As he does when the General Assembly is in session, District 13 Del. Guy Guzzone kept busy last week attending meetings and visiting landmarks, with one notable exception. Instead of being in Annapolis, he was at the other end of the world.
Guzzone took an 11-day trip to Asia that included a week in Taiwan and four days in Hong Kong.
The trip, which focused on sharing governmental insights and strengthening financial ties between Taiwan and the United States, was sponsored and paid for by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Guzzone said state Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, a Baltimore City Democrat, and elected officials from other mid-Atlantic states made up the rest of the American delegation.
"It was completely booked – one meeting after another," Guzzone said of the trip. He said he had met with the country's vice president and business leaders during his time there.
One of the most interesting conversations, he said, centered on health care. Taiwan has national single-payer health insurance, "so obviously having discussions and drawing comparisons about what we're doing with the Affordable Care Act was interesting," he said. Guzzone said Taiwan's health-care program had jumped from a 30 percent public approval rating to an 80 percent approval rating after taking effect.
And he said trade talks touched on how to increase traffic coming through Baltimore's port.
The trip, he said, was "all about relationship building, and over the course of time you hope that there's a connection that makes sense and that's built on."
This isn't Guzzone's first trip abroad as a delegate. In summer 2011, he traveled to Korea, mainland China and India, where Howard County residents who were natives of each country showed him around.
Howard County local legislation
In preparation for the General Assembly session that starts Jan. 8, the Howard County delegation has released its list of local bills for introduction next year.
•A limitation on the number of Class A alcoholic beverage licenses that the Liquor Board may issue based on a license-to-population ratio of no more than one Class A liquor license for every 4,000 Howard County residents. (Introduced by Dels. Guy Guzzone and Warren Miller.)
•A salary increase for Board of Education members, to $20,000 anually for the chair (up from $14,000) and $18,000 each for the other elected members (up from $12,000). (Introduced by Howard County delegation chairs Guzzone and Sen. Jim Robey.)
-Day Resource Center for the homeless on Route 1 in Jessup ($575,000. At the request of the County Executive.)
-Renovations to the historic Belmont property and its gardens in Elkridge ($125,000. At the request of the County Executive.)
-Shaded structures for playgrounds ($200,000. At the request of the County Executive.)
-Head start program improvements ($100,000. At the request of the County Executive.)
-Hollofield Play Space in Patapsco Valley State Park ($175,000. Introduced by Sen. Allan Kittleman.)
-A food facility for the Community Action Council ($250,000. Introduced by Guzzone.)
•An authorization for volunteer fire departments and war veterans' organizations to hold planned, permitted casino events as fundraisers. (Introduced by Miller.)
•An authorization for the Liquor Board to issue licenses for a beer festival weekend event to promote Maryland brews. (Introduced by Miller.)
The delegation will hold a public hearing on the proposed local legislation on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard government building at 3430 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City.
Full text of the bills can be found at http://www.howardcountymd.gov/statedelegation.htm.