Takoma Park votes to allow outdoor dining

  • Published in Local

Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK — The Takoma Park City Council will vote Wednesday to approve an ordinance that will permit restaurants to establish outdoor seating areas on public sidewalks.

The proposed ordinance – which seven of the eight Council members supported during the first of two required votes last week – establishes a process by which restaurants, coffee shops, cafes and community kitchens can apply for permits that will allow them to set up outdoor dining areas on publicly-owned sidewalks within the city.

“I think this would be a great benefit to the community and to businesses to allow this,” said Council member Kacy Kostiuk (Ward 3) while speaking during the Council’s Jan. 24 work session. “I was really excited by some of the ideas and recommendations that were in this related to doing some kind of innovative things like closing streets to offer opportunities for more of a plaza feel.”


Local environmentalists talk issues with Van Hollen, Moran

  • Published in Local

Van Hollen meets with Audubon Naturalist Society members 1Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) meets with local environmentalists Photo by Nickolai SukharevWASHINGTON — Local environmentalists from Montgomery County urged lawmakers Thursday to support environmental conservation policies in a lobby day that included meeting with numerous U.S. senators and congressmen. 

Members of the Chevy Chase-based Audubon Naturalist Society conservation group explained the importance of numerous existing environmental laws while visiting Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) on Capitol Hill. 

“From the politics of the day, each of the senators comes down on different sides of the fence,” said Lisa Alexander, Executive Director of the Audubon Naturalist Society. “I think the environment is a nonpartisan issue, so I think we should receive support from both sides of the fence.”


Hogan proposes term limits for Maryland General Assembly

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagMaryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) hopes a term limits bill he proposed last week will end the Democratic Party’s “corruption” and control of the General Assembly by limiting delegates and state senators to two four-year terms.

“Our founding fathers never envisioned professional politicians who spend their entire careers in office; what they intended was citizen legislators who would represent their constituents and then return back home to their real jobs,” Hogan said during a press conference in Annapolis last week. “The rise of professional politicians has led to out-of-control partisanship, the stifling of honest debate and fresh ideas, rampant gerrymandering, one-party monopolies, and an increased potential for the type of corruption that our administration has been fighting to root out,” said the governor.

Hogan’s proposed bill, the Government Accountability Act of 2018, would limit state delegates and senators to two consecutive four-year terms. If passed, the proposal would put state legislatures in line with the governor, who is currently limited to two four-year terms.


Ficker banned from speaking, claims bias

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — Attorney, activist, and perennial candidate Robin Ficker said he was barred from speaking at last week’s County Council public hearing because he is running for County Executive as a Republican even though he admits that he was going to attack the Council instead of testifying about the bill under debate.

“It’s personal. It’s not Robin Ficker-personal; it’s the fact that I’m the only Republican running County-wide,” Ficker said. “They didn’t want to hear what I had to say and they didn’t want me to get any publicity from testifying before the Council.”

Ficker said he signed up to testify before last week’s impromptu County Council meeting, but was not included on the list of witnesses for the hearing, which was meant to quickly to introduce and pass a bill that allowed residents to pay their taxes early in hopes to avoid a projected tax increase from changes in federal taxes.

Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large) said members from his staff picked the people who testified at the meeting based upon the analysis of the bill they gave in their requests to speak at the public hearing.

“We wanted people who had some content, and Mr. Ficker expressed none,” Riemer said. “Those who were here had written us extensive emails, you know, even providing a thorough analysis of the issue, so we felt that they would be constructive and helpful.”


State will consider terminating parental rights for rapists

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagAmong the first items on the legislative agenda in Annapolis next year will be a bill to allow rape survivors the right to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – which failed to pass in last year’s legislative session when time ran out – will be the first bill on the docket in the House of Delegates and the second bill on the docket in the Senate.

“I’ve been working on this bill with many others for about 10 years,” said Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-15), the lead sponsor of the bill.

The bill would allow rape survivors who become pregnant by their attacker to petition the state to remove his parental rights. Current law requires a felony rape conviction to terminate a rapist’s parental rights.


“Do What We Can”

  • Published in Local

Council passes plan to help homeowners hit by new tax plan

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — Responding to the recently-passed Republican tax plan that could result in higher taxes for Maryland residents, the County Council on Tuesday introduced and passed a bill 7-1 that will allow residents to prepay their County taxes under the current tax laws.

“We must do what we can to protect our people from the negative impact of this terrible Republican tax legislation,” said Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who originally proposed the idea of allowing residents to prepay their County taxes last week. “And this legislation before us is the only legislation that I am aware of that can postpone the pain for one more year.”

The Council returned from their holiday recess to act quickly on the bill, which County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) signed on Tuesday in the hope that it will mitigate some of the effects of the federal bill Council member Craig Rice (D-2) was the lone vote against the bill, while Council member Tom Hucker (D-5), abstained, as he was not present for the vote.


Takoma Park votes and changes its election laws

  • Published in Local

Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK— The City mayor and Council changed the voting rules in the city charter May 10, bringing a slew of changes to the election process.

“It passed, we just changed our elections…it was harder than giving birth,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

With the adoption of the charter amendment, the date of City elections will change from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, synchronizing it with State and County elections.

It will also change the date of the nominating meeting, the day which the mayor and Council take office, and will extend the time for certification of election results. The length of the 2017 term will change, too.


State passes law to provide private ownership of liquor stores in Montgomery

  • Published in Local

A new Maryland law will finally soon provide relief to booze-thirsty residents.

A new law that passed in the General Assembly will allow beer and wine stores in the County to apply for a license to sell liquor. Currently all liquor stores in the County are owned by the County, while beer and wine stores are privately-owned expanding businesses where residents can buy liquor.

“I think it will allow the retails to grow and I think they will sell a little more,” said Del. Charles E. Barkley (D-39), who co-sponsored the bill in the House of Delegates.


State passes legislation to give one-year write-offs for manufacturing equipment

  • Published in State

The Maryland General Assembly included one-year write-offs of manufacturing equipment for tax purposes in its end-of-session legislative rush on April 10.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed the new tax law on April 11.

It was part of Hogan’s job creation initiative, attached to better-known provisions allowing for special tax incentives for manufacturing in less prosperous areas of Maryland, including parts of Baltimore, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

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