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Senator Paul G. Pinsky ... your Annapolis
                    Advocate


In this issue:

...Your Annapolis Advocate

Dear Friends:

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.

As always, let me know what you think -- whether you agree with me or not.

Be well,

Paul

You can find more frequent updates on facebook. Click 'like' at the top of my facebook page.

Protecting Victims of Violent Crime from Being Victims of Insurance Companies

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.

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Shielding Students Enrolled in 'For-Profit Colleges' from Deceptive Practices

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.

It seems that every time a commercial comes on, a new, for-profit college is advertised. At a hearing on Wednesday, representatives from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), the University System of Maryland, the MD Association of private, not for-profit colleges, and other stakeholders joined me and testified in support of this legislation. The bill would: create a guarantee fund providing insurance against default by the college; prohibit recruiter incentives which result in overly aggressive recruitment; provide oversight by MHEC; full reporting of graduation rates and costs, among other requirements. At the hearing I explained to the committee that the state must get in front of this growing industry before more people are hurt. Not all of these institutions are nefarious, but the likelihood of scams and hustles, if the federal investigation is any indication, is not far off.

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Closing Corporate Tax Dodges: Time to Set a Level Playing Field

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.'

Large multi-state corporations doing business in Maryland are paying little or no corporate income tax, but small business owners, like Mario, are paying their taxes. It's not fair that large corporations who can afford to pay for expensive accountants and attorneys pay so little when the state's small businesses pay their fair share. Combined Reporting would level the playing field and bring tax fairness to all businesses in Maryland. Between 2006 and 2008, Maryland lost $325 million of revenue by allowing these companies to shift profits to subsidiaries in other states.

The state faces a $1.4 billion budget shortfall, while large corporations are reporting record profits. Instead of considering reductions to pensions for state employees and teachers and budget cuts to those that can least afford it, the state should adopt combined reporting. Large corporations should pay their fair share -- after all, everyone else is. The bill is being considered in the Senate Budget and Tax Committee. Read my letter on progressive taxation which appeared in the Baltimore Sun, here.

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Removing Another Barrier: The Civil Marriage Protection Act

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.

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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