A lifetime resident of the Wheaton area, Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Dist. 19) said he is running for re-election to continue working to protect seniors and for animal welfare.
District 19 includes Wheaton, Aspen Hill and surrounding areas.
Kramer, a delegate since 2007, has passed a number of measures to make up for what he saw years ago as “a dearth of legislation protecting our seniors and helping our senior residents,” he said.
Seniors were being scammed out of money by criminal schemes like false phone calls or emails requesting wire transfers, or even “relatives” convincing them to hand over money. Kramer led the effort to pass a law “that criminalized the use of undue influence to take the assets of seniors,” he said.
A follow-up bill required banks to train employees to spot scams and protect seniors and to report abuse. He wants to work on getting the same regulations applied to money transfer services operating in Maryland.
In times of power outages during extreme heat and cold, Kramer has taken older residents into his home.
He passed legislation to hold utility companies more accountable and make them respond more quickly to outages where there are senior housing facilities. Now, if there’s an outage lasting longer than four hours, the utility must report it to the Public Service Commission and explain how it will fix the problem. Another bill Kramer sponsored blocks predatory lenders from giving seniors bad reverse mortgage deals, which led to foreclosures, forcing seniors out of their homes.
Kramer led the implementation of Silver Alerts, public notices when someone with a cognitive impairment has gone missing, to help police find the person. The alert applies not just to older residents with dementia, but residents of all ages. Relatives of people with autism said the system would be useful for them, too, he said.
Another Kramer initiative led to Maryland becoming the second state to outlaw severing of dogs’ and cats’ vocal cords. The procedure — which was often done violently by owners, researchers and breeders without a veterinarian — can cause problems with breathing, eating and drinking for many animals. Now it must be physically necessary and performed by a veterinarian with anesthesia.
Kramer also worked to make cosmetic surgery on animals illegal — referring to cutting ears or tail for cosmetic reasons.
In Montgomery County, Kramer’s work to ensure that the state, rather than the county, will enforce minimum wage laws will save the county about $500,000, he said.
He also pushed for less environmentally harmful alternatives to road salt, which leached into the water supply. Alternatives such as beet juice and byproducts from alcohol distilleries “are very effective and are benign to the environment,” he said.
In the June 24 Democratic primary, Kramer is running with Bonnie Cullison (D-Dist. 19).
Current Del. Sam Arora (D-Dist. 19) will not seek re-election.
The challengers are Paul Bardack, Charlotte Crutchfield, and Maricé Morales.
Melodye Berry filed to run, but withdrew from the race, although her name still will appear on the ballot.
On Nov. 4, the three winners of the Democratic primary will compete with Republican Martha Schaerr for three delegate seats.