Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, March edition

Golden Shovel Awards

golden shovel lapel pin

Did someone you know make your neighborhood safer? Nominate them for a Golden Shovel.

I started the Golden Shovel awards in 2003 to honor residents who lace up their boots to help neighbors shovel out after a snowfall. The awards recognize individuals who go above and beyond in helping clear ice and snow from County sidewalks.

Our seniors, school children, people with disabilities and those who walk to work or use mass transit depend on snow-free sidewalks. This goes beyond convenience--it is a matter of public safety. I certainly hope that residents will nominate for a Golden Shovel those individuals who put the Golden Rule to work. The deadline for nominations is March 31, and awards will be presented in a Council session in April. Get the nomination form.

Letter to The Gazette on Electronic Cigarettes

electronic cigarette with flavoring bottles

Check out my letter in The Gazette explaining why we must regulate the use of electronic cigarettes in Montgomery County. This bill is scheduled for a vote on March 3. For your convenience, I have reprinted the letter below:

It is hard to keep up with the mounting evidence that electronic cigarettes pose more risks than their marketers would like us to believe, especially for children and teens.

Although electronic cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, they do contain nicotine and other dangerous chemicals. That’s why I introduced a bill in the Montgomery County Council to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in public spaces where traditional cigarette smoking is banned, including in public buildings and restaurants. The bill also would prohibit use of electronic cigarettes by minors and would require child-resistant packaging for them.

The use of electronic cigarettes, commonly called “vaping,” has grown dramatically since the product’s introduction in 2007. The practice has become so commonplace that the Oxford Dictionary selected the word “vape” as its 2014 “Word of the Year.”

Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigs have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that e-cig use has tripled among teens in just two years. These young people are unwittingly putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction and nicotine poisoning, as well as potentially graduating to harmful tobacco products.

What exactly is in an electronic cigarette? It is hard to say. In addition to the most common ingredients — propylene glycol, nicotine and flavorings — studies have revealed a lot of unsavory things, like carcinogens, heavy metals and even silicon fibers in some e-cigs. But with 90 percent of electronic cigarettes being manufactured in China, where production lacks even the most basic of regulations, they could contain just about anything.

Many states, including Maryland, prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Municipalities including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, also have enacted restrictions on their use.

While the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering regulations to address electronic cigarettes, it is not clear when those regulations would be finalized or take effect. In the meantime, I’m not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people. We must put some protections in place, and we must do it now.

Nancy Floreen, Garrett Park

The writer is vice president of the Montgomery County Council.

No Boundaries with Chris Van Hollen

Chris VanHollen and Nancy Floreen

Congressman Chris Van Hollen and I sat down at Black's Market Bistro in Garrett Park to tape the most recent episode of No Boundaries, an innovative program by County Cable Montgomery that's designed to cross jurisdictions and seek common ground. No Boundaries features local leaders in an open exchange of perspectives, concerns and ideas. The congressman and I talked about our families, our early careers and the people who influenced us along the way. See the program.

Green Tip of the Month

On March 16, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee will take up Bill 52-14, which would ban the use of cosmetic pesticides that have been linked to a wide range of diseases. The bill is intended to protect residents, especially children, from potentially hazardous exposure to known toxins and carcinogens.

The bill would ban the use of “non-essential” pesticides on lawns, certain athletic playing fields, and County-owned public grass areas. It also would require property owners to post a notice when they apply pesticides and would require the County to adopt an integrated pest management program for certain County-owned property.

The bill contains exemptions for agriculture, control of noxious weeds and invasive species, maintenance of golf courses, the protection of human health and the prevention of significant economic damage. If you would like to weigh in, send your written testimony to To watch the T & E Committee meeting, tune in to County Cable Montgomery.

Fast Fact

Six long-time residents of Montgomery County, each of whom played a key role in civil rights changes that impacted the County, told their personal stories as they were honored by the Council as part of a recent Black History Month commemoration event. See the terrific video of these residents talking about Montgomery County history as they lived it. 

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting? Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you. Send your meeting notices to or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

March 2015

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