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Senator Paul G. Pinsky ... your Annapolis
                    Advocate


In this issue:

...Your Annapolis Advocate

Dear Friends:

We've just completed the first three weeks of the twelve week legislative session. Most discussion still centers on the budget and the governor's initiatives.

I am excited to have the governor join me (although sponsors will be "O'Malley and Pinsky" rather than "Pinsky and O'Malley") in introducing legislation calling for the creation of an off-shore wind farm (11 miles off the coast of Ocean City). This will not only be good for the environment (reducing greenhouse gases) but will require many new, 'green' jobs constructing the turbines. It's hoped that these jobs will be needed right here in Maryland.

Pepco and its (un)reliability is also on the agenda. The outages seem to continue with no improvement. Legislation has been introduced to spur them to improve their service, equipment and infrastructure or face fines. Stay tuned.

I've also included a brief summary below of some of the legislation I've introduced.

Stay warm and feel free to contact the office if you have questions.

Be well,

Paul

Successful 22nd District Annapolis Reception

An estimated 250 people came to Annapolis to join the district delegation (myself and Delegates Gaines, Healey and Ross) for warm words, good food, and inspiring song on Jan. 17.

All reports and feedback lauded the event -- and it was a star-studded event. Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown shared kind words with the group; Zabrina Epps lead us in our national anthem and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," special guest Glenn Ivey discussed recent violence in Tuscon, AZ and here at home in the county, giving a fitting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, who was being honored; and the delegation members offered legislative updates. And all of this was accompanied by a buffet dinner from Three Brothers Restaurant in Bladensburg, one of the best business neighbors in the region. Thank you Mario and staff.

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Ongoing Improvements to our Roadways

The State Highway Administration (SHA) has just begun safety and resurfacing work along Route 410 between Riggs Road and Queens Chapel Rd. Currently there are only occasional road closures, but there will be daily lane closures once the weather warms up. It is anticipated this project will be completed in October. The other SHA project in District 22 is the 201 bridge project in Greenbelt. This project should be completed this summer.

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Scholarship Opportunities

Are you or one of your children expecting to attend a Maryland college or university next year?  Are you interested in financial assistance to help with tuition?

If you live in the 22nd district -- the communities of Berwyn Heights, Edmonston, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Lanham, new Carrollton, Riverdale, Riverdale Park, University Park, or Woodlawn -- you can apply to my scholarship committee for a Senatorial Scholarship.

These scholarships usually range from $400 to 2,000 for each of four years. If you'd like an application, please either call my Annapolis office at 301-858-3155 or access my website at www.senatorpinsky.org and download instructions and an application or check with your school's guidance office.  Applications are be due by April 8, 2011.

My scholarship committee, made up entirely of citizen volunteers from the 22nd legislative district, will be selecting the scholarship winners.

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Putting an End to the Death Penalty--Again

The death penalty is an out-dated and discriminatory punishment. There is no reliable evidence that the death penalty deters crime any more than a life sentence without the chance of parole. And, despite Maryland's strict procedures in order to prevent executing innocent people, the risk can never be completely eliminated. Governor O'Malley has also expressed that he is against the death penalty. The removal of sodium thiopental from the pharmaceutical market, a drug used in lethal injections, has brought new attention to the issue; I'm hoping that it might serve as a catalyst in abolishing the death penalty. This Baltimore Sun editorial recently came to the same conclusion.

State Budget: Shortfall and Solutions

The state budget is dominating the legislation session once again this year. The budget shortfall may hit $1.8 billion due to decreased tax collection (both personal income and sales) and increased costs for Medicaid plus other mandated state services. The Governor's proposed budget includes cuts to health care and state local aid which significantly impacts county schools. State aid to counties is determined by a county's wealth. While personal income in Prince George's County has stayed steady, personal income in Montgomery County went down. As a result of this factor and others, Prince George's stands to lose $85 million in funding for our schools.

Additionally the Governor has proposed reducing pensions for state employees and teachers. I don't think the shortfall to the state budget should be balanced on the backs of hard working state workers and teachers.

Better options exist to balance the budget. First, retain the millionaire's tax. This tax levy just expired in January and restoring it would subject income over $1 million to a 6.5% levy. Millionaires just got a giant tax cut from Washington when Bush era tax cuts were extended. Millionaires can afford to pay more. Second, establish "combined reporting." Accounting maneuvers by major corporations that do business in Maryland have cost our state over $100 million annually. Combined Reporting would close this loophole. Third, raise the state's tax on alcohol, which hasn't been increased in decades and ranks as one of the lowest in the country.

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The Right to Marry: For Some or for All?

It's time for Maryland to grant marriage equality to same-sex couples. Five other states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to legally marry, and Maryland should be next. The right to marry is a civil right and legalizing same-sex marriage is a necessary step to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation. Same-sex couples and their children deserve the same legal rights as heterosexual couples and their children. If two people want to commit to each other, they should be able to. A Senate committee will take up the measure on Tuesday.

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Some of my Key Legislative Initiatives

Banning Arsenic from Poultry Feed

Maryland produces 1.2 billion pounds of poultry litter per year which contains 9 to 12 tons of toxic arsenic. Approximately 90% of that is applied to cropland as fertilizer. Farmers and citizens that inhale dust containing arsenic are at risk for serious health problems like cancer and heart disease. Also, poultry manure used as fertilizer creates the potential for arsenic runoff and leaching into state waters. Why should a known carcinogen be added to poultry feed if it's not essential? This bill would ban the use of arsenic from being added to poultry feed in Maryland. Currently, Perdue does not utilize the chemical in its chicken feed.

Net Metering -- Fair Compensation for Generating Solar Energy

If you put solar panels on your home or business, your utility buys the electricity you produce by issuing a credit on your electric bill. If you generate more than you consume, you should be compensated for the 'extra' you send back on the electric grid. This legislation improves the way this credit is calculated and will clean-up last year's legislation.

Do Business in Maryland, Pay Corporate Income Taxes

A significant number of the largest corporations that do business in Maryland do not pay corporate income taxes. Using a series of loopholes, including setting up subsidiary companies in other states, these large companies have avoided paying -- or reduced their -- corporate income taxes by buying or renting products and services from their very own parent company. This legislation will provide for the use of "combined reporting" in calculating a company's taxes, treating all subsidiaries as one company.

For the last three years for which completed data is available, the state has lost $325 million as a result of not adopting combined reporting.

Victim's Rights Insurance

Citizens who are victims of a violent crime in their home should not have to pay for the violence of others. Unfortunately, if a violent offender causes property damage to a victim, the Crime Injuries Compensation Board provides no more that $250 for clean up and property replacement. Clean up and property restoration can be expensive, and if a victim submits a claim to insurance, their property and casualty insurance rates can go up. Current law prohibits increasing insurance premiums for claims arising out of domestic violence. This bill would add the same prohibition for all victims of violent crime.

Prince George's Bag Bill

Paper and plastic grocery bags create a lot of trash and harm the health of animals and plant life in our Bay and rivers. Washington D.C. passed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags last year which has been very successful. The city generated less revenue than it had projected, meaning that more people than expected decided to make the switch to reusable bags. In fact, the city estimates that the use of paper or plastic grocery bags decreased by 80 percent. It's time that we follow suit in order to lower pollution and reduce wasteful and unnecessary production of disposable bags. This bill enables the county to pass a similar proposal here.

Public Campaign Financing

This legislation would help reduce the influence that big money has on the electoral process. Last year's decision by the Supreme Court gives corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts on political ads. Candidates for the Maryland General Assembly frequently rely on funds donated from private individuals, sometimes big contributions from special corporate interests. This legislation will provide a fund, through the state of Maryland, in which properly qualified candidates will receive money from the state if they forego private contributions and agree to spending limits.

Universal Health Care

Last year's federal health care law will go a long way towards improving our health care system, but serious flaws remain. While the new federal law increases health insurance coverage and prohibits denying coverage for a 'preexisting condition,' the United States still remains the only industrialized nation that does not have universal health care based on citizenship. This legislation creates the Maryland Health System, which will provide health care services to all residents of Maryland under a single payer system.

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Authorized by Citizens for Pinsky, Anna Frankle, Treasurer