EducationAs the first person in my family to go to college, and as a person who put myself through law school at night, I understand the value of education. It is the path to a better tomorrow for our children. The children of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties will be our future teachers and legislators. As a former Prince George's County public school student, I am honored and privileged to be in a position to assist our children by proposing and passing legislation that will help our children obtain a better quality education which includes affordability and accessibility. Education must be on the top of our priority list, because a quality education is essential to the overall growth of our communities, state and nation.
To read more about education legislation Ben has supported, click here.
EnvironmentWe must act now if we are going to reverse decades of ignoring state and global environmental degradation. Environmental hazards have a negative impact on our health and well-being. Environmental toxins contaminate our soil, water, and air quality. The effects of air pollutants can range from short-term effects such as eye and throat irritation to long-term effects such as respiratory disease and cancer. Environmental hazards have also been attributed to the increased intensity of hurricanes and other storms, more frequent floods and droughts, and the presence of more heatwaves just to name a few. By enacting legislation that will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and various other environmental hazards we will all be able to lead longer, healthier and happier lives. We must continue to act to enforce and support sustainability, greener communities and to hold polluters accountable.
To read more about legislation Ben has supported that protects our environment, click here.
Safer communitiesWe can talk about education and other efforts to provide our citizens with a good quality of life, but the truth of the matter is that if Maryland families donít feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods, we really have not improved quality of life one bit. As a member of the judiciary committee, I have fought hard to obtain stiffer penalties for criminals and voted in favor of legislation that will make our communities a safer place to live. Since I was elected, domestic violence has been one of my top priorities. I have been successful in passing legislation which includes GPS monitoring for domestic abusers and legislation requiring domestic abusers to surrender their firearms. I have also supported common sense gang king pen legislation and mandatory minimum sentences for the worst among us; child sex offenders. We must continue to put more police on the beat and crack down on the worst offenders, while being careful to protect the civil liberties of the innocent in the process.
To read more about legislation Ben has supported to keep our community safe, click here.
Getting Our Economy GoingIt is no secret that our economy is in dire straits right now. I was pleased to support Governor O'Malley's Jobs bill which provides tax credit to Maryland employers who hire unemployed Marylanders into a full-time positions. This is an excellent way to combat these hard economic times by encouraging business owners to hire unemployed residents who have been directly affected by these tough times. We need to continue efforts to encourage high technology jobs and also continue to invest in infrastructure such as transportation projects.
Holding Big Business AccountableForeclosure rates are still plaguing our residents, but I have sponsored legislation to assist homeowners with keeping their homes by cracking down on predatory practices and by holding banks accountable. In times like these, it is imperative that we pull together to protect the most vulnerable among us. I have also been proud to co-sponsor the Governorís bill which requires banks that have been ignoring federal law on foreclosures to provide mandatory arbitration for those in foreclosure. I have also co-sponsored legislation to close corporate loop holes that allow the largest corporations to avoid state taxes. Though this bill has not passed, I look forward to returning to Annapolis to continue this fight.
To read more about legislation Ben has supported to hold big business accountable, click here.
Protecting Our SeniorsOur senior citizens, who have sacrificed so much for us deserve a government that is fair to them and treats them with the dignity they deserve. I will always fight for affordable prescription drug coverage, strengthened rules governing senior living facilities, and laws that crack down on those who try to financially exploit our seniors.
To read more about legislation Ben has supported to protect our seniors, click here.
Improving the Quality of Education for our Future Leaders
Higher Education - Tuition Affordability Act of 2007Co-sponsored bill prohibiting the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland and the Board of Regents of Morgan State University from increasing tuition for resident undergraduate students at the institutions in the years 2006 and 2007. (HB 134, 2007)
College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009Co-sponsored bill requiring public institutions of higher education in the State to develop and implement informational campaigns, procedures, and practices that will provide disclosures of relevant information related to the selection of college textbooks and will control prices. College is expensive enough, by requiring certain disclosures, this bill helps students to make more informed decisions when purchasing textbooks and helps to make school more affordable. (HB 85, 2009)
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Protecting Our Environment
Clean Indoor Act of 2007Co-sponsored bill prohibiting a person from smoking tobacco products in indoor areas open to the public and indoor places of employment. This bill establishes penalties and fines for the violation of the Act. (HB 359, 2007)
Lead Free MaterialsWe are all aware of the dangers associated with lead exposure. Even small amounts of lead can have a detrimental impact on our health. This last session, I was able to get legislation passed which helps to ensure safe lead-free drinking water. This legislation requires more stringent standards for the amounts of lead allowed in faucets and plumbing. (HB 372, 2010)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009Co-sponsored the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 requiring a 25% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020. (HB 315, 2009) Ths bill will ensure Maryland does its part in helping resolve the global warming crisis.
MD Clean Cars Act of 2007Co-sponsored bill requiring the Department of the Environment and the Motor Vehicle Administration to adopt regulations to establish a low emissions vehicle program to reduce the emission of air pollutants. (HB 44, 2007)
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GPS Tracking Domestic AbusersEvery year, thousands of men and women are killed at the hands of an intimate partner. In an effort to reduce recurring abuse, I sponsored legislation which authorizes the court, as a condition of a probation, to mandate that abusers wear a GPS tracking device which alerts law enforcement and the victim when the offender is within a proscribed distance of the victim. Now, victims of domestic violence can feel more secure knowing that their abuser is being monitored 24-hours a day. (HB 665, 2010)
Child Sexual Abuse and Crimes of ViolenceIt has been proven that pedophiles do not cease their predatory activities. So, it was essential to enact legislation which enhances penalties for adults who commit sexual abuse against minors. I was pleased to co-sponsor legislation to crackdown on these individuals and increase penalties for the worst among us. (HB 213, 2007)
Jessica's Law - Sexual Offenses - Parole Eligibility and Mandatory Minimum SentencesThis bill is named after Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year old girl who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a paroled sex offender. I was proud to co-sponsor this bill which requires mandatory minimum sentences for certain sexual crimes and provides that those crimes are nonparolable. (HB 930, 2007)
Surrender of Firearms and Penalties for Violation of Protective OrderSponsored and passed legislation protecting victims of domestic violence by allowing warrantless arrests of abusers and requiring abusers to surrender their guns to law enforcement. (HB 214/302, 2009; HB 661, 2010)
Maryland Gang Prosecution Act of 2007Throughout Maryland, gang activity is on the rise. This session I co-sponsored legislation which prohibits a person from participating in criminal gang activity. Gang activity affects all of us, and more importantly, gangs target our children. This legislation will help to protect our children, reduce gang activity in our schools, and in our overall communities. (HB 713, 2007)
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Holding Big Business Accountable
Residential Property Foreclosure Procedures Ė Foreclosure MediationI was proud to co-sponsor legislation which helps struggling homeowners keep stay in their homes. The Notice of Intent to Foreclose sent by lenders to homeowners will now include additional information and materials such as: loan modification applications, the Maryland HOPE hotline number, a foreclosure timeline, and information on mediation programs and counseling. The bill requires that all of these measures be taken at least 45 days before any foreclosure actions are taken. Legislation like this brings banks to the table and holds them accountable. (HB 472, 2010)
Credit Regulation - Mortgage Lending and Other Extensions of CreditCo-sponsored legislation prohibiting a lender from imposing prepayment charges in connection with certain types of mortgage loans. This bill requires that lenders and credit grantors from making certain mortgage loans without first considering the borrower's ability to repay the loans. (HB 363, 2008)
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Protecting Our Seniors
Penalties for Financial Exploitation of ElderlyThis legislation protects some of the most vulnerable residents on Maryland from predatory practices. Senior citizens are often targets of many financial schemes. In 2009, I co-sponsored legislation prohibiting a person from fraudulently acquiring property from another person who is at least 68 years old. This bill imposes penalties of 15 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. The offender must restore the property taken or the value of the property. (HB 583, 2009)
Closing the Medicare Donut HoleI supported legislation to close this gap which leaves so many seniors unable to pay for their drug coverage.
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