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District 14 legislators prepare for 2020 General Assembly

by Judith Hruz


Education issues – including career and technology education and building schools — will be among the priorities of the District 14 legislative delegation when the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly convenes Jan. 8.

The local legislators — Sen. Craig Zucker (D) of Brookeville, Del. Anne Kaiser (D) of Burtonsville, Del. Eric Luedtke (D) of Ashton and Del. Pamela Queen (D) of Olney — feel confidant in their priorities, they told a crowd of some 75 people gathered at Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department’s Oak Room in December.

“Every kid deserves a quality education,” the longtime legislator said.

Kaiser, who began serving in the House of Delegates in 2003, has been a member of the House Ways and Means Committee since that first term and as its chair since 2017.

She said other issues coming this session cybersecurity and free and fair elections, as well as preserving the Preakness, one of the jewels of the horseracing Triple Crown.

Zucker, who was named chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus by new Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Dist. 46) of Baltimore, is also vice chair of the Education, Business & Administration Subcommittee of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

“He will be there when funding decisions are made,” Kaiser said of her colleague.

He is also vice chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee.

Zucker said one of the delegation’s big priorities is “funding local treasures, such as Olney Theatre Center, Sandy Spring Museum and parks in Olney and Brookeville.

Luedtke, the new majority leader of the House of Delegates, stressed that 2020 will be “the year of Maryland’s children,” citing legislation to address school overcrowding – approximately 2,000 new students are enrolled in Montgomery County every year – and House Bill 2, a school reform proposal that would “make ourselves a national model” for education.

Luedtke also wants to close the loopholes in Maryland’s gun laws, which he said does not mean taking guns away from owners.

“Most of Maryland’s gun owners are responsible,” he said.

Queen, who focuses on poverty issues, among others, said Maryland had a poverty rate of 7 percent compared to the nation’s rate of 13 percent.

She said 33 percent of the student population in Montgomery County Public Schools, or 54,000 students, are enrolled in the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) program. By comparison, only 56,000 students are enrolled in the nearby Howard County Public School System, she said.

Queen said she and other legislators are working to change tax consumers into tax contributors.

She also wants to support legislation to reskill seniors, find viable and adequate transportation options, offer options in affordable and stable housing, and address the cost of child care.

The District 14 legislators agree that their experience and committee assignments, combined with their skills as a team, will bring success during the session.

“In Annapolis they say we’re the gold standard of a team working together,” Kaiser said.

The 90-day session of the General Assembly will end April 6.

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