Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, January 2017

Masthead that says Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus

What's In and What's Out for 2017

Nancy Floreen viewed from behind as she addresses the crowd and raises her arms in solidarity.

In -- Education:  We committed ourselves to the core goals of closing the educational opportunity gap; reducing class sizes across the board; and making decisions that are both achievable in the short term and sustainable over time. That's why we passed an "education first" budget.

In -- Marriott:  Marriott is the gold standard for corporate excellence, and their decision to continue growing their business right here in Montgomery County is great news.

Out -- Hate:   After some incidents of inflammatory speech, vandalism and harassment, the Council passed a resolution reaffirming this County's tradition of respect for all residents.

In -- Economic Development:  We launched the privatized Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to give economic development a real shot in the arm, and we have welcomed its first executive director.

Out -- Job Insecurity:  Our sick and safe leave law, which requires employers to provide paid sick leave, took effect in October. New legislation expanded the law to include parental leave.

In -- Renters:  Under the new landlord-tenant law, renters can look forward to greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease as well as an enhanced focus on inspections and enforcement with regard to health and safety issues.

In - Clean Energy:  The Council Office Building's new solar panels are a part of a larger, and very successful, County initiative to generate clean solar energy on-site.

Out -- Electronic Cigarettes:  In 2015 the Council approved my bill to ban the use of electronic cigarettes wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited and to require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. Now the federal government is following our lead and taking aggressive steps to keep e-cigs out of the hands of minors.

In -- Gold:  Montgomery County's four Olympians brought home seven medals from the Games in Rio.

In -- New Leadership:  Congratulations to Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer who have been elected president and vice president of the Council. As the outgoing president, I had the opportunity to reflect on the Council's business over the past year.


Bethesda Plan Goes to PHED

Bethesda Downtown Plan book cover

The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee will be working through the Bethesda Downtown Plan beginning January 23 and continuing through February. All of the committee meetings and full Council meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. The Council held three public hearings on the Bethesda Downtown Plan on October 18, 19 and 20, but you can still send your comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. We want your input, and we give equal weight to written and oral testimony. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.


Better Access on Council Web Site

Check out the new and significant revision to the Council's Web site. You can now access in one click agendas for Council sessions and committee meetings. You can also get informational packets for every issue to be discussed at meetings and view live meetings and archived videos of past meetings. Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council and click on "Council Meeting Portal" to get this information plus minutes of prior meetings, summaries of Council actions and voting outcomes on legislation.

The Council broadcasts live all Council sessions, public hearings and committee meetings. If two committee meetings are ongoing simultaneously, you can choose from the site to see the live broadcast of either.

On the same page, click on “Archived Agendas and Packets,” to access archived agendas and prior informational meeting packets dating to 2004. You will really like the new “search” feature that greatly improves the ability to find items by subject or name. Videos on demand are available for Council meetings and most committee meetings dating to 2005. Videos of evening public hearings back to 2010 also are available.

You can view videos of some Council special events, such as town hall meetings, or special programs produced by County Cable Montgomery under “Other Council Videos.”

To access the new site and its key information for upcoming meetings:

  • From the Council home page, click on the box near the top of the page that reads “Council Meeting Portal. Agendas, Packets, Live and Archived Video.”
  • On the page, under “Current and Upcoming Meetings,” find meetings identified by date and the desired session.
  • Click on “Agendas/Packets” and then go to the meeting informational packet for that specific item.Agendas for upcoming meetings are generally available two or three working days before a meeting. Detailed informational packets for each item on an agenda are generally added about 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Get information on previous Council sessions or committee worksessions  by finding the desired meeting and clicking on either “Agendas/Packets” or “Video.” You can view specific items, so you do not have to watch the entire meeting when seeking video on just one item.


Tips on Testifying

All nine Council members raising their hands.

When the Council returns in January, we will take up some important topics ranging from budgeting to land use to our local economy. We have public hearings on a variety of issues scheduled nearly every week, and we want to know your views. For newcomers as well as seasoned veterans, here are a few tips to make the most of your testimony:

  • Keep it simple. Put your request or main point at the beginning of your testimony. Use plain language and put technical points at the end.
  • Keep it short. The Council adheres to the three-minute limit, so make sure your points come across in that time frame. You don't have to use the entire allotted time, though. Sometimes good things come in small packages.
  • Bring 15 copies of your testimony with your name, contact information and main points clearly identified.
  • Let your personality shine through. Levity or a personal anecdote can help you stand out in the crowd.
  • Relax. Don't be afraid of the formal setting or the television cameras. Just be yourself.

I understand public speaking isn't for everyone, so you can also call or e-mail. To have your written correspondence included in the public record, send it to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov or Council President, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850.


GSK Expands in Rockville

Good news: GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, has chosen Rockville as the home for its new research and development center. Up to 200 new jobs will be created at the facility, with GSK investing over $50 million in the next two years to continue to develop the site with latest state-of-the-art scientific research technology and equipment. Learn more from GSK.


Fast Fact

Nancy Floreen

As is our custom, we received a briefing on the County's fiscal plan and economic indicators in the last session of the calendar year. The briefing included lots of important information we will use as we start out budget season in January, including a memo from the County Executive calling for a two percent reduction in the current fiscal year, with the option of another one percent reduction at a later time. Get the background information or watch the briefing (agenda item 4).


Green Tip of the Month

Join Montgomery Parks, and thousands of people across the country, to give back throughout the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, January 14, 15, and 16. There will be several park and stream cleanups as well as Weed Warrior projects throughout the park system which you can join. Get the details.


Note to Newsletter Editors

Did you find something useful in this e-letter? Some people have asked me if they can use the material from my newsletter in their own civic association or HOA newsletters. The answer is yes. I provide this information to help residents find what they need and participate in the legislative process, so feel free to use it.

January 2017


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