Montgomery in Focus Masthead
February 2011

 

Resolution in Support of Same-sex Marriage - back to top

wedding coupleOn Tuesday we will vote on the Resolution I introduced urging the Maryland General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act during the 2011 state legislative session. To me it is a question of civil rights. Allowing the thousands of same-sex couples in Maryland to legally commit their lives to each other is the right thing to do to make the Free State even freer. I'm pleased that all of my colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would remove references to sex and gender as eligibility requirements to receive marriage licenses and would extend to same-sex couples all state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations. It would not compel any religious institution or members of the clergy to marry same-sex couples.

Opposite-sex couples, whose marriages are honored by the government, have access to more than 400 state-administered and more than 1,000 federally-administered benefits, protections and responsibilities that are otherwise unavailable to same-sex families. Many of these vital protections come at times of great vulnerability such as birth, death, illness, disability and unemployment. The federal Defense of Marriage Act still prevents same-sex married couples from accessing federal benefits.

Montgomery County has long been committed to non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, genetic status, sex, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity.

The Resolution is scheduled for adoption on Feb. 1. It includes the following:

The MontgomeryCounty Council recognizes that the opportunity to publicly and legally commit to share one's life with the person of one's choice is of the most central aspects of human experience, and denial of marriage to same-sex couples is the denial of a fundamental civil right.

Therefore, the
Montgomery County Council urges:

That the Maryland General Assembly pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act to amend state law to remove references to sex and gender as eligibility requirements for a civil marriage license and provide all of the state-administered legal benefits, protections and obligations of marriage, regardless of sexual orientation;

That the Montgomery County Delegation and members of the General Assembly cosponsor, advocate, and vote for passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act;

That the Speaker of the House of Delegates and President of the Senate move marriage equality legislation to the floor of their respective chambers for a vote during this legislative session;

That the Governor of Maryland sign into law the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act upon its passage by the General Assembly;

That this resolution be sent to the Governor of Maryland, the Honorable Chairs and Members of the Montgomery County House and Senate Delegations, the President of the Maryland Senate and Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.


 

Work Begins on New Glenmont Garage - back to top

elected officials at podiumMy feet are still thawing out, but a little ice storm couldn't keep me away from the January 18 groundbreaking ceremony for the new Glenmont Metro Station parking garage.

This second garage at Glenmont Station, which will be located on the west side of Georgia Avenue, replaces one of the station's Kiss & Ride lots and will add 1,200 parking spaces. When the garage is completed, there will be 3,000 parking spaces at Glenmont. Currently there is more demand than space at the station, and commuters are turned away, so this garage is a very high priority for us.

Commuters displaced from the Kiss & Ride lot during construction will be able to use the other Kiss & Ride lot on the east side of Georgia Avenue. To further accommodate commuters during construction, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (who also braved the elements to attend the groundbreaking) obtained a $500,000 federal earmark towards the purchase of two new buses that enhance the frequency of Ride On bus service to the station. The upgraded service began in September.

Metro is managing the project for the County and will operate the garage once it is completed. The garage will have six levels of parking and will incorporate a number of environmentally sensitive features. A canopy will connect the garage entrance to the Metrorail entrance. The garage will feature customer assistance phones, extra lighting, digital security cameras, and a police room with window access to the garage to enhance security.  Parking at the garage will cost $4.75.

The Glenmont Metro Station first opened in 1999. With an average of almost 6,000 weekday boardings, the station has the fourth highest ridership of transit stations in Montgomery County. (Silver Spring and Shady Grove stations have the most ridership with more than 13,000 daily boardings.)


 

Town Hall Meeting in East County - back to top

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the East County area on Wednesday, February 2. This will be the first Town Hall meeting for the new Council, and it will be held at the Francis Scott Key Middle School (910 Schindler Drive) beginning at 7:30 p.m. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting.  I hope to see you there.

The meeting will begin with a presentation by the Council's Office of Legislative Oversight on its report evaluating options to address the County's structural budget challenges. Visit my blog to learn more about this important two-part report.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM--cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.


 

Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee - back to top

As the new chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, I want to share with you what we have planned for the upcoming month. The Committee Agenda is subject to change, so visit our Web site to obtain daily updates.

February 7, 9:30 - 3rd Floor Conference Room
~Briefing - Transportation Policy Area Review
~SRA 09-02, Subdivision Approval - Conflict Resolution

February 14, 9:30 - 7th Floor Hearing Room
~Briefing - Vision 2030 for Park and Recreation Planning
~CIP Amendments:  Park and Planning

February 28, 9:30 - 3rd Floor Conference Room
~CIP Amendments:  White Flint Redevelopment
~CIP Amendments:  Recreation


 

Fast Fact - back to top

These days you hear a lot about the County's budget, particularly in terms of closing a projected $300 million gap for FY12.  There are rumors about plans to change salary and benefit structures, to eliminate particular programs or to increase class sizes.  So, which of these are currently under consideration by the County Council?  The answer is: none. 

Right now, the County's four agencies--Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and County Government--are submitting their budget proposals to us and to the County Executive, who will transmit his Recommended Operating Budget to the Council on March 15.  At that time, we will take up his recommendations in addition to our own proposals.  We will make final budget decisions at the end of May, and the budget will take effect July 1.

You can let us know your thoughts anytime during the process.  You can testify at the public hearings in April, send your written comments to the Council President or drop me a line directly.  Contact me any way that works for you; just let me know what you think.


 

Green Tip of the Month - back to top

Nothing says cold like the month of February.  According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the average family will spend over $1,300 on utility bills this year, and about half of that goes to heating and cooling.  Did you know that a bathroom or kitchen ventilation fan can draw out an entire houseful of heated air in about an hour? Check out this and other tips from DEP on staying warm while keeping heating costs down.


 

Let's Talk - back to top

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help.  I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process.  Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.