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Councilmember Andrew Friedson's Statement on the FY21 Budget
Resources for Prioritizing Wellness and Mental Health

Thank you for joining us last week for our first virtual Friday with Friedson event. Please check out a list of resources for prioritizing your wellness and mental health here. We hope to see you next time!

Emergency Assistance for Local Employers and Vulnerable Residents

 

March 25, 2020 - We must continue to make protecting public health the highest priority to stem the spread of COVID-19 and so those who have symptoms or might be infected can get the testing and medical care they need.

We also understand the severe impact the necessary measures Montgomery County and Maryland are taking to implement social distancing are having on local employers. Small businesses and nonprofits not only employ our friends, family, and neighbors. They are our friends, family, and neighbors. They and their employees need our help, and they need it urgently.

Working closely with Council colleagues and collaboratively with the County Executive, and leaders of businesses and nonprofit organizations, the Council introduced an emergency relief package as a body yesterday.

The $25 million relief package was introduced as emergency legislation with accompanying appropriations and is expected to be adopted next Tuesday so that the funds can be deployed as quickly as possible to support local employers and vulnerable residents. The $20 Million Public Health Emergency Grant Fund will provide grants up to $75,000 for business and nonprofits with 100 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees that can demonstrate financial losses caused by the public health emergency. Grant funding must be used for employee wages and benefits, taxes, debt, rent or other operating losses during the public health emergency. It will also provide teleworking micro grants up to $2,500 for local businesses and nonprofits to purchase equipment and technology to support teleworking capabilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

Additionally, the Council introduced a $5 Million Special Appropriation to support the increased need for existing County safety-net programs serving vulnerable populations, especially related to healthcare, food insecurity, housing and homelessness. The Council also proposed related measures including $260,000 for Manna Food Center to reach food insecure MCPS students and $250,000 to help provide hotel and motel lodging for frontline health care staff.

This is only the beginning of what we must do in order to protect the health of county residents and rebuild our local economy. We’re in an unprecedented time that requires unprecedented action – at the county, state, and federal levels.

Our efforts at the county level complement Governor Hogan’s announcement of a state relief package totaling $175 million to assist small businesses and workers impacted by the pandemic. Please see more details on the State’s programs and how the Departments of Commerce and Labor can help here.

Collaborating on Climate for Real Results

 

March 3, 2020 - It's time to turn climate rhetoric into real results. The bill I introduced today with Councilmember Hans Riemer and the support of Council President Sidney Katz will improve and expand the County's tax credit program for commercial buildings making energy reductions, slashing carbon emissions with a collaborative, not combative, approach.

Keeping Our Faith-Based Communities Safe
Dangerous by Design: Getting Serious about Road Safety

 

January 28, 2020 - If we're going to be serious about preventing deaths and severe injuries on our roadways, our county and state must stop blaming individual road users and take responsibility for the inherently dangerous roads we're designing. Please check out some of my remarks from today's Montgomery County MD Council #VisionZero briefing.

Home Alone: Left at Council

 

Happy Holidays!

Equal and Safe Pedestrian Access

 

December 3, 2019 - We can’t achieve the truly walkable and livable neighborhoods we all want if it’s not safe to walk and bike. We’ve seen the tragic consequences of dangerous by design roadways in our community this year, and we’ve been working hard to push for safety upgrades at specific locations and to ensure the underlying standards and systems we use prioritize the safety of all road users:

Most of our major thoroughfares are State roadways controlled by the State Highway Administration (SHA). I’ve discussed the need for road engineering standards that meet our community’s needs with SHA Administrator Gregory Slater throughout the year, and last week Administrator Slater presented SHA’s Draft Context Driven Guide to Access and Mobility for All Users that will enable us to install pedestrian-activated crosswalk signals, protected bicycle lanes, leading pedestrian intervals, and other proven techniques to make roads and intersections safer.

Last week, I sent a letter along with my colleagues on the Council’s Transportation Committee to the Department of Environmental Protection requesting a review of policies for collecting recycling and trash to curb the threat of blocking out sidewalks which lead to dangerous and even fatal consequences.

Today, I introduced legislation to limit sidewalk closures around construction sites, specify under what conditions a permittee can close a sidewalk without providing protected pedestrian access on the same side of the street, and require the County to publish sidewalk closure applications and permits online.

Check out the introduction of this legislation in the video above and the press release here.

Montgomery County's Economic Development Platform

 

November 12, 2019 - Economic Development can’t just be part of what we do, it has to be part of everything we do at the Montgomery County MD Council. On the Economic Development plan the Council introduced today, what we've already done, and next steps:

Ensuring Fiscal Oversight

October 15, 2019 - The residents of Montgomery County deserve and rightfully expect County government to spend their hard-earned taxpayer dollars appropriately, effectively, and efficiently. That requires a serious commitment to fiscal oversight that I believe is one of the County Council’s most fundamental responsibilities.

That’s why I’m so pleased to have worked with Council President Nancy Navarro and Council Vice President Sidney Katz to craft legislation the Council unanimously approved last week that for the first time requires a proactive financial audit of potentially high-risk County contracts by the independent County Inspector General’s office. This rotating, department-by-department review of County spending and financial controls will help us identify and prevent waste, fraud and abuse.

While preparing this legislation, we found that Montgomery County lags behind many of our peer jurisdictions around the region when it comes to funding for fiscal oversight activities. This is critical work. While it comes at a cost, that cost in dollars pales in comparison to the cost in public trust if we don’t take care of this core responsibility to you.

MORE:  https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/Resources/Files/agenda/col/2019/20191015/20191015_9.pdf

Join Councilmember Friedson and Commander Gagen for a Community Conversation
Activating Parks and Open Space

 

September 19, 2019 - As the Council's Parks Lead, I recently got to see how Montgomery Parks staff are creating vibrant facilities offering the activities that are in most demand by our residents.

I also want to give you a sense of the improvements that will be happening in downtown Bethesda. One of the key recommendations of the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Plan was to increase parks and open space. The newly revitalized and expanded Battery Lane Park was reopened this summer, the Council provided the funding to purchase land across from the Bethesda Row Cinema at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues to create the new Capital Crescent Civic Green, and now exciting plans are underway to expand green space and civic space at the Bethesda Farm Women's Market.

The proposed plan includes an array of public use spaces including a playground, an open lawn, a dog park, an amphitheater/pavilion, a splash pad, flexible space for special events, and an expanded and revitalized retail market. The Planning Board will review the Sketch Plan for this project sometime this fall.

Whether it's a dog park, playground, cricket field, or the rehabilitation of a historic building to create a community gathering place, we'll continue to fight to ensure our parks system has the resources needed to best serve you.

Inclusive Housing Options

 

September 17, 2019 - This week, the Council unanimously passed Bill 20-19. This legislation, which I introduced earlier this summer, waives County licensing fees for disabled individuals in accessory dwelling units (ADUs). This bill enables residents with qualified disabilities, seniors, and veterans to take advantage of ADUs and remain close to their loved ones with one fewer financial barrier.

From my experience working to launch the Maryland ABLE program at the state level, I became acutely aware of the significant challenges so many families in our community face. Advocates and families expressed a strong interest in ADUs as a way to provide dignity and independence while ensuring family members are in close enough proximity to offer comfort and support when needed. As we looked at the accessibility of the County’s ADU program, this was an opportunity to be inclusive.

For a modest cost to the County, this bill represents a significant benefit for our families and our neighborhoods by allowing a more inclusive community.

Getting Back to Basics

 

August 23, 2019 - If we want residents to trust government to do big things, we have to first prove we can get the small things right. That starts at the local level.

Few things are more fundamental to our day-to-day quality of life than what the team at the Montgomery County Division of Highway Services Bethesda Depot does every day. I was able to ride along with them around District 1 on Monday. We filled potholes, toured the Depot facility, and checked in on two roads being rebuilt after they were blown out by the flooding on July 8.

It was an awesome opportunity to see how some of the most fundamental local government responsibilities are carried out and a reminder of how important it is that we continue to focus on the basics.

Improving our County’s Economic Competitiveness

 

July 30, 2019 - Thanks to my Montgomery County MD Council colleagues for their unanimous support of Bill 10-19 to strengthen the Economic Impact Statement process - showing that we see our business community as partners and recognizing the increasingly competitive regional, national, and international economic environment we face.

We must consider the impact legislation may have on nonprofits and employers who are paying the wages that sustain our quality of life and creating the tax revenue that helps fund the County services and investments we rely on.

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