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Senator Paul G. Pinsky ... your Annapolis
                    Advocate


In this issue:

...Your Annapolis Advocate

Dear Friends:

There's now a little more than three weeks left in the 2011 legislative session. There have been a few steps back (as you'll see below) and - I'm hopeful - we'll see a few steps forward during the session's waning days. I'm pleased to play a role in some of these progressive efforts.

On the national level, things are worse: attacks on public employees in Wisconsin and other states while national Republicans continue to pound the President and Democrats in Congress. Democrats need to stand up and pound back. They -- we -- need to stand up to attacks on working and poor families and say no to tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.

Because the right-wing is louder and more aggressive and less willing to compromise, their position has shifted the 'center' to the 'right,' making their position the 'default position.' We need to respond.

Stay tuned, stay alert, and stay involved.

Be well,

Paul

Scholarship Opportunity:
Deadline to Apply is April 8

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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Marriage Equality Suffers Setback

After the Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act, I was optimistic about its passage in the House of Delegates. Sadly, the bill was sent back to committee and will not be revisited until next year. Although I'm disappointed about this loss, I'm also hopeful that the House of Delegates can pick-up the necessary votes to get it passed. If two people wish to commit to each other, they and their children deserve to have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. However, this is not an issue of benefits; it's an issue of fairness. Same-sex couples deserve to have the same civil rights as heterosexual couples.

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Progress on the Budget

A key house committee is expected to restore about half of the education funding for Prince George's County (about $10 million) that was cut in the Governor's original budget. I have worked with others to mitigate cuts to our schools and other vital state services. Efforts by many state leaders to cut pensions of state employees and teachers continue. This is wrongheaded and I will make every effort to avoid--or at worst, minimize--these cuts.

I have proposed a 'Maryland First' budget along with five of my Senate colleagues to: restore all of the cuts to education, protect Maryland's most vulnerable populations, and invest in our state's transportation infrastructure (repairing roads and bridges and investing in mass transit).

Funding for these initiatives can come from sensible changes in the state's revenue. We should extend a surcharge on millionaires which expired last year, particularly since the state's richest citizens just received a huge tax cut in Congress. They can afford to pay more. We should close corporate loopholes, by enacting 'combined reporting,' a bill I've sponsored this year. We should also raise the tax on alcohol which has not been raised in decades and is one of the lowest in the nation.

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Promoting Renewable Energy

This week, I testified on behalf of the Governor in support of legislation to build wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City. The proposed turbines are an important step towards weaning our state off of coal-fired power plants that increase air pollution and carbon emissions. The wind turbines produce clean energy that could power about one-third of the homes and businesses in Prince George's County. This initiative would also bring new, green jobs to Maryland while helping to satisfy our clean energy goals.

I also sponsored legislation to fix Maryland's 'net metering' law. Net metering allows a homeowner or business to put solar panels on a roof and offset one's own electrical use with the power generated. If the home or business generates more electricity than that used, then the utility has to purchase the excess electricity. This legislation makes technical fixes to the law to make net metering more beneficial (increasing reimbursement) for the homeowner or business. It is another important way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while providing a benefit to the owners of the solar panels.

Controlling Pollution and Sprawl

Last Friday, I testified alongside Governor O'Malley in support of the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2011. This bill would ban the use of septic systems in new developments that encourages sprawl in rural areas. These isolated developments require major investments in infrastructure like roads and utility connections and they cause a disproportionate degree of nitrogen pollution which leaches into the Chesapeake Bay, suffocating plant and animal life. This legislation promotes smart growth, agricultural preservation, and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

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Reducing Disposable Bags in the State and County

Legislation to reduce the use of paper and plastic bags at grocery stores advanced this week. I co-sponsored a state-wide bill that levies a five cent fee on the bags, mirroring a provision that has been very successful in Washington, DC. It has shifted shoppers away from plastic and paper bags towards reusable bags to reduce the litter they create. I also sponsored a local bill that enables Prince George's to set up such a program if the state-wide legislation fails to pass.

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Other Legislative Updates

Legislation I sponsored, to protect students enrolled in for-profit colleges from deceptive practices, has just received preliminary approval in the Senate. The bill creates a fund to reimburse students in case the college goes bankrupt, prohibits aggressive recruitment practices, and gives the state greater regulatory authority.

Insurance companies should be prohibited from raising premiums on victims of violent crimes. Last week, this legislation, which I introduced, passed the Senate unanimously. The House of Delegates will now take up the legislation.

This legislation arose after I was alerted by a woman who was viciously attacked in her own home, resulting in extensive property damage. After submitting a claim, the insurance company raised her premium a result of the claim. I found it simply outrageous and felt compelled to act.

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Authorized by Citizens for Pinsky, Anna Frankle, Treasurer