Legislative Session. Some of this week’s highlights include:
Community Renewable Energy:
Yesterday, March 7, the House Economic Matters Committee held a hearing on HB 1128, which would create a modest pilot program for community renewable energy facilities. Del. Stein and I were very pleased that a number of witnesses from a wide range of backgrounds, organizations, and parts of Maryland, came to testify in support of the bill. For example, the Committee heard from the Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA), who addressed the ease with which new projects can be undertaken, and the economic and employment benefits that would come with opening new markets for renewable generation. We also heard from individual citizens from Baltimore City, who expressed their desire
to benefit from lower utility bills and to contribute to the State’s overall use
of renewable energy.
Additionally, we were also pleased to have the support of Marylanders from rural areas, who noted that the pilot program would benefit renewable energy generation other than solar, such as bio-mass, which is abundant in certain parts of our state. This program could allow farmers to use bio-mass material (such as manure) as a way to earn additional income while simultaneously providing decreased utility bills to their neighbors, and adding to our State’s production of renewable energy.
You can find the bill and related documents here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=hb1128&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2013RS.
Repeal of the Death Penalty
As you’ve likely heard, Governor O’Malley introduced legislation this Session to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. On Wednesday, March 6, the Senate
approved death penalty repeal by a vote of 27-20. That bill, SB 276 was then introduced in the House, and voted on in the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon.
As both a prosecutor and a Delegate, I have been exposed to the practical operation of our current capital punishment law. I have thought a lot about this issue, and after reflecting on my own views over the course of many years, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to repeal the death penalty in Maryland.
In light of my experience as a prosecutor, I know that there are some people who do terrible things. I understand the position of those who support maintaining the death penalty as an option, both as a deterrent, and because the serious violent crimes involved can be so extreme that any penalty short of death may seem inadequate. On the other hand, I also understand the difficult moral questions raised by capital punishment, and I've been moved by many advocates of repeal who present moral, religious, practical, legal, or ethical objections to the death penalty.
While our current policy sets a very high evidentiary bar for the death penalty to be an option, the possibility of an innocent person being put to death, however slight that chance may be, is unacceptable. I believe that life in prison without the possibility of parole provides an appropriate punishment for the most serious crimes while avoiding the possibility of an irrevocable mistake.
For these reasons, I voted in favor of SB 276 in the Judiciary Committee today, and I will vote for death penalty repeal on the House floor when it comes to a vote next week.
You can find this bill and related information here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=SB0276&tab=subject3&ys=2013rs
Transportation Bill Offered by Governor – What do you think?
Earlier this week, Governor O’Malley proposed the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013. I’ve not yet had a chance to thoroughly review the legislation, but I’d like to know your thoughts. You can find the bill here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/bills/hb/hb1515F.pdf,
and you can find a press release from the Governor’s office explaining the plan and the need for it here: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8417. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Neighborhood:
I will be knocking on doors again this Sunday. Contact me at email@example.com if you’d like to join me.
As always, thank you for your interest in my work in Annapolis. I am honored to represent the people of Southeast Baltimore in the General Assembly, and your support continues to motivate me. Please contact me at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us or at 410-841-3303 with any concerns. You can find this update, and all of my other updates from this Session on my blog at http://www.luke46.org/2013-legislative-session.html.