I hope this message finds you well. As the 2018 Session winds down, I have taken some time to reflect on my first four years serving as the Cecil County Chair in the House of Delegates. In cooperation with Governor Hogan, we have been able to move Maryland and Cecil County in the right direction over our term. While there is still much work to be done, our efforts thus far have paid off for you, the people of Cecil County.
We continue to introduce and pass numerous local bills on behalf of the County and our citizens. Two bills supporting our Sheriff and local law enforcement passed unanimously this year alone. One of these bills helps our Sheriff bring Cecil County into compliance with the Justice Reinvestment Act. This was a bipartisan piece of legislation that passed in 2016 which increases penalties for violent criminals while ensuring law enforcement’s resources are not squandered on non-violent, first-time offenders This bill offers assurance that they can continue to be functioning members of society outside of the criminal justice system. The second of these pro-local law enforcement bills expands collective bargaining for police officers in the Sheriff’s department, including captains and all ranks below.
SB 1265 – Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 establishes the School Safety Subcabinet to collaborate with local schools systems, law enforcement agencies, state and local government agencies, parents, and other stakeholders to provide a comprehensive, coordinated approach to school safety. This effort is funded with an initial $30 million for FY 2019, with an additional $1.5 million per year in 2020 and beyond. This bill passed with broad bipartisan support and will provide for service resource officers in classrooms to protect our student population.
Our biggest legislative accomplishment to date is HB-203 Higher Education – Senatorial and Delegate Scholarships – Reimbursement of Expenses for Community College Certification and Licensure, or as I like to call it, the “Blue Collar Scholarship” bill. This bill increases access for blue collar workers and tradespeople to already existing scholarship money. After a couple attempts in previous years, HB-203 finally passed this year unanimously in both the House and the Senate. This will help tradespeople, truck drivers, and other everyday working citizens who want to better their lives through higher education at Cecil College.
Working outside of Annapolis, we were able to facilitate and assist with several projects benefiting the citizens of Cecil County over the years. One of these projects was saving the Perryville Dental Clinic from closing. The clinic, which has served close to 20,000 people, was successfully transferred from the University of Maryland to West Cecil Health in September 2017.
We facilitated $24 million in funding and reached local consensus to accommodate seventy-five homeless veterans residing in Cecil County. These veterans will reside in newly renovated homes at Perry Point. Groundbreaking occurred in May 2017 with final construction expected to finish this year. I am proud to assist in supporting our State’s veteran population.
Last year I was proud to stand up to powerful special interests in the State to preserve one of Cecil County’s historical landmarks, the Donaldson Brown Center. The underutilized Georgian style mansion along with its 22 acres provides a stunning view of the Susquehanna River. In an effort to boost its balance sheet and to consolidate its assets, the University System of Maryland made multiple attempts to unload the property as far back as 2006. Due to significant pushback from the community along with local and state elected officials, that effort was thwarted. The University System tried yet again to liquidate the property to a private spa developer last year. Thankfully, the plan was delayed to allow more input form the community and the Brown family descendants. I will always stand up to powerful special interests on behalf of the people of Cecil County.
Over the last four years, Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford) and I worked diligently on budget appropriations and advocacy to State agencies for securing over $200,000 to replace fire-fighting sea vessels in Havre de Grace and Charlestown. Both new boats were received by their respective departments last year. These fire-fighting vessels saw their first action during the tragic fire that took place in Perryville just weeks ago. The Owens Landing waterfront condos were so close to the river on the west side that traditional firefighting equipment could not douse the fire. Both vessels were able to suppress the fire enough to prevent the blaze from reaching the adjacent condo building. These vessels saved lives and property. They are indispensable tools for our firefighters, and they have already paid for themselves.
While work in Annapolis is both exciting and important, I have found resolving the issues brought forward by our constituents to be the most meaningful. In our fourth session, our office has been able to assist numerous constituents with pressing problems. We hope to serve you should there ever be a problem with government that you can’t solve on your own.
It is with great sadness that we lost our beloved Senator this year, Wayne Norman. As a mentor to me, I plan to continue Wayne’s legacy of standing for one’s beliefs while possessing the ability to have an honest dialogue about the issues with people of different viewpoints. The District 35 Team consists of Andrew Cassilly, Teresa Reilly, Linda Norman, and me. Should you need assistance with a pressing issue – or have ideas for improving our State – we urge you to make us aware of your needs, ideas, or suggestions. Our contact information is enclosed.
It has been a privilege to serve as your delegate again this session. We are just getting started.
Delegate Kevin Hornberger
District 35A, Cecil County