Towson’s state lawmakers — State Sen. Jim Brochin, and state delegates Susan Aumann, Steve Lafferty and Chris West — are readying themselves for the 2018 General Assembly session, which begins Jan. 10 in Annapolis.
The local legislators said that they will propose or support a number of bills during the 90-day session that will affect Towson and Baltimore County.
Brochin, who is running to replace Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat whose term expires this year and who is running for governor, has several legislative issues in mind. The Democrat representing District 42 said that his top priority will be submitting a bill called The Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act.
Under certain conditions and pending judicial review, the bill would allow evidence of previous convictions and allegations of sexual misconduct to be admissible as evidence in cases where a clear pattern of sexual assault or child molestation can be established, Brochin said, noting that the bill will be a continuation of legislation that he has successfully passed through the Senate three times since 2003, though it has not passed the House of Delegates.
“There have been horror stories of the same perpetrators getting away with stuff like this for years, and I think it’s time to balance the scales of justice,” Brochin said. “We have put safeguards in the legislation to protect the accused, and we think we can get it through the Senate again, but the tricky part will be getting it past the House.”
Brochin said that he and West, a Republican from District 42B, also will cross-file a bill that would emulate similar legislation in Texas, Missouri and Massachusetts pertaining to juvenile crime sentencing. Pointing to what he said is a 60 percent recidivism rate for juvenile criminals, Brochin said the bill would give a juvenile convicted of a crime other than murder or rape, the option of either entering a diversionary program or accepting the full sentence for their criminal activity.
Offenders “would attend classes four or five hours a day and also have access to group counseling and psychiatric services,” Brochin, a Cockeysville resident said. “And they would also be required to work with the victim and the victim’s family so they understand the consequences of their actions.”
Outpatient case workers would then follow the progress of offenders for a minimum of 18 months after they are released. “This has been a major focus for me, and I want people to know I am fighting tooth and nail to hold juveniles accountable and doing everything we can to curb their behavior,” Brochin said. “
Brochin said he is also focused on seeing a bill passed that would follow-up on Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s efforts to sue pharmaceutical companies that price gouge.
In the House
Lafferty, a Democrat whose District 42A encompasses most of the communities from the Beltway to the city line between Loch Raven Boulevard and North Charles Street, will focus on upstream pollution issues and giving a financial lift to community development organizations, he said.
The Stoneleigh resident said that he would submit a bill that would push for regulations managing upstream pollution from septic systems that would encompass all new housing built more than 1,000 feet from a waterway. Current law stipulates that the best available technology for septic systems must be used only within a 1,000 feet of a stream, rather than on all new construction regardless of its distance from water, Lafferty said.
Lafferty said that he is also hoping to help revitalize some local housing and apartment complexes or parks through nonprofit community development corporations or CDCs.
“The idea is to set up a fund in a state agency that would make funds available to community development groups,” he said. “Money would not go to individuals but to established organizations.” The money could be used for such community-based efforts as housing repair and renovation, improving parks, or providing job training or child care.
Lafferty added that his work goes beyond submitting bills.
“During my legislative time, my work has focused on equity and opportunity, the environment, education and building, strengthening and preserving communities,” he said.
Aumann, who will not run for re-election this year, said that her main thrust will be a bill aimed at curbing predatory lending practices. She will introduce a bill to lower the cap on interest rates on loans by in-state institutions from 34 percent to 28 percent.
The Republican lawmaker, who is a member of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission, said she will work with the attorney general to rein in out-of-state lenders’ rates as well, which, she said, can sometimes reach triple figures.
“People need to know what they’re getting into,” she said, adding that some lenders “take rates to astronomical levels.”
She will also work with her District 42B colleagues, Brochin and West, to find state funding for community projects, she said.
West said one of his primary goals will be to submit a bill that will eliminate racially exclusive title covenants from homeowners associations charters.
“We want to restate and amend original covenants,” said West, who is currently the only Republican candidate in the running for Brochin’s senate seat. “The law will cover the entire state.”
West also is seeking to reduce state corporate taxes from 8.25 percent to 6 percent over nine years at a rate of 0.25 percent annually.
“I’m trying to close the gap between Virginia and Maryland,” said West, who lives in Towson. “Too many times corporations moving into the area relocate to Virginia because it has a lower corporate rate. We want to take that part out of the decision-making process so that Maryland will be on an equal footing with Virginia.”
West said he is also joining Aumann and Brochin in seeking $150,000 in state funding that would go toward a new playing field at Dulaney High School.
West said he also will introduce a bill to make it illegal for hospitals to deny privileges to physicians who no longer feel the need to be certified by a national organization.
As a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee for the past three years, West said that it’s unfair for physicians — especially older ones with established practices — to have to go out of state for certification in order to practice in Maryland, which has its own certification standards.
“Now we’re finding that hospitals can deny privileges and insurers can take adverse action against doctors who give up their certification,” he said. “But my bill would allow doctors to practice in the state as long as they are certified by the Maryland Medical Association.”
Get in touch
Here is the contact information for Towson’s state legislators.
Sen. James Brochin, Democrat, District 42
James Senate Office Building, Room 22111 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3648, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3648 (toll free)
Del. Susan Aumann, Republican, District 42B
House Office Building, Room 2016 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3258, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3258 (toll free)
Del. Stephen Lafferty, Democrat, District 42A
House Office Building, Room 3056 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3487, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3487 (toll free)
Del. Christopher West, Republican, District 42B
House Office Building, Room 3036 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3793, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3793 (toll free)