From the office of Del. Mary-Dulany James:
Monday at midnight the 427th Session of the Maryland General Assembly was adjourned Sine Die which essentially means, until we meet next time, whenever that may be. Over the next eight months until the 428th Session I am looking forward to the enactment of many laws my colleagues and I worked hard to pass.
In this economy it is important that job creation be our top priority, it is essential that we put Marylanders back to work and ease the burden on the private sector. In working towards these goals we passed emergency legislation to offer a $5,000 tax credit for businesses that hire recently unemployed Maryland workers. In addition to that I was instrumental in working with the administration to create a ‘fast tracking; process that slashes red tape to quickly move importing job creating projects around the State.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee my colleagues and I worked hard all session to balance the budget while maintaining the important priorities of our constituents. We cut spending by almost 2% from last year’s level. We reduced the number of State positions to make government smaller and more efficient. Education funding was one of the few areas where the appropriation was increased as we recognize the importance of protecting our top ranking public school system. The budget we passed cuts the projections for future deficits and takes necessary steps to ensure our fiscal responsibility.
A cause I am proud to have taken up is that of assisting our veterans as they return home and reintegrate into our society. My bill, House Bill 359 sets up a goal for awarding .5% of state contracts to businesses owned by veterans. There is no way we can repay our veterans for the sacrifices they have made in the name of service to this country but we should do everything we can to help our veterans become successful as they return home. The contracts that will be awarded through this program can be in any number of fields and the veteran owned businesses can bid on the larger contracts or the subcontracts for state procurements. Integration can be difficult as veterans return from our current wars in the Middle East and this bill will help veterans sustain valuable businesses in Maryland. It should always be a goal to help small business owners, to assist both veterans and small business owners in one move is a win win win for veterans, the business community and the state of Maryland as a whole.
I was a lead sponsor of legislation to tighten up the existing State Gang Statute, supported by the Attorney General and State’s Attorney’s Association. I sponsored the first Gang Prosecution Act in 2007 to crack down on criminal gang activity, including stiff penalties for crimes committed in support of a criminal gang. This year’s law takes a step further by specifically prohibiting someone from being a gang “kingpin”, makes a person eligible to receive an additional sentence if convicted of other underlying crimes, and creates stiffer penalties for gang members convicted of a second offense under this law or if death results in the commission of a gang crime. This is important as we spend over 40 million dollars a year on prevention and diversion to keep kids from committing crimes we need to remove kingpins from the situation and stop the recruiting of innocent youth.
The General Assembly worked to tighten sex offender laws this session and I very much supported these efforts. It is important for Maryland to be a leader in protecting our children and families from predators and the comprehensive legislation we passed this year does just that. The bills my colleagues and I passed require lifetime supervision of serious and repeat offenders including GPS monitoring, eliminate “good time” credits for the most serious offenders, increase mandatory minimum sentences for rapists from 5 to 15 years and more.
This is only a small sampling of the work completed by my colleagues and I over the last 90 days. If you have questions about this or any other legislation please contact my office at (410) 841-3331 or by replying to this email. I look forward to hearing from you, as always, it is an honor and pleasure to serve you in Annapolis.
Very Truly Yours,
Harford and Cecil Counties