Saturday, February 25, 2012

Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

Feb. 25th, 2012

Field Notes

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
By Delegate Michael A. McDermott

Week 7 February 20-24, 2012

Monday Evening-President’s Day Speech
According to House traditions, the House Democratic Caucus selected one of their members to deliver the President’s Day Speech to the members. Delegate John A. Olszewski, Jr.was chosen and provided a reflection on President Washington which implied that he liked taxes. I’m quite sure I do not share the good delegate’s opinion of Washington...but maybe he was referring to Washington DC.
Challenge to Vote Count
Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell voiced a challenge to the recorded vote on the O’Malley-Brown Same Sex Marriage bill (
HB-438) which occurred on the previous Friday. As I previously reported, the vote count on the board at the final call showed 71 in favor and 67 opposed. After the session, the Speakers Office released a press release stating that Delegate Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s Co.) had voted in favor of the bill but his vote was, somehow, not counted. This is highly irregular and, when it occurs, the delegate is required by House Rules to stand immediately on the floor and make this known to the Speaker. Delegate Bohanan did not do so. The Speaker blamed it on a mechanical failure within the computer voting system. We are, to say the least, highly skeptical of this explanation. Bottom line, it appears that the delegate’s vote was not needed and he cleared his vote from the board. Since his green vote was seen on the board by the media, this “explanation” was laid out in the aftermath of the vote. As a result of the challenge to the vote, the days journal has not been agreed to and is currently standing in limbo.
On a side note...I was behind a couple of IT guys going into the State House building on Tuesday morning with their equipment in tow. They were talking about finding this “missing vote”. I said to them, “you guys here to solve that missing vote problem?” to which they looked at each other and one said, “yeah...ha ha...right”.
Conclusion: there is no missing vote problem...just a case of some missing integrity.

Judiciary Committee Hearings, Tuesday: Gun Day
Today is traditionally referred to as “Gun Day” on the committee as this is the day when we review all of the bills filed which have to do with gun rights or restrictions. The star for the day on the pro-gun legislation were several bills all similar to
HB-45. This bill seeks to make Maryland a “shall issue” state as it relates to Gun Permits issued by the Maryland State Police. Currently, the law requires a citizen to provide a “good and substantial reason” to show a need to protect themselves with a pistol carry permit. The proponents of the bill believe, as is the case in 40 other states, that the burden should be upon the state to show cause why a permit should not be issued as opposed to the burden being on a citizen to show they have a good reason.

The Chairman has refused to allow these types of bills to come out for a vote, even if they are well supported on the committee. That appears to be the case this year as well. There is a clear demand from many citizens from all over the state that they should be allowed to protect themselves and their families no matter where they travel in Maryland. Some of the bills sought reciprocity agreements with surrounding states for their permit holders. Liberals are always interested in restricting 2nd Amendment rights in Maryland and we will continue to be a very unfriendly state for gun owners. The pro-gun bills included:
HB-45, HB-256, HB-300, HB-396, HB-430, HB-488, HB-579
There were a few regulatory bills regarding firearms. Some dealt with mental health issues and the ability to purchase firearms, the criminal use of firearms during criminal acts, and the possession of stolen firearms. The regulatory bills included:HB-618, HB-856, HB-968, HB-1100, HB-1104, HB-1113, HB-114, HB-1135
There was a bill to restrict the sale of certain compounds that are currently marketed for explosive targets. The components are purchased and then combined together to create something that can be detonated as a target shot by a firearm with significant velocity. There was debate abut information available on line about other common compounds readily available. The State Fire Marshall has come back again this year with HB-875 to address the potential misuse of this one particular binary compound by determined individuals.
Judiciary Committee Hearings Conducted Wednesday
Today was DWI Day in the committee. All filed bills that address aspects of driving under the influence were heard. Most seek enhanced penalties for certain acts committed while driving under the influence such as having children in the vehicle or causing death or serious injury. Those seeking enhanced penalties included:
HB-535, HB-608,
Those bills addressing deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents included enhancing penalties, making them must appear offenses, and mandating drug and alcohol testing under certain circumstances. These bills included:HB-469, HB-462, HB-649, HB-1022
HB-778 seeks to expand the definition of “operator” of a motor vehicle in cases of vehicular manslaughter when the actions of a driver create a dangerous situation that results in the death of another.HB-1179 seeks to expand the definition for a police vehicle for purposes of charging an individual with fleeing and eluding police.HB-1082 seeks to address a problem in Carroll County with the use of Drug Recognition Experts. While they are accepted across the state, it seems a certain judge is holding up decisions in his county due to his interpretation of the law concerning these trained law enforcement experts.
Judiciary Hearings Conducted on Thursday
Today was Family Law Day. Standing room only crowd for the previous two days and today was the same. We took up bills that involve child custody, divorce law, adoptions, and child support issues. Most of these bills were heard in previous sessions with some modifications hoping for traction this year. The following bills addressed aspects of custody arrangement including
HB-459 which seeks a task force to study joint custody of children:HB-485, HB-761 (grandparent visitation), HB-1165
HB-719 seeks to alter access and record searches for adoption records. It would make it easier to search for birth parents by those so inclined and would expand access to adopted individual 18 years of age or older.HB-873 seeks to address some issues surrounding Reproduction Agreements where surrogates carry a baby on behalf of a couple who cannot otherwise have children. This is a comprehensive bill and there was a lot of witnesses in support of some of these changes.
There were two bills addressing Protective Orders
. HB-883 seeks to place an actual distance within a Protective Order whereby a person must keep their distance. HB-971 would allow a person seeking a Protective Order to not necessarily need a fixed address for a Respondent. HB-1010 was back for a second year. It would allow a parent who was in arrears with child support payments to take up a second job to get caught up without altering their original payment order amount.
Judiciary Voting Session on Thursday
The following bills received a “Favorable” report from the committee and will bime sent to the House floor for 2nd Reader:
HB-96 Probation Before Judgement allowance for second CDS arrest with successful completion of Drug Court and probation.HB-318 Lowers eligibility amounts for small estate settlements.HB-398 Adds the investigation of Theft Schemes to the list of enumerated crimes where a wire tap can be utilized by law enforcement.
On the Senate Side Thursday...
The senate voted quickly on the O’Malley-Brown Same Sex Marriage Bill. They also created two legislative days out of one calendar day and passed the bill in the afternoon. No amendments were accepted onto the bill by the democrats which could have at least made the bill better. These included amendments to address homosexual-same sex marriage curriculum in public schools and a prohibition on a minor being able to enter into a same sex marriage. As a result of these rejections, when the governor signs the bill into law next week, a 16 year old boy will be able to marry a 40 year old man and our schools will be forced to instruct that same sex marriage is a normal option.

As a result, the referendum process has begun. The people of Maryland will have the last word when we force the issue into the ballot box. In the coming weeks, I will provide detailed information on how to get involved in the referendum. For those who helped in the referendum on Illegal Alien In-State Tuition last year, it will be the same process. We will now be on guard in the House for legislation that will seek to make the referendum process more complicated and arduous for the people. We know it is coming.
House Voting Session Friday
In the interest of space, I will highlight bills during voting sessions and
share the link where you can see all of the bills voted on during this particular session. Today, my first bill cleared the House and moved onto the Senate. It is HB-251 which allows for criminal history checks to be performed on taxi driver applicants. We also passed HB-104 which makes texting on a cell phone while driving a primary offense.
Judiciary voting Session on Friday
This was a big day for me as two of my bills were up in the voting session.
HB-119 will allow law enforcement officers in Maryland the ability to charge most misdemeanor offenses by issuance of a citation instead of requiring them to be taken before a District Court Commissioner for release. This will save the state millions and limit the down time for law enforcement officers tied up waiting on the District Court. This is a companion bill to HB-112 and HB-261 which I introduced to address the problems associated with providing Public Defender access at the Initial Appearance those charged with a crime have before a District Court Commissioner. The bill guarantees a right to counsel in the District Court appearance before a judge but does not require it before a Commissioner. This will save the state anywhere from $30 million to $100 million based upon estimates from the Public Defender’s Office, States Attorneys, and the Department of Legislative Services. Wicomico State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello helped me craft this bill and I also received support from Worcester State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby and Somerset State’s Attorney Dan Powell. The bills have been worked on by many in our committee along with representatives from the Governor’s Office. Both of these bills will now move to the House for Second and Third Reader next week.

SPCA Eastern Shore~

The SPCA Eastern Shore is in GREAT need of  Purina Kitten Chow.  If you can help them out and donate a bag the kittens would be very grateful.

SPCA  Eastern Shore is OPEN TODAY  to the public from 10:00 am until 3:00pm.

TIME MACHINE Preview ... An 1880 Real Life Soap Opera Plot In Pocomoke City!

On tomorrow's Pocomoke Public Eye:

He is 64 and one of the most prominent men in Worcester County...a member of the Governor's staff, a former long time member of the state legislature, and a pillar of the Presbyterian Church in Pocomoke City.

She is "a fine looking lady of 42," wife of a Pocomoke businessman, and belongs to "one of the best families" in Worcester County.

She alleges an outrageous assault against her.

The case will be heard in a packed courtroom in Snow Hill.

Read more this Sunday, right here.

Do you have a local memory to share with PPE readers.. such as a big snow storm, a favorite school teacher, a local happening, something of interest your parents or grandparents told you about? It can be just a line or two or more if you wish. Your name won't be used unless you ask that it be. Send to and watch for it on a future TIME MACHINE posting!

REPTILE FESTIVAL at the Delmarva Discovery Center

Pocomoke Farmer's Market & Flea Market OPEN

Vendors for
Downtown Pocomoke Farmers & Flea Market
are welcome to set up any Friday and Saturday



Friday, February 24, 2012

Couple Missing From Pocomoke

UPDATE:  According to a family member the couple has been located and are safe.

Maryland State Police are looking for an elderly couple who left Pocomoke to move to Florida and have not been heard from for more than a week.  
Ninety-one-year-old Merton S. Cowger and 92-year-old Virginia W. Hooper packed all their belongings on Feb. 15 and left to move to Okeechobee, Fla. On Feb. 21, Hooper's daughter contacted Maryland authorities and said she had not heard from her mother for four days. The couple still has not been heard from.
Troopers describe Cowger as being white, 5'3" tall and weighing 143 pounds. Hooper is white, 4'10" tall and weighs 120 pounds. They were last known to be operating a beige or light brown 2002 Ford Crown Victoria with Maryland registration PH 03923. The PH indicates a Purple Heart license plate.
Elderly Couple Goes Missing on Drive to Florida

Friday, February 24 2012, 05:11 PM EST


Men At Work /Pocomoke City Public Works

Here's just part of a great group of city workers that never seem to get alot of praise from the general public.  They are the brave souls  out in all kinds of weather. Some of them slow or stop you while driving in your car on the many streets of Pocomoke City so they can do their job.  These are the guys you swear to under your breath because "they" made you late.

But without these men (and the others I did not see)  Pocomoke would not function!  Pocomoke City Public Works.....this is just one portion of the many men that work for the city of Pocomoke City.  You may not realize but all of these men, regardless of their department work hard for YOU.  Trash and bulk collection, sewer/water hookups, flooded streets, the list goes on...........Would you want their job?

On Thursday these guys were preparing to install the water/sewer lines to the new Pocomoke City police station.  Bill East is the Supervisor and I apologize for any other names I did not get.   You guys are great and thank you for humoring me..

If you know the names of these men please consider sending the names to me by email.

Pocomoke City Police Department Press Release


Pocomoke Police Department
300 Second Street
Pocomoke, Maryland 21851

Pocomoke City Police Arrest Report

February 13 - February 24, 2012

2/17/2012 Pocomoke City Police Officers responded to Wal-Mart Super-Center in Pocomoke City for a Theft that just occurred. The suspect entered the store with Wal-Mart brand plastic bags. He then walked through the apparel section of the store and placed a pair of boots inside the bag. The suspect then proceeded to exit the store passing all points of sale without paying for the merchandise. Pocomoke Police arrested Maurice Bishop of Pocomoke City, age 53. Bishop was charged with Theft.
2/18/2012 Pocomoke City Police responded to Pocomoke Plaza parking lot for a reported Wanted person in the area that was driving recklessly. Upon arrival the Officers observed the vehicle that was described in the complaint. Pocomoke City Police initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. Once the suspect vehicle stopped the operator fled out of the vehicle on foot and into the Hardees restaurant. Pocomoke Police learned the suspect had discarded money and Marijuana inside of the restaurant. Pocomoke Police arrested Chad L. Collins age 29, of Pocomoke City. Collins was charged with Driving on a Suspended License, Possession of Marijuana, and the Outstanding Warrant was served.
2/19/2012 Pocomoke City Police Officers responded to a Domestic Assault complaint. Upon arrival Pocomoke Police met with the victim who explained she was Assaulted by her boyfriend and has an abrasion to her arm from the Assault. Pocomoke Police arrested James C. Reese Jr, age 21 for Assault 2nd degree.

2/22/2012 Pocomoke City Police responded to a call for a Theft of a purse with cash inside. Upon arrival Pocomoke Police learned the victims purse was taken by a person who she allowed into her apartment for a brief moment. Pocomoke City Police canvassed the area searching for the suspect matching the description the victim provided, police then located the suspect. Pocomoke Police arrested Maranuita Holland, age 47 of Snow Hill, MD. Holland was charged with Theft Scheme.

2/23/2012 Pocomoke City Police served two Warrants on Shawn M. Thomas, age 26 of Pocomoke and Martha J. Thomas, age 27 of Pocomoke. Pocomoke Police arrested and charged both suspects with 2nd degree Assault.

2/24/2012 Pocomoke City Police received a call for Theft with the suspect leaving the store on foot. Police located an individual matching the description given by the complainant. Upon contact with the suspect the Officers conducted a search. Upon searching the suspect Police located approximately (1) one ounce of suspected Marijuana and (6) six individual bags with approximate street value of $25 each on the suspect. Pocomoke City Police arrested Christopher D. Carrion age 21, of Pocomoke City. Carrion was charged with CDS Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and CDS Possession of Marijuana.


 Kelvin D. Sewell
Chief of Police

Johnson and Jackson Each Sitting In a Cell

This is a great report!  Poor Tia wanted her bail lowered but Judge Daniel Mumford and Executive Assistant State's Attorney William McDermott would have no part of it!   Tia couldn't even get her bond raised to one million dollars and the judge denied bond entirely. She's had her free time and perhaps should have thought about how precious freedom is way back in November 2007.  Jackson was denied bail! 

So, I guess it is true that the criminal really has the ability to separate themsleves from the truth.

They'll get no sympathy from me.  I think it's a shame they can share the same air we all breath.

Johnson gets jail time, Jackson arrested in Sheddy murder case
NANCY POWELL ¦ Staff Writer
(Feb. 24, 2012) Two people were arrested within the past few days in connection with the murder of Christine Sheddy in Pocomoke in November 2007.

Tia Lynn Johnson, 31, of Eden, was arrested last Friday. Clarence Butch “Junior” Jackson, 34, of the same address, was arrested Wednesday. Both were charged with being an accessory after the statute and fourth-degree burglary.

Johnson had been held on $500,000 bond after her arrest. In District Court in Salisbury on Tuesday morning, Johnson told Judge Daniel Mumford that she wanted her bail lowered. Executive Assistant State’s Attorney William McDermott of the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office asked to double it to $1 million.

“Given the circumstances and the nature of the crime and the defendant’s prior conviction and the fact that she fled the state of Maryland for the state of Tennessee after the crime, the state believes the bond should be increased,” McDermott said he told the judge.

Mumford did not increase the bail. He said Johnson should have no bail at all.

Jackson was denied bail Thursday morning.


Downtown Pocomoke On Thursday

It was a beautiful day yesterday in Pocomoke and it was so great being able to spend a few hours of my day there.  There is so much going on in preparation for the new restaurant to open and getting the new police station completed so the big move can be made.  What a big difference it will make in Pocomoke City when completed and I have a few photos to share later.

But first I want to share with you a group of workers that never seem to get acknowledged .......except for a written thank you from time to time.  I've never seen any  pictures of them at work!  I have some photos of these great people and I should have them posted by lunch time today.  Just have  patience with me. 

But in the meantime here's a photo of the great American flag that always flys so proudly in Cypress Park.

Once the windows were revealed on the new restaurant I made it my goal to get a photo of the flags reflection.  If nothing else had happened worth talking about yesterday at least this goal had been achieved.

SHORE BEEF and BBQ ~ Friday Special

Riblet Sandwich/ Beans
Drink / $7.50


While it lasts........this special goes fast!
This is a 1/2 lb of baby back meat that fell off the Bone and we mean

Accomack Board Receives 2012-13 Budget

By Connie Morrison

Accomack County's Board of Supervisors had its first look at the proposed 2013 budget Wednesday night. County Administrator Steve Miner told the Board it is a balanced budget, with small capital and operating surpluses that would allow the Board to make some discretionary allocations, and would place $760,000 into the county's Rainy Day Fund.

The budget assumes a property tax rate increase to offset falling property values, which have declined by about 12% county-wide. Rates would increase by 7 cents for most parts of the county, but declining property values mean the resulting revenue would be roughly the same as 2011.

Other forces shaping the budget include an 18% increase in health insurance costs, a 45% increase in employee retirement costs , and deferred debt payments that come due beginning in 2013. The budget does not include any cost of living pay increases for employees paid with county funds, but does allow pay for performance increases of up to 3%. A budget work session is scheduled for February 28 at 5:00 p.m.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Downtown Pocomoke City Farmers & Flea Market OPENING






7:00 AM – 2:00PM

Now Fridays AND Saturdays!


TIME MACHINE Preview ... An 1880 Real Life Soap Opera Plot In Pocomoke City!

He is 64 and one of the most prominent men in Worcester County...a member of the Governor's staff, a former long time member of the state legislature, and a pillar of the Presbyterian Church in Pocomoke City.

She is "a fine looking lady of 42," wife of a Pocomoke businessman, and belongs to "one of the best families" in Worcester County.

She alleges an outrageous assault against her.

The case will be heard in a packed courtroom in Snow Hill.

Read more this Sunday on The Pocomoke Public Eye!

Do you have a local memory to share with PPE readers.. such as a big snow storm, a favorite school teacher, a local happening, something of interest your parents or grandparents told you about? It can be just a line or two or more if you wish. Your name won't be used unless you ask that it be. Send to and watch for it on a future TIME MACHINE posting!

The Great Pocomoke Fair




Friday, March 9, 2012

Serving Time: 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M.

Pancakes and the fixin's ~

includes bacon, sausage, pastries, beverage


Call 410-603-8534 for information


tickets also
available at Pocomoke Monument Co.

Update from Delegate Lynwood Lewis

Pictured: Delegate Lewis meeting with Bill Wrobel,

Wallops' directory, and Lesa Roe, NASA Langley's

center director, in Lewis' office overlooking downtown

Richmond on the General Assembly's Aerospace Day 2012.

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

which I was proud to sponsor along those lines were House Bill 195 and House Bill 194. House

Bill 195 which is on its way through

passage in the State Senate directs our state public institutions of higher education to develop policies in coordination with the State Council of Higher Education for awarding academic credit in our public colleges and universities for experience in the military. This will give our veterans a leg up if they seek to enroll in our state colleges and universities for new or additional training. House Bill 194 helps with integration into the workforce after military service by directing the Division of Motor Vehicles to develop policies to aid veterans in obtaining commercial drivers licenses by awarding credit towards those CDL's, particularly in the skills area, for activities and skills obtained during military service.

The General Assembly is also considering bills that will provide a Real Property Tax Exemption for disabled veterans. We have also considered a bill which would expedite the issuance of licenses, permits, or certificates for spouses of individuals who are transferring into the Commonwealth with their military spouse. We have also taken up legislation directing our boards of professions and occupations to accept military training, education, or experience of a service member returning from active military service to the extent that training is substantially equivalent to the requirements as established by law regarding the issuance of a license, permit, or certificate by that board to give credit for substantially equivalent service or training in the military. Finally, we have adopted legislation to extend the grace period for the replacement of plates, decals, or vehicle registration to the spouse and dependent children accompanying an active service member who is serving outside of the United States and have also extended the grace period for driver's license expiration from 90 to 180 days after return of service from outside of the United States on active duty or as a civilian employee of U. S. Government, Federal Agency, or contractor. All these bills in some small way are our effort to show our appreciation and also to make life easier for our veterans for their service and sacrifices.

Next week Virginia's budget will be front and center as the House of Delegates and the Senate unveil their budget committees versions of the Governor's budget Sunday afternoon (February 19th). The budget impacts all areas of our Commonwealth so next week's report will focus on the budget and in particular its impact on the District. It will address very complex issues of transportation and Virginia Retirement System funding.

Please feel free to contact me on any issue as it is important to me in my representation of our district to hear from the people that I represent. We will be in Richmond until March 9. Please feel free to contact my office at (804) 698-1000 or

REPTILE FESTIVAL at The Delmarva Discovery Center

This year's Reptiles Alive shows will be about the Rainforest! In the show Rainforests Alive, brand new to the Delmarva Discovery Center this year, learn who is the real king of the jungle!

Also just added, face painting from 12 to 4pm!

Come see Reptiles Alive, l.l.c at Saturday, February 25th at the Delmarva Discovery Center.

The Reptile Festival hosted by Reptiles Alive! is a favorite every year. Visitors experience a wildly exciting and education program appropriate for all ages, and discover reptiles from all corners of the world! Shows are free with paid admission to the Discovery Center.

Also meet the DDC's resident reptiles, make a children's craft, have your face painted, and learn about the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas!

Piggy the baby cornsnake, hatched at the DDC, will make his debut!

Check out or call 410.957.9933 for details!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Arrest Made In Christine Sheddy Murder

UPDATE: Earlier today Clarence Butch (Jr.) Jackson was also charged with "accessory to murder after the fact" and burglary. These are the same charges brought against Tia Johnson a few days earlier.

Jackson has a preliminary hearing set for March 16, 2012. No hearing set for Johnson.

See Below

Most of us are aware that Tia Johnson, girlfriend of Clarence (Jr.) Butch Jackson and cousin of Justin Hadel, was nabbed on Feb. 17 on an arrest warrant. Johnson was arrested by Worcester County authorities and is charged now for "accessory to murder after the fact" and fourth degree burglary all relating to the murder of Chistine Sheddy in 2007.

Christine Sheddy, mother of three children and from Delaware was staying in an old farm house on Byrd Road in Pocomoke City with the couple-Jackson and Johnson where she was murdered. Justin Hadel is currently serving a life sentence with no parole for her murder.

Police say that Tia Johnson transported Sheddy's body in the trunk of her car to the River House Inn, a bed and breakfast located in Snow Hill, Maryland. Court document show that Tia Johnson and boyfriend Clarence Jackson were once employed by the River House. Jackson knew the owners would be gone and entered a guest house with a stolen key. Sheddy's body was buried in a shallow grave on the property of the bed and breakfast.

Johnson was originally being held on $500,000 bond but after a bail review hearing it was decided to hold her without bail.

Crime isn't anything new for Johnson. Also last year she was charged for a series of thefts from Walmart while being employed there at the time.

Ever heard: " Oh, what a tangled web we do weave when first we pratice to deceive"?

New Pocomoke Restaurant Construction Moving Right Along

These are the latest photos I have on the Pocomoke City restaurant being constructed.

The New Pocomoke City Restaurant

Pocomoke City, Maryland

Updated Saturday, February 18, 2012

Construction seems to be moving right along......

Measure To Allow Guns on Publicly Owned Parking Lots Moves to Floor

A Senate committee has endorsed legislation to allow most local government employees to bring guns to work as long as they keep them locked in their vehicles.

The Courts of Justice Committee voted 9-6 Monday to send the House-passed bill to the Senate floor. The measure prohibits localities from banning employees from keeping guns their cars on publicly owned parking lots. The bill exempts public schools, jails and juvenile detention centers.

Republican Del. Brenda Pogge of James City County said her bill clearly doesn't affect colleges because it only deals with local governments. But the committee amended the bill anyway to specifically exempt colleges and universities.

Pogge said the bill is intended to curb the erosion of law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.


Please Be Patient With Me.

Hello, Everyone!

Please hang in there with me until I get this problem with my computer corrected and get back up to speed with my postings.

Shouldn't be much longer....

Have a great day.


Monday, February 20, 2012

REWARD If You Find "Mittens"



Missing from the Butler Village area
in Pocomoke, MD.

"MITTENS"  is a 7 year old family cat that is missed very much.

She is wearing a pink collar  with a heart shaped tag that has her name and telephone number on it.

If you have seen "MITTENS" PLEASE call 410-490-6579


Please Help The Homeless Animals of the Eastern Shore

LIKE SPCA Eastern Shore Virginia on FACEBOOK

"Governing With a Rod of Iron" By Delegate Mike McDermott

"The Magic and Machinations of One Party Rule”
By Delegate Michael A. McDermott

No matter what side you come down on the issue of same sex marriage in Maryland, you should be offended by the process through which the O’Malley-Brown Gay Marriage Bill (HB-438) passed through the House of Delegates.

We can start with a governor who changed his mind on the issue. Who first pushed for Civil Unions…who then agreed that “the people” should be allowed to vote by referendum…who then made same sex “marriage” a primary legislative focus for 2012. It’s funny as I recall those Eastern Shore democratic legislators telling us how the governor’s focus was going to be on, “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!”…I just didn’t realize they were talking about wedding planners.

Consider the title of the bill: “Civil Marriage Protection Act”. Titles are intentionally crafted in Annapolis to disguise their intent. After all, when you want to change the definition of marriage, which has been in place since the beginning of time, you start by telling the people you simply wish to “protect” marriage. What kind of caldron produces this stuff?

The committee process in the House was something to behold as well. All of the previous same sex wedding bills have been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, until now. For the first time, in a highly irregular move, the bill was put forward to two committees: Judiciary and Health and Government Operations. The reason was simple: after all their machinations and arm twisting last session, they now lacked the votes to get a favorable vote from the Judiciary members. So, they went committee shopping and found one that would serve their purpose.

Historically, in the rare instances when two committees are utilized for a bill hearing, one of the committees is assigned as “primary” and the other as “secondary”. In this case, Judiciary was the primary committee of record. For voting purposes, the primary committee should vote first before the issue is moved to the secondary committee members. If the vote fails in the primary, it should not move to the secondary. In the case of the O’Malley-Brown Same Sex Marriage Bill, the committee votes were joined together in order to garner the number of votes necessary to claim a “favorable” vote. The fact is, the Judiciary Committee voted “No”, while Health and Government Operations voted “Yes”. The HGO vote was all on partisan lines which is exactly what the Speaker was counting on in the end. They say this has been done before, but no one can remember the last time it was done this way. That speaks volumes.

The combined committees also reviewed amendments offered on the bill with all of them being rejected. Some votes were closer than others. There was an effort to put the issue before the voters as a referendum which had bi-partisan support, but fell short of the votes needed. Following this meeting and voting session, the bill was moved to the House where it was laid over for a day to allow for others to offer amendments.

On Friday morning, a joint meeting of the committees was held to review amendments offered on the bill. I was told there were 200 amendments at the desk waiting for this bill. While many were no doubt duplicitous, the committees would normally review and vet each amendment to determine if it should be adopted into the bill. Our joint meeting lasted about thirty seconds and we were all told that any amendments would be offered and debated on the floor of the House. The rush was on and the fix was in. This action was one of the biggest downfalls of the process, but the next action was even worse.

All bills deserve a free and fair debate. Monumental legislation that seeks to change historic references and definitions should not be rushed. When we came into session on Friday afternoon, the bill was only on Second Reader. This is the time in the process where amendments can be offered to a House Bill by any member from the floor. Normally, these amendments are offered to the respective committee where they can be reviewed, vetted, and debated. There is great reluctance to amend a bill on the floor since that vetting process has not occurred and members are understandably skeptical. I have seen amendments made or questions asked on bills that resulted in a bill being Special Ordered until the matter could be thoroughly addressed and vetted by the assigned committee.

As this bill was debated and amendments offered on Second Reader in the House, there were some clear issues with some of the amendments being offered. Interestingly enough, one of the amendments which had been rejected in committee was offered again on the floor by Delegate Wade Kach (a Baltimore County Republican who did a 180 after a midnight meeting with the governor and decided to vote “Yes” on the bill). Magically now, the amendment was said to be “favorable” by the committee. Of course, this was not true as the same amendment had been rejected. Apparently being part of the deal, the amendment to delay the effective date of the bill to Jan. 1, 2013 was then agreed to by the House.

A second amendment was more troubling. It was a more complicated, technical amendment regarding judicial severability of the bill. It was offered by Delegate Tiffany Alston, a Prince Georges County Democrat who is currently under indictment for election financial fraud. She was originally against the bill and voted against it in committee. Out of the blue, she advised that if her amendment was passed, she would vote in favor of the bill. Her amendment, which she never even spoke of in committee, was said to be “supported by the committee”. It passed and what followed immediately was a significant exodus from the chamber of senior democrats…they knew it was over and they had her vote.

In the fog of war and the battles on the floor of the State House, rumors and scuttlebutt abound. Many are born out of speculation, many based upon practical experience, and many because they are simply true. Two republicans voted with the democrats on this bill. Both had previously said they would not do so. Both, it seems, met privately with the governor in the days before the bill went to the floor. It was said by many that “jobs” were on the table…commission appointments…board appointments…one can only speculate. Weighing out what constitutes thirty pieces of silver in this economy can be tough.

On the Democratic side of the House, Delegate Alston has criminal charges pending to be resolved after session. The case against her was said to be very strong, but was also rumored to have been filed by a governor appointed State’s Attorney following her strong opposition to the Same Sex Marriage bill offered last session. She too had a reported private meeting with the Governor the day before. Another aging Democrat from Baltimore City was rumored to have sold out for a relative who is seeking better state employment opportunities. Only time will tell, but I will leave it to the citizens to do the math.

Come to think of it…maybe this is a jobs bill after all!

On Friday, I again had the opportunity to witness two sunrises and two sunsets in one calendar day…all from my seat on the House floor. Second Readers take place on one day and are followed, generally, on the proceeding day as a Third Reader. However, wishing to plow, ram, shove, this bill through in one day required the magical waiving of the Speaker’s Mace to create another Legislative daybreak…complete with the Pledge of Allegiance and official Prayer of the Day. This was the same tactic utilized to pass the Alcohol Tax last session.

So what normally would have and should have taken a few days to perform with due diligence was forced out of the House within just a few hours. The result on the board for all to see was a vote count showing 71 “Yes” and 67 “No”. It seems now that even this was an illusion.

Following the vote, there was a press release which indicated the count was “72-67”, but that is not what appeared on the voting board. The tally board indicated “71” so something has happened to the count that has not been reflected in actions taken on the floor. Delegate Bahanon (Democrat from St. Mary’s County) would appear to be that extra vote, although he was missing in action on the final count.

It is said you need “71” to pass anything in the House of Delegates, but good leadership is not based on vote total of 71. We are a house divided which cannot stand. It is for this very purpose that consensus must be sought and developed among the people whom we purport to represent. Our leadership has assured us that we will remain divided and, as we move forward, issues will arise which find their Genesis of division in these very votes. It is not “courageous” leadership that squeaks a bill through via machinations, rather it is partisan witchcraft.

I cannot know for certain about jobs promised, or not…I cannot know for certain about other situations which may bring comfort to some for a green vote…but I do know that this issue will only serve to further divide our state at a time when we can ill afford that same division. There will be a referendum of the people (the second one against this governor and the democratic machine) on the definition of “marriage” once the Senate takes their “courageous” vote. Of this we can be sure. There is another vote of which we can be sure as well. It is the one which will occur in November of 2014 when those who put their green vote up on the board will have to answer to those whose place setting they hold in trust.

Keep a watchful eye out for bills that seek to change the referendum process in Maryland to make it tougher on those gathering signatures. Surely this will be tried.

People of Maryland, take back your state!