ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 21, 2008) – Just days after introducing his FY 2009 budget that restrains spending growth while providing record funding for K-12 public education and school construction, Governor Martin O’Malley today unveiled his 2008 legislative agenda to improve public safety in every region of our State and help protect Maryland’s working families.
Governor O’Malley’s legislative agenda includes a number of public safety initiatives, including the expansion of DNA sampling for violent offenses, a comprehensive proposal to address the mortgage foreclosure crisis confronting families across Maryland, and lays the groundwork for a sustainable long-term environmental and energy policy for our State. In addition, Governor O’Malley is proposing measures to improve life-long learning opportunities for Maryland’s workforce, and provide local jurisdictions more flexibility to plan for economic development projects. Governor O’Malley is also sponsoring legislation to improve State services for our veterans who have courageously served our nation abroad.
“Our legislative agenda, like the priorities we presented in our proposed budget, is focused on improving our quality of life in Maryland, protecting Maryland’s families, and improving public safety and public education in every region of our State,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “We look forward to working with the General Assembly to address the critical challenges facing our families today, and at the same time working to ensure a more sustainable future for our children tomorrow.”
Governor O’Malley, with Lieutenant Anthony Brown, introduced 18 bills today that would specifically:
“This legislative package represents modest and responsible steps our Administration can take to deliver on its promise to strengthen our middle class, improve public safety and education and increase opportunities around the State,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “I am proud to work closely with Governor O'Malley and legislature to win approval for these common sense measures to improve the quality of life we enjoy in Maryland.”
Public safety is the foundation of the quality of life we enjoy in Maryland, and it is the primary responsibility of any government to ensure the safety of its citizens. In his first year in office, Governor O’Malley closed Maryland’s most troubled and violent prison – the Maryland House of Correction. The Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2009 includes funding to increase community supervision and surveillance of high risk juvenile offenders through the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, and provides historic funding levels to begin the overhaul of detention and treatment facilities for the State’s juvenile services.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration is serious about apprehending, convicting and keeping violent criminals in prison and off our streets. The protection of the public is the most important responsibility government has, and the O’Malley-Brown Administration is taking steps to improve the safety of our citizens in every community of our State.
To further increase the effectiveness of our law enforcement officials to resolve open cases, Governor O’Malley is introducing legislation to require the collection of a DNA sample from offenders charged with a crime of violence or burglary at the time of their arrest. This evolution in Maryland’s DNA law is necessary to significantly decrease violent crime in our neighborhoods.
By expanding Maryland’s DNA Database, law enforcement will be able to more efficiently resolve open criminal investigations, pursue repeat offenders and save valuable time pursuing false leads by effectively eliminating suspects from ongoing investigations. It is estimated that by adding the arrestees of violent crimes and burglaries to the State’s current DNA database, we will add approximately 31,000 samples to our database per year. DNA is a powerful tool for state and local law enforcement, and the requested $1.7 million per year required to improve our efforts will pay significant dividends. Governor O’Malley’s legislation is modeled after Virginia’s successful DNA program, enabling Maryland to join 11 other states who currently collect DNA from violent crime suspects at the time of arrest.
Last year, the Maryland State Police under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, was successful in closing a backlog of more than 24,000 DNA samples. The DNA samples had been collected from criminals, but were not processed or entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System, where they could be accessed by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to solve crimes.
Through the creation of DNA Stat, the O’Malley-Brown Administration eliminated this backlog, and our DNA-database is now fully functioning as an effective crime prevention tool. Crucial positions in the crime lab that had been vacant and unfunded for years have been filled, and $800,000 has been spent to fund long-term equipment needs. In addition, 4,682 new samples have been collected from convicted offenders and 97% of the Division of Corrections’ inmates who owed samples were collected. As a result, the number of DNA matches (or “hits”) increased by 51% in 2007 from 2006, with a total of 287 hits.
This increase in DNA hits has assisted local and state police in apprehending many violent criminals. In Baltimore County, 24 rape cases were cleared because of DNA matches, leading to the arrest or charge of 15 suspects. In Montgomery County, when the DNA profile of a convicted offender matched a profile of a 1995 rape, the identification of the perpetrator was verified and an arrest warrant has been issued. Howard County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City have also resolved open crimes as a result of the enhanced DNA Database.
Governor O’Malley is introducing legislation to allow critical information-sharing between the Department of Juvenile Services and the Office of Parole and Probation to continue the much needed reform of our juvenile justice system. By providing Parole and Probation information regarding the juvenile dispositions of prospective parolees and probationers, more accurate risk assessment and treatment programs can be created, decreasing the percentage of recidivism while increasing the monitoring of the most dangerous of the convicted felons who have returned to our communities.
Chronic problems within our Juvenile Justice system, though well-documented, have gone unaddressed for decades. Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Maryland is beginning to see real reform and improvement in the way we address the problems of juvenile crime. This past year, swift action resulted in the closing of one Juvenile Detention facility after the death of a resident. A new facility was also opened in Frederick County, which is smaller and better suited to assist the children who are detained at that location. Recently, plans were announced to build a state of the art juvenile facility on the site of the old Hickey School in Baltimore County in addition to facilities in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties, better enabling the treatment and care of troubled youth.
Speeding motorists pose an alarming threat to public safety in Maryland, especially in school zones, residential communities, and highway work zones. In 2006, 13 people were killed and more than 1,000 people injured in work zones alone in the State. Much of the problem can be attributed to vehicles traveling at speeds far in excess of posted speed limits, endangering the lives of pedestrians and fellow motorists.
Working with the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League, the O’Malley-Brown Administration will sponsor legislation to authorize local jurisdictions to use speed monitoring systems to identify and issue civil citations to drivers who are recorded driving more than 10 miles per hour (mph) over the posted speed limit. The placement of speed cameras will be limited to school zones and residential streets with speed limits of 45 mph or less. The speed camera requirements will be similar to those in Montgomery County, which has already implemented a successful speed camera program. In addition, the legislation will authorize the Maryland Department of Transportation to use speed camera systems in work zones on expressways and controlled access highways where the speed limit is 45 mph or higher. In all cases, local and State authorities must issue warnings for the first 12 months of their speed camera programs prior to issuing civil citations to motorists.
In addition to their commitment to improve public safety for the State, the O’Malley-Brown Administration works on many fronts to improve homeland security and protect Marylanders against terrorism threats to their safety. The O’Malley-Brown Administration also recognizes its obligation to protect against the financial risks of allowing State investment dollars to be connected in any way to terrorist-related activity, including supporting, directly or indirectly, terrorism or related activities that will undermine efforts to keep Marylanders safe.
Last year, through a law passed with overwhelming support from both the Administration and the General Assembly, the Board of Trustees of the State’s Retirement and Pension System began divesting from companies doing business in Sudan because of the risks posed by the ongoing genocide and other atrocities in Darfur. Toward the same end, the Administration is introducing a bill that directs the Board of Trustees to begin divesting from foreign companies with substantial investments in Iran’s petroleum-energy sector.
Both the United States and the United Nations have called for economic sanctions against Iran to exert pressure on its government to suspend uranium-enrichment and all activities related to sponsoring terrorism. Despite these measures, some companies have continued to invest in Iran’s petroleum-energy sector and are themselves subject to sanctions under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, renewed most recently in 2006. The Administration is concerned that investing in these publicly traded companies doing business in Iran puts the national security of the country, and the retirement and pensions of State employees, at substantial financial risk.
This bill, therefore, directs the Board of Trustees, pursuant to its fiduciary responsibilities, to divest those accounts over which it exercises full control from companies with over $20 million invested in Iran’s petroleum-energy sector. Before divesting, the Board of Trustees may offer companies the opportunity to stop doing business in Iran, and the total divestment cannot affect more than ½ of 1% of the system’s assets.
In enacting this bill, Maryland would join California, Florida, Michigan and a growing number of other states across the country taking similar action, both to protect their retirement systems from financial risk and to ensure that American dollars are not used to support State-sponsored terrorism.
Governor O’Malley understands that homeownership is the cornerstone of the American dream and the building block of a stronger and growing middle class. This summer, the O’Malley-Brown Administration appointed the Maryland Homeownership Preservation Task Force in response to rising default and foreclosure rates in Maryland. The Task Force developed an action plan to address escalating foreclosure rates and preserve homeownership. Based on the work of the Task Force, the Administration will introduce a package of bills that will help those families at risk of foreclosure, and create greater protections for future homeowners. The legislative package includes bills that will:
These initiatives will also serve as a reminder for those in the mortgage industry that we will not stand by while Maryland’s middle class families fall victim to irresponsible, deceptive, and predatory lending practices.
Among the highest priorities of the O’Malley-Brown Administration is its commitment to the State’s almost half million veterans of the nation’s armed forces. These veterans deserve the support, opportunities, and services necessary to make their transitions from military to civilian life as smooth and successful as possible. To this end, the Administration is introducing legislation to ensure that the State’s veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive the behavioral health services they may need in the wake of their active service in these combat zones.
Maryland has over 10,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, with at least 5,000 more projected to return by the end of the year. The psychological trauma of the war on terror, the counterinsurgency and the urban battlefield has put these veterans at particular risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and related conditions. If left untreated, these conditions could compromise the veterans’ successful readjustment to the stresses of civilian life as they return home to work and families. It is estimated that roughly half of these veterans and their families will require support to address behavioral health problems, and the program established by the Administration’s bill will make sure they receive the help they need.
First, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the program will help our veterans statewide coordinate and obtain access to services available through the federal government and the State’s public mental health system. Second, it will offer crisis services for severe problems that could become emergencies until longer-term services can be obtained. Third, in rural areas where existing federal and state services may be inadequate or inaccessible, the program will provide short-term direct care services. The bill will also create a Veterans’ Behavioral Health Advisory Board to identify gaps in services and make recommendations for further steps to ensure that all Maryland veterans and their families receive the support and services they require and deserve.
StateStat is a performance-measurement and management tool implemented by Governor Martin O'Malley to make our state government more accountable and more efficient. Modeled after the award-winning CitiStat program that he developed as Mayor of Baltimore City, Governor O'Malley is using this data-based management approach to make Maryland's government work again for the people of our State.
Governor O’Malley will introduce legislation creating a new Department of Information Technology, which will have policy responsibility for information technology matters across State agencies. Advances in technology have enabled vast amounts of data and useful information to become immediately available to residents of our State. Because information technology impacts the ability of every State agency to serve the public, it is important that an agency exists to provide oversight authority over large information technology expenditures, and to centralize common information technology functions and assets. It is also important that these functions be consolidated into one department and elevated to a level that reports directly to the Governor.
The new Department of Information Technology will also assume the responsibility for coordinating, purchasing and managing all telecommunications devices and systems utilized by State agencies. The Secretary of Information Technology will lead chief information officers of all agencies to streamline business processes across State government, achieve cost-savings through economies of scale, and coordinate initiatives related to security, disaster recovery and continuity of operations.
Maryland is facing significant electricit challenges that have real world impacts on its economy, environmental quality, and overall standard of living. Over the past few years, Maryland has experienced dramatic hikes in electricity rates, coupled with a warning that electricity shortages could cause rolling blackouts as early as 2011. At the same time, global warming and other environmental challenges are driving a transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable, clean energy.
In July 2007, Governor O’Malley announced the EmPOWER Maryland goal of reducing the State’s electricity consumption 15% by 2015, one of the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency targets. Also in July, the Administration held the Governor’s Energy Summit, which brought together businesses, utilities, energy companies, environmental groups, energy experts, government agencies, and political leaders to discuss and develop solutions to lower energy bills while providing clean and reliable electricity to all Marylanders. At the request of the Governor, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) developed the Maryland Strategic Electricity Plan to assist the Governor and General Assembly in crafting a sustainable energy policy for Maryland’s future.
To mitigate the long-term increase in electricity bills and keep the lights on in the face of Maryland’s projected electricity shortage, the O’Malley-Brown Administration is introducing six energy initiatives.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration will introduce legislation to create the Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund. This fund will allow Maryland to take control of its energy future by investing in energy efficiency technology, stimulating Maryland’s emerging clean energy industry, promoting programs to reduce electricity consumption by low and moderate income customers, and sponsoring research on technologies to reduce Maryland’s vulnerability to climate change.
The Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund will not rely on general funds or a surcharge on ratepayers. Rather, the fund will be financed through the upcoming sale of carbon allowances to power plants as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Maryland joined as part of the 2006 Healthy Air Act. The fund will allow MEA to provided services to traditionally underserved markets, such as providing window air conditioner and refrigerator exchange programs to low-income residents and providing below-market financing to encourage energy efficiency investments by homeowners and small businesses.
The Administration proposes to codify Governor O’Malley’s EmPOWER Maryland initiative which challenges Maryland to reduce statewide per-capita consumption and peak demand by 15% by 2015. This ambitious goal can be achieved through greater use of proven technologies, such as programmable thermostats and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Utilities will have to do their part by establishing a range of programs to reduce household bills, such as rebates for the purchase of ENERGY STAR appliances, incentives for home energy improvements, and voluntary payments for the use of interruptible load devices on air conditioners.
When EmPOWER Maryland is successfully implemented, it will:
During the 2007 Session, the General Assembly passed legislation creating the Maryland Green Building Council for the purpose of developing recommendations for the renovation and construction of energy efficient and resource friendly public buildings.
Based on the Council’s recommendations and working with legislators – including Senator Frosh and Delegates Morhaim and Bronrott – the Administration will introduce legislation to promote green building technologies in State buildings and public schools. Maryland will lead by example by requiring that all new and significantly renovated State buildings over 7,500 square feet meet the LEED Silver green building standard. To realize lower energy costs and encourage more productive students, the legislation will also require all new public schools to meet the LEED Silver green building standard.
Residential and commercial buildings make up 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, which makes improving the energy efficiency of buildings essential to achieving Maryland’s long term goals. In addition to greater energy efficiency, green buildings promote more natural light, better air quality and contribute to improved occupant health, comfort and productivity.
To meet our growing electricity needs, Maryland must invest in new generation. By investing in renewable energy, Maryland can increase its supply of clean electricity and help transition to a more sustainable, secure economy. The O’Malley-Brown Administration will introduce legislation to increase renewable and clean energy generation by:
Maryland’s tax system imposes a significant barrier to residents who want to invest in clean energy systems for their homes. The sales tax on solar systems alone will cancel much of the State grant used to encourage Marylanders to invest in solar power. In addition, the current grants provided by MEA for solar energy and geothermal heating are too low to induce significant household participation. The O’Malley-Brown Administration will propose various tax and grant changes for both solar and geothermal systems to stimulate investment in clean energy, increase supply, and promote energy security through the following measures:
To facilitate new electricity generation, legislation will be introduced on behalf of the Maryland Environmental Services to give MES greater authority to promote energy projects in Maryland. By authorizing MES to provide energy projects and services, Maryland will have a powerful, new tool to help get energy projects off the drawing board and onto the grid to promote affordable, reliable, and clean energy.
The Chesapeake Bay is Maryland’s most precious resource. Yet despie past efforts, much remains to be done to protect our Bay. The FY 2009 budget provides $381 million to fund statewide programs that are directly related to the restoration of the Bay and its tributaries, and the O’Malley-Brown Administration has launched BayStat, which tracks efforts of many State agencies to improve the health of the Bay. The Administration has also invested in important agricultural programs, such as cover crops, to sustain agriculture and preserve open space in a way that protects the Bay. Last Session, the Administration and the General Assembly took significant steps to protect the Bay and Maryland’s environment by passing legislation related to clean cars, enhanced stormwater management, and oyster restoration. The O’Malley-Brown Administration is introducing three initiatives to continue their commitment to protect and clean up the Chesapeake Bay and protect Maryland’s environment.
Building on the historic work of the Governor and the General Assembly last year in creating an annual $50 million Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund, the O’Malley-Brown Administration will introduce legislation that provides a mechanism for spending these Bay cleanup dollars in the most effective scientifically-informed manner, with maximum accountability.
The Administration will propose that Trust Fund dollars be spent on projects designed to prevent runoff that indirectly finds its way into the Bay through such activities as stormwater runoff and agricultural practices, which accounts for a significant portion of the pollutants that enter the Bay and its tributaries. Led by the participants in the Administration’s BayStat accountability program, allocations for cleanup projects will be made on a primarily competitive basis following careful review of which projects provide the most cost-effective water quality benefits to the Chesapeake Bay. To aid their decision-making, the group will be guided by a scientific panel that will advise the Baystat group on cost efficiency and effectiveness estimates.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration will take steps to strengthen the Critical Areas law, a groundbreaking piece of legislation when it was enacted in 1984, in an effort to preserve and restore the water quality of the Bay, maintain valued wildlife habitat and accommodate growth. In the intervening years, we have all seen the detrimental effects that unrestrained and ill-advised growth in environmentally sensitive areas near the Bay can have on the health of our State’s most treasured resource. Among other necessary measures, the Administration believes actions should be taken to stop unrestrained growth near the water, to stop illegal building in the Critical Area, and to require offenders to restore the harm they inflict on the Bay. Giving the Critical Areas Commission the tools they need to more effectively deal with these issues is a high priority of the Administration.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration is committed to taking strong action to reduce the effects that global climate change is having on our State’s shorelines and environment. Throughout the 2008 legislative session, the Administration will work with the General Assembly to address the interim recommendations of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.
Governor O’Malley will introduce legislation to permit the State to aggressively promote transit-oriented development (TOD) as a smart growth tool to revitalize communities and curb sprawl. The bill codifies TOD as a statewide transportation purpose and provides the legal framework and authority to advance TOD projects around the State. It will allow the Department of Transportation to designate TOD projects and use its property and resources to support mixed use and pedestrian friendly development around existing and future transit stations.
Transit-oriented development is a development style that leverages transit stations as the foundation for vibrant communities with a dense mix of commercial, residential, and retail development. By clustering development around transit sites, TOD maximizes the State’s investment in transit by promoting increased ridership and enhanced opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle mobility. The benefits of TOD include easing congestion on our roadways, curbing of green house gas emissions, reducing pollution, and providing a viable alternative to sprawl.
Maryland has all the building blocks for a nationally-recognized TOD program, with 75 rail transit stations across the State, including Metro stations in the Washington, D.C. area. Additional stations are being planned for the MARC system, as well as for three transit lines being designed: the Red Line, the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration understands that an educated workforce is the key to economic growth. The FY 2009 budget provides historic levels of K-12 education funding, over $330 million in school construction funds, and record levels of funding for our institutions of higher education. For the first time, Maryland has a dedicated source of funding for higher education, the Higher Education Investment Fund. The FY 2009 uses that Fund to freeze in-State undergraduate tuition for the third year in a row; provide access to higher education for an additional 1,600 students; fund critical workforce development initiatives; and help promote academic success for low-income students, first generation college students, and minority students.
In addition, the budget contains record levels of operating and capital funds for Maryland’s community colleges, in support of their role in helping the State meet its workforce needs. In order to build on these opportunities, the Administration will be introducing two bills.
In the 2007 Session, the O’Malley-Brown Administration introduced legislation to create the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Subcabinet to coordinate the planning and financial resources of State government to support the missions of military installations expanding under BRAC. Between now and 2011, Maryland anticipates the arrival of as many as 60,000 new jobs and 28,000 new households as a result of the BRAC Commission recommendations. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Brown, the BRAC Subcabinet has worked throughout the past year to prepare Maryland’s action plan to support of our Nation’s defense and security efforts. The BRAC Subcabinet worked extensively with local, State and federal agencies, the private sector and the public to develop strategies to accommodate the new employers, workers and families that will relocate to Maryland in the coming years.
Based on the recommendations of the BRAC Subcabinet, the O’Malley-Brown Administration will introduce the BRAC Community Enhancement Act. This legislation will include two initiatives to leverage State and private sector investments critical to support the community and transportation infrastructure necessary to accommodate BRAC-related growth.
The legislation will establish BRAC Revitalization and Incentive Zones (“BRAC Zones”) to provide local jurisdictions with incentives to enhance public infrastructure such as streets, utilities and recreation venues in designated revitalization and redevelopment areas. BRAC Zones will also provide BRAC businesses with incentives to locate in targeted areas of the State that are in need of revitalization and redevelopment.
BRAC Zones will accommodate and encourage BRAC-related growth in the State, without contributing to sprawl, by directing the population growth to Priority Funding Areas that are served by public transit and have underutilized capacity in housing, public facilities, and infrastructure. In keeping with these principles of Smart Growth, the BRAC Zones program will provide certain tax incentives to businesses and local governments in the designated BRAC Zones. The business incentives are similar to those offered in Enterprise Zones and will help attract high quality businesses into these areas.
Legislation will also give State and county government greater flexibility to negotiate a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with private sector entities building commercial developments on military installations. This measure will ensure that the private sector will fairly contribute to the public infrastructure necessary to accommodate the commercial developments planned at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Ft. Meade.
In addition to the BRAC Community Enhancement Act, the Administration will propose to expand the uses of the new Higher Education Investment Fund to allow for BRAC-related higher education initiatives administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Governor O’Malley has included $3 million in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget for workforce training initiatives related to BRAC.
To better coordinate education efforts, particularly programs for adult learners, and to better coordinate workforce development efforts, legislation is being introduced to transfer the State’s adult education and correctional education programs to the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, the State’s lead agency on workforce development and job training policies. If Maryland is going to continue to be an economic leader in the country and the world, we need to do a much better job of serving our citizens who currently lack the skills to enter the workforce. The FY 2009 budget includes almost $50 million for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Workforce Development to support workforce development programs for young people and adults, dislocated workers, and job services for veterans.