Three familiar faces and one new one will represent Bowie this year in the Maryland General Assembly. Education funding, drivers smoking marijuana and regulating property managers are among the issues they’ll pursue in the 2019 General Assembly session.
Del. Marvin Holmes, D-District 23B, was reelected along with Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith. D-District 23A. They will be joined in the house by Del. Ron Watson, D-District 23B, who started his career in the General Assembly Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters will once again represent District 23 across the hall.
Watson has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, and said he is orienting himself and wants to make sure he engages Bowie’s citizens as the session unfolds.
Peters is mourning the death of his mother this week. He said in an email he will serve on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, chair the Transportation, Public Safety and Environment Committee and chair the Capital Budget Subcommittee, which he said oversees the state’s $4.5 billion budget.
“We are starting this year with a positive budget forecast which is one of the best since I was elected to the Senate. I will continue the work I have been doing to support our military veterans and our first responders,” Peters said in a statement. “Education funding has always been a top priority for me and this year I will once again fight to ensure our county continues to receive top funding statewide.”
Holmes will chair the Housing and Real Property Subcommittee, and plans to introduce legislation to regulate property managers and to force banks to take over titles after foreclosures.
He said property managers who care for joint spaces in shared communities like condominiums, co-operatives or home owner’s associations are not regulated in the state. He said he wants the property managers to undergo training about their contractual responsibilities to communities.
“If you want to be a property manager in the state of Maryland you simply have to go to Staples and get a business card that says you’re a property manager,” Holmes said. “That’s all you need.”
He wants the Department of Licensing Labor and Regulations to ultimately handle regulatory oversight. But first, he said the state needs to figure out how many property managers there are — that will inform how much money for staffing and support they should allocate to pay for the new regulatory program.
To do that, he wants legislation that would require all property managers to register with the state for a small fee — last year in the same bill he proposed $10, he said, and this year he will likely lower it to $3.
He said Prince George’s County and the state is losing out on thousands of dollars in transfer taxes because some banks fail to takeover the titles of homes they have foreclosed upon.
“Then there are no taxes, no closing costs payable to the state or the county,” he said.
He plans to submit legislation that would force banks to take ownership of a title within a certain time frame after foreclosure.
Valentino-Smith will continue to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, and said she will work on issues such as education, affordable health care and impaired driving. She will resubmit a bill that would give a driver smoking marijuana the same penalty as a driver caught with an open container of alcohol.
In her role on the Select Committee to End Homelessness she wants to work toward providing more housing vouchers for veterans and survivors of domestic violence.
She said herself and others from District 23 are keeping a close eye on any changes made to the state’s horse racing industry. If the Preakness Stakes race is moved from Pimlico to Laurel Park, some have suggested training could move to the defunct Bowie Race Track.
Valentino-Smith said they want to make sure adequate resources are available to fix up the Bowie track if that happens.
“To make sure it’s operated in a fashion consistent with what neighbors deserve, in terms of aesthetics and functioning,” she said.