• My Next Project

    Dear Friends and Neighbors:

    I want to wish everybody a happy holiday season.

    At the end of this month I will be ending my four-year term as a Maryland State Delegate. While I was disappointed that I was not re-elected to another term, I am very proud of what I accomplished in the Maryland Legislature.

    In my four years as a legislator I was able to pass over fifteen pieces of legislation. Because I was on the Ways and Means Committee, I spent a lot of time working on tax policies. One of the most significant bills saved Maryland over $60 million by making sure that sixty of the richest families did not each receive a $1 million tax break by removing almost all taxes on inherited estates. I was also able to pass bills to increase tax credits for low-income renters and publicizing existing tax credits—which many people unfortunately do not utilize.

    I also worked with my colleagues to pass a lot of progressive legislation. Some of the most significant bills we passed were:
    A ban on fracking in Maryland
    Restoring the right to vote to former prisoners after they get out of jail
    Same day voter registration
    Justice re-investment, which attempts to take people who are not dangerous out of our jails
    I also spent my time getting to know all of the people in my District. I knocked on over 15,000 doors and talked to more than 7,000 people. I think this might have been the most enjoyable part of my experience as a state delegate. While it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed learning about all the neighborhoods in District 47 and hearing about everyone’s lives, concerns and hopes. It was very fulfilling to see how I could help resolve problems that people discussed with me.

    While I will not be in elected office starting in 2019, I truly believe that one’s work in the community does not begin or end because you are elected or not elected to public office. Many people in our community spend countless hours helping to improve our community.

    I have been thinking of how to make use of what I learned in Annapolis and the relationships I made with other legislators. I have decided to continue my advocacy work and have started a new organization, the People’s Lobbying Group (www.plg.solutions), and will continue to advocate for our community in Annapolis on a pro-bono basis. I have already received some good press for my initiative:



    I will also continue to send out my newsletter (although maybe not as frequently as before) to let people know what is going on in Annapolis and what bills have become laws and when they are effective.

    I will always be an advocate for my neighbors and my community as long as I am able to do the work. If you have any issues you feel should be addressed, please feel free to write me; though I will not be your elected representative, I will be happy to brainstorm with you about how to get problems resolved and who we should talk to in order to address your issues.

    As always, I remain an advocate for you as all of us together try to make our community a better place, move Maryland in a more progressive direction, and change the direction of our country from the nightmare that is going on in Washington.

    I hope to see you soon at a community event, a civic association meeting, or maybe just knocking on your door.

    Wishing the best for all of us,


  • Voting Day Is Here!

    Voting Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM
    This is the day I’ve been waiting for since Election Day 2016. It is the time for us to change the
    direction of our country and our state. Too many people stayed home in 2016 and the results have
    been disastrous. Everybody should come to vote.
    My Recommendations
    Some people have asked who I am going to vote for and what I think about some of the ballot
    initiatives.. I am not going to list every office because some of the candidates are unopposed, or do
    not have much opposition.
    These are races I do feel very strongly about:
    Governor/ Lt Governor – Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull
    I supported Ben Jealous in the Democratic Primary and continue to support him.
    His platform for moving Maryland forward is consistent with what I believe, including:
    $15 minimum wage
    Universal Health Care/Medicare-for –All
    Universal Pre-K Education
    Criminal Justice Reform
    (You can see his complete platform at: https://benjealous.com/issues)
    A number of people have told me that they don’t think Larry Hogan is a bad guy, and think that he
    works in a bi-partisan manner and deserves to be re-elected. Having served in the legislature, I
    really have to disagree. Hogan is a highly partisan politician who did the following:
    1. Vetoed Paid Sick Days for Workers
    2.. Vetoed Increasing Renewable Energy in Maryland
    3. Vetoed Restoring Voting Rights to Residents Leaving Prison
    4. Vetoed a Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
    5. Vetoed a Bill to Help Halt Deportations of Immigrants over Minor Offenses
    6. Vetoed Giving Parents & Teachers a Role in Education
    7. Vetoed a Bill to Stop Police from Taking Your Money When You Haven’t Committed a
    8. Delayed Tougher Water Pollution Rules for Coal Plants, After Trying to Postpone
    Them Indefinitely
    9. Called Removal of Additional Confederate Monuments Political Correctness “Run
    10. Vetoed Ban-the-Box Legislation (important legislation that was passed over his
    veto, preventing discrimination in college applications – previously, when you applied to a
    college in Maryland, you could be required to give information about whether you’d ever been
    convicted of any offense, however minor)
    11. Refused to fund the Red Line transportation project in Baltimore
    12. Did not fund Prince George’s Hospital
    I believe if Hogan is re-elected he will become more conservative and less bi-partisan as he tries to
    move up in the Republican Party – and when he no longer needs to make himself attractive to
    Maryland Democratic voters. If we want to move Maryland in a more progressive direction and help
    Prince George’s County we need to elect Ben Jealous Governor.
    Attorney General – Brian Frosh
    I believe Brian Frosh is the best Attorney General our state has ever had. He is a tireless advocate
    for consumer rights and has taken the initiative to sue President Trump when his policies have hurt
    Maryland residents.
    State Senate District 47 – Malcolm Augustine
    I have known Malcolm for six years. He is a hard worker who has shown me his commitment to
    serving our community. For the last five years he has been to every municipal council meeting, civic
    association meeting and community event. He has earned my support and I think he will make an
    effective responsive State Senator.
    (Dina Fennell, and Julian Ivey are running for State Delegate in District 47A unopposed.)
    Board of Education District 3 – Pamela BoozerStrother
    (Mount Rainier, Brentwood, N. Brentwood, Avondale/Woodridge, Chillum, Hyattsville,
    University Park)
    Pamela lives in Brentwood. I have known her for over twelve years and worked with her on the
    Gateway Community Development Corporation and in the Mount Rainier/Brentwood
    Community. She is hard working and conscientious. She brings the perspective of a parent, an
    activist in the local PTA and a home owner. Since so much of the state budget goes to education, I
    believe it is important that someone who knows how difficult it is to pay property taxes will make sure
    that the money is spent well. Her program includes building new schools in our area that have
    smaller class sizes, paying educators fairly, and expanding the arts and language programs in all the
    schools. She was endorsed by the Washington Post.
    Ballot Questions
    I will be voting YES on all these questions. Here is some of my reasoning:
    Question 1 – Constitutional Amendment Requiring Gaming
    Revenues to Supplement Spending for Education – YES
    When casinos were approved in Maryland the money was supposed to be used for education
    spending. While technically this money has been used for education, it has not added to education
    funding as intended, because money that was previously dedicated for education was then used for
    other purposes. This Constitutional Amendment would guarantee that all casino moneys would be
    used to supplement moneys that are already placed in the budget as a result of the spending
    formulas that are part of the Bridge of Excellence Act passed in 2002.
    Question 2 – Same-Day Registration on Election Day – YES
    This Constitutional Amendment will allow people to register and vote on Election Day. Right now
    people can register during Early Voting but not on Election Day. Across the country, Republicans
    are working hard to suppress the vote. Anything we can do to encourage people to vote and
    increase citizen participation is a good, democratic thing.
    County Referendums A- E: Charter Amendments to Allow
    the County to Borrow Money by Issuing Bonds – YES
    While county and municipal budgets are used for operating expenditures, bonds are normally
    needed to fund capital construction costs – in the case of these bonds, for new and rehabilitated
    facilities for Public Works and Transportation, the County Library System, Public Safety, County
    Building, and Prince George’s Community College. I use the analogy with buying a home or doing a
    major renovation. Most of us don’t have cash to pay for a house or even a new kitchen, so we take
    out a loan from the bank, normally in the form of a mortgage or re-financing loan on the equity in our
    home. In the same way, local jurisdictions (who have to balance their budgets) have to borrow
    money for capital improvements (i.e., construction projects) and then pay off the projects over a
    number of years (similar to a mortgage).
    County Charter Amendments F – K
    Recommendations from the Charter Review Commission –
    I honestly do not know much about these amendments, but I looked through them and do not see
    anything controversial with them. They are all recommendations from the County Review
    Commission. You can read all the recommendations
    here: https://pgccouncil.us/DocumentCenter/View/3405/2018-Charter-Review-Report . (The
    specific pages for each amendment are discussed on pages 3-6.)
    League of Women Voters Voting Guide
    The league publishes a very detailed guide with candidate biographies and responses to questions
    as well as details about each of the ballot initiatives and a list of the projects planned for each of the
    bond bills that have been proposed.
    You should check it out
    at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lwvmaryland/pages/2249/attachments/original/15386819
    If you have any questions or comments about any of the candidates or issues, please send me an
    email at jtarlau@gmail.com and I will respond.

  • Important Tax Credit Deadlines

    Important Tax Credit Deadlines

    Homeowners Property Tax Credit – September 1

    Renters Tax Credit – September 1

    Student Loan Tax Credit – September 15

    ​Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program

    For homeowners with a combined gross household income of $60,000 or less, this program allows credits against the homeowners’ property tax bill, but the taxes must exceed a fixed percentage of a person’s gross income. It sets a limit on the amount of property taxes a homeowner must pay, based on income. Income is defined as the gross income before any deductions are taken. Nontaxable retirement benefits such as Social Security and Railroad Retirement must be reported as income. You must apply every year no later than September on a standard application supplied by the Department of Assessments and Taxation. Example: If your combined household income is $16,000, your tax limit is $420. You would be entitled to receive a credit for any taxes above the $420. You would be entitled to receive a credit for any taxes above the $420. If your actual property tax bill is $990, you would receive a tax credit in the amount of $570, the difference between the actual tax bill and the tax limit.

    Apply here: http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Homeowners’-Property-Tax-Credit-Program.aspx

    Maryland Renters’ Tax Credit Program

    The State of Maryland Renters’ Tax Credit Program provides Property Tax credits for renters who are (i) age 60 and older, (ii) 100% disabled, or (iii) have dependents under 18 and meet certain income requirements. Under HB-340, passed by the Prince George’s County Delegation and the Maryland General Assembly in the 2016 Legislative Session, renters can receive maximum tax relief up to $1,000. This legislation also expands the statewide Renters Tax Credit program and increases the pool of eligible applicants. To get a credit, you must file by September 1st. Contact the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 1-800-944-7403 or visit: http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Renters’-Tax-Credits.aspx

    Student Loan Tax Credit

    Who is eligible to receive the Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit?

    The tax credit will be available to Maryland taxpayers who:

    1. File Maryland State Income Taxes for the tax year;
    2. Have incurred at least $20,000 undergraduate and/or graduate student loan debt;
    3. Have at least $5,000 in outstanding student loan debt remaining when applying for the tax credit;
    4. Have completed and submitted an application to the Maryland Higher Education Commission by September 15, 2018; and
    5. Have submitted all required graduate and/or undergraduate student loan information, including Maryland Income Tax Information and college transcripts.

    How to Apply for the Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit

    To download the application, ​or Maryland Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit Application 2018.pdf

    If you have questions, please view the Frequently Asked Questions 2018.pdf for more information.