From the office of Del. Kathy Szeliga:
This was a VERY busy week in Annapolis. With just one month left in the legislative session, things are humming along at a faster pace. I’m sure April 11, Sine Die, will be here before we know it.
Gay Marriage Update
At about 3:00 today, SB 116, the Gay Marriage Bill, was turned back to the Judiciary Committee. After more than three hours of debate and commentary, it was evident that there were not enough votes to pass this bill. Instead of allowing the bill to die with less than 71 votes (simple majority is 71 votes needed for a bill to pass), the leadership in Annapolis thought it better to skip a vote on the floor of the House and return the bill to committee.
The level of respect and decorum displayed on the floor of the House of Delegates today was profound. I am proud to have been a part of this process. Although emotions run high with this issue, the tone of the debate and comments throughout the process have been kind and respectful of people’s lifestyles and religious views. I did speak on the floor on this issue on Tuesday during the second reading debate, along with a few other freshman delegates.
What does that mean for gay marriage this year? Unless the proponents of gay marriage have at least 71 hard commitments for this bill, we will not see it again! I’m SURE a bill for gay marriage or civil unions will be back next year.
THANK YOU for your work on this issue. I am grateful that gay marriage did not pass today and summarily change thousands of years of human history and tradition in one afternoon.
It looks like this issue is dead for the 2011 Legislative Session.
Instate Tuition Discounts for Illegal Immigrants
The Senate is getting ready to pass SB 167, which will grant instate tuition for “undocumented immigrants.” The House version of the bill, HB 470, had a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee this week also.
These bills will grant instate tuition at all public colleges and universities for anyone who has attended high school in Maryland for at least two years – regardless of their federal citizenship or legal presence in our state.
I was surprised to find out that our state schools and universities are supporting this measure. The University System of Maryland, in written testimony, stated that, “the pathway this bill provides is absolutely necessary.” The Maryland State Teacher’s Union says they are, “proud to support this legislation.” The Maryland State Board of Education “believes that HB 470 is sound educational policy…” The Maryland Association of Community Colleges also stated that, “HB 470 is good public policy.”
I am opposed to this legislation for numerous reasons. First and foremost we should not be encouraging people who are breaking our laws by living in our state and country illegally to continue to break our laws. It is unjust. Instead of getting instate tuition, these undocumented residents should return to their country of origin and apply to come to the United States just like the thousands of people who are attempting to immigrate to our country legally. This policy is rewarding bad and illegal behavior. And we know what happens when we reward bad behavior…. we get more bad behavior!!
It is unjust for taxpayers to be expected to pay the tuition supplement for those here illegally as well. Instate tuition rates are highly subsidized by Maryland taxpayers. For instance, taxpayers contribute more than $12,000 per year per student at the University of Maryland College Park. We taxpayers contribute at least 25% of the cost of community colleges.
This policy is also unjust for the illegal aliens we are educating. The primary purpose of a college education is to prepare the individual for the workforce. Without proper documentation- legal presence, these graduates cannot get a job. It seems cruel. We are subsidizing the education of illegal aliens while guaranteeing that they cannot get a job if they do not get or qualify for legal presence while being here illegally.
This bill will most likely pass out of the Maryland Senate next week. If it reaches the House I will vote NO if I get the chance. I will update you on this bill next week.
Rallies and Taxes
There was a Stop the Gas Tax Rally this week. I attended an Americans for Prosperity’s Rally in Lawyers Mall to let legislators know that we do not want a gas tax increase. I saw people from Baltimore and Harford Counties there.
Along with the gas tax, alcohol tax, millionaires tax, workers comp tax, we also have a proposed plastic bag tax! There are a number of bills in this year to tax plastic grocery bags at 5¢ each. The Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others are all supporting this tax. I will be OPPOSING this tax.
Rally’s next week:
The Maryland March for Life is Monday night in Annapolis. Here is a link in case you’re interested in going to the 32nd Annual Maryland March for Life:
Thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled and honored to be representing you and your family in Annapolis.
Maryland House of Delegates