View all of the Delegate's newsletters here.
Maryland Health Connection - Insurance Enrollment Event - December 9th (12/3)
I would like to call your attention to a free Open House sponsored by the Maryland Health Connection to provide information for enrolling in health insurance, switching health plans or those having trouble trying to enroll or renew. The health insurance enrollment event, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is at the Oakcrest Community Center, 1300 Capitol Heights Blvd, Capitol Heights, MD. Trained experts from Maryland Health Connection (MHC), the state's health insurance marketplace, will answer questions and help Marylanders enroll in health and dental coverage before the deadline of December 15, 2017. Please see my newsletter for further details, here.
Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family (11/22)
With one act of kindness and caring we can change the lives of those in our community. I know you have many opportunities to volunteer and donate, I just want to highlight three special organizations to keep in mind this time of year and all year round. Read the full message here.
29 November Reception (11/2)
A reception hosted by Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch, House Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh, House Economic Matters Chair Dereck E. Davis, House Judiciary Chair Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. honoring Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith will take place on Wednesday, November 29th, 2017, 4:30 - 7:00 pm, at Harry Browne's (66 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401) Please see my newsletter for further details, here.
Letter to MDT Secretary Rahn Regarding Economic Viability on the MAGLEV (11/1)
I wanted to share with you the letter which Senator Peters and I sent to Secretary Rahn requesting that an overall economic viability study on the MAGLEV be conducted concurrently with the study of the proposed paths. During our conversations with citizens about the District, we became very concerned that being in one of the "proposed possible" paths has become an economic uncertainty. The longer the "study" of proposed routes continues, the great the financial impact to the homeowner. Please read the full letter here.
Reminder - Baltimore Washington Superconducting Maglev Project Open House October 24, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm (10/24)
I wanted to send a reminder of the upcoming Baltimore Washington Superconducting Maglev Project's Open House which is being held this Tuesday, October 24th from 5-8pm at the Laurel High School Cafeteria 8000 Cherry Ln, Laurel, MD 20707. I strongly encourage you to attend, register your opinion, make your thoughts and comments known; as two of the alternate proposed paths follow the Baltimore-Washington Parkway impacting Laurel. Public input is vital at this stage of the process. Get details in my newsletter, here.
State Commission Seeking Public Input on Education Strategies at Public Hearing October 25 at 6:30pm (10/19)
I want to bring your attention to a public hearing which is set for next Wednesday, October 25th. This hearing is one of four being held statewide and, in Prince George's County, by the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to give people an opportunity to testify on policies and strategies to make Maryland a top performing education system. They are "looking for the input of teachers, parents, students and others who care about public schools to tell us what they think we need to do for Maryland to become a world class education system and prepare students for college and careers." Get details in my newsletter, here.
NEW Proposed paths released on MAGLEV - first Open House Sat. 10.14.17 at Bowie State, second 10.24.17 at Laurel H.S. (10/13)
The Baltimore Washington Superconducting Maglev Project has released their new analysis which has reduced the number of alternative pathways being considered for study. It is still important to attend these meetings and voice your opinion as all of these paths still affect many of our neighborhoods. One of the remaining proposed paths travels right through Bowie and two of the alternates follow the Baltimore-Washington Parkway impacting Laurel. See the proposed paths and get more information in my newsletter, here.
Fall Newsletter (10/11)
I wanted to send along several announcements which you may find of interest, relating to information on the Health Benefit Exchange deadlines, Free Credit Freezing, Consumer Warning on Flood-Damaged Cars, Beautification Grants and Re-Redistricting Reform public meeting. Details on all of these events are provided here.
Fall MAGLEV Open Houses (10/6)
I wanted to make sure that you all have seen the information on the next round of Open House meetings regarding the MAGLEV Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation. This EIS is required under the National Environmental Policy Act passed in by the U.S. Congress. Read the newsletter here.
HB 635/Chapter 168 - Homicide by Motor Vehicle or Vessel While Impaired by Controlled Dangerous Substance - Penalties (10/4) I am proud to share with you the newsletter from AAA, detailing a bill I fought to see get enacted for three years. I introduced this bill after hearing many tragic stories of families torn apart by drugged driving fatalities and their feelings of helplessness as they watched when the judge could only give the repeat offender a maximum of three years. Read the newsletter here.
PGCPS Capital Improvement Program (9/11)
I wanted to make sure you had heard about the hearing to solicit public input for the Prince George's County Public Schools' FY 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The hearing is this Thursday, September 14th at 6 p.m. in the Sasscer Administration Building, 14201 School Lane, Upper Marlboro, MD. in the Board Room. The link to download the Recommended CIP is in the newsletter, here.
Alert: Equifax Data Breach (9/8)
I am forwarding an email I just received from Attorney General Brian Frosh on the Equifax Data Breach. I believe it contains some important information for all Marylanders to consider protecting themselves and their families. Read the complete newsletter here.
REMINDER -- Attend City Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 6 MAGLEV/MDOT presentation (9/1)
Maryland Department of Transportation will be making a presentation to the Mayor and the City Council this coming Tuesday, September 6th at 8 p.m. on the MAGLEV train which is currently being studied under a federal grant. The MAGLEV is a high speed magnetic train which has been proposed to travel from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore with only one stop at BWI airport. However, the vast majority of the proposed routes dissect Bowie and our surrounding neighborhoods. I am very concerned that this train is receiving a great deal of interest from people at the federal and corporate levels with little regard as to its impact on the local people who will benefit in no way from this elite form of transportation. Read the complete newsletter here.
Job Opportunity -- MetroBus Operator (8/18)
In partnership with Prince George's One-Stop Center, WMATA is looking to hire 100 bus drivers over the next two months. Read the complete newsletter here.
Free Vaccines for PGCPS Students This Week! (7/30)
The new school year is just around the corner. I wanted to make sure you saw the notice of free immunization clinics being held over the next few weeks by the Prince George's Health Department, as well as Kaiser Permanente in Largo. Kaiser Permanente Largo Medical Center is offering a free clinic for Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) students who need immunizations before the start of the school year. The clinic, located at 1221 Mercantile Lane in Upper Marlboro, will be open weekdays through August 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please bring the exclusion letter that your child's school provided in June to the clinic. Additionally, the Prince George's County Health Department hosts free immunization clinics at the Cheverly Health Center and D. Leonard Dyer Regional Health Center. Call 301-583-3300 to make an appointment. read the complete newsletter here.
Fourth of July (6/30)
I want to wish you all a very happy Fourth of July. This is our Country's 241st birthday and I am very proud to be part of our Democracy. I thank you for the privilege of representing you and allowing me to take an active part in what it means to live and work in this great Country! This issue of the newsletter includes important information for Veterans, as well as information about summertime heat safety, IRS debt collection scams, job fairs, and the upcoming MAGLEV presentation in Bowie. Read the complete newsletter here.
MAGLEV Report Released (6/11)
MAGLEV is a proposed high speed magnetic train from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. with only one station stop planned at the BWI airport. The report states the public comment period was closed in January of 2017 but that they are still considering public input for the future. I urge you to take a moment to look over the report and if you have not yet done so, share your comments on the public input link below as three of the proposed future routes travel through or near Bowie, and if chosen, will likely impact much of our community.
In addition, the MAGLEV officials are scheduled to make a presentation to the Bowie City Council on July 10th at Bowie City Hall at 8 p.m. I urge you to attend and learn about this issue. Read the complete newsletter here.
Legislative Black Caucus Meetings (6/2)
The Legislative Black Caucus is holding a number of Town Halls in our area this summer. The Prince George's County date is July 10 at Prince George's Community College Rennie Forum but of course, you are welcome to attend any of the other Town Halls that are convenient for you. Read the complete newsletter here.
MAGLEV Project Representatives presentation to Bowie City Council on July 10th (5/16)
Representatives of the Baltimore Washington Rapid Rails MAGLEV Project will be presenting to the Mayor and City Council of Bowie on July 10th at 8 p.m. at Bowie City Hall. The public is welcome. The Maryland Department of Transportation is working under a federal grant to study possible routes for a new high speed magnetic train from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The only stop between the cities would be at BWI airport. Several of the proposed routes travel through the city of Bowie, one along the WB & A Trail. The Representatives of the Baltimore Washington Rapid Rails MAGLEV Project have held one Open House in Bowie and we are awaiting the announcement of additional meetings/presentations. I will send an email announcement as soon as we are notified. In the meantime, mark your calendars for July 10th at City Hall. The announcement from the city is posted below. Read the complete newsletter here.
End of 2017 Legislative Session (4/19)
As the 2017 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly ends, I feel honored to have had the privilege of serving the citizens of Legislative District 23A. Your emails and phone calls have kept me abreast of the issues you care about and helped me to make informed decisions while representing you in Annapolis. This has been a busy session and I worked hard to make sure that Maryland, and in particular, Prince George's County benefited. Much of our focus was placed on the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on Maryland. Read the complete newsletter here.
MAGLEV Train Project Public Meeting on April 5th Additional Information (3/30)
I have received several requests for additional information in response to my notice on the public meeting to collect citizens' input on the MAGLEV train project. The public meeting is being held at the Bowie Community Center on 3209 Stonybrook Drive Bowie, MD 20715 one week from today on Wednesday, April 5th from 5:30 to 7:30pm. Get complete details here.
Public Meeting for Residents input on MAGLEV train route through Bowie (3/28)
A public meeting which will be taking place at Bowie Community Center on April 5th to present plans for the high speed magnetic train project which is under consideration for the future between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. One of the possible paths being discussed for this train is the WB&A trail which cuts directly through Bowie. These public sessions will now focus on a shortlist of candidate alternatives alignments for the new SCMAGLEV train route. The alternatives will be subject to further scrutiny/vetting/challenge over the next 2-3 months and then the field will eventually be refined to a single, preferred alternative. This process will be continue into the June-July time frame, and with an update being reported in a third round of Open Houses for public participation. Read more here.
Do you qualify for the Homeowner's Tax Credit or Renter's Tax Credit (3/23)
I introduced a bill this year in response to a constituent's inquiry on why the income level for the Homeowner's Tax Credit (HOTC) had not been increased for over 11 years. My bill would raise the income level for qualifying for the Homeowner's Tax Credit and tie the increase to increases in the CPI. I do not know yet whether this bill will be successful, however, in doing research for the bill, I realized that only 15% of the citizens who are eligible for this refund take advantage of this refund. There is also a Renter's Tax Credit which is similar to the HOTC. These refunds are reimbursed by the State and involve no cost to our County or Municipalities. Get more complete information here.
Mid-Session Update (3/1)
Much of my time this session has been taken up with budget briefings to the Appropriations Committee. Below is a short overview of the Maryland Budget process with a focus on the Administration's proposed expenditures on elementary and secondary public education. I sit on the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee and therefore, I remain very focused on Maryland's efforts to try to prepare for whatever federal changes in our health insurance policies may be passed by Congress and what the effects will be on our state. Below are some statistics on how this expansion has benefited Maryland. My individual legislative focus remains on impaired driving issues; protection of our most needy families, children and juveniles, with a particular focus to keep juveniles out of the justice system and on the correct path to adult independence; I have several bills aimed at specific properties within Bowie, specifically improvements to the Bowie racetrack and addressing the development of 154 acres of the Jesuit property around Sacred Heart Parish along Rt. 450; among others. Read the complete update here.
Citizen Action Needed to Save Regional Medical Center and Cardiac Care for Our County (1/24)
The latest Maryland Heath Care Cost Commission (MHCC) actions will negatively impact the Prince George's County Regional Medical Center and Cardiac Care Program. Your action is needed. Get details here.
January 23: Open Workshop PGCPS Budget 101: Intro to the CEO's Proposed FY2018 Annual Operating Budget (1/20)
Prepare for the upcoming Board of Education public hearings by attending this community workshop on the proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year. Learn more about the budget process, priorities, challenges, and estimated revenue and costs. Details and location here.
2017 Maryland General Assembly (1/18)
The 2017 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session started last week, and I am proud to serve District 23A for a sixth session. Read about our focus here.
Coffee & Donuts for January 14 canceled due to inclement weather. New dates set for February. (1/11)
We hope you will join Senator Douglas J.J. Peters & Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith for coffee and donuts in February. Drop by, have some coffee & donuts and talk to Geraldine and Doug about talk to Geraldine and Doug about your issues and concerns. Details on February dates and locations here.
Election Day 2018 - Voting Centers and Cheryl Landis for District 5 School Board (11/8)
Today, Tuesday November 8th, is Election Day and I urge you to take time from your day to exercise your right to vote. Voting centers are open from 7AM to 8PM in Prince George's County (District 23). I am happy to be casting a vote for Cheryl Landis for District 5 School Board. I hope you share my belief that a vote for Cheryl Landis is a vote for better schools and a better Prince George's. Get Voting Center locations and additional details here.
Enrollment Fair for the Maryland Health Exchange (11/4/16)
Saturday, November 5th at Deerfield Run Community Center. Get details here.
Community Newlstter for October 2016 (10/28/16)
Information about the job fair at MGM, FAFSA/Grants, the upcoming County Executive Listening Session & Maryland Secretary of Transportation MDOT meeting. Details here.
Early Voting Beginning - Cheryl Landis and Ingrid Turner Good for Community (10/25/16)
Early voting begins this Thursday, October 27th and continues until Thursday, November 3rd. Polling places are open from 8 am until 8 pm. I encourage you to make your voices heard this election and take advantage of the many sites and hours available for you to do so. There are many fine candidates and I encourage you to do your research. In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to again endorse Cheryl Landis, as our elected representative for Prince George's School Board District 5. In addition, Ingrid Turner, who has been deeply involved in our community, is running for Circuit Court Judge. Details here.
Registration Deadline for 2016 Presidential & Down Ballot Elections (10/16/16)
Tomorrow is an important deadline if you wish to have your voice heard in the Presidential and other down ballot races on November 8th. Tuesday at 9 pm is the deadline to vote or to change your address for this election. Please participate in our democracy and make your voice count! Details here.
Student Safety "Tele-Town Hall" (10/4/16)
Prince George's County Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell and School Board Chairman Segun Eubanks are hosting a 'Tele-Town Hall' to answer Parents questions regarding Student Safety starting at 6:30pm on Tuesday, October 4. Details here.
Maryland Public Television to air live Ways to Pay for College Broadcast (9/1316)
This Thursday at 8pm, in conjunction with the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the United States Department of Education, Maryland Public Television will air a live broadcast: Ways to Pay for College. Financial advisors will be available to take your questions, so this is an excellent opportunity for families planning for higher education. Details here.
Community Newsletter for September (9/6/16)
Information on Pepco hearings, Family Institute Conference, Governor's Day of Service, & more here.
Free Back-to-School Immunization Clinics (Kindergarten - Grade7 or repeating Grade 9) (7/25/16)
Does Your Child Still Need Immunizations for School? Come to a FREE Summer Immunization Clinic for Students Entering Kindergarten and Grade 7 or Repeating Grade 9. There are only 28 days left to immunize before the start of school! PGCPS is partnering with the Maryland Partnership for Prevention and Kaiser Permanente to provide FREE immunization clinics in July and August. After these dates, clinics may charge a fee. These clinics are only for students entering kindergarten and Grade 7, and students repeating Grade 9. You must bring the exclusion letter you received from your child's school to provide information on your child's immunization needs. Please note that students who are still missing required immunizations will be excluded from school on the first day. Learn more here.
June Community Announcements (6/9/16)
I am happy to have this opportunity to pass along a variety of information which may be of interest to you as the summer season commences, including the Annual Prince George's County Housing Fair, Zika Precautions, School Immunizations, summer Library programs, and storm information. Learn more here.
Memorial Day (5/27/16)
Happy Memorial Day! This is a special day for all Americans, as we honor those who have died in service to our country. I would also want to send a message of support and appreciation to all of our active and retired military and those who have served and are serving in the Reserves. All of you and your families sacrifice so much for the rest of our country. I want to say a huge thank you for your time and efforts on our behalf. In addition, I wanted to review a few of our state and federal veterans benefits which may be of use to you or someone you know. Learn more here.
Community Announcements (5/18/16)
A variety of notices to the community, including a message to seniors regarding a Town Hall Meeting on May 25 about the State Plan on Aging; free diabentes screening and education; changes to the MVA driver's licensing process; free trees from BGE; Governor's; Service Awards nominations; and a Town Hall meeting regarding life and health insurance markets for business, industry, and consumers. Learn more here.
FREE DIABETES SCREENING and EDUCATION MAY 20 (5/5/16)
PGCHD in collaboration with DCH's Joslin Diabetes Center launched the "On the Road" Diabetes Outreach Program" to raise awareness about the importance of diabetes screenings, management and prevention. During the two hour sessions, people who have diabetes learn how to make lifestyle changes that can minimize the associated health risks. Also, their families, friends and caregivers are invited to learn more about the management of this disease. At each class, participants are offered an A1c test (The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person's average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months). The next class will be held on Friday, May 20, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The class location is at Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex, 7007 Bock Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744. Learn more here.
PGCPS Community Meetings: Understanding the FY2017 Educational Facilities Master Plan (5/4/16)
I wanted to call your attention to a meeting Thursday evening, May 5th, at Charles H. Flowers High School's media center by the PGCPS regarding the 2017 Education Facilities Master Plan. Bowie High School is on the agenda to be discussed that evening. Learn more here.
Early Voting -- Cheryl Landis for School Board (4/18/16)
Cast your vote for Cheryl Landis for School Board District 5. With over 36 years of experience as a community organizer, activist and volunteer much of it involving the school system and its clients, our children. Cheryl has worked for the Board of Education for over 27 years, and is now working for the Excellence in Education Foundation and holds positions in several other capacities which strengthen the relationship between business partners and the school system. I believe a vote for Cheryl Landis is a vote towards safer schools, better communication and a better Prince George's County. I firmly believe my work on the Appropriations House Committee and my job for you to secure maximum education funding will be best put to use when we all have a mature, experienced and honest partner like Cheryl Landis on the School Board. Early voting will continue through Thursday, April 21st from 10AM to 8PM and Primary Election Day is April 26, 2016, 7 am until 8 pm. Read the newsletter here.
BGE Green Grants Program Opens April 1 for 2016 Applications (4/14/16)
All 501c3 nonprofit organizations within BGE's service area that focus on conservation, education, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and environmental community engagement efforts are eligible to apply starting April 1 st. Grants range from $1000 to $10,000 and are available to both new and existing programs that clearly demonstrate a commitment to environmental improvements in the community and to enhancing environmental stewardship throughout BGE's central Maryland service area. Learn more here.
Changes to Prince George's County Trash/Recycling Programs and Free "Mulch Madness" Program (4/7/16)
Prince George's County is moving to once a week trash/recycling pickup service beginning sometime in May. Also, the County is having a free Mulch Madness Day on April 23rd. Get more information here.
Primary Voter Registration Deadline (4/5/16)
Today at 9 p.m. is the deadline to register online to vote in the April 26 primary. You may also change your party affiliation or address before 9 p.m. today as well. Residents with a Maryland driver's license or MVA-issued ID may register to vote, change their address, or change their party affiliation. More details here.
County Clean Up Day (3/31/16)
The County is holding its semi-annual Clean Up Day on April 30th. This is a good opportunity to get out and enjoy the fresh spring air. You can also take advantage of free mulch and supplies by registering at the number below. Students can earn community service hours as well. Please get complete details here and join in for some spring cleaning!
Scholarship Information (3/18/16)
The 2016 Scholarship application for college students attending public or private schools in the state of Maryland is currently available here. The deadline for my application is May 27, 2016. Read the newsletter here.
State Highway Administration Notice Regarding Pothole Repair (2/22/16)
As warmer temperatures are in the forecast following recent snowstorms, we'd like to take this opportunity to share resources for constituents to report potholes on state roads and/or submit any claims for damages regarding potholes on state roads.
Customers may submit pothole service requests 24 hours a day to the MSHA. Read the newsletter here.
In the News
John McNamara, Capital Gazette/The Bowie Blade
The Bowie Race Track property will get some much-needed sprucing up in the months ahead, thanks to a signed memorandum of understanding between the site owner and the city of Bowie. Read the full article here.
Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association
A Maryland lawmaker has offered a legislative amendment that would make the Bowie Training Center eligible for racetrack capital improvement funds generated by video lottery terminals at the state’s casinos...
Democratic Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith, during a Feb. 15 hearing by the House Ways and Means Committee, said her amendment would add the Bowie Training Center to the list of facilities eligible to use the Racetrack Facilities Renewal Account, which is funded by 1% of VLT revenue. Prince George’s County, the City of Bowie, and local residents said it is imperative the historic piece of property be regularly maintained given it serves as a gateway to the city...
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith speaks at a press conference to save Prince George's County Regional Medical Center.
Meredith Newman, The Baltimore Sun
A January 25 article in The Baltimore Sun reports on our press conference regarding the opposition our delegation — including the county executive, county council and senate and house delegations — has to the proposed MHCC plans. "The recommendation for AAMC's program is in "blatant violation" of the Maryland state health plan, said Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-District 23A). She added that the plan is supposed to give all Marylanders the chance to access of health care. The commission's decision appears to have turned a blind eye toward the exact criteria it has set up," she said."
Arelis R. Hernandez, The Washington Post
State lawmakers from Prince George’s County are asking their constituents to lobby against state approval of a heart surgery unit at Anne Arundel Medical Center, a project they say would impair the fledging cardiac program in the Prince George’s hospital system.
“This decision is inconsistent with all that’s been done to ensure a vibrant, healthy Prince George’s Regional Medical Center,” said Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D), vice-chair for the Prince George’s delegation. ...Valentino-Smith also said state regulators failed to evaluate Anne Arundel Medical Center’s proposed cardiac program the way they assessed the Prince George’s application.
“The analysis was done in a much a less stringent manner with less documentation and less evidence in the case for financial feasibility,” Valentino-Smith said.
John McNamara, The Capital Gazette
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, D-Bowie, has added her voice to those who oppose development near Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Route 450 in Bowie....Valentino-Smith, a longtime Bowie resident, has submitted a bill for consideration by the General Assembly that would forestall any county action on the zoning change request until a new Bowie vicinity master plan is completed and approved. "At this point, my priority as an elected official is to protect the opportunity that the public should have had for meaningful notice and the opportunity to be heard on the very significant change to the use of this property," she said. "It's extremely important that everyone communicate with the local, state and county officials concerning their position."
Andrea McDaniel, Baltimore Sun
In the article, Delegate Valentino-Smith says that lawmakers should make sure adequate access to health services is a key component of the legislation. "As policymakers we remain conscious of the need to continue to make sure there is access to affordable and quality health care in all geographic regions."
NBC Washington, Darcy Spencer
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith and Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks introduced HB825-Child Protection - Reporting - Threat of Harm to close a loophole in Maryland law to make sure threats are reported to child protective services and investigated within 24 hours. This is the second year the legislation has been introduced and advocates are hoping it will pass this year.
The Washington Post, Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
The destruction left on our roads from drunken or drugged driving has become an all too common tragedy for Marylanders. Despite years of prevention and awareness campaigns, far too many drugged and drunken drivers continue to populate our roads. Last session, I sponsored legislation, supported by the Maryland State's Attorneys' Association, that would have increased the maximum criminal penalties for repeat impaired drivers who have already been convicted once of manslaughter, homicide or causing life-threatening injury related to impaired driving. I introduced this bill again this year. House Bill 157 is necessary for the protection of our citizens.
Herald Media, Tamela Baker
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard 17 bills aimed at tightening Maryland's drunken-driving laws, one of which was sponsored by Washington County Del. Brett R. Wilson.
But the bill garnering the most attention was legislation to expand the state's Ignition Interlock System Program, under which drivers convicted of certain drunken-driving charges must use a device that measures their blood-alcohol content before their vehicles will start.
Wilson and Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, D-Prince George's, are both sponsoring bills that would give police and prosecutors the same options for testing and sentencing drunken drivers in accidents that cause serious injuries as they now have in crashes that cause life-threatening injuries or death.
WAMU, Matt Bush
The Maryland House has given preliminary approval to a bill creating clear penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana. The push comes in response to confusion over the decriminalization of the drug in the state.
Possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana can no longer send someone to prison in Maryland. That's now only punishable by a fine. But when lawmakers approved that two years ago, it created confusion as to whether that same penalty now applied to driving under the influence of marijuana.
Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George's) says she felt it was necessary to introduce a bill to make it clear that's still illegal.
"It is illegal to be impaired by a drug, but nevertheless, we needed to clarify that actually smoking or consuming it in the car was on the same level as alcohol and a non-jailable misdemeanor [offense]," Valentino-Smith said.
The delegate's bill initially sought to apply the same punishment to smoking marijuana in public, but that part was stripped out of the measure so the issue could be dealt with separately — to the chagrin of many Republicans in the House. Del. Haven Shoemaker (R-Carroll) was among those who pushed on the House floor Wednesday morning to add the penalties for smoking in public back into the bill.
"Mr. Speaker to vote against this amendment, which is designed to preserve for the Maryland family the sanctity of our resorts, our parks, and our public places... I think we'd have to be smoking something," Shoemaker said.
Smoking in public is just a civil offense in Maryland right now with no threat of jail time. Valentino-Smith says that needs to change, especially for her home county.
"The concern is in the District of Columbia they do make it a criminal violation to smoke in public. And they make it subject to some jail time. In Prince George's County I do not want to create the impression that we are unintentionally becoming a safe harbor for the public smoking of marijuana," Valentino-Smith said.
The Senate must now give its OK to the driving-under-the-influence bill.
Noah's Law: Tough New Maryland DUI Law Goes Into Effect This Week (9/26/16)
Effective this week (Saturday, October 1), all persons convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in Maryland will be mandated to equip their vehicle with an in-car breathalyzer otherwise known as an ignition interlock device. Read more here.
Open Air and Vehicle Marijuana Legislation Introduced in Maryland House of Delegates (1/21/16)
Annapolis, MD -ﾠHB 183, introduced today by Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s) will make smoking marijuana in a public place in Maryland a misdemeanor subject to a fine not exceeding $500 and will prohibit a driver from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle in Maryland, under the same Maryland Transportation Article which also prohibits consumption of alcohol in a vehicle.ﾠ Read more here.