It seems appropriate to send out my first newsletter of the 2017 General Assembly on a day to remember Dr. Martin Luther King! I've spent some time over the weekend, both formally and informally - with friends and with strangers - discussing ways to confront racism, the state of our political discourse today, and participating in a community service project. While it's not easy, it feels good to have real conversations about challenging topics, and to feel like someone may view things a bit differently as a result of our dialogue. I think this is important work that we can all engage in!
Please join us this Wednesday, January 18th, for another #DoTheMostGood gathering, and learn how you can make a difference. We'll meet at the Owings Mills Library, 10302 Grand Central Avenue, rooms B&C -- from 6:30-8:30. Click here for more information and we hope to see you Wednesday.
If you follow my personal page on Facebook -- Facebook.com/shellyhettleman -- you may know that I recently returned from Africa where my family and I spent a few weeks. It was an incredible experience and I returned only a few days before session. Here is a photo of a momma elephant we saw, with her baby (we didn't see any donkeys!) --
The 2017 General Assembly convened last Wednesday and we enter this session with some big issues ahead of us. First and foremost is the budget, which the Governor will send to us this week. We left session last spring thinking we had more than $300 million in surplus only to find months later that we enter this session with a shortfall of over $500 million, much of which is due to lower than expected revenue collections. I'm very interested to know how the Governor will propose addressing that deficit and the House Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, will have the first chance to consider the budget (the House and Senate alternate) this year.
I'm working on a number of bills - we'll focus on them more in future updates -- but my legislation would:
- Counties vary widely in how long each preserves evidence collected in rape kits -- my bill will create a state standard requiring preserving kits for 20 years and mandates victim notification
- Require Maryland colleges and universities to notify students each year how much in student loans they owe
- Expand access to contraception by enabling pharmacists to prescribe certain forms of contraception
- Protect vulnerable older adults by ensuring that an abuser cannot make vital health care decisions for them
- Expand assistance to farmers and low income shoppers at farmers markets
If you call my office, you may speak with my Legislative Director, Maureen Evans Arthurs, (with me in the photo) who heads into her second session on my staff. We'll also have a few interns that we'll introduce soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos from the first week, including most of the Baltimore County delegation posing for a #TeamBCPS photo in support of Baltimore County schools:
We'd love to hear from you during session and invite you to stop by our office -- room 311 of the Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street. Here are a variety of ways to stay in touch:
Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone -- 410-841-3833
Facebook -- facebook.com/shellyhettlemanfordelegate
Twitter -- @shellyhettleman
I look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you on the 18th at #DoTheMostGood! Thank you for the opportunity to serve as one of your delegates from the 11th District.