Why the Council voted to override the veto of the Metro smart growth plan

Dear resident:

On Tuesday, the County Council voted to override County Executive Elrich’s veto of the “More Housing At Metro” Act, a smart growth plan adopted by the Council a week earlier.

Read the op-ed I wrote about it in the Washington Post

Our County’s 9 Metro station properties could be delivering enormous benefits to the County — including substantial tax revenues — but instead they are a drag. From a real estate perspective, some are nearly “brownfields” due to the overwhelming expense of building above a station.

The Council has a plan to break the status quo and generate some economic momentum. The legislation, vetoed by the County Executive, would provide a highly targeted property tax abatement exclusively for high rise construction on these 9 Metro station properties.

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Removing barriers to agritourism (for example, wineries)

As the Council continues its work on County’s Growth and Infrastructure policy and related impact tax changes, Councilmember Friedson and I have proposed impact tax changes aimed at supporting our burgeoning agritourism industry. This follows my work to support farm alcohol producers, which has helped stimulate a growing sector. You can learn more about the impact tax proposal for agritourism here or below.


MEMORANDUM

To: County Council
From: Councilmembers Riemer and Friedson
Date: October 22, 2020
Re: Transportation impact taxes for agritourism


From farm-to-table, pick-your-own produce, and hands-on educational activities to award-winning wineries and farm breweries, agritourism is a critical and growing component of the County’s rural economy. Agritourism also breathes fresh energy into our efforts to preserve farmland. It does this by supporting the financial viability of County farms and enlisting many more County residents into our farmland preservation efforts by providing them unforgettable experiences of our dynamic agricultural economy and its history.

While the County and the Council, in particular, have historically been strong supporters of agritourism (passing important zoning reforms to agritourism in 2014 and to farm alcohol production in 2018, and establishing the Agritourism Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on how to strengthen the sector), there remains a very large, and sometimes insurmountable, hurdle to opening agritourism businesses: transportation impact taxes. Traditionally, buildings used for agricultural purposes have been exempt from transportation impact taxes because they cause de minimis traffic. However, it has been brought to our attention by the agricultural community, due to certain provisions in the existing impact tax law and building code, agritourism businesses are facing enormous transportation impact tax bills that bear little connection to their actual impact on the transportation system.

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Reopening schools is my priority

Dear resident,

I want you to know that, while I strongly support the decision not to open MCPS this Fall, getting our children back into their classrooms is an urgent priority for me.

Research is showing very troubling signs about learning loss during COVID. We may spend years recovering. Opportunity gaps are intensifying and the most vulnerable children are paying the biggest price.

That’s why I voted against the Executive Branch’s recent decision to allow restaurants to serve alcohol to patrons indoors after 10pm, hours that are generally more for socializing than eating.

While the proposal did have some safeguards, I remain concerned that allowing indoor late night socializing can only result in more COVID cases and make it harder to reopen schools.

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Police accountability legislation

Following is more information about the Police Accountability Act, Bill 34-20, which was introduced to the County Council on July 21st, authored by Councilmember Craig Rice and myself. I am providing this memorandum as additional background for those who may wish to testify on the legislation that Councilmember Rice and I have proposed.

Additional resources include:

  1. The legislation itself and an accompanying memorandum from Councilmember Rice and myself
  2. Coverage in the Bethesda Beat
  3. An editorial supporting the bill in the Washington Post
  4. An editorial supporting this exact change in the New York Times, including references to academic studies demonstrating the historical problems with disciplinary decisions made by labor arbitrators

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Now is the time to make your voting plan

Dear resident:

Election Day is just around the corner. Now is the time to make a voting plan. While COVID will have many impacts on the process, you can take steps now to make voting easy and stress free.

My strong recommendation is to request a ballot in the mail — and then mail it in early.

early = easy

You should have already received a mail-in ballot application. Don’t wait to send it in.

If you didn’t receive one it’s time to take action. Look up your voter registration in just seconds here. If you aren’t registered to vote, register here. The deadline to register to vote or change registration is October 13 (unless you register in person during early vote or on election day). Keep Reading >>