Unless Bill 96-20, the SMART Policing Act, is significantly amended, I will most likely be the only County Council member to vote No. The bill will be discussed on Sept. 29 and voted on Oct. 2.
If you remember, the first attempt at “police reform” legislation this summer was tabled by four members of the Council, including myself. The measures in that legislation were so cumbersome and unworkable that the bill was opposed by the Baltimore County Police Chief, the State’s Attorney, and the Fraternal Order of Police. I voted to table that bill in case it had any possibility of passage.
This week, my County Council colleagues voted for symbolic gun legislation designed and drafted by the County Executive’s team. Marketed as “crucial public safety legislation”, the Bill appeals to the anger, frustration, and grief we feel when gun violence hits our community. However, the Bill is deeply flawed and gives the County Executive and the Police Chief unchecked authority over the retail gun industry now, and in the future, by allowing these offices to regulate the firearm industry by adding more bureaucracy and unnecessary security costs, all resulting in higher costs for our locally owned gun shops to stay in business and in this county. The Bill also assumes that gun shops are the problem; the facts do not support this assumption. Gun shops are not the problem. Criminals are the problem.
It’s not hard to look around and see the effects of an advanced Internet economy on yesterday’s commercial buildings, stores and malls. As the national economy continues to move forward, neighborhood shops and malls are forced to reinvent themselves in order to survive. Properties sit vacant and consumers choose to purchase everything from household goods to clothing from the comfort of their homes or even from their mobile phone.
Nowhere else in Baltimore County will you see the damage done by massive job losses than in the 7th District. Over the last 30 years, we have been devastated by the demise of our industrial and manufacturing job base and we saw what most of us have never seen – blighted neighborhoods, vacant commercial property, a decline in property values and, subsequently, a lack of community involvement and pride.
Since taking office, I have had ongoing discussions with the Baltimore County Planning Department on how to infuse investment and prosperity back into the Essex Community. Essex has experienced the devastating impact of the massive job losses that affected southeastern Baltimore County.
In the past, we’ve had no organized community development organization to receive and properly manage funds. This type of entity is the primary essential component to attracting any type of public sector investment. From the very beginning of this endeavo,r it was a roadblock to any further action or interest from State or Local government. True and lasting revitalization cannot occur without a collaborative effort ofthe community, business leaders and government.
The bill requires that the property owner has a certified pest control technician from a licensed company certify that an eradication was performed.
I introduced, and the Council passed Bill 8-17, aimed at addressing cases where buildings are razed to permit new development. The bill requires that the property owner has a certified pest control technician from a licensed company certify that an eradication was performed, and the premises is rodent-free BEFORE the structure can be demolished.
The Tourism Bill will take 8% of the county’s existing hotel tax in order to increase that $35k a year by roughly $650k! This will give the county the funding it needs to promote some of the treasures we have.
I was proud to co-sponsor Bill 84-16, which allocates a percentage of the revenue derived from the “Hotel Tax” to be used to promote tourism in Baltimore County. Previously, the County spent a mere $35k a year on promoting all that our county has to offer. The Tourism Bill will take 8% of the county’s existing hotel tax in order to increase that $35k a year by roughly $650k! This will give the county the funding it needs to promote some of the treasures we have.
I believe one group has been especially overlooked: the people responsible for the freedoms we enjoy – our military veterans.
On January 4th I introduced Bill 1-16 at the County Council’s first Legislative Session of the year. I consider the legislation to be of landmark importance, and wanted to be sure to share the reasoning behind the bill with the community.
Our district has been devastated by job loss, and our constituents deserve every effort to attract jobs to Sparrows Point.
On Monday night, Dec. 7, the County Council voted on Bill 86-15, which is legislation I sponsored. It is perhaps the most important economic development legislation in the history of the 7th District, if not Baltimore County, and I encourage everyone to read it.