Silver Spring & Takoma Park Neighbors:
Maryland's 2019 legislative session starts this week, so I wanted to give you a heads up on a few major issues we're likely to tackle.
While the legislature was out of session, I also started laying the groundwork for multiple policy battles. Check out my news round-up below.
Thanks for staying engaged, as we welcome a new year!
Delegate David Moon
A Few Things I Worked On This Winter - Changing policy does not always require passing a bill. That's why I spend a good amount of time engaging in issue advocacy when the legislature is not in session. Below you can read news coverage of a few policy battles I've been fighting:
Restoring WMATA Metro Hours - I rounded up dozens of local elected officials to push WMATA to restore late night Metro service. Greater Greater Washington reported on our intervention: "Late last night, 65 elected officials from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties sent an official letter to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, urging him to restore Metro’s late night service. This morning, starting at around 9 am, the Metro Board of Directors was set to meet to vote on a proposal to extend the current late night cuts to 2020. DC board members have threatened to veto this proposal, meaning that late night metro hours would return next summer. The coordinated move from dozens of Maryland officials show that it’s not just DC who is concerned about the continued late night service cuts...."
Blocking a Fracked Gas Pipeline in Maryland - I helped organize a group of 65 legislators to urge the state's Board of Public Works to reject a proposed gas pipeline that would cut through Maryland, to move gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia. Thankfully, they agreed and voted unanimously to reject the pipeline. WTOP reported on our efforts: "More than 50 Maryland state lawmakers signed a letter urging the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject a deal that would let TransCanada build a pipeline in Western Maryland.... TransCanada has said the construction is needed to allow economic growth in West Virginia.... Opponents, including environmental groups and dozens of Maryland state lawmakers including Delegate David Moon, D-Montgomery County, worry the pipeline could threaten waterways and wetlands in the proposed right of way."
Rejecting Public Funding for a New NFL Stadium - For the past couple years, I've been preparing activists to fight billionaire NFL Team owner Dan Snyder's efforts to get taxpayers to pay for a new football stadium. We recently discovered Governor Hogan has been secretly talking to the team and the Trump administration about moving the team from FedEx Field to a National Park near MGM Casino. Moreover, Hogan is proposing that taxpayers pay for road and infrastructure improvements for Snyder's new stadium. To counter all of this, I've teamed up with lawmakers in Virginia and DC to try and broker a treaty, where all three governments would agree not to use public resources for the stadium. The Washington Post reported on my plans, as well as my backup plans: "The bill from Delegate Michael J. Webert (R-Fauquier) would prohibit Virginia from offering the team tax incentives, state or local appropriations or loans to build a stadium in the state. The measure would not take effect unless Maryland and the District have promised to swear off similar incentives.... Like Webert, D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) and Maryland Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery) will try again this year. Moon said if the measures don’t pass in Virginia and the District, he will consider a bill affecting only Maryland."
Ending Jail As a Penalty for Marijuana Possession - I'll be reintroducing legislation to let voters decide the fate of cannabis legalization in Maryland. But in the meantime, I've been disturbed by the persistent efforts of police to continue locking up residents for marijuana possession. I'll be working on legislation to close some of these loopholes in the coming weeks. Baltimore Fishbowl helped explain why this is important, through a recent expose showing race discrimination in enforcement: "During 2015, 2016 & 2017, Baltimore police arrested 1,448 adults & 66 juveniles for cannabis possession... Of those arrestees, 1,450 were black. That’s 96 percent.... Maryland set a low bar when lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 10 grams of cannabis or less.... it is the lowest in the country, and only two other states, Illinois and Missouri, share this threshold.... Del. David Moon, a Montgomery County Democrat who’s pushed to fully legalize and tax cannabis in Maryland, has deemed the 10 gram threshold 'completely arbitrary' and problematic.... 'The police in some counties therefore break out scales on small amounts of marijuana, hoping to catch residents over the line. I’ve even heard reports of police trying to count the weight of the bag in their measurements, to try and tip people over 10 grams.'"
Defeating NRA Gun Activists in Court - Last year I was able to pass a bill to ban bump stocks and other devices that turn legal guns into illegal assault weapons. Gun rights activists quickly filed a lawsuit against the legislation, but our law was recently upheld in federal court. Courthouse News Service reported on the legal victory: "A federal judge has tossed a class action by a gun rights advocacy group that sought to overturn Maryland’s ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks. In an opinion issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge James Bredar said the plaintiff, which calls itself Maryland Shall Issue, failed to prove that the the state ban violated their constitutional rights."
Ending Taxpayer Giveaways to Elite Country Clubs - With Montgomery County facing budget cuts, I believe it is inappropriate to force ordinary residents to pay the property tax bills of private country clubs. I'm introducing legislation to put a cap on the millions in taxpayer subsidies these elite golf clubs receive. Bethesda Magazine reported on my plans: "Legislation being introduced in the Maryland General Assembly will call for expanding the number of country clubs and golf courses in Montgomery County that would be assessed at the county’s property tax rates, which could lead to higher tax bills for private clubs.... 'It [the course] might be worth $100 million when it’s being assessed at $1,000 per acre,' Moon said.... Montgomery County has been losing $10 million a year since SDAT adopted the current exemptions for private clubs...."
Previewing Issues for Maryland's 2019 Session - A couple publications have printed commentary on some of the issues likely to emerge in the coming session. The Sentinel noted, "Moon labeled criminal justice reform, ending subsidies to country clubs and increasing local control for speed limits as his major priorities for the legislative session.... 'Mental health, to me, is the perennial underfunded issue,' Moon said about unaddressed issues in the state budget.... 'there are thousands of Maryland residents who have diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues and then end up in the criminal justice system instead of the public health system.' With the county’s Vision Zero program to reduce traffic fatalities, Moon explained allowing the county to lower speed limits on certain roads 'was an important piece of that puzzle.... We’ve done a good job of tackling certain things like healthcare,' Moon said concerning the Trump Administration — explaining that the state imposed a fee on health insurance companies to stabilize the state’s health insurance premiums. Moon said the legislature is likely to implement an individual mandate at the state level but said immigration is going to be the biggest unmet challenge from the federal administration.
WTOP also published a 2019 legislative preview: "Delegate David Moon said he’ll be looking at legislation that would keep nonviolent offenders from being sentenced to serve jail time. He said he’s especially interested in looking at how and why people with mental illness often end up in the criminal justice system, instead of getting needed care. 'That is not a cheap problem to address, but I think increasingly it’s one that ordinary folks on both sides of the aisle realize is a big problem,' Moon said. Moon said he will also work on legislation to make cannabis legal in the state. Possession of marijuana — less than 10 grams — has been decriminalized, but it is not legal unless it is medical marijuana. Moon said he sees a potential for revenues from the cannabis industry to fund education, mental health and substance abuse services. He also said that bills dealing with immigration will get more attention in this year’s session."
That sums up a few of the issues I've been working on the last few weeks, but there are plenty more! I'll discuss the full list of bills I'm introducing in my next email blast. Stay tuned!
I voluntarily reject corporate donations,
so I'm counting on grassroots support :)
1. IMMIGRATION – In the last four year term, the State House passed a few bills intended to provide protections to immigrants in Maryland. These bills generally died in the State Senate, perhaps with some concern about the seats Democrats had to defend in conservative territory. But House Democrats gained seats, even while passing policies like the “Trust Act,” which were labeled “sanctuary state” bills by the opposition. Hopefully this means immigration gets a fresh look in 2019.
2. MARIJUANA – Likewise marijuana legalization was at a potential fork in the road given Jealous’ support for the reform, and Hogan’s relative silence (but openness to a referendum). For what it’s worth, Michigan voters just approved legalization, while Missouri and Utah of all places, approved medical marijuana.
3. JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS – There was some discussion during the election about the fact that due to Maryland’s mandatory retirement age for judges, 5 out of 7 members of our state’s highest court would be appointed by our next Governor (Hogan). Notably, during the last term there were serious pushes to increase the retirement age. Perhaps that issue returns once again.
4. TAX CUTS – Given that Hogan ran on cutting taxes (something he hasn’t really delivered on), I assume he’ll try again. We have a temporary budget surplus, but some Democrats will probably want to use it for something else like….
5. SCHOOL FUNDING – The Kirwan Commission recommendations for school funding and innovation will soon be made into policy proposals (eg: Pre-K). These will cost money. What will Hogan do?
6. HIGHWAY WIDENING – This was Hogan’s idea, so if he had lost re-election, these highway widening proposals would’ve been dead. Now they’re not. There will be a fight.
7. MINIMUM WAGE – There’s going to be a “Fight for $15” push in Maryland, and Montgomery County now has a minimum wage indexed to inflation. This debate is unavoidable.
8. REDISTRICTING – Duh.
See my full article [ here ].
I voluntarily reject corporate donations,
so I'm counting on grassroots support :)
DISCLAIMER: I do not accept corporate contributions. In addition, by making a donation above, you are certifying that each of the following statements is true: (1) I am not a foreign national who lacks permanent residence in the United States; and (2) This contribution is made from my own funds, and not those of another. Note that a person can contribute no more than $6,000 to one Maryland state campaign account during a 4-year campaign cycle, including in-kind contributions. The current cycle began on January 1, 2019 and will end December 31, 2022. Contributions to political campaigns are not tax deductible.
By Authority: Friends of David Moon. Chair: Marlana Valdez. Treasurer: Usman Ahmed.