From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
It is an honor and privledge to represent you in the Maryland House of Delegates. The job is weighty and not for the faint of heart as we consider very important issues in Annapolis.
This week, I have a fun video for you to watch that will show you how a bill becomes a law in Maryland. I’m sure you will enjoy it, and it’s definitely something your kids and grandkids will like too.
Tragic death from texting while driving…
HB 1212, Use of Text Messaging Device or Handheld Telephone While Driving – Accidents Resulting in Death or Serious Injury – Penalties, was named after 5-year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a crash in 2011 caused by a driver police found to have been using a cell phone. You may recall this tragic accident that happened on I83 near the Baltimore Beltway just 3 days after Christmas.
The driver who slammed into Jake’s vehicle was a 23-year-old who was going 62 mph. He never applied his brakes and never saw that traffic had stopped in front of him because he was distracted by the cellphone he was using.
“The driver who struck us basically left the courthouse with a $1,000 fine, and that really isn’t much of a deterrent to say, ‘You know what? If I kill someone because I was distracted by my cellphone, it will only be a minor traffic ticket,'” Jake’s mother was quoted in the Baltimore Sun.
This bill will fill a gap in the law between traffic counts and the manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum term of 10 years. The House and Senate versions of this bill are somewhat different in the penalty portion. I’m confident that a compromise will be reached and this bill will become law.
I voted for this bill. While many of us are tempted to look at our cell phones while we are driving, the memory of this tragic accident certainly keeps my eyes on the road. Please be sure to share this real-life story with the young drivers in your life who do not fully understand the dangers of texting while driving. One boy killed, one family still grieving their horrible loss, and one young driver who cannot undo what he did = lives changed forever.
Baltimore County Elected School Board
After many years, a light at the end of the tunnel…
Modeled after the successful hybrid elected and appointed school board that Harford County uses, it looks like the Baltimore County will finally get an elected school board. I have supported this measure every year that I’ve been in Annapolis. This is a good compromise to ensure that all parties can be represented on the Baltimore County School Board.
The Senate passed a bill and the House passed a bill. I feel confident that we will get a hybrid elected school board out of the Maryland General Assembly this year.
Estate Tax Reform PASSES!
In a previous email, I said I thought the Estate Tax Reform measure would pass the House and Senate. It did! Yesterday, the Senate approved the bill that will incrementally raise the state’s estate tax exemption so that it matches the federal level by 2019. I’m sure the governor will sign this into law soon.
Persistence pays off! The House Minority Caucus has introduced this bill for many years. The data proves that our retired people are leaving Maryland for sunnier, lower tax states. I am a proud co-sponsor of this measure.
We can Keep Grandma in Maryland!
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 – 443-570-1555legates