Wide range of issues face lawmakers -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County lawmakers have a range of issues on their agendas as they head to Annapolis for the Jan. 9 start of the 2013 General Assembly.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin said he wants to change the organ-donating process in Maryland so that individuals will automatically be organ donors unless they specify otherwise when getting a driver’s license.

“We want to send the signal that we consider this good civic behavior,” said Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park.

Del. Jeff Waldstreicher said he will introduce legislation to create a state trust fund for victims of traumatic brain injury, such as veterans and victims of drunken drivers, who do not have medical insurance or who lost their insurance. He said the trust fund would be a safety net of last resort that would pay for medical expenses, and he said the program is common in other states.

He said the Maryland Senate approved similar legislation last year. “We just have to get it through my chamber this year,” said Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington.

Transportation has been on many lawmakers’ minds, particularly how to pay for new projects. Sources for the Transportation Trust Fund include gas taxes, vehicle fees and federal grants.

During a December meeting with the Rockville mayor and council, Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville said lawmakers aren’t likely to put more money into the fund without a “lockbox” to keep it there.

“The state has unmercifully, even ruthlessly, raided the transportation fund over the years, and we’ve done that to balance the budget,” Simmons said.

Waldstreicher, Del. Al Carr (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington and state Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington are working to restore a single polling place for federal, state and county elections in Kensington.

The town had a single polling place at Kensington town hall until redistricting split the municipality into two polling districts. Residents who live north of the CSX tracks vote at town hall, which is south of the tracks, while residents who live south of the tracks vote at Temple Emanuel in Chevy Chase View.

Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring said he is offering bills that would expand energy reduction goals, meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals and create green jobs in the state.

Another bill would provide stronger public notification of contaminate levels by monitoring sewage discharge into Rock Creek and Sligo Creek. The bill also would require posting of the levels in the park system where people would come into contact with the creeks.

Carr also is trying to promote water conservation. One bill would let the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission establish a program that would promote water fixture upgrades. The program, which he said also would help put plumbers to work, would be paid through savings on water bills.

He also would force state properties to pay local stormwater utility fees, which are charges based on a property’s paved surfaces. State properties currently are exempt from paying the fees.

Del. Susan C. Lee is working on a bill to increase the number of jobs in the cyber security industry in Maryland.

Lee (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda will work with Sen. Catherine Pugh (D-Dist. 40) of Baltimore to expand the use of telemedicine, which is remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through the telephone or Internet. Lee said the technology can allow patients to see a specialist, or receive a checkup, without travel expenses.

“What we want to do is expand it to Medicaid patients, low-income patients, so we can be proactive in providing telemedicine for them,” she said.