March 2021 Director's Reports

LWVHC – March 11, 2021 Meeting: Program and Directors’ Reports

 Program Report – Krista Threefoot

We have two big things to cover this month:

  • The updated education position
  • The LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study

But first – good news! LWVMD read our recommendation for a statewide education study in program consensus report, and they contacted me to ask if they could use our education position once we approve it.

  1. New Education Position

At our February Unit Meeting, members came to a consensus to update our Education position to include the topic of equity in education.

The next step is for our board to approve the position the Education Study Committee wrote based on the consensus report. After that, we present the new position at our Annual Meeting for a vote. Board approval is mostly a formality. Because the position is based on the specific points in our consensus, we can’t change the substance of the position.

I’ll copy the new position here, and as an addendum, I’ll include the entire education position with the new language added. (Equity in Education would be point #10.) The consensus report is also included after the full education position.

Position Statement:

Support for:

  1. Equity in education (2021)
    1. Equity requires that we provide each student with the resources, support, and instruction necessary to achieve academic success. Schools with disproportionate numbers of students with special needs [including English as a Second Language (ESL) and Free and Reduced Meals (FARM)] require more support than schools that are less challenged.
    2. Equity is achieved through:
      1. Balanced school redistricting. Balanced school redistricting is defined as: (1) capacity utilization, (2) community continuity, (3) factors related to social-economic diversity.
      2. Allocation of resources such as communication systems, technology, maintenance and capital improvements, and even playground equipment based on the need of each school.
  • How experienced the staff, administrators & support staff are.
  1. Transparent and comprehensive data collection related to factors affecting equity that allows citizens to understand how equity goals are achieved.
  2. Expanded multi-cultural course offerings and consistent advanced placement offerings among all schools.
  3. LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study
    Our next unit meeting (March 18, 7-9pm) will be another consensus meeting to review the LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study.

This study covers the topic of allowing citizens to propose legislation, either directly or indirectly, which will appear on our ballots for a referendum vote. It’s a complicated issue, with lots of pros and cons. I encourage everyone to review the study and attend the meeting. You can access the study here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lwvmaryland/pages/127/attachments/original/1613222519/2021BallotInitiativeFS_FINAL.pdf?1613222519

 

Action: Linda Wengel --  

CB 17
AN ACT to update and add definitions related to solar collector equipment; to eliminate the requirement for a glare study; to add certain reviews by the Agricultural Preservation Board; to allow rooftop commercial and accessory ground mount solar collectors in all zoning districts; to allow commercial ground-mount solar collector facilities in certain zoning districts ; to limit the size of commercial ground-mount solar collector facilities on certain parcels that are in the Agricultural Land Preservation Program; and generally relating to the Howard County Zoning Regulations.

 CB23

An Act  requiring the developer of a TOD (Transit Oriented Development) District site to provide the required moderate income housing units on the TOD site; prohibiting certain actions by the developer relating to option methods or alternative compliance to optional methods; and generally relating to Moderate-Income Housing Unit requirements.

 LWVMD will be pursuing continuation of virtual coverage of state legislative meetings and sessions for future sessions.

There is a new national project called Road Map to Educating for Democracy whose purpose is to build excellence in civic and history education for all K through 12 students.  It has very credible leaders and I think second to fighting voter suppression, it is one of the most important endeavors the League should be involved in, given how fragile we have learned our democracy is.  

Communications – Laura Mettle:   

We now have Google email accounts, Drives and a shared Drive for the Executive Board's use, courtesy of LWVMD. 

Please upload relevant documents to the Shared Drive, so we will have those. 

I am taking requests for Google training. Please let me know what you need/want.

I will continue working on revamping the website. 

Education – Linda Frascarella:    

  • Howard County Public Schools are reopening

On March 1, HCPSS started its transition to a hybrid instructional model.

  • School start times are now 20 minutes later than they were pre-covid
  • There are changes to student class times/durations
  • Free meals are still available, but the delivery logistics have changed

Details can be found here:

https://news.hcpss.org/news-posts/2021/02/preparing-for-2020-2021-hybrid-instruction/

  • Student Member to Board or Education

The 2 student candidates for the Board of Education have been selected and a virtual election will take place in early May.

In January, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, reached out to the Howard County Board of Education and offered their legal services pro bono.  They will respond to the lawsuit filed by 2 parents, trying to remove the voting rights of the student member.

(Reference: https://patch.com/maryland/ellicottcity/pro-bono-services-secured-hoco-education-board-lawsuit)

  • FY22 budget

The school board voted unanimously in late February to send the proposed fiscal 2022 operating budget of $960 million to the County Executive and the County Council. The spending plan is $50.1 million more than FY21.

Reference (https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/howard/cng-ho-board-advances-budget-20210225-6mni3isy5bdptayc2ctawvagjm-story.html)

Environment Report – Sandy Levy
 
Firms managing Purple Line construction narrow list of potential new contractors. The three bidders are Halmar International; a team of Dragados USA and OHL USA; and a joint venture of Tutor Perini and Lunda Construction Co.
Washington Post, March 3, 2021

The Maryland Department of the Environment submitted its final 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan to Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly. The new Plan calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. The 2030 GGRA Plan also includes an even more aggressive stretch goal of net-zero emissions by 2045.
February 19, 2021

Howard County Council passes bill prohibiting use of certain single-use plastic by restaurants and retailers
The Howard County Council passed the Plastics Reduction Act in a 4-1 vote Monday night, prohibiting the use of certain single-use plastic by restaurants and retailers. The legislation, introduced last month by County Council member Christiana Mercer Rigby, Vice Chair Opel Jones and Chair Liz Walsh, aims to limit single-use plastic such as straws, stirrers and certain condiment packets in the county by requiring retailers and restaurants to supply alternatives and by asking before giving out condiment packets and plastic ware to customers.
March 2, 2021

Maryland General Assembly

The two bills that Katie Fry Hester mentioned in her Environment Report were SB62-Chief Resilience Officer which creates a Chief Resilience Officer within the Maryland Emergency Management Administration to mitigate the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities, and SB319- Clean Energy Loan Program which opens access to low interest loans for environmental remediation and clean energy improvements for commercial properties. SB319 was voted favorable with amendments on February 3, 2021.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021

SB0414 HB0583
[Status: In the Senate - Laid Over (Senator Pinsky) Adopted]
Requiring the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing certain energy conservation requirements for certain buildings by July 1, 2022; establishing a goal of planting and helping to maintain in the State 5,000,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State by the end of 2030; terminating certain provisions of the Act; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Economic Development - Advanced Clean Energy and Clean Energy Innovation Investments and Initiatives
HB419
[Status: In the Senate - First Reading Finance]
Altering references to the term "clean energy" to be "advanced clean energy" for purposes of certain provisions of law concerning the Maryland Clean Energy Center and the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute; altering certain findings of the General Assembly, the purposes of certain provisions of law concerning the development of clean energy industries in the State, and the purposes, powers, and duties of the Center and Institute to include certain actions supporting clean energy innovation; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Maryland Transit Administration - Funding (Transit Safety and Investment Act)
HB0114
[Status: In the House - Hearing 2/03 at 1:30 p.m.]
Requiring the Governor to include certain appropriations in the State budget from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Maryland Transit Administration for certain operating and capital needs in certain fiscal years; authorizing the reduction of certain appropriations under certain circumstances; requiring that certain capital appropriations be in addition to capital funds appropriated for the Purple Line; requiring the Administration to submit a certain report annually; declaring the intent of the General Assembly; etc.

Clean Energy Loan Program - Remediation and Resiliency
SB0319 HB0517 Sponsors Senators Hester and Elfreth
[Status: In the House - First Reading Environment and Transportation]
Expanding the purpose of a certain clean energy loan program to include loans for water efficiency projects, environmental remediation projects intended to remove environmental or health hazards, and resiliency projects to increase the capacity of a property to withstand the effects of climate change; adding water efficiency projects and environmental remediation and resiliency projects to the items requiring eligibility requirements under a certain ordinance; etc.

Zoning - Environmental Justice Considerations
SB0121 HB0051
[Status: In the House - First Reading Environment and Transportation]
Authorizing a local governing body, on receipt of an application for a special exception to construct or operate a permitted facility in an area zoned for residential use, to require the preparation, at the applicant's expense, of a detailed analysis of the environmental and public health impacts of the permitted facility on the surrounding community; requiring the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to recommend strategies for increasing State support in addressing environmental justice concerns; etc.

Environmental Justice - At-Risk Communities and Environmental Permits – Requirements

HB0111
[Status: withdrawn by the sponsor, Delegate Love]
Delegate Love’s staff member explained to me that she had proposed the bill on behalf of an advocate group, and the group felt they needed more time to bring it in alignment to COVID protocols. They are going to work on it more.

Chief Resilience Officer
SB0062 Sponsors: Senators Hester and Elfreth
[Status: In the Senate - Hearing 1/28 at 11:00 a.m.]
Requiring the Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to be responsible for coordinating State and local efforts to build resilience to risks identified in the Maryland Hazard Mitigation Plan; providing that the Chief Resilience Officer serves at the pleasure of the Director; establishing the duties of the Chief Resilience Officer, including identifying funding streams and technical assistance and working with leaders of vulnerable industries; requiring a certain annual report; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Maryland Transit Administration - Conversion to Zero-Emission Buses (Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act)

SB0137 HB0334
[Status: In the Senate - Hearing 1/28 at 11:00 a.m. (Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs)]
Prohibiting, beginning in fiscal year 2023, the Maryland Transit Administration from purchasing buses for the Administration's State transit bus fleet that are not zero-emission buses; requiring the Administration, on or before January 1, 2022, and each January 1 thereafter, to submit a report to certain committees of the General Assembly on the implementation of the Act; requiring the report to include a schedule for converting to zero-emission buses and a plan for transitioning any adversely affected State employees; etc.

Fundraising – Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat

Membership – Lucie Geinzer: Nothing to report.  

Voter Services – Cheryle Wharton : Nothing to report – This is from Beth Hufnagel and the Redistricting Committee:  LWVMD Testifies for Redistricting Standards - LWVMD (nationbuilder.com)

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