This summer some of the biggest efforts to fight climate change took place in conference centers and hotel ballrooms all across the country. It may not be everyone’s first choice for a vacation, but I attended several such conferences and am excited about the plans and progress we made.
* State legislators, including here in Maryland, have enacted some of the country’s most ambitious and impactful climate efforts. Yet, implementation and efforts to transition to clean energy and protect rate-payers are often slowed by decisions made by regional transmission organizations and federal regulators.
At the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) conference, I continued my efforts of the past few years to organize colleagues–both regional and national–to demand greater transparency and more rapid implementation of clean energy initiatives.
- At the regional level, I am leading an effort to increase oversight and transparency of PJM, the regional transmission organization regulating the movement of electricity for Maryland, the District of Columbia, and all or part of 12 other states. It’s the largest organization of its kind in the country and has a huge influence on climate policy. Next year I will re-introduce my legislation aimed at ensuring PJM decisions are made in the public interest. Other state legislators plan to introduce similar PJM transparency bills in 2024 and are joining me in urging PJM to address interconnection queues so we can bring more clean energy online more quickly.
- At the national level, I am organizing legislators from across the country to weigh in with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to finalize a key regional transmission planning rule, which should further help to address delays in transitioning to cleaner energy.
* At the NCEL conference, I received the Leon G. Billings Environmental Achievement Award to honor my legislative achievements on environmental issues. In particular, they noted my “robust knowledge of complex energy and grid issues” and “fierce dedication to improving the lives of her community.”
The award has special meaning to me because, as a Senate staffer in the 1970s, Leon Billings wrote the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act before going on to serve with distinction in the Maryland House of Delegates. I am truly honored to be following in the footsteps of such a visionary legislator.
* At the Maryland Association of Counties conference, I moderated a well-attended and insightful panel on energy transition here in Maryland where top state officials explained the Moore-Miller administration’s ongoing efforts to implement the Climate Solutions Now Act. I also met with many other state administrators—from the Secretary of Labor to talk about unemployment insurance to the Secretary of Human Services to discuss energy assistance to the new State Highway Administrator to discuss road safety—to plan for the upcoming legislative session.
Monitoring Transportation Initiatives The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently took steps to move several major transportation projects forward, including efforts related to the American Legion Bridge, 495, and 270 corridors. I will monitor these efforts closely and will continue to engage with MDOT to support community input, maximize transit options, minimize options that increase cars on road, ensure equity, protect the environment, and keep the system as a public good so we do not pursue another public-private partnership (P3) like the one currently building the Purple Line.
Ensuring Health Insurance Coverage In recent months, thousands of Marylanders lost their health insurance coverage when pandemic benefits ended. While my office stands ready to help anyone who might have incorrectly lost those benefits, I am pleased my recently enacted legislation allows people who enroll in SNAP and other assistance programs for low-income individuals to be enrolled or re-enrolled automatically in Medicaid.
Improving our Parks Parks are vital public spaces. Montgomery Parks is seeking public input on its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to fund new parks, amenities, and improvements over the next six years. Have an idea on how to improve our local parks? Suggestions may be submitted online, via email or U.S. mail, or in person at a public forum on Thursday, September 7, 2023, at 7 p.m. at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD 20902.
Saving the Dates Join me for a “Walk and Talk” or “Sit and Sip” on Saturday, September 30th, at the MLK Park in White Oak. We will meet at 10:00 a.m. for a walk and talk along the park’s paved trail. At the end of the walk (around 11:30 a.m.), I will stay and meet with folks who would prefer to sit and sip while discussing the statewide issues nearest and dearest to them. Interested? Click here to receive more details and sign up.
I will also be marching with my fellow D20 legislators in the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade on Saturday, November 18th. It’s always a festive event and you are welcome to join in the fun!
Stay in Touch Need help with a state issue? Please contact my office at email@example.com or leave us a message at (410)-841-3423.