From Del. Glen Glass:
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you and represent Harford and Cecil County in the Maryland House of Delegates. This year presented new challenges to the quality of life in Harford and Cecil County. Like last year, this session may go down as one of the most politically contentious and disastrous sessions in recent memory. This is epitomized by the out of control spending as well as the large number of new taxes, fees and regulations:
State Budget HB 101 the only legislation mandated by the Maryland Constitution is the budget bill. The Governor presents the budget and the legislature can only make reductions to the proposal. This year, the budget will be increased by over $1 billion, and the budget has increased every year since Governor O’Malley first took office in 2007, which is a 26% increase while the median income has only grew 4.9%. I voted against the budget.
Confronted with a slumping economy, sagging revenues, and long-term deficits, the majority party rejected the Republican Caucus Alternative Budget bill, which would have kept Maryland spending and tax rates at the current level. Instead, the majority leaders seem intent on looking for new ways to spend our money and increase fees, regulations and taxes.
Gas Tax HB 1515 will cost motorists over 2 billion by adding a 1% tax on the wholesale level, which will increase to 3% by July 2015. The gas tax will be 88% higher than its current level by 2016. Even those who support the idea of the gas tax were disgusted by the process used to pass the bill. Session began an hour and a half late so that the Speaker of the House of Delegates could round up the necessary votes for passage by giving over a billion dollars in funds to Baltimore City to renovate and build new schools as part of HB 860. In 2008, gas prices were around $2 a gallon, and now they are nearly $4 a gallon. This bill hurts small businesses and the economy and I voted against this tax.
Firearms SB 160 trounces on the Constitution and the 2nd amendment, and it also added a new $50 fee and a 16 hour training course. The bill does not stop criminals getting guns and only burdens the law-abiding gun owners of Maryland. This is excessive regulation that interferes on our freedom and liberty. This bill combines fees and regulations on Marylanders at a time when they don’t need it.
Offshore Wind Farms HB 226 adds a charge of $1.50 per each 1,000 kWh of use. However, there is no cap on the rate and the average consumer of power uses more than 1,000 kWh per month. If you use more than 1,000kWh, say you use 1,500 kWh per month, and you will end up paying $2.25 per month a 50% increases. Only the government can take away your money, give it to someone else, and not call it stealing. I say keep your money, and spend it the way you see fit.
I had three excellent pieces of legislation pass and the Smart-Meter Opt-Out bill was assigned to “Summer Study”:
Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Veterans HB 43 repeals the current sunset for the Qualifying Employees with Disabilities Tax Credit. This bill gives an employer a tax credit for hiring people with disabilities, and makes explicit that hiring a veteran, includes injured veterans who have been diagnosed with a disability. Since two wars are ending, a large number of veterans will be returning and need our assistance in finding work. I felt it was my obligation, as a veteran, to assist these civil servants in any way I could. This bill helps compensate them for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice.
Bow Hunting Safety Zone HB 365 changes the safety zone for bow hunting in Harford County from 150 yards to 100. I worked tirelessly with my fellow Harford County Delegates and Senators to get this compromise bi-partisan legislation passed.
Discloser of Social Security Numbers on Hunting Licenses I worked closely with the Republican Minority Leader to pass a bill through the House of Delegates that allows an individual to provide the last four digits of their social security number when applying for a hunter’s license instead of the full number. This protects individuals from potential identity theft and is common sense legislation. DNR has agreed to allow a waiver if one does not want to give their social security number.
Smart Meters No Cost Opt-out HB 1038 is a bill I’ve put in the past 2 years, was referred to “summer study” this session which means they will examine the issue more this Summer. This summer, the Public Service Commission will decide whether an opt-out will continue and whether or not there will be a cost. By sending the bill to “Summer Study,” the committee can use my bill as a framework for codifying into law what the opt-out looks like. I remain steadfast in my belief that if people do not want a smart-meter they may exercise that right at no cost.
I also introduced:
Raw Milk HB 502 would have allowed an individual with a partial ownership in a cow to consume the raw milk of that cow. Individuals should not have to drive to Pennsylvania in order to drink the raw milk of a cow, if they so choose to. I think people should have the liberty to consume a substance and that the government shouldn’t over regulate raw milk.
Speed Cameras HB 1476 makes the first picture an automatic warning. I attempted to add this as an amendment to SB 207 but it was rejected. Because of this reason I voted against the speed camera bill which changes the way that speed camera pictures are taken. This bill, however, does not go far enough in curbing the out of control abuse of speed cameras.
Expiration of Learner’s Instructional Permit for Motorcycles HB 500 would have removed the burden of renewing Learner’s Instructional Permits every six months for Maryland citizens. By offering citizens a larger window of time to prepare for the final motorcycle license examination to twelve months, rather than every six months, would have help remove of a regulatory burden on the citizens of Maryland.
Task Force to Review Property Tax Assessment Procedures HB 888 would help to establish a proper method to determine true market value which is consistent with current market conditions for property assessment. The bill attempted to eliminate the current: subjectivity, lack of uniformity, and inequality in the current method and eliminate useless regulation.
Fees for Multiple Driving Records HB 501 would have removed excessive fees on attaining multiple copies of one’s driving record. This bill would have saved the State as well as the average Marylander money.
HB 371 – Income Tax Credit – Cat and Dog Adoption which received bi-partisan support and would give an individual a $100 income tax credit for adopting from a shelter. I think similar tax credits should be given for spade and neutering, instead of Spade and Neuter HB 767 which created fees on dog and cat food to fund spade and neutering. Adding a tax on pet food is a regressive tax on low income citizens, and would only burden those already suffering in this economic downturn.
Other legislation that I supported:
Hotel Tax HB 1395 I worked on this bill closely with my Democratic colleague, Delegate Mary-Delany James, to promote tourism in Harford County. The bill would give the Harford County Council the authority to impose up to 6% hotel rental tax for transient charges paid to a hotel in a travel corridor in the county. We defined a travel corridor as any portion of Harford County, as specified by the Harford County Council that is within three miles of an interstate. Harford County can use the approximately $3.1 million to support tourism-related businesses in Harford County which will benefit from increased funding for county promotions. Every dollar the county spends on tourism is estimated to bring back twenty dollars worth of revenue. I’d like to repeat, I am not for taxing our citizens. However, this is not a tax on Harford County Residents; it is a means to increase tourism in our wonderful County. The Hotels are for it, the County Executive is for it and I am for this bi-partisan legislation because it is good for our businesses to have more people coming to our county.
Good legislation that I voted for:
Veterans Full Employment HB 225 would expedite the process for renewals for service men and women whose occupation or professional license may have expired during their years of service. The bill would also allow spouses of military members who held occupational or professional licenses in another state to be issued temporary licenses in Maryland if the requirements were substantially equivalent. Each board may adopt further regulations that best suit their professional standards. I and other members of the Veterans Caucus support this legislation as a way to honor those who have done so much for our country.
Wellness Programs for State Employees HB 391 authorizes the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene along with the Department of Budget and Management to include wellness programs as part of their benefits package. These programs are low cost and aid people in living a healthier lifestyle, and many businesses have saved money by adopting such programs. Any wellness program would be implemented to save money over time.
Rebuttal Presumption HB 78 died in the last hour of session and would have stopped the Appeals Court decision that makes Pit Bull owners strictly liable for an injury caused by their dog. I fought tirelessly in Judiciary for this compromise, bi-partisan proposal that would have effectively overruled the Court of Appeals decision last year that treated unfairly pit bulls because it held them to a different standard than is applied to other dogs. This legislation would have adopted a “breed-neutral” approach to liability, known as rebuttal presumption, which requires that it be shown that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities.
Fairness in Taxation for Retirees HB 743 I have dedicated much of my career to fighting for our retirees and having their 401ks and other retirement plans to receive the same tax credit received by those who have pensions. The version of this bill passed as HB 743 will go a long way to address this problem and help Maryland retirees.
Human Trafficking bills HB 713 three bills passed this year that would help fight against the growing human trafficking problem in the United States. HB 713 would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to seize property used or intended for use in connection with human trafficking. SB 215 expands the current laws prohibiting the human trafficking of a minor to apply to victims who are younger than 21 years old. The law currently prohibits transporting minors from the purpose of prostitution with particular emphasis on prohibiting the threatening of another individual into prostitution. HB 933 prohibits a person charged with human trafficking of a minor from asserting a defense that the person did not know the age of the victim. I and other members of the Women’s Caucus support these laws as a way to prevent the exploitation of women and children.
Medical Marijuana the 2013 Session saw many bills that would have legalized to some extent the distribution and possession of medical marijuana. The legislature passed HB1101, a compromise resulting from a thorough discussion on the topic. The bill will not legalize medical marijuana or marijuana as a whole. Instead, it would allow academic institutions to perform research on the medicinal affects of marijuana on a limited basis. A newly created Medical Marijuana Commission will oversee and monitor all institutions that are part of the distribution of medical marijuana.
Maryland Agricultural Certainty Program SB 1029 establishes a voluntary Agricultural Certainty Program that would allow farmers to have 10 years to comply with new agricultural regulations under specific conditions. All farmers that are part of the program will have to abide by a Nutrient Management Plan and a Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan. This bill encourages farmers to do more to protect the bay while providing them addition time to comply with ever changing regulations.
Bad legislation that I voted against:
Teacher Union Dues HB 667 requires all public school employers in every jurisdiction of the state to take a fee from each paycheck regardless of an individual wishing to be member of the union. HB 863 mandates the collection of the same fee at institutions of higher education. I put forth amendments that would protect the right of workers to not be forced into paying for unions they are not a member of and to ensure that the unions must provide a public account of how they spend their member’s money.
Licenses for Illegal Immigrants SB 715 in an effort to expand the status of Maryland as a sanctuary state, there was a movement in the legislature to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. SB 715 allows someone to receive a driver’s license without documentation of a lawful status, which normally requires a social security number or a green card.
Same Day Voting although the idea behind allowing people to register to vote on the same day that they cast a ballot is noble, the bill that came out of the General Assembly had almost not protective measures to ensure that only those lawfully allowed to vote would be able to register. With the loose requirements in the bill, it is quite possible that illegal immigrants could be brought to a polling place and signed up to vote without any means to protect the integrity of our vote.
Death Penalty Repeal after years of fighting in Annapolis, the death penalty was repealed following the passage of SB 276. There was a vigorous debate over the benefits and negatives of the death penalty with both sides providing strong, emotional testimony as to how the death penalty has affected them. I will always stand up for the vulnerable – never criminals. I support the death penalty as a deterrent to crime and because there must be a punishment for people in jail who murder correctional officers or other inmates.
Health Exchange the Lieutenant Governor headed an initiative to establish a Health Benefit Exchange in Maryland in anticipation of requirements resulting from the passage of Obamacare. This year’s push, in HB 228 “Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013,” would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to establish the state’s health exchange under the promise that the Federal government will continue to pay for it until 2020. After 2020, Maryland must cover at least 10% of the total costs.
According to a recent report by the Society of Actuaries, premiums in Maryland are expected to rise 66.6% after the implementation of the health care exchange. There were a number of bills proposed for the implementation of Obamacare, and I did not support any of them based on fundamental concerns regarding how they will dramatically affect our health care.
Your Delegate and Servant