Thank you for contacting me during the 2009 Session of the General Assembly. It has been a tumultuous 90 days, and I look forward to returning to my family and to my regular job.
While I am extremely honored and always appreciative of the opportunity to serve you in Annapolis, this Session has been particularly frustrating being a conservative in an increasingly liberal leaning legislature, which is often subservient to the Governor and his agenda. Still, there have been many bright spots that I would like to share with you.
First, I am very proud that my first piece of legislation was adopted by the General Assembly. The legislation I authored, once signed into law, will require the State government to only purchase and display Unites States and Maryland flags that are made in the U.S.A. This bill had 78 co-sponsors and its hi-partisan support was overwhelming.
Despite being a Delegate for roughly 14 months, I was elected by my colleagues in the Harford County Delegation to be Vice Chairman of the Delegation. I was pleased to receive the support of both my Republican and Democratic colleagues. This position gave me a unique opportunity to work towards passing several important bills impacting Harford County, the most notable being the elected School Board bill.
The final School Board bill that cleared the General Assembly will establish a nine- person Board of Education. Six of the nine School Members will be elected by the voters of Harford County, one from each of the County’s councilmanic districts. The other three School Board members will continue to be appointed by the Governor. While a fully elected School Board would have been my clear preference, I am very pleased we were finally successful in getting this bill through the General Assembly and onto the Governor’s desk.
Three other Delegation bills wound their way through the system and were adopted by the General Assembly. All of us in the Harford County Delegation worked overtime to move these items and our hard work paid off.
During the 2009 session, I introduced several pieces of legislation, in addition to the aforementioned flag bill. One of my bills would have helped homeowners keep their homes during a bankruptcy proceeding. Maryland is the only State that does not afford a “homestead” exemption to its citizens. I want to give Maryland homeowners the same protections afforded to homeowners in other States. I plan to re-introduce this legislation next year.
Another bill I authored would have updated and increased the penalties on bit-and-run drivers. Like the flag and bankruptcy bills, this bill garnered a fair amount of bi-partisan, support. I plan to revisit this issue during the 2010 Session.
Unfortunately, the General Assembly passed many bad bills. First, I was one a dozen or so Delegates who voted against the Governor’s 2010 budget because it increases State spending by $462 million and unfairly shifts many spending cuts onto local governments, including Harford County. At homes and in businesses everywhere, Marylanders are tightening their belts and making hard choices to get through these difficult economic times. The State needs to do the same. If it were not for the federal stimulus package, which funneled hundreds-ofminions of federal dollars to the State, the State government would be bankrupt. We should not be increasing the size of State government, nor should we be balancing our books based on a one-time federal patch. The State of Maryland has a structural deficit that needs serious attention. The General Assembly missed an opportunity to make some serious cost-saving reforms to many of our overly-bureaucratic and expensive State programs.
Other bills I opposed strongly, but regrettably cleared the General Assembly, include: (1) so-called death penalty “reforms” that will tie the hands of prosecutors, juries and judges; (2) allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses; (3) expanding the use of speed cameras; (4) expensive mandates on septic tank owners; and (5) greenhouse gas regulations that will likely increase the cost of energy in Maryland and place Maryland businesses at a competitive disadvantage. These are just some of the “low-lights” of the 2009 Session.
I have observed that sometimes derailing bad legislation can be just as valuable as adopting good legislation. Fortunately, several bills that would have negatively impacted hunting and gun ownership were introduced and came before the Committee on which I serve (Environmental Matters). I consistently voted against these bills as an affront to our Second Amendment rights and the right of hunters and other sportsmen. Fortunately, these bills died in Committee.
Again, thank you for contacting me during the 2009 Session. If you have any questions or concerns about any issue, please do not hesitate to contact me. The best place to reach me when the General Assembly is not in session is at my office in Madonna/Jarrettsville (410-6929401) or via email (email@example.com).