From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
This has been a week full of controversial bills. As the 2014 legislative session rushes towards its conclusion at midnight on April 7, bills are moving quickly through the House and Senate.
I appreciate the encouragement I’ve received from many of my email newsletter recipients as I stand firmly for conservative views and values in Annapolis. I’m definitely swimming against the tide!
SB 212, Transgender Rights Law
Dubbed the bathroom bill for good reason …
A good title does not make a good bill. Case in point is SB 212, Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014. This bill sounds great. Don’t we all want “fairness for all Marylanders?” What SB 212 really does is jeopardize the safety of women and little girls by allowing predators and pedophiles access to the women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, shower rooms and other similar places. This bill is poorly written and ignores the responsibility to protect us from those who would do harm to others. The supporters of this measure have neglected to consider those who would pretend to be transgenders and abuse the law.
SB 212 language says a person can change their gender identity by “any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity.” Pedophiles and sexual predators are clearly mentally ill. All they must do after this bill passes is to claim that they are in the women’s bathroom or locker room because they have a, “sincerely held belief” that they are a woman. This is terrible policy and law making.
I offered a great amendment to exclude facilities where women do not expect to see men, like public bathrooms. Unfortunately, this bill was fast-tracked by the Democrat majority and any and all amendments were rejected. Even when it was revealed on the House floor that a man who “sincerely believes” he is a woman – even though he has male parts – would be able to use a women’s shower room/locker room at a public pool. Can you imagine your young daughter or granddaughter in the pool changing room or bathroom with a fully grown man? This is just not right.
Finally, I find it very troubling that the state will be adding people confused about which sex they are, (transgenders) to the list of people who have faced discrimination because of; race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, and now – GENDER IDENTITY.
I voted no. The House of Delegates vote can be found here. CLICK HERE TO SEE HOUSE VOTE
Budget of Maryland
Adds another $2 billion in spending …
Maryland’s budget is poised to pass this year totaling more than $39 billion. Of course, there are some good things in the budget. However, I could not vote for the sum of the whole. This budget has grown by more than $10 billion over the last 8 years, a rate of 37%.
Senior citizens on a fixed budget and Maryland families have not seen an increase of their budgets over the last 8 years, and certainly not a 37% increase. The out of control spending coming from Annapolis is simply not good for our economy and is not sustainable for taxpayers.
The House Minority Caucus offered a budget alternative as we do every year. We proposed limiting the growth of the state budget to 1% over last year’s budget. Teachers and state employees agreed to contribute 2% more from their pay checks in order to fund the public pension fund. The State agreed to contribute $300 million per year to do their part. The leadership in Annapolis has yet to keep their promise and have taken hundreds of millions from the pension fund promise. By limiting the growth to 1%, we could keep the promise to fund pensions and actually force the governor and his budget leaders to cut spending. Unfortunately, our sensible and responsible alternative budget plan was rejected, although a few Democrats did vote with us.
Allowing the State to break their promise to taxpayers, teachers, and state workers to fund pensions was not acceptable. As with all retirement investments, we can pay some now or a whole lot later. By limiting the growth of the budget to 1% over last year, we were able to fully fund the pension promise.
In past years, we have offered level funded budgets and cuts to the budget. This year our plan to limit the growth to 1% was one more choice we thought Democrats might actually support. Unfortunately, nothing we offer can reign in the spend-aholics in Annapolis, but the plan did get more bi-partisan support.
Pay Raises Without a Vote!
It’s just not right ….
Back in 1970, a Constitutional Amendment was passed setting up a legislative salaries commission to recommend pay and benefit changes for members of the Maryland General Assembly. This commission meets every four years and makes recommendations the last year of the 4 year election cycle. If the commission’s recommendations are not acted upon, they become law. Yes, you read that right. Pay increases happen unless action is taken to reject those increases.
The salaries commission has recommended a 15% pay increase for all members of the House and Senate, from the current $43,500 per year to $50,330 per year. I do not think that legislators should get this pay increase. This is a part time job and we are citizen legislators. Additionally, I absolutely believe that legislators should have to vote yes or no.
We have taken action!
I have introduced a Joint Resolution (the proper vehicle), HJ 9, to reject the pay increases. I have signed a letter to the Speaker of the House asking to let HJ 9 have a vote. These are both measures advanced by the House Minority Caucus under the leadership of Leader Nic Kipke and myself.
We are hoping to get the resolution blocking pay increases out of the Rules Committee. However, we are having trouble getting the committee to put the resolution on the voting list.
Next year, I will be proposing legislation to require a vote on the salary recommendations. Taxpayers and citizens expect legislators to vote yes or no on their own pay increases.
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