Throughout my years of leadership in the Senate, I have had the privilege of leading the State Senate and our terrific state through good times and bad times. From my position, I have had the ability to focus strongly on the needs of my constituents and our priorities in District 27. From education growth, to protecting our environment and Chesapeake Bay, to helping more people receive healthcare coverage to creating greater outlets and resources for small businesses, I am proud to stand up for the needs of my constituents. Below, I have listed the issues important to us all, and some examples of the many accomplishments we have had over the years in pursuing these noble goals.
Senator Miller comes from a family of educators. His mother was a teacher. His sisters taught in our public schools, and his daughter works in the Anne Arundel County public school system. He knows firsthand the importance of good teachers, and the impact of a good public education. Under Senator Miller’s leadership, the State has made K – 12 public education its top priority.
Each year, the State spends over $5 billion on our public schools. Coupled with the hard work of students, parents, teachers and administrators, this investment led to Maryland’s public schools being recognized as the best in the nation by Education Week for three successive years.
In 1998, Senator Miller championed the School Accountability Funding for Excellence (SAFE) Act, which provided new funds for low income students, school libraries, and maintenance of older schools. In 2002, he fought to enact the landmark Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act, often referred to as the Thornton Act. This spurred the State’s record investment in public schools, which has helped improve student test scores, close the achievement gap, and provide generous pay raises for teachers. In recent years, he has secured record sums for school construction and renovation projects, including over $1 billion since the last election.
The 27th District’s past, present and future are tied to its natural bounty. Our district touches the Potomac River on the west, the Chesapeake Bay on the east, and is divided down the middle by the Patuxent River. Senator Miller believes we will be judged by the next generation in large part based on our stewardship of our natural resources, which is why he has been an aggressive advocate for legislation to protect our environment.
Instead of waiting for the federal government to act, Maryland has taken steps to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Senator Miller made curbing nitrogen and phosphorous pollution a top priority for the legislature during the 2009 session. This term, he also supported the creation of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund, and the enhancement of Maryland’s Critical Areas Law, which limits development in tidal wetlands. While there is still more to be done for the Bay’s health, Senator Miller has helped to build the framework for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
Senator Miller has also supported bold steps to improve air quality for all Marylanders. He voted for the Maryland Clean Cars Act, which requires stricter emissions limits on automobiles sold in Maryland. He also voted for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009, which sets a goal of a 20% reduction in emissions by the year 2020. These strong steps ensure Maryland’s government is doing its part to protect our environment for generations to come.
Senator Miller is a product of our public university system. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, and his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. No one in the Maryland General Assembly has promoted the interests of our public universities and their students the way Senator Miller has during his distinguished career.
Senator Miller supported a four-year freeze in tuition at our public universities to ensure the doors of higher education remain open to students from working families. Moreover, he helped families plan for college, supporting the creation of the Maryland Higher Education Investment Plans, which allow families tax advantages with a prepaid tuition plan or a higher education savings plan. He also ensured a $2,500 State tax deduction for contributions to the investment plans.
Community colleges play an increasingly important role in our higher education system, both in preparing students to attend four-year institutions, and in helping workers develop new skills to find work in this economy. Senator Miller has worked to enhance the State’s community college funding formula, increasing funding to community colleges from 25% of per pupil higher education funding to 30%.
Senator Miller has spent his life concerned with other people’s safety. As the oldest of ten children, he was always responsible for looking out for his younger siblings. As the father of five and grandfather of thirteen, he continues to be concerned that our streets are safe for our families. He has been a vigilant defender of victim’s rights, and he has supported efforts to crack down on child abuse, possession of child pornography, and drunk driving.
Senator Miller believes protecting our children from predators should be a top priority for Maryland’s law enforcement community. That’s why he voted to create Maryland’s sex offender registry, an online tool that allows anyone to find out if they have a sexual predator living in their community. He also championed “Jessica’s Law,” which requires mandatory minimum prison sentences for sex offenders who prey on children.
Recognizing that seniors face unique challenges, Senator Miller supported efforts to protect at-risk seniors. He voted for tough measures to protect seniors against financial scams. He also supported the creation of a Silver Alert program. Like the Amber Alert, which issues a public warning when a child goes missing, the Silver Alert program is designed to get information out to the public when a vulnerable senior goes missing.
With the proliferation of gangs in Maryland, Senator Miller worked with law enforcement to create the strong new anti-gang laws to give prosecutors the tools they need to put gang members behind bars.