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Montgomery County Council outgoing President Hans Riemer’s remarks on his one-year term

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Riemer discusses Council’s accomplishments in 2018 in many areas
including early childhood education, affordable housing
and transportation

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 4, 2018—Outgoing Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer, who concluded his one-year term as Council president, today reflected on the work the Council did in 2018 to meet local and national challenges and prepare the County for a high-tech, environmentally sustainable and inclusive future.

His full prepared remarks are reproduced below:

Good Morning! Welcome to the first session of the 19th County Council. Our first item of business is the election of officers. Since I am concluding my term as Council president today, it is my honor to share some reflections on the past year.

First, I want to say thank you to my family - my wife Angela and my boys Travis and Henry. This has been an incredibly busy year, and I think all of us up here can agree that our families make a great sacrifice when we choose to enter public service.

I also want to thank my colleagues from the 18th Council - we were a great team and I am really proud of what we were able to achieve together. To the new members on this dais - congratulations and welcome. I think you’ll find that this is a special place - there is a strong culture of respect, professionalism, and collegiality that allows us to work through our differences and get great results for the people of Montgomery County. Knowing each of you, you’ll fit right in.

We could never do the work that we do without the support of our staff - our talented analysts and attorneys, our deep thinkers in OLO, and the dedicated folks that keep the trains running in the Clerk’s Office, Legislative Information Services, and the Legislative Information Office. In particular I want to thank our leadership team of Executive Director Marlene Michaelson, Clerk Megan Limarzi, and Legislative Information Officer Sonya Healy. All three of you stepped into new roles this year and I don’t think we missed a beat.

I also want to thank my staff - Ken Silverman, Tommy Heyboer, Kathy Mitchell, and Jason Fasteau - and announcing my new staff members Partap Verma and Tedi Osias, who will serve in supporting roles. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

Without further ado, I present to you:
The Top 10 Council Accomplishments of 2018

10. We convened the Council’s first emergency session to respond to the GOP Congress’ Tax Act, passing legislation to allow County residents to prepay 2018 property taxes in 2017 and maximize their state and local tax deductions.

9. We approved funds to support organizations that provide legal assistance to county residents who are in deportation proceedings. Grants have been provided to Kids In Need of Defense, which helps children that have been separated from their families, as well as HIAS and other groups.

8. We funded a revised stormwater infrastructure program that will ensure efficiency and affordability while maximizing environmental benefits. Negotiated a solution to overcome an executive veto. Also approved a ten year update to the County’s Water and Sewer Plan.

7. We supported the County’s bid for Amazon HQ2, including a zoning plan to streamline the process for corporate headquarters to locate in the County.

6. We approved a zoning change for the Agricultural Reserve in the County enabling business owners there to operate wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries.

5. We adopted a visionary Bicycle Master Plan to guide the future of biking infrastructure in the county; and added funding for a Bethesda protected bike lane loop, in addition to the Silver Spring protected bike loop under construction.

4. We approved a zoning change to support additional wireless infrastructure (4G leading to 5G) in downtown and commercial areas (consideration continues on residential areas).

3. We supported major capital investment in WMATA. Locally funded new pedestrian access entrances for White Flint and Forest Glen Metros. Successfully advocated to expand rush hour service from Grosvenor to Shady Grove; similar expansion on Glenmont side is under study by WMATA.

2. We enacted legislation to increase affordable housing in the County by increasing the minimum percentage of Moderately Priced Housing Units (MPDUs) that are required to be built in new residential developments from 12.5 to 15 percent in high-income areas of the county. Modernized the MPDU ordinance generally and established a clear MPDU incentive structure for bonus density.

1. We approved a $5.6 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget without raising taxes. The budget fully funded the Board of Education’s request for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), including an additional $3.3 million for expanded pre-k programs -- raising the two year total of early education expansions to over $7 million and creating more than 650 new full day pre-k slots, for a total of about 3,200 children attending publicly funded pre-k programs. The Council also added Excel Beyond the Bell after school programs at two additional elementary schools.

Finally, to better engage our residents in this important work, we took another step forward in our Council communications program. At the beginning of this year I announced a new feature on the Council’s website - a subscription service that allows residents to get real-time email updates as legislation they are interested in advances through the process. Our Public Information Office is continuing to expand this service to new categories of documents and develop new ways to subscribe to topics so that the public can stay informed about our work without having to proactively monitor our website.

Today, I am very pleased to announce that, in addition to providing new ways to get information from the Council, we have developed a new way for residents to share their thoughts with us. The Public Information Office will assign each piece of legislation a social media hashtag as it is introduced, which will be publicized along with the public hearing date. Analysts and attorneys will track social media posts using that hashtag to collect relevant and novel comments and questions on the legislation and present them to us along with the oral and written testimony we are used to getting. Now, if residents aren’t able to attend a public hearing or don’t feel comfortable writing a letter or email to the Council, they can post on Facebook or Twitter and know that their contributions will be part of the public debate.

Thank you again - and I look forward to more great things ahead in 2019.

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Release ID: 18-311
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931