% their use of these additives in their school lunches. We had a great hearing on this bill last week, and I'm glad we got this issue on the radar. With the growing number of our students relying on MCPS for their meals, we have a moral obligation to make sure we are feeding these kids nutritious food, free from dangerous chemicals.
Bill hearing for my Chemical-Free School Lunch legislation
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CORPORATE BAY POLLUTERS (HB 886) - I'm working with Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and Senator Rich Madaleno on legislation to make large corporations pay their fair share for cleanup of the Cheseapeake Bay. Maryland is currently under a federal mandate to reduce pollution in the Bay, and a huge source of the waste dumped in our waters comes from big poultry companies. Marylanders are essentially subsidizing this pollution right now through the taxes and fees we collect from ordinary Marylanders and spend on our environmental programs. WBOC TV explained the purpose of this bill: "'Right now, all of the other taxpayers of the state are paying for this EPA required cleanup through storm water fees, flush fees, and general fund expenditures that are coming from tax dollars. This bill is simply asking these large poultry companies to pay their fair share of the cleanup cost for this Bay restoration,' said Moon."
WBOC TV interview about my poultry pollution legislation
COMPASSIONATE RELEASE FOR ELDERLY PRISONERS (HB 622) - Maryland spends more on incarceration than it does on higher education, and our prisons now house many senior citizens who are no longer a threat to society due to debilitating illnesses. I'm teaming up with Senator Jamie Raskin and Senate President Mike Miller on "compassionate release" legislation that would allow for medical release of sick geriatric prisoners who have aleady served lengthy sentences. Trying to provide health services for the elderly in our prisons is far more costly than caring for them through ordinary health programs. The Gazette discussed the legislation: "Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. announced a list of eight packages on the Senate leadership’s policy agenda.... 'Some of our prisons have become geriatric wards,' he said."
PREVENTING DISCRIMINATION FOR LGBT RESIDENTS (HB 862) - I'm teaming up with Equality Maryland and Senator Susan Lee on a bill to prevent discrimination and protect the privacy of Marylanders. Our legislation would allow transgender and intersex individuals under the care of health professionals to receive birth certificates that match their gender. This is needed to prevent employment discrimination and privacy violations, and our current laws create expensive and onerous obstacles for these individuals.
TWO BIG CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM BILLS WE'VE PASSED - I'm proud to announce that two important criminal justice bills that I co-sponsored were passed by the House of Delegates:
- DRIVING WHILE BLACK (HB 339) - The House of Delegates passed a law requiring police departments to report on the race of the people they stop. We've had issues with racially disparate traffic stops in Maryland, so it is critical for us to track these law enforcement encounters. The Baltimore Sun wrote about the problem we needed to fix last year: "Law enforcement agencies across Maryland are no longer required to collect and report the race of drivers in traffic stops to the state because legislators didn't notice a 3-year-old law expiring.... The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland decried the lapses, especially the lifting of the requirement to track traffic stops by race."
- REFORM OF POLICE ASSET SEIZURE RULES (HB 360) - The House of Delegates passed a bill that requires the government to prove that your cash & assets are related to crime when they are seized by the police. I was a co-sponsor of this legislation, which restores the spirit of "innocent until proven guilty" in Maryland. HBO TV host John Olver recently discussed the problem of police asset seizure. You can watch the amusing but powerful segment here.
Discussing criminal justice issues at a Takoma Park Town Hall
OTHER IMPORTANT LEGISLATION I'M CO-SPONSORING - Many of my colleagues have sponsored excellent legislation to advance justice and solve difficult problems. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of many of their efforts. Here are a few highlights:
- Fracking Moratorium & Disclosure of Chemicals Used in Fracking (HB's 449, 458 & 952)
- Paid Sick Leave for Marylanders (HB 385)
- Reining in Overtesting of Public School Students (HB 452)
- Body Camera Regulations for Police Departments (HB's 308, 533 & 627)
- Enhanced Protections for Victims of Rape & Domestic Violence (HB's 224, 390, 503, 606, 807)
- Rolling Back Tax Cuts for Individuals with Estates Worth Up to $5.9 Million (HB 730)
- Death with Dignity for Terminally Ill Marylanders (HB 1021)
- Ending the Dangerous Overuse of SWAT Teams (HB 338)
- Independent Redistricting Standards (HB 850)
- Making Animal Abusers Pay for the Cost of Care for their Victims (HB 362)
- Restoration of Funding for Public Schools (HB's 215, 923 & 1193)
- Just Cause Eviction Rights for Renters (HB 824)
- Preventing Revictimization of Sex Trafficking Victims (HB 456)
- Repeal of Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses (HB 121)
- Decriminalizing Possession of Marijuana Paraphrenalia & Expunging Records (HB's 105, 304, 374 & 889)
- Protecting Interns from Employment Discrimination (HB 229)
- Facilitating Reentry of Ex-Offenders in the Workforce (HB 244)
- Marijuana Legalization & Taxation (HB 911)
- Disclosure of Large, Last-Minute Political Contributions (HB 185)
HOW TO CONTACT MY DELEGATE OFFICE - Please contact me with any constituent services issues or if you would like to share any thoughts, questions, or concerns about state issues and bills:
Delegate David Moon
Phone: (410) 841-3474
I'll be back in touch soon to let you know how things are developing on the numerous bills that haven't been voted on yet.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Delegate David Moon
CASA in Action
Clean Water Action
NARAL Pro-Choice MD
National Organization for Women (MoCo PAC)
Public Schools Retirees Association
MD Votes for Animals
Hispanic Democratic Club
Coalition of Asian Pacific Democrats of Maryland
Jamie Raskin &
Valerie Ervin &
Delegates Sheila Hixson,
Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jeff Waldstreicher,
Susan Lee & Aruna Miller
Takoma Park Mayor
Takoma Park Councilmembers
Seth Grimes &