December 2020 Board of Directors Report & Minutes

LWVHC – December 10, 2020 Meeting: Program and Directors’ Reports

 

Program Report – Krista Threefoot

New Business --Next week is our HoCO Law Enforcement Forum Unit Meeting. I’d appreciate suggestions for questions — I plan on asking about 3 from us, 1 will be about SROs, and then leaving time for attendees to ask their own questions. But I’d love any ideas from the rest of the board on questions we can ask. 

The Eventbrite link to register for the unit meeting is: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lwvhc-december-unit-meeting-law-enforcement-in-howard-county-tickets-131962281737

November Unit Meeting -- We had a great conversation at our November unit meeting about Vote by Mail, with lots of insightful questions and comments about the topic. We came to a unanimous consensus in favor of Maryland adopting Vote by Mail. 

I’ve sent our consensus report to LWVMD, who will use it along with reports from other local leagues to determine their position on the issue. Should they adopt a position in favor of Vote by Mail, LWVMD and local units will be authorized to advocate for VBM if MD legislature proposes it. AT this point, there is no legislation related to adopting VBM in MD. 

 

Action Report – Linda Wengel: The following bill was passed by the County Council:

AN ACT providing that County employees shall take, or refrain from taking, specified actions with respect to the immigration status of specified individuals; prohibiting certain discrimination based on immigration status; requiring that certain information related to citizenship status be kept confidential; providing a procedure whenever specified provisions may be preempted by other law; requiring specified officials to take actions under certain circumstances; and generally relating to human rights in Howard County.

 

They again tabled the New Cultural Center funding with guarantees that it will pass in the very near future, as final details about funding are negotiated. 

Newly elected Council officers. Chair, Liz Walsh, Vice Chair, Opel Jones, Chair of the Zoning Board, Christiana Rigby, Chair Liquor Board, David Yungmann.



Internal Communications –   


External Communications –
Laura Mettle:  External Communications is exploring ways to make website more accessible and easier to understand. We had a glitch with Domain renewal in November that has been successfully resolved. 
 

Education – Linda Frascarella: no report this month

Environment Report – Sandy Levy
An unusual snack for cows, a powerful fix for climate

Washington Post, November 27, 2020

Scientists have discovered that feeding seaweed to cows significantly reduces the amount of methane they produce and burp into the atmosphere, while also helping them produce more milk and grow bigger on less feed. When grown in the ocean, seaweed helps to filter the water, making the idea of farming seaweed to feed to cows a win-win for the environment and farmers.

 

2021 HoLLIE Virtual Lecture Series Online

The Howard County Legacy Leadership Institute for the Environment is for people who want to turn knowledge about the environment and climate change into action in Howard County and the state of Maryland. Expert scientists at NASA, the University of Maryland, and Howard County Government give interactive lectures on earth systems science, the hydrological and carbon cycles, and international and national environmental policies. The 2021 HoLLIE Virtual Lecture Series Online is an abbreviated version of HoLLIE.  It will still be eight weeks of classes, but half-days, and no field trips.  In-person classes are usually limited to 15 people, but this year will be opened up to a much wider audience.  And, registration is required but there is no tuition fee. We expect to have registration available on this page in mid-December. 

 

The Maryland General Assembly is back in session. Here are the Committees related to the Environment and the persons responsible. I will follow the session as it relates to the Environment.

 

House

Environment and Transportation Committee

 

Delegate Kumar P. Barve Chairman

 

Delegate Dana Stein

 

Land Use and Ethics Subcommittee

Terrasa, Jen (Howard County)

 

Senate

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

 

Senator Paul G. Pinsky

 

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan

 

Environment Subcommittee

Senator Clarence K. Lam (Howard County)

 

COVID-19 affect on the Environment

Issue Papers 2021 Legislative Session
General Assembly of Maryland Department of Legislative Services 2020

 

Federal Action

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a temporary enforcement discretion policy in response to the pandemic. Under the policy, facilities were expected to comply with regulatory requirements where reasonably practicable and return to compliance as quickly as possible. EPA applied the policy retroactively beginning on March 13; this policy expired on August 31. The policy authorized states or tribes to take a different approach under their own authorities.

 

State Action

Adapting Agency Requirements and Protocols

Beginning in March 2020, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has transitioned to a majority-remote office. Additionally, the agency exercised discretion in administering or adapting various deadlines and requirements. In collaboration with EPA and the Maryland Department of Transportation, MDE repurposed several Vehicle Emission Inspection Program stations as COVID-19 testing sites. MDE also extended the deadline by which schools and food service businesses must discontinue the sale or provision of food or beverages in expanded polystyrene food service products, as required by Chapters 579 and 580 of 2019. However, MDE issued a public notice retaining the deadline for rental registration renewals for certain properties affected by the presence of lead paint, citing persisting public health concerns.

 

Enforcement Policy during the Pandemic

In response to the state of emergency, MDE released a statement that discretionary enforcement may be necessary but would be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Under this policy, MDE expected regulated entities to make every effort to comply with environmental responsibilities, including monitoring and reporting requirements. Accordingly, the number of Maryland entities seeking delays or waivers has been relatively low. From March to September 2020, MDE received approximately 68 requests for enforcement discretion. The majority of requests are for flexibility on the timing of submitting monitoring reports due to the closure of facilities and a reduction in staffing.

MDE’s processing of significant enforcement actions, those brought to a resolution with a financial penalty of $10,000 or more has decreased. Between 2016 and 2019, for the January through March quarter, MDE resolved an average of 6.5 significant enforcement actions compared with 2 significant enforcement actions being resolved for that same quarter in 2020. Similarly, between 2016 and 2019, for the April through June quarter, MDE resolved an average of 7.5 significant enforcement actions but resolved only 3 significant enforcement actions for the same quarter in 2020.

 

Licensing and Permitting

Coinciding with the state of emergency, beginning in mid-March, applications received and permits and licenses issued were down to about half of 2019 levels. In the June reporting period, only 40 applications were received and 14 permits and licenses issued, compared with 85 applications received and 107 permits and licenses issued during the same period in 2019. While applications received during the July reporting period were at a level consistent with 2019 numbers, the number of permits and licenses issued during that period remained at about half of 2019 levels. This data is preliminary, but a continued imbalance between the number of applications received and permits and licenses issued could lead to a backlog.

 

Air and Water Quality Monitoring

MDE has maintained its field presence at facilities that it considers the most critical in terms of public health and the environment by continuing with certain inspections, testing, and enforcement activities. These activities include monitoring for contaminants at water treatment plants, maintaining safe conditions at dams, and managing capacity issues at incinerators and landfills. The agency adheres to Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for personal protective equipment for all in-person inspections and emergency responses.

 

Climate Change

Since March 2020, MDE and the University of Maryland have been analyzing the impacts of COVID-19 on air quality and climate change in the State, looking at traffic, satellite imagery, air quality, and greenhouse gases. MDE released information in April, which outlined a massive drop in traffic, suggesting greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also analyzed satellite data, finding a dramatic reduction in pollution related to fossil fuel combustion in March. A second update by MDE, released in May 2020, found that while traffic was still down compared to pre-COVID-19 figures, there has been a slow increase since mid-April. The study also suggested that the low levels of air pollutants and the downward trend in power plant emissions had more to do with preexisting regulations and historical declines than with COVID-19.

 

Natural Resources

Seafood Industry: Market Disruptions and Labor Shortages

Pandemic-related restaurant closures significantly disrupted demand for Maryland’s seafood. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), approximately 70% of the seafood consumed in the United States is typically consumed at restaurants. MDA’s Maryland’s Best Program helped to facilitate a shift to direct-to-consumer sales by developing an interactive map of locations where local produce and seafood could be purchased directly from producers and at special distribution events held by local nonprofits. Labor shortages compounded disruptions to the seafood industry. Many seafood processors in the region rely on foreign guest workers employed through the H-2B Visa Program to fill seasonal positions at their facilities. In 2020, a combination of caps on the number of H-2B visas and COVID-19-related immigration restrictions significantly decreased the number of guest workers employed by local processors.

 

Bay Restoration and Modeling

Some Chesapeake Bay restoration and monitoring activities were canceled, delayed, or scaled back as a result of the pandemic. For example, activities at the Horn Point oyster hatchery, which supplies oyster spat for State restoration projects, were suspended in the spring but resumed later in the summer. Scientific field research and surveys were also halted in much of the region. While some of these activities have resumed following the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, there are concerns about the pandemic’s long-term effects on both public and private funding for bay restoration and monitoring.

 

Licensing and Permitting

Following Governor Hogan’s March 12, 2020 executive order extending grace periods and expiration dates for several authorizations, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encouraged customers to take advantage of the grace period for licenses, permits, and registrations that would typically be processed in-person, and also encouraged people to use its online COMPASS portal to purchase recreational licenses, permits, and stamps.

Parks and Recreation

State and local parks logged record levels of attendance during the spring and summer.

The Washington Post reported that the 53 parks managed by DNR recorded 258,576 visits in March 2020, compared with 64,101 visits in March 2019 and 46,153 visits in March 2018. The trend continued into April with 182,657 visits logged in 2020, up from 113,340 in April 2019 and 95,117 in April 2018. DNR has taken steps to mitigate the risk of disease spread at parks, including implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, canceling events and gatherings of groups larger than 10 people, and restricting access to certain park facilities. DNR also suspended spring trout stocking in an effort to protect the health and safety of its employees and discourage anglers from gathering near stocked waterways.

 

COVID-19-related Assistance

The CARES Act includes $300 million in fisheries assistance. Of this total, $4,125,118 has been allocated to Maryland to be administered by NOAA in coordination with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Fishery participants that may ultimately be eligible for funding include commercial fishing businesses, charter fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, seafood processors, and other fishery-related businesses. However, businesses farther down the supply chain, such as vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers, are not considered fishery-related businesses for purposes of CARES Act fisheries assistance.


 
 Fundraising – Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat:

 

Membership – Lucie Geinzer: Letter draft:  "Recruit One Person to join the League"

Give me your input/edits.

Recruit One Person to Join the League

Hi, 

I’m Lucie Geinzer, and I am the Director of the Membership Committee for the League of Women Voters of Howard County (LWVHC). Thanks to your support, the League has done its vital work during this past election. We are proud and grateful for your membership. 

Do you only have five minutes to do an Action that will support the League? Then recruit a friend to join! Be persistent; don’t give up. You may ask ten people to join before one person does. 

The League of Women Voters is a trusted grassroots organization whose members do the hands-on work to safeguard democracy. While we never endorse or oppose a candidate, we are directly involved in shaping the important issues to keep our community strong. As a League member, they would have the opportunity to contribute in a leadership role that has an impact on local, state and even national issues. So, ask a friend to join the League!

The League is open to men and women 18 or older, and is a great way to get involved in your community. Please ask friends to check out its website and to join us at  https://hoco.lwvhowardmd.org/  

Thank you for your help,

 Publications – Amber Treat

   

 

Voter Services – Cheryle Wharton  (absent) – Nothing to report.


November 2020 President's and Directors' Reports

League of Women Voters of Howard County, Inc.
Board Meeting Minutes
via Zoom
November 12, 2020

In attendance: Cynthia Williams, Barbara Russell, Virginia Kirk, Lucie Geinzer, Krista Threefoot, , Linda Wengel, Linda Frascarella, Laura Mettle, Beth Hufnagel, Grace Kubofcik .
Absent: Michelle Rice Trotter, Amber Treat, Cheryle Wharton, and Sandy Levy.
 
Meeting called to order at 7:10 pm by President Cynthia Williams.

Changes to Agenda: There were no changes to the agenda.

President’s Report: Cynthia Williams referred the Board to her written report. See full President’s Report for specifics.

Secretary’s Report: Virginia Kirk –Linda Wengel moved, Barbara Russell seconded, that the October 12, 2020 meeting minutes be approved. Motion passed.  

Treasurer’s Report: Barbara Russell – The total checking/savings balance as of October 31, 2020, was $52,799.29. Long-standing LWVHC member Margo Garner left in her will $31,513.86 to the League.  There is one new member. We had a total of $2,260.00 in donations and T-shirt sales for the Voters’ Guide. The expenses for printing and advertising were $2,108.00. The treasurer’s report will be filed for review.

Program Report: Krista Threefoot –

  • Zoom License: Barbara Russell moved that we get a Zoom license of our own, which will cost around $149.00. Lucie Geinzer seconded. Motion Passed.
  • Unit Meetings: Krista Threefoot reported that the October Unit meeting went well. The November Unit meeting will cover the LWVMD consensus on Vote by Mail. See the attached study. Virginia Kirk volunteered to be the note-taker for this meeting. The December meeting will be a policing community forum. The January topic will be Program Consensus; February will be the 2020 Education Study Consensus. See the Program Report for details.

Directors’ Reports

Action: Linda Wengel – Grace Kubofcik presented information about the new General Plan, a long-range plan that guides land use, growth and development decisions. Called HoCo by Design, the plan development is led by the Department of Planning and Zoning and a consultant team. See https://www.hocobydesign.com for more information. Grace Kubofcik is a member of an advisory group which acts as a liaison to the community and which provides feedback and advice to the planning commission. She is currently talking to a lot of community members and pointed out that there is a comment section on the Planning and Zoning website for anyone who wants to provide feedback. In the Spring/Summer a draft will be available for review in the Fall/Winter. She hopes it will go to the planning board by the end of next year. Finally, she made the following points: (1) she thinks some of the money from the bequest should be invested for the future; (2) she wore the t-shirt a lot; (3) we should do the legislative luncheon in January; (4) she thanked Barbara Russell for the Voters’ Guide. 

Linda Wengel discussed some of the State legislation that once again seeks to oversee the Howard County Board of Education. She believes these bills overstep the State role. She asked the Board to review the bills so it can vote at the next meeting about taking a stand on the issue.  See her full report for details.

Communications—Internal: Cynthia Williams will continue to try to find someone for this position.

Education: Linda Frascarella referred to her Directors’ Report for information about the following:

  • Hybrid learning model to be decided by November 19.
  • Participated in another library event called “Democracy in Action,” the history of voting rights in the US. She encouraged everyone to see the presentation by Dr. Richard Bell at https://youtube.com/watch?v=GYJNpRvB3yk
  • Participated in an event run by Centennial Rho Kappa (Social Studies Honor Society) and Centennial Student Government Association.

See Director’s Report for more details.

Environment: Sandy Levy (absent): See her Director’s report for update on the following:

  • Update on HCC’s Sustainability Day. After many meetings, in the end, Robert Marietta, in charge of the event, ask them to prepare a slide to be shown on the screen at HCC, viewed only by HCC students.
  • Plastic bag fee in effect October 1, 2020
  • Maryland’s First Bus Rapid Transit Service Opens
  • Electrify Maryland Now
  • Maryland Green Schools Sustainable Schools Update

Fundraising: Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat (absent) See Directors’ Report for proposed restaurant fundraiser.

Membership: Lucie Geinzer reported that she presented “Why We Should Abolish the Electoral College” to the Howard County chapter of the American Association of University Women. 25 attended. She also drafted a letter to invite AAUW members to join LWVHC. See Directors’ Report document for details.

Publications: Amber Treat (absent) See the Directors’ Reports for more information.

Voter Services: Cheryle Wharton (absent) See the Director’s Reports for details of the many voter registration activities.

Communications – External: Laura Mettle discussed some of the ways the Voters’ Guide was advertised. See the Directors’ Reports for details.

Unfinished Business

  • Board Questions: Linda Frascarella sent the board a list of questions about the operations of the League that she would like to discuss and that she believes should be addressed for new members. Cynthia Williams suggested that these questions be filtered to the appropriate person for discussion at the next meeting.
  • Website: There was some discussion of the need to update the website. Laura Mettle will find out more about the costs to do this.

 

New Business

  • Fundraising – See Amber Treat’s Director’s Report regarding phonation of non-members.
  • Community Relations/Tea for Three: Cynthia Williams – Would like to create relationships/partnerships with other organizations.
  • Legislative Breakfast: Cynthia Williams will send out invitations for the same date as last year. This will be a Zoom event. She will follow up at the December Board meeting.
  • Meeting with County Council: Cynthia Williams will work around the Council members’ schedules. She will follow up at the December Board meeting.
  • Membership pay dates: Lucie Geinzer moved to change the by-laws so that a member gets a 12 month membership based on the date he/she joined. Krista Threefoot seconded. Motion passed.

Adjournment:  Krista Threefoot moved, Lucie Geinzer seconded, that the meeting be adjourned. Motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at 8:37pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia Kirk, Secretary

Read more

Minutes of September Board Meeting

League of Women Voters of Howard County, Inc.
Board Meeting Minutes
via Zoom
September 10, 2020

In attendance: Cynthia Williams, Barbara Russell, Virginia Kirk, Lucie Geinzer, Krista Threefoot, , Linda Wengel, Linda Frascarella, Sandy Levy, Laura Mettle.
Absent: Nancy Carlsen, Michelle Rice Trotter, Amber Treat, Cheryle Wharton
 Meeting called to order at 7:04 pm by President Cynthia Williams.

Changes to Agenda: There were no changes to the agenda. Linda Wengel moved and Sandy Levy seconded that the agenda be approved. Motion passed.

President’s Report: Cynthia Williams referred Board to her written report. The Candidate Forum on October 2 was discussed. Questions will come from partners (Horizon Foundation, PTA Council of Howard County, and the Association of Community Services of Howard County. See full President’s Report for specifics.

Secretary’s Report: Virginia Kirk – Lucie Geinzer moved, Linda Wengel seconded, that the June 2020 meeting minutes be approved. Motion passed.  

Treasurer’s Report: Barbara Russell – The total checking/savings balance as of August 31, 2020, was $18,385.36. Dues paid so far: $7,175.00.  She noted that approximately $430 has been raised by the tee-shirt sale. The insurance has been paid. She also reviewed the total fundraising effort for supporting the promotion and/or printing of the Voters’ Guide.  So far a total of approximately $1,450 has been raised for this purpose. Laura Mettle discussed options for advertising the Voters’ Guide in the Flyer, the Howard County Times, and various Patch publications. The total estimated costs would be over $1,000 for this type of advertising. As the Guide won’t be available until the end of September, the Board agreed to postpone a decision. 

There was a follow-up question about the mass email of information about the Guide to all registered voters in Howard County. Laura Mettle will request email addresses from the Board of Elections this week. Barbara will file the Treasurer’s Report documents for review.

Program Report: Krista Threefoot referred the Board to her Program Report for specifics on Unit Meetings, Local League Program Chair Meeting, and the  T-Shirt fundraiser. Zoom Unit meetings schedule and topics:

  • September 24, 7:00pm, Voting Information
  • October 22, 7:00pm, Ballot information
  • November 19, 7:00pm, Policing community forum

Directors’ Reports

Action: Linda Wengel reported on the three new Council Resolutions and requested Board direction on action to be taken, if any. See full Directors’ Report for details:

  • CR 143-2020 – A resolution declaring support for the phased in $15 minimum wage. No action necessary.
  • CR 51-2020 – An act prohibiting Howard County Department of Corrections from accepting into custody persons for immigration issues detained by federal immigration law enforcement. The League did support the Sanctuary City bill. Linda Wengel is not sure we have a stand on CR 51.
  • CR 142-2020 – Creation of a racial justice taskforce. Linda Wengel will send a letter of support.

 

Communications—Internal: Nancy Carlsen (absent) –Cynthia Williams discussed the need to find someone to take over this position. She will contact members who have expressed an interest and let the Board know the outcome. She also requested and received a general consensus that each month we post on the LWVHC website the Board Meeting minutes, the President’s Report, and the Directors’ Reports.

Communications – External: Laura Mettle. Although External Communications was not on the Agenda, the Board continued the discussion of printing the Voters’ Guide. Linda Wengel noted that the Guide is a signature service the League is known for and we should focus on advertising it, as opposed for example 411. The general consensus was that we advertise both our Guide and Vote 411.  This discussion was in the context of how we should advertise the Guide. Cynthia Williams asked Board members to help estimate the number of issues we might need if we were to print them. Frascarella will estimate many would be needed for the Library System and Linda Wengel for senior living sites. Cynthia Williams has ideas for possible advertisers and will make calls. 

Cynthia Williams will send to the Board the voter information sheet that she created.

Education: Linda Frascarella referred to her Directors’ Report for details about the virtual fall semester for the Howard County School System. She also noted the voter registration and voting PowerPoint she created for the Oakland Mills group via Zoom on August 27 and the one she is currently working on: Being an Informed Voter for September 24 at 7:00, also Zoom.

Environment: Sandy Levy reported that Howard Community College’s Sustainability Day is scheduled for Oct. 21. The College has requested the League do a 10 minutes presentation on voting. She will follow up with the College on specifics. She also noted that Sunrise Howard County has contacted her. See the Environment Director’s Report for details regarding the many bills, actions, and activities related to environmental issues locally, in the State, and nationally. 

Fundraising: Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat (absent)

Membership: Lucie Geinzer noted the various letters she has written related to membership and fundraising.  See the Directors’ Reports for more details.   

Publications: Amber Treat (absent)   

Voter Services: Cheryle Wharton (absent) See the Director’s Reports for details of activities.

 Unfinished Business

  • Voter Guide Printing – see above
  • What to do about the Voter – see discussion above in Communications – Internal.
  • Decision about picking up ballots. The general consensus was that this be an informal activity that members can undertake as they wish.
  • Laying a wreath and possible contribution. The general consensus was that LWVHC should participate.
  • Calendar update – Cynthia Williams has updated the calendar and has sent it to Amber Treat, recognizing that it is fluid, given the circumstance.

 

New Business

  • Ballot questions: This topic was covered in various sections. See above.
  • Horizon Foundation: Cynthia Williams believes the Horizon Foundation will be a great new partner.
  • LWVMD—Cynthia Williams sent the Board the form, consensus needed by October 5, 2020.
  • Re-posting – Cynthia Williams requested guidance. The consensus was that it is okay to re-post community service announcements on a case-by-case basis as long as these announcements are non-partisan.
  • Any questions regarding Unit or Candidate Forum meetings? None
  • The Voter deadline is 10/15/2020

Adjournment: Lucie Geinzer moved, Linda Wengel seconded, that the meeting be adjourned. Motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at 8:41pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia Kirk, Secretary