From the office of Del. Glen Glass:
Thank you for allowing me the privilege to represent you in Annapolis as your Harford County Delegate in District 34.
I have to say it was interesting and we all faced some very tough challenges, from the economy to changes affecting family life.
The 2011 Maryland General Assembly Session may go down as one of the most contentious. As the Session came to a close, midnight Monday April 11th, many issues such as gay marriage, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, medical marijuana use and increases in many fees/taxes deeply divided the House and Senate.
A total of 2,370 House and Senate bills were introduced and only 707 passed, some good and some problematic. Below is information about some of the legislations.
State Budget: The only legislation mandated by the Maryland Constitution is the budget bill (operating and capital) and must be balanced. The Governor presents the budget and the legislature can only make reductions. The Governor’s budget presented this year increased spending by $1 billion.
The $34 billion operating budget, up 10.6% from the current fiscal year, still leaves us with structural deficits more than $1.6 billion a year in the forseeable future. It’s full of taxes/fees that will hit Marylanders from the day they’re born till the day they check into a nursing home!
• Birth Certificates doubles: $12 to $24
• Vehicle titling tax doubles: $50 to $100
• New fee Automobile Dealers charge for ‘paperwork’ $100
• “Granny bed tax” in nursing homes rises to $20/day per bed
• Hospital assessment adding 2.5% to rates
• Insured Workers Insurance Fund tax of 2%
• Payroll garnishment fee
• Alcohol tax increase: 6% to 9%
The $925 million capital budget is full of projects across the state, borrowing money to pay them. Maryland Constitution requires debt payments be secured by a specific funding source, which is State Property Tax. Budget Analyst predict State Property Tax could rise as much as 50% (17cents per 100) if the housing market doesn’t recover and spending continues at the current pace. We tried very hard to cut the capital spending by 5%, 3% and even 1%, but the majority party would not budge. I voted against both of these very irresponsible bills.
Pension System: The state pension system is underfunded $19 billion and retiree healthcare benefits $16 billion. Governor O’Malley allocated the additional 2% toward shoring up the General Fund, not fixing the state’s pension fund deficit! So basically this ended up being a new tax on state employees and teachers.
Controversial bill – dominated the 90-day session
In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants: I voted against the bill as I felt it would affect Maryland students/families and do not believe those here illegally should be allowed seats which should be available for legal Maryland students. I’m working on a petition drive to bring this to referendum in 2012 so the voters can decide, not the politicions in Annapolis. Go to www. mdpetitions.com, download the form, sign it and mail it back. Since 50% of the petitions were thrown out last time, it’s important to fill it out completely.
Some victories this Session
Same Sex Marriage: I voted against the bill and stand strong in my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The bill was sent back to committee.
Gender Identity Bias: The bill was vague and lacked protections for employers and religious groups. The bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.
Ignition Interlock for Convicted Drunk Drivers: The bill requires drunk drivers who far exceed the blood-alcohol limit and decline a breathalyzer test to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. Those who refuse would have their licenses revoked.
Strengthening Vehicular Manslaughter Law: A new misdemeanor known as “manslaughter by vehicle or vessel–criminal negligence” was created with a potential penalty of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Currently prosecution of a negligent driver/boater who kills someone is a citation or felony manslaughter charges.
Direct Wine Shipping: Legislation allowing wineries to ship directly to Maryland residents passed. Included was a $200 fee for out-of-state wineries, which could discourage participation.
Domestic Violence House Bill 1018: A bill that I introduced passed the House 140 to 0 and passed the Senate unanimously with two added amendments. The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee because it was never brought up for a vote. It would have provided additional relief for victims, requiring the offender to remain a certain distance away. It’s extremely unfortunate for victims of domestic violence in Cecil County. Next Session I will re-introduce this bill again.
Bow Hunting on private property on Sundays House Bill 994: I introduced this bill which would allow bow/crossbow hunting on private property for an additional five Sundays during the season. The bill got caught up in the Rules Committee and did not go any further. I will re-introduce this bill next Session.
The House of Delegates building is being renovated for the next 3 months, so my staff and I will be working in the District office (410-272-3221). You can continue to call 410-841-3280 and leave a voice mail. We will retrieve them, emails and regular mail and respond back to you. (Glen.Glass@house.state.md.us)
Thank you for voicing your concerns and encouragement during this Session. I value your input and am always open to your suggestions and comments, which help to remind me that I’m here to represent the people of my District. It’s time to bring the people back to Annapolis and give Maryland back to the people! Your Delegate and servant, Glen Glass.
Delegate Glen Glass
Harford & Cecil County