This year’s Session is off to a fast-paced and busy start. I’ve been working hard on pieces of my own legislation, meeting with constituents and advocates on a wide range of issues, and considering and researching many of the important issues that will be before the House this Session. This week’s highlights include:
Budget – On Wednesday, Governor O’Malley unveiled the State’s budget which focuses on cutting spending, maintaining the State’s credit rating, and investing in education and job creation. While the fiscal realities unfortunately mean that not every worthy program can be funded, I am particularly pleased that the Governor’s budget proposes $6 billion in K-12 education funding. This investment in our shared future will help to maintain Maryland’s schools’ #1 national ranking. However, we must also find resources to allow Baltimore City school students to go to school in modern, well-maintained and safe facilities. I will work hard to ensure that Baltimore City sees the portion of the state funds that our students, teachers, and communities deserve.
I’d also like to highlight that the National Aquarium in Baltimore is slated to receive $5 million in state funds in the Governor’s proposal. The Aquarium is not only a treasure to the 46th District, but the State’s largest tourist attraction, an engine of job creation in our District, and an indispensible advocate for research, conservation, and education. I’m pleased that the Governor has recognized the importance of the Aquarium, and I look forward to the improvements that this investment will make to our city.
Guns – As we still struggle to process the terrible events in Newtown, CT, I have been heartened by the solidarity I’ve felt with others, and by the fact that a national discussion has continued over the best way to prevent gun violence in the U.S. While that massacre has focused the national attention in a new way, I am reminded gun violence is a much broader problem in our country, and in Baltimore in particular, where there were 217 gun homicides in 2012. We all want to prevent gun violence, in all of its forms, and I have been working with my colleagues and staff, as well as policy experts from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research to discuss the best approaches to preventing gun violence. I am glad to see that action is being taken on the Federal level, and that Governor O’Malley has introduced a number of proposals to address the issue of gun violence. I’d also like to thank the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research for hosting an extremely important Gun Policy Summit on Monday and Tuesday of this week, where policy makers, academics, law enforcement, and the public discussed a range of approaches to preventing gun violence. You can view video from the event here:http://www.jhsph.edu/events/gun-policy-summit/video-archive.
I look forward to reviewing the Governor’s recent legislative proposals, and to determining if there may be additional legislation that could help to save lives in our city and our state. I hope that there may be a silver lining to the tragedies that have become all too common, and that we can pass intelligent legislationthis Session, to ensure the safety of everyone in our state. I welcome your thoughts, and your support of intelligent measures through the legislativeprocess.
Criminal Justice – On Thursday, I toured the Central Booking and Intake Facility in Baltimore, where I saw the impact of a recent Court of Appeals decision which requires suspects to be represented by counsel at their initial appearance. I will continue to monitor the implementation of this procedural change, and look forward to working with all relevant parties to protect the public and the rights of the accused.
Scholarships – The application process for the Delegate Scholarship Program has begun. If you live in the 46th district, and are attending, or will be attending, a Maryland college or university you may qualify for a Delegate Scholarship. If you or anyone you know is interested in applying for scholarship funding, please contact me atLuke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us for more information.
In the neighborhood – Last Saturday, I visited Canton and Brooklyn, knocked on doors, and had some great discussions with residents in south and southeast Baltimore. Yesterday, I walked in Eastwood, Brewer's Hill, Highlandtown, and Otterbein. I will be going out again next Saturday; if you'd like to join me, please firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, I’m pleased to announce that I will be a judge at this year’s Federal Hill Chili Cookoff, which will take place on Jan. 27 at 4pm at Little Havana (1325 Key Highway). The event is $5 for all, and will include a raffle, and cake wheel, drink specials, and music by Russ Causey and Hanover Blue. Last year, the event contributed over $500 to schools in our neighborhoods. If you’d like more information, or would like to contribute something tasty, please contact Cathy Strodel at email@example.com.