From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
The intensity of the legislative session has kicked up a few notches this week as we are quickly approaching “Crossover Day” on Monday, March 17th. This is the last date for bills to “cross over” between the House and the Senate to be considered in the opposite chamber. To meet this deadline, delegates are considering and voting on many bills in their committees and on the House floor.
While there’s a lot of bad legislation that comes out of Annapolis, this week I want to focus on a few good things where common sense and bipartisanship prevailed to make a positive impact.
The House still has several big issues to tackle including the Budget, Transgender “Bathroom Bill,” and more issues with the failed Health Care Exchange Website.
Protecting against voter fraud…
HB 212, Election Law – Statewide Voter Registration List – Removal of Deceased Voters, successfully moved through the House this week. It will expedite the purging of deceased voters from the rolls. The State Board of Elections can now use U.S. Social Security Records to remove deceased individuals from the rolls, leaving behind a time-consuming and cumbersome process. While the bill still needs to clear the Senate, it is on track to improve the integrity of our elections.
There have been a number of documented and prosecuted instances of dead people voting in Maryland. This bill is essential to protect your vote from being canceled out by voter fraud.
This is the last election year that we will use the electronic voting machines. In 2016, Maryland will return to the optical scan voting machines that provide a voter verified paper audit trail. That has been a long fought battle and a slow but great victory.
We all want an open and fair election process.
Vote to ban them fails but reforms are passed…
HB 929, Speed Monitoring Systems Reform Act of 2014, passed the House this week. The first action taken on the House floor was to offer an amendment to ban them outright. That failed by 46 to 87. I voted to ban speed cameras. There have been too many problems with the speed cameras and it looks like a program put in place to raise money from tickets and not about safety. If this is about safety, let’s put law enforcement in place.
There were other good amendments but none were accepted.
While House Republicans voted to have speed cameras completely eliminated in the State, we need more like minded people to make that happen. HB 929 does reform the program and reform is necessary. This program has been unfair and even challenged in court for the poor administration. HB 929 reforms the way speed cameras operate and gives drivers more protections. The legislation raises the standards for speed camera vendors, ensures investigation of erroneous tickets and tightens the definition of a “school zone.”
Update on Pit Bulls
You might remember the ruling from the courts two years ago that found Pit-bulls to be “inherently dangerous.” This sparked a firestorm of outrage because of the obvious discrimination towards a specific breed. My son and his wife have a Pit-bull and she is a great pet, gentle and sweet. This court decision also left Pit-bull owners worried about potential liabilities from this court decision.
For two years, the leadership in Annapolis has not been able to agree on how to solve this problem. Both the House and Senate have passed bills this week. We will have to wait and see whether the House and Senate can finally reach an agreement. The final bill will remove the discrimination against Pit-bulls and make dog owners responsible if their dog bites someone when unprovoked. The devil is always in the details.
I will update you on this issue once it gets resolved.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers. I am working hard for you and your family.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga
Minority Whip, Maryland House of Delegates
Annapolis – 410-841-3698
Cell – 443-570-1555