Friday, September 30, 2016

New Maryland Laws -- October 1, 2016

Well, the end of September is already here and, of course, a number of new laws passed by our legislators will be enacted, AND the public that has not been paying attention will be required to follow them. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE!

Here is what Maryland's Legislators did during their90 day stint in Annapolis while you were sleeping or working for minimum wages or looking for a job or just plain trying to cope with life.

This Saturday, many of the laws passed during this year’s General Assembly session go into effect.

Some key new laws Oct. 1 include measures to:

require ignition interlocks for drunk driving and increase penalties for killing people while driving drunk;

make drivers carry cards showing current insurance coverage;

reform asset forfeiture by police;

expand protections for equal pay for equal work and employees discussing their salaries;

improve child custody rules for parents with disabilities;

change rules for divorcing couples;

keep nonviolent drug offenders from spending long times in prison;

improve public oversight of the police;

encourage more reporting of child abuse and neglect;

withhold tax refunds for people with outstanding arrest warrants;

Other new laws deal with solar hookups, pesticides that kill bees, freedom of the press for students, and gambling on card games at home (no kidding).

Here is a roundup, by subject area, of some of the legislation that begins Saturday:


Drunk Driving Reduction Act/ Noah’s Law (SB 945): The Motor Vehicle Administration will require people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drivers found to have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher to use the Ignition Interlock System Program for a specified time. This bill was initiated after Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta was struck and killed by a drunk driver. A sticker honoring the officer will be on each interlock device.

Death or Injury by Vehicle (SB0160, HB157): The law increases penalties for offenders who commit vehicular manslaughter who have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol previously. Offenders can now face up to 15 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

Motor Vehicle Insurance — Carrying Proof of Coverage (SB544, HB 0720): This law requires drivers to have a current insurance identification card — paper, plastic or electronic — with them or in their vehicle, or face a $50 fine starting July 1.

Historic Motor Vehicles – Authorized Uses and Inspections (HB 0058): This law requires historic motor vehicle owners to certify that it will not be used for transportation to employment or school, or for commercial purposes. The law changes some requirements for vehicles from 1985 or earlier.

HOV Lanes – Plug-In Electric Drive and Hybrid Vehicles (HB 1179): This bill issues an HOV permit to a “qualified hybrid vehicle,” allowing the vehicle to be driven in the HOV lane on U.S. Route 50 between I-95 / I-495 and U.S. Route 301, regardless of the number of people in the vehicle.  

-By Vickie Connor


Children in Need of Assistance, Guardianship, Adoption, Custody, and Visitation — Blindness of Parent/Guardian (SB765): In cases with parents with disabilities, these disabling conditions, including blindness, cannot discredit the parent unless proven that the disability is against the best interest of the child.

Divorce-Corroboration of Testimony (SB359, HB274): Reversing previous laws, this allows courts to enter decrees of divorce on behalf of one spouse without the agreement of the other. It also establishes that a separation agreement is no longer sufficient to show both spouses want an absolute divorce.

Testimony by Perjurer (SB150, HB237): People who have been convicted of perjuring themselves, or lying under oath, will no longer be prohibited from testifying in court.

–By Sam Reilly


Providing Alcohol to Underage Drinkers/Alex and Calvin’s Law (HB409): Following the death of Alex Murk and Calvin Li in a 2015 drunken-driving accident after a party, this law prohibits a person from allowing underage individuals to consume alcohol if they should have known that individual would drive under the influence.

Justice Reinvestment Act (SB1005): This law will try to keep more nonviolent offenders and minor drug offenders from going to prison or staying in prison for a long time. It expands drug treatment in the state health department, and treatment for substance abuse and mental health through the corrections department, including risk and needs assessments to determine risks of reoffending. The law also calls for plans for more inmate rehabilitation.

Public Safety and Policing Workgroup (HB1016): This law enacts a number of suggestions from the Public Safety and Policing Workgroup, including protecting law enforcement officers from being penalized or retaliated against for disclosing information about other officers. It also puts a member of the public on the hearing board for police.

Seizure and Forfeiture (SB161/HB336): This law fundamentally reforms how and when law enforcement can seize money and other assets from people suspected of crimes. The asset forfeiture process has been abused in the past, and property has been taken from people with no connection to crime.

Child Abuse and Neglect (SB310, HB245): Anyone involved in an investigation of child abuse or neglect must report suspicions of another individual knowingly failing to report child abuse to the appropriate board, agency, institution or facility.

Criminal Law-Stalking (SB278/HB155): This law expands the definition of stalker from inciting physical fears or threats to include causing emotional distress.
Pretrial Release-Prior Crime of Violence (SB603): A District Court commissioner may not authorize the pretrial release of defendants who have been convicted of a crime of violence or with a weapon.

–By Sam Reilly


Equal Pay for Equal Work (SB 481): An expansion of the current law, this legislation prohibits employers from paying employees of one gender identity at a lesser rate than other employees. The bill does not allow employers to prohibit employees from discussing or disclosing salaries.

Minimum Wage for the Disabled (SB 417): Starting Oct. 1, over four years, this law eventually prohibits any employer from paying subminimum wages to people with disabilities as currently allowed.

–By Katishi Maake


Student Journalists (SB 764): Expands the rights of freedom of speech and of the press to student journalists in public elementary or secondary schools or public institutions of higher education.

University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act (SB 1052): The law cements a partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Additionally, it calls for the University System of Maryland to create a headquarters in Baltimore. The alliance leverages resources on both campuses to improve academic programs, and economic and community development.

Consumer Protection Provisions (SB 427): Establishes criminal and civil penalties for private career schools and for-profit institutions that enroll students in programs intended to lead to employment in fields that require a license or certification in Maryland, but that do not meet state requirements for those licenses or certifications.

–By Katishi Maake


Greenhouse Gas Emissions (SB 323): This bill repeals the termination date of the current requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2006 levels by 2020 and requires the State to reduce GHG emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030.

Pollinator Protection Act — Bees (SB 198/HB 211): Bans the sale of certain pesticides believed to kill bees, unless applied by a certified applicator.

Solar Electric Generating Facility (SB 811/HB 440): Requires electric companies to issue final approval to operate a customer-generator’s solar electric facility on the company’s distribution facilities within 20 business days after the completion of the installation process and receipt of paperwork.

Oysters: Aquaculture – Liability for Trespass (HB 799): Establishes that a person who willfully, negligently, recklessly, wrongfully, or maliciously enters any area leased to another person for aquaculture purposes to harvest, damage, or transfer shellfish or to alter, damage, or remove any markings or equipment is liable for specified damages, which may include attorney fees or court costs.

–By Eleanor Mueller 


Maryland Income Tax Refunds – Warrant Intercept Program (SB 425/HB 390): If an individual has an outstanding arrest warrant, county officials may request that the comptroller withhold that person’s income tax refund, including for active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The state must also study the program to ensure there is no racial bias.

Senior Citizen Activities Center Operating Fund (SB 805/HB 262): This law increases, from $500,000 to $750,000, the minimum annual funding to the fund, requires additional expenditures under specified circumstances, and alters how the funds are distributed to jurisdictions.

–By Eleanor Mueller 


Gaming – Home Games (HB 127): Anyone 21 years or older can bet on home card games or mahjong as long as the games do not occur more than once a week and are played with friends. There is a $1,000 limit per 24-hour period and no fees may be charged.

State Lottery and Video Lottery Facility Payouts — Remittance of Intercepted Prizes (SB 78): The bill repeals the 15-day waiting period for the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to transfer the lottery prize payout of a winner who is overdue on child-support payments.

–By Robbie Greenspan


Opioid-Associated Disease Prevention and Outreach Programs (SB 97): The bill repeals Prince George’s County AIDS-related needle exchange program, and will instead authorize health departments or community-based organizations in every county to establish an opioid-associated disease prevention and outreach program, with the approval of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Hospitals – Designation of Lay Caregivers (HB 1277): A hospital is required before the patient is discharged to provide a patient or their legal guardian with an opportunity to designate a “lay caregiver.”

State Board of Physicians – Licensing Exemption – Physicians with Traveling Athletic and Sports Teams (HB 119): Physicians are exempt from state licensing requirements, including the requirement to submit to a criminal history records check.

–By Robbie Greenspan


Open Meetings Act – Agendas (HB 217): Agendas for public body meetings must be made available to the public at the time of the notice of the meeting or at least 24 hours before the meeting.

Open Meetings Act – (SB 17, HB 984): Public bodies will keep a written copy of minutes or video or audio recordings for five years instead of one of an open session.

–By Vickie Connor

Information can be found at:

HAVE YOU even heard of the Blue Ribbon Commission on on Addressing the Prince George's County's Structural Deficit?

Well  it met for the third and final time on Thursday, September 29, 2016.  Please click on the link in this Blog to  see what they are saying about TRIM and other tax increases.

Show Up & Speak Out on Proposed County Tax Increases
SHARE THIS EMAIL to inform the Public

The County Council Commission reviewing tax increases held its last  public hearing last night, Thursday, September 29, 2016. The Commission’s supposed role is to assess the County’s fiscal situation, but its real role has been to provide the Council with justification for tax increases.

The Commission’s August meeting minutes ( identity 3 tax increases for the Council to pursue. Commission Chair Earl Adams, on behalf of County Council leadership, has been pushing for Repeal of TRIM (the tax rate cap) and reducing the Homestead Property Tax Credit (limits property assessment increase to CPI). The Commission will be pushing this tax increase agenda at the Public Hearing.

The Commission claims that Repeal of TRIM will provide the County with “Oodles and Oodles” of increased tax revenue. August Minutes, page 4.

If citizens do not SPEAK OUT, these limitations on the County’s taxing authority will move forward.

Our State Senators & amp; Delegates voted in 2012 to allow the County to override TRIM for “education”, and the County did that last year. What will the County do to tax rates in there is NO TRIM at all? What will happen to your property assessment if there is no Homestead Property Tax Credit?

PG Sports & Learning Complex
8001 Sheriff Road
Hyattsville, MD 20785
Sign up to speak - (301) 952-3600

VOTE No on Question D Committee
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Gone, but not forgotten, Ms. Janis Lomax, former City Clerk for Mount Rainier Maryland

As some of you are aware, Ms. Janis Lomax transitioned on September 27, 2016.  

Ms. Lomax worked for the City of Mount Rainier for more than fourteen (14) years.  She was the glue between each of the City's departments and first contact with residents and visitors to Mount Rainier.

The City of Mount Rainier is recognising Ms. Lomax’s passing by providing members of our staff up to three hours to attend her funeral services on Monday. 

We also encourage members of the community to please attend the services or take a few moments to remember Ms. Lomax on Monday.

The services and location are as follows:

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Viewing will be held at 9:00 am

Mass will be held at 10:00 am.

The Burial will follow Mass and will take place at Fort Lincoln Cemetery. 

St. Jerome's Church 
5205 43rd Avenue
 Hyattsville, MD 20781

Flowers will be sent to the family on behalf of the City.

Monday, September 26, 2016

See Something -- Say Something

The phrase that is trending now is "See something, say something." It is a trending phrase that I can associate with on a number of levels.

If you see something out or place in our City, say something. We are keepers of each other. We may not all be at the same level of economic wealth, but we all moved here because of our own personal reasons. I would like to believe that we moved here because we could see the beauty in our City.; the impressive tree canopy that did not just happen overnight; the large houses and yards; and yes the welcoming neighbors.

Our City is a long way from being perfect, but each of us has a role in making it the best that it can be. That means if you see something say something, but it also means that YOU need to take an active role in bringing about the change you want to see, but also keep what is already good.

When you see something, please report it first to City Hall (Miranda Bratz) 301-985-6585; Public Works (Kevin Kamali) 301-985-6583 Police Department ( 301-985-6580-routine call, 301-985-6565-service call) -- call 911 for emergencies (life or death) or Code Enforcement (Ray Wilkins)240-508-2253. You are not a nuisance, and we depend on your eyes, ears, and mouth.

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a community working together to ensure a good quality of life!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Public Safety Night A Major Hit!

Thank you to the Prince George’s County Helicopter TEAM!  You were an absolute hit.  Thanks for the many photo ops you had with the kids and their parents.  You created memories.

Thank you to everyone for coming out, mingling with our police officer, public works, and other City staff. Part of breaking down barriers is getting to know the people around you. Thanks to all of the other jurisdictions for sending some of their officers to our event. Also, thank you to homeland security for coming out and handing out information on emergency preparedness.

Thank you to the entertainers that dropped what they were doing today to come and get me out of my crisis.  You were awesome.  You know you are good when the crowd refuses to go home.

Public Safety night was a major hit, and all of you made it possible.

NOTE:  We have NEVER run out of hot dogs and hamburgers, but we did last night, and Captain Stoots and Corporal Murphy made sure that more were purchased and put on the grill.  THANK YOU!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Public Safety Night is Here -- TONIGHT! Mount Rainier Nature Center

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT FOR PUBLIC SAFETY NIGHT AT THE MOUNT RAINIER NATURE/RECREATION CENTER, Address: 4701 31st Pl, Mt Rainier, MD 20712. There will be hot dogs, beverages, and YES there will be entertainment including face painting.

Come out and meet your police department, neighboring police officers, and get to know YOUR NEIGHBORS! The more we know about each other, the less we will be caught up in fear and the malaise that is gripping this Country.

WE are Mount Rainier. We are willing and able to talk about the issues of race, relations, and community. WE WILL KEEP the lines of communications open.

SO COME OUT TONIGHT, BRING A FRIEND, A NEIGHBOR ORA GUEST!  All are welcome. You will marvel at the entertainment, and meet some awesome neighbors!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Viernes, 23 de septiembre 2016 es la noche de la seguridad pública en Mount Rainier. Este será el TERCER año que nuestro departamento de policía ha demostrado relaciones entre la comunidad y la policía en nuestra ciudad!

Como hablamos de lo que es malo en las relaciones de la policía y la comunidad Negro, también vamos a mostrar y discutir lo que es correcto! 
No, nuestros policías no son perfectos, pero tampoco lo es nuestra comunidad.

Cada uno de nosotros juega un papel en la toma de nuestra comunidad grande, mediocres o francamente repugnante. La frase de tendencia hoy en día es si ves algo di algo. 
Te estoy pidiendo que des un paso más allá. SALIR, CONOCER , y relacionarse  con nuestros oficiales.
Comparte un perro caliente. Compartir una historia. Reírse de algunos de sus chistes. Llegar a través de sus límites actuales y llegar a saber quiénes son los que mantienen segura a nuestra Ciudad.
Usted se sorprenderá al saber que tienen familias. Ellos se preocupan por esta comunidad. Se preocupan por las relaciones en nuestra comunidad, y quieren ser los mejores en sus puestos de trabajo.
Ellos te necesitan. Ellos necesitan su apoyo. Tienen que conocerles  por nombre, por la cara, por su dirección. Ellos necesitan saber que vives en Mount Rainier, pero también necesitan sus ojos y oídos para ayudar a mantener segura a nuestra Ciudad.

Así que, vengan el viernes y conoce a algunos de estos (hay también aquellos empleados en las obras públicas, el Ayuntamiento, y Código de Ejecución) empleados más dedicados de Monte Rainier que trabajan todo el día para ti, y tambien para mí .

No se olvide de compartir este post.

muchas gracias

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 is public safety night in Mount Rainier. This will be the THIRD year that our police department has showcased and demonstrated community and police relations in our City!

As we talk about what is wrong with police relations and the Black community, let's also showcase and discuss what is right! No, our police are not perfect, but then neither is our community.

Each of us plays a role in making our community great, mediocre or downright disgusting. The trending phrase today is if you see something say something. I am asking you to go one step further. COME OUT, MEET, and MINGLE with our officers.

Share a hot dog. Share a story. Laugh at some of their jokes. Reach across your current boundaries and get to know who is keeping our City safe.
You will be surprised to learn that they have families. They care about this community. They worry about relationships in our community, and they want to be the best at their jobs.

They need you. They need your support. They need to know you by name, by face, by address. They NEED to know who lives in Mount Rainier, but THEY ALSO NEED your eyes and ears to help keep our City safe.

SO, come out on Friday and meet some of Mount Rainier's most dedicated employees of (there are also those employees in Public Works, City Hall, and Code Enforcement) who work around the clock for You, and you, and you, and yes for me.

Don't forget to share this post.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

FREE Emergency Preparedness Training

Homeland Security News

Posted on: September 9, 2016

Prince George's County Office of Emergency Management Hosts Citizens Preparedness Conference
Landover, MD – In recognition of National Preparedness Month, the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management will host a 2016 Citizens Preparedness Conference themed “Back to the Basics” on Saturday, September 17, 2016. The event is free to the community and will be held at Prince George’s Community College- Largo Student Center located at 301 Largo Road, Largo, Maryland.

“Preparedness is a shared responsibility,” said Ronnie E. Gill Jr., Director of Emergency Management. “The Citizens Preparedness Conference is a great way to inform and educate the community on the importance of being prepared when disaster strikes.”
This one day conference will feature hands on training, seminars, and panel discussions. Pre-registration is highly encouraged and can be found at:

The 2016 Citizens Preparedness Conference includes sessions on:
• Active Shooter
• Lessons Learned – Surviving the Virginia Tech Shooting
• Crisis Communications and Social Media
• Pet Preparedness
• Faith Based Preparedness
• Individual and Family Preparedness
• Disaster Planning for People with Disabilities, Access or Functional Needs
• Preparing for Common Disasters: Do’s and Don’ts
• Public Health Challenges Following a Disaster
• School Preparedness: When Disaster Strikes
• Volunteerism: Getting Involved
• Save a Life! Hands Only CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Training

For more information about the Citizens Preparedness Conference, contact the Office of Emergency Management at 301-324-4400.

# # #

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Mount Rainier's Mayor and Council is back in session!

Mount Rainier's Mayor and Council reconvened last night after being on recess for the month of August. The meeting included a closed session to discuss personnel and potential City investments.

Click on the following links to view the meeting and the report out of the closed session.

Special guest last night was the Honorable Denora Hernandez, our School Board Representative.

Closed session discussion regarding the Mount Rainier City Attorney and City Investments.

Other highlights included discussions about Mayor and Council stipends, and increasing compensation for the members of the Mount Rainer Board of Elections.