From Del. B. Daniel Riley:
Reflecting over my eight years as a State Legislator is one of mixed emotions. I am happy to be a part of many pieces of legislation that improve the people’s quality of life. As a representative of the people, I pushed for and supported legislation that the majority of my constituents supported. Many times successful, many times not. But being a delegate was more than just getting bills passed or defeated. It meant attending community meetings/forums; answering emails, letters and phone calls; and keeping your ear to the ground to keep up with the issues that affected my constituents.
One of the best sources of this is “The Dagger” website. Many issues I addressed came from Dagger contributors. I will give an example. One Dagger contributor, we will call him Dwayne, had concerns over veteran issues and unemployment benefits. I was at a meeting in Annapolis with the Governor and leadership and I presented Dwayne’s concerns. These concerns became the center of discussion for days and several pieces of legislation were passed addressing these needs. Another Dagger contributor had some issues with the municipality where he lived. We met, had a beer or two, got the information and I presented it to the local government. An issue that had been festering for over a year was resolved. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the public. It brought great happiness to resolve a constituent’s issue.
But there were also setbacks. There were five issues I addressed in my time in Annapolis which still need to be looked at – the hotel tax, slots for Veterans, Casino Nites, Student member on Board of Education and 2nd Amendment rights.
Hotel Tax – We are the only jurisdiction without one. What does that say? Are we the wisest jurisdiction or the dumbest? Who needs the revenue from the hotel tax? Infrastructure used by hotel guests can continue to be subsidized by Harford County through higher taxes. Hotel taxes designated for tourism would create jobs, thus lessening our unemployment roles. But many feel it’s more important to keep one family-owned hotel chain happy then to create jobs. Some tourist attractions need, such as Ripkin Stadium which puts an average drain of over $400,000 on the city of Aberdeen, need this revenue. But some will argue that no hotel tax is needed.
Veterans Slots – The State is in the slots business as are many of the counties in the State. Veteran organizations on the Eastern Shore of Maryland have five slot machines in each organization with the profits from the slots addressing our veteran’s needs. Harford County vets have the same needs. When our veterans donned their service uniforms they were defending the freedoms and rights of all. But when vet organizations try to help themselves they are discriminated against because of geographic location.
Casino Nites – Many charitable organizations asked for this legislation. Many in Harford County try to avoid government assistance and would prefer to raise funds to help the needy on their own. Casino Nites are not mandatory. No one forces you to enter the facility. It is your choice, your free will. This legislation has failed because our senators feel they have an obligation to regulate our morality.
Student Voting – This bill in its simplest form would allow the student member of the Board of Education to have voting rights on all decisions except those concerning personnel or fiduciary matters. Some student members of the Board of Education are able to enlist in the armed services, start a family and vote for the elected officials, but cannot fully take part in the process of running our schools.
2nd Amendment Rights – I firmly believe that any law-abiding citizen 21 years or older, never convicted of a crime or violence, mentally healthy and not a felon should be able to have the right to carry their licensed firearm. I also feel any crime committed with a handgun be given an additional 5-year term of imprisonment (Project Exile).
My future as an elected public official has ended, but I do intend to stay involved in public service. I would truly like to thank the citizens of District 34 for the honor of serving them. I leave office enriched by the people I have met and the friends I have made as your delegate.
Del. B. Daniel Riley