Today marks the 17th day of this year’s 90-day Legislative Session. I’ve spent the week meeting with colleagues and constituents, finalizing my own legislative proposals, and reviewing and considering bills from other Delegates and Senators. This week’s highlights include:
Gun Violence Prevention – I am proud to co-sponsor Governor O’Malley’s proposal to prevent gun violence and save lives in our state. The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (“FSA”), HB 294 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/hb/hb0294f.pdf), focuses on three principal areas intended to prevent the type of mass shootings that have become all too familiar in our country: (1) gun safety; (2) school safety; and (3) improving mental health safeguards and services.
Regarding gun safety, the Governor’s proposal includes an assault weapons ban, limits magazine capacity from 20 rounds to 10, requires a license to purchase a hand gun, and strengthens existing law designed to prevent individuals with mental illness from obtaining firearms.
With respect to school safety, the Governor’s FY14 budget proposal dedicates $25 million of school construction dollars to school security enhancements, including cameras at entrances, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass, and buzzer entrance systems. The FSA also establishes a Maryland Center for School Safety, to be located at Maryland’s fusion center, a partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement. The Center would work with all public school and law enforcement stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive approach to school safety, including disseminating information on best practices, providing training and technical assistance, and gathering meaningful data on school safety issues.
Finally, regarding Mental Health Safeguards and Improvements in Mental Health Services, the FSA provides for improved data sharing to create consistency between the data available to state and federal law enforcement officials for background checks, and pursues various initiatives to improve the delivery of mental health services in Maryland and to provide for earlier intervention to reduce the potential for violent behavior.
I am proud to co-sponsor the Governor’s proposal, and believe that these policies will do a great deal to protect children and adults from the type of mass-shootings we’ve seen in Aurora and Tucson, Oak Creek and Clackamas, Carson City and Fort Hood, Virginia Tech and Newtown, and too many other tragedies to name. However, as I said last week, our City and our State face an epidemic of gun violence of a different sort. I continue to work with my staff, my colleagues, and experts to craft further intelligent legislation to reduce and prevent gun violence, and look forward to sharing my proposals with you in the near future.
I am also honored that Speaker Busch selected me to participate in a high level Working Group to Prevent Gun Violence, where policy-makers will work with academic experts to review the Governor’s proposal and make recommendations on any additional measures that may best protect our citizens from gun violence.
Job Creation: I am proud to co-sponsor the Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program, along with Speaker Busch, and Delegates Olszewski, Davis, and Mitchell. The EARN program will provide funding for workforce training collaborations between businesses, local government, and non-profits so that Maryland’s working families have the skills necessary for employment and advancement into sustainable jobs. As a result of more coordinated and targeted training, the EARN Program will create jobs by closing the gap between the needs of employers, and the skills of Maryland’s workforce. The text of the bill can be found here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/hb/hb0227f.pdf
Office Artwork: This year, I am happy to display the above work by Lotta Olen, a Highlandtown artist. Lotta was gracious enough to make this one-of-a-kind work specifically for me. She used pictures from Barcelona, a skeleton picture from Hopkins, and old wallpaper from Sweden and Barcelona to put together this three dimensional piece. The woman’s face is Gina Lollabridgida, taken from a 1960 movie poster. I'm honored that she made it for me, and I enjoy looking up from my desk, and being reminded of the wonderful travel experiences I was lucky enough to enjoy this summer as a Marshall Fellow. It's different and it's wonderful.
In the neighborhood – I will be knocking on doors in the District again this Saturday; if you'd like to join me, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for your support and interest in my work on behalf of the 46th District in the General Assembly. As always, please contact me at 410-841-3303 or at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.