This has been quite a week in Annapolis. I wanted to give you a feel for what I've been doing this past week and what we're on the verge of achieving. You've probably gotten a view of one of the high profile bills, the 'Civil Marriage Protection Act' which allows same sex marriage, but not much else. Here's a quick update as well as information on applying for senatorial scholarships.
A person I know was recently a victim of a violent crime, attacked in her home by a neighbor who, unbeknownst to her, had a criminal record. It was a horrible attack with a great deal of blood and damage to her home as well. Faced with the emotional aftermath of the attack, she also had to file an insurance claim to clean up and repair $9,000 worth of property damage done to her home. After filing her claim, she was met with a surprise: her insurance carrier raised her homeowner's insurance premiums over $1,000! She would be a victim -- again.
In response, I introduced Senate Bill 317 which prohibits insurance companies from raising rates on future victims of crime who face similar circumstances. On Tuesday, this friend -- and victim -- joined me to testify in favor of the bill at a committee hearing. A senate committee is now considering the bill, and I'm optimistic about the bill's chances for passage this session. This person wanted to do something for other people facing the very same circumstances. I'm hopeful that together, we can do just that.
A federal undercover study done by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that for-profit colleges encouraged fraud and used deceptive and questionable marketing practices while recruiting prospective students. Some of these colleges encouraged students to falsify financial aid forms, did not allow students to meet with financial aid counselors, exaggerated potential salaries, and failed to be honest about tuition costs. I introduced legislation to rein in some of these practices and, for the first time, regulate this growing sector.
Also on Wednesday, sometime in early evening, Mario Repole, a co-owner of Three Brothers Pizza, joined me to testify before the Senate Budget and Tax Committee to support closing corporate tax loopholes by adopting 'combined reporting.'
On Thursday evening the Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act, allowing same-sex marriage. I was proud to be both a co-sponsor of the measure and to cast my vote in support of this landmark bill. Gay and lesbian Marylanders should no longer be treated as second class citizens. This was an important step towards gaining that full citizenship. 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 do so legally. The vote was 25 to 21. A committee in the House of Delegates has now taken up the bill and a hearing was held Friday. The prospects are very good for the bill's passage.
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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