Here’s how Montgomery County can lead on climate change

Dear resident:

Years ago the County Council made a consequential decision to set aside nearly one-third of all land in our County for agriculture, through restrictive zoning.

Today I am calling on our Council to take a new and bold step forward in the fight against climate change — a crisis that Joe Biden highlighted in his convention speech — by revising the zoning code to allow the blending of solar arrays with farmland on a small portion of the Agricultural Reserve.

Farm Solar (ZTA 20-01)

Farming and solar can go together. Elsewhere, visionary farmers are pioneering “dual use” of land beneath solar arrays by Keep Reading >>

Enhanced COVID testing

Dear resident,

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis I have devoted my energy to providing oversight on the critical public health measures that we must have in place in order to get the virus under control.

Bethesda Magazine Story on Council Health Order

You already know that the County Council has enacted requirements for shutdowns and reopenings, generally affirming plans developed collaboratively with the executive branch.

Occasionally we have had to use our regulatory power to accelerate action on crucial issues where the executive’s public health response has not moved fast enough.

Facial coverings for example — our County requirement for facial coverings (and funding to distribute them) was established because the Council backed my proposal in early April. We became one of the first jurisdictions in the country to embrace a requirement. Keep Reading >>

As we continue opening…

Keep wearing your facial coverings or masks
The science on facial coverings is clear: they are “the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission,” as the Washington Post observes.

I first reached out to my community of email readers and urged everyone to start wearing and making masks on April 4. The response was inspiring.

As one of the first elected officials advocating for a mask requirement, I also received a lot of pushback, including in County government. But I was glad to see that not only did the County ultimately agree with my proposal to require masks, but DC and the state of Maryland did as well. Governor Hogan even thanked the County for leading on the issue.

To support access to facial coverings, I also worked to establish a successful grant program to help businesses pivot to mask and PPE production, supporting both our health response and economic development.

Keep reading >>

racial justice and police reform

Dear resident,

Tensions in our country are extreme. Our racist president Donald Trump has failed to manage the COVID crisis and has steered us into an economic collapse with devastating consequences that are exacerbating racial inequalities.

With these flames burning, incidents such as the murder of George Floyd by police officers, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a retired officer and the ominous threats to call police against Chris Cooper by the woman in Central Park have brought us to a moment of reckoning about racial justice.

In order to create real change, “aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices,” to quote Barack Obama.

As part of a broad agenda on racial justice that includes health, housing, education and more, this is a moment to take stock of where we are on police reform, which in Maryland requires change at the County and State level. Keep reading >>

Council funded grants support local businesses to pivot to PPE, emergency response

Councilmember Riemer spearheaded special appropriation to create Local Production Fund

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 15, 2020—Supported by a special appropriation by the Council, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) has awarded 25 local businesses with funds totaling $200,000 for the manufacture of Covid-19-related personal protective equipment (PPE).

Councilmember Hans Riemer initiated the appropriation and partnered with MCEDC to create the Local Production Fund. MCEDC administers the fund and matched the Council’s $100,000 appropriation with $100,000 from their budget.

“I proposed this fund because we need the ingenuity of public private partnerships to get through this trying time,” said Councilmember Riemer. “These grants are going to help provide essential Covid-19-related equipment, much of which is in short supply. At the same time, it stimulates several sectors of our local economy and positions them for longer-term growth and recovery. I want to thank MCEDC for their work to support local business.”

Keep reading >>