From the office of Del. Mary-Dulany James:
As the third week of the 2011 legislative session comes to an end, while some were kept in the dark during the winter weather, I am hard at work here in Annapolis on a number of things I want to keep you up to date on.
Helping People Kept In The Dark During Winter Blizzard
As I am sure you have experienced, we have seen some serious winter storms over the past weeks. Because there were major power outages, and big unregulated utilities were in some places unacceptably slow in restoring power to their customers and our constituents, we are taking up legislation this year to penalize big utilities who do not make our constituents their priority. The failure of big utilities not only individuals and families on a personal level – trying to live in homes without lights or heat – but also harms our small businesses that can lose thousands upon thousands of dollars in lost revenues when they are unable to open for business. The penalties will be put into a fund to reimburse individuals, families, and small businesses, for their economic losses during power outages that big unregulated utilities, which are seeing record profits, were derelict in not resolving using best practices. It seems only fair that our utilities should be working for us when we need them most, and they should pay when they clearly fail to do the job.
State Of The State Address
Additionally this week was the Governor’s State of the State address. I was pleased to hear him speak about fiscal responsibility in the budget. While it is austere, I am glad to report that it includes no new taxes, and maintains critical services. Additionally the Governor touched on other matters, but did not elaborate to the point where I might be able to share insight upon them.
The Best Of BRAC
As you know, over the past decade, I have been intimately involved with bringing every possible benefit from BRAC to our area as I can. Last night I attended a reception with county officials and military leaders from Aberdeen Proving Ground that put some of those developing opportunities on display. This week Harford County economic development director Jim Richardson said that he anticipates as many as two contractor positions to be created for every new BRAC-related Army job. This is all good news, but there is still work I am doing to maximize these benefits.
I recently sent a letter of concern to Senator Roy Dyson and Delegate David Rudolph, the Senate and House Chairs of the Joint Committee on Base Realignment and Closure. (The letter is included below.) I expressed my worry that it was not at all clear whether and how Maryland’s educational systems and services are meeting the needs of our citizens and businesses relative to providing workforce training and development opportunities in the areas where BRAC will create new jobs at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade. I expect our universities and community colleges to provide educational opportunities that will help prepare Marylanders to grab these opportunities that BRAC presents. I am pleased to report that the Chairmen heeded my call, and will hold a hearing on this matter shortly. In these updates I will notify you of when this hearing will take place and what concrete actions I and others will take this session to make sure our BRAC educational needs are met. These are our future jobs and I want all of my constituents, including the young people in our high schools, to be able to take full advantage of BRAC-related careers.
As always, I hope to hear from you soon and that you will take the time to share with me the issues that are important to you. When you are in Annapolis please stop by.
Very Truly Yours,
January 19, 2011
The Honorable Roy Dyson
102 James Senate Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991
The Honorable David Rudolph
231 House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991
Re: BRAC Committee Task Force Meeting
Dear Senator Dyson and Delegate Rudolph:
I am writing following our Joint BRAC Committee Task Force meeting yesterday. I was concerned to hear some of the comments regarding the status of educational training and opportunities at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) and statewide.
Major General Justice stated that his three areas of prioritization relative to programs in higher education and training were: (1) Systems Engineer programming, (2) Software Engineering and (3) Technical level skills relative to Community College offerings and outreach at both Harford and Cecil Community Colleges. Except for programs with the University of Maryland School of Engineering at APG, it was not at all clear whether and how Maryland’s educational systems and services are meeting the needs of our newest citizens and businesses relative to providing workforce training and development opportunities in these areas.
For these reasons, I am writing to ask the Joint Committee to hold another meeting prior to the passing of the Budget to focus specifically on Educational Services to BRAC communities. I would like to hear from representatives of Harford and Cecil Community colleges, the University of Maryland system and Morgan University about their plans and activities relative to meeting these needs at APG. It would also be appropriate to hear from representatives from Anne Arundel and Howard Community Colleges and the University of Maryland system about what they have each done and plan to do to meet the needs of the Fort Meade community. While APG and Fort Meade are the two most impacted bases, perhaps the MD Association of Community Colleges and the Maryland Higher Education Commission could speak to program developments to meet needs at the other BRAC sites. A representative from the University of Delaware talking about its plans and programs planned at APG would be an appropriate invitee.
Finally, perhaps the Secretary of DBED could round out the panel and move us forward as we talk about the economic development plans for Maryland beyond BRAC and how these educational programs could facilitate that growth.
BRAC presents, as you are keenly aware, the most significant economic development opportunity for Maryland since World War II with extraordinary benefits to the State of Maryland and its tax base. We welcome these new citizens with open arms and I want to make sure Maryland is maximizing her resources properly, investing resources wisely and exposing our newest citizens to Maryland’s finest educational opportunities.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this regard.
Harford & Cecil Counties