Showing posts with label Maryland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maryland. Show all posts

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott


February 15, 2013

‘HB 104 - Promoting a More Business Friendly State ’

(Annapolis) -- “If the governor is serious about growing business, let’s start by saving the ones that are here. HB-104 provides for penalty forgiveness on first time offenses of minor violations of the code.  After all, the point is to make the corrections, not tax our hard working business owners through a system of petty  fines and overregulation” said Delegate Mike McDermott (R- Worcester & Wicomico) when discussing his proposed bill, HB-104.

HB - 104, entitled ‘Occupational Safety and Health - Good Faith Actions by Business Owners - Penalty Forgiveness,’ prevents the Commissioner of Labor from charging a civil penalty, or fine, against an employer who unintentionally violates the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Act.   Penalty forgiveness will only be given to employers for non-serious violations.  Under this bill, the employer will still receive a citation regarding the violation, but will not receive a civil penalty when the violation is not willful or repetitive, the violation is not serious, and the employer corrects the violation within the timeframe set in the citation.

“It’s tough being a business owner in Maryland, and it is getting tougher to recruit new businesses into our state.  The restrictions imposed on both small businesses and major manufacturing giants bring Red tape that costs business owners precious capital they need to maintain their viability during tough financial times. Penalizing and fining these hard working folks for minor violations that can be immediately corrected does not make us a very  business friendly state” concluded Delegate McDermott.

Delegate McDermott’s bill, HB 104, was heard in the Economic Matters Committee on February 12th.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

Field Notes - Week 5
Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities

Week 5 Feb.4-Feb. 8, 2013

Monday Evening:
I drove over to Quiet Water Park to make a presentation to two outstanding Worcester County residents who were being awarded the 2012 Sportsmanship Award through the Maryland Dept. of Parks and Recreation. The state recognized Stephen Decatur Middle School student athlete Sarah Mitrecic and Coach Stan Parker for their commitment to sportsmanship and their pursuit of excellence.
Tuesday Morning Session:
HB-75 passed this morning allowing for a change in reporting deadlines for certain utility companies. We also adopted HS-0001 which was a rebuke of certain actions taken by Delegate William “Tony” McConkey during 2012 and to accept the report of the House Ethics Committee and the recommended actions. Delegate McConkey apologized to the House members for his conduct, but also offered some defense of his actions. I voted to censure the delegate and accept the report judging his actions as wholly inappropriate. (Full Report)
Tuesday Judiciary Committee Hearings:HB-262, HB-267, HB-482, HB-483 all address synthetic cannabinoids and the distribution of faked controlled substances. The legislation seeks to outlaw all aspects of synthetic marijuana and provide the judiciary with the ability to take certain notice as the drug compounds are adjusted by the drug dealers to skirt the law. This particular drug is being sold as “bath salts” and “popery” mixes which are laced with a chemical compound designed to mimic the marijuana high.HB-338 updates the limit on felony theft to requiring a value of over $1000.00 to bring the various laws governing theft and robbery in sync with one another.HB-202 seeks to address the malicious destruction of property, specifically transit vehicles. I do not see the need for this bill when felony MDOP already exists.HB-382 would require defendants to pay into the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund. It would expand the requirement by allowing these fees to reflect the current practice of funds being received for PBJ cases.HB-180 would provide an affirmative defense for caregivers of those individuals who acquire or provide marijuana for medical purposes to patients.HB-183 would modify the composition of the state Correctional Training Commission. It would require the Commission membership to also consist of members from within the ranks of Correctional Officers. We heard from representatives of the corrections employees who feel the strong need to have a voice at the commission level. I suggested an ex-officio status for two committee members who would be appointed from within the ranks.HB-254 would allow a local jail facility to detain individuals on Arrest documents when a District Court Commissioner is otherwise not available for a Preliminary Hearing. As written, this bill would only affect Allegany County. It is a good idea and I will be trying to see if other counties can be added to the bill.HB-311 would require a parent or care giver to report a child as missing within 24-hours and 5-hours to notify authorities upon the death of a minor child once the condition becomes known. This was crafted to address some of the issues arising from the Casey Anthony case in Florida where a child’s disappearance went unreported.HB-250 would require the victims in criminal cases being given priority in receiving compensation from a defendant before the state receives their penalties or fees. It puts victims first and gives priority for restitution.HB-219 seeks to limit the use of “No-Knock” Search Warrants without prior notification being given to local authorities. The bill would require that the Sheriff of a jurisdiction would need to be notified prior to the execution of a “No-Knock” Warrant.  These are warrants that are issued which do not require the police to “knock and announce” their presence prior to executing a warrant.HB-377
seeks to codify the procedure for using GPS tracking technology in criminal investigations. This bill would require law enforcement to secure a court order in order to capture this information.
Wednesday Morning Session:
Several House of Delegates Awards were presented this morning. The Speaker’s Medallion was presented to John M. Colmers from John Hopkins. The Thomas Kennedy Award was presented to the late Delegates Howard P. Rawlings and Jean B. Cryor. The Caspor R. Taylor Jr. Founders Award was presented to Delegate Veronica L. Turner (Prince Georges Co.).

Wednesday 2nd Amendment Rally on the Mall: 

Photo: Here I am with Delegate Smigiel and Delegate Norman waiting to get started.
Thousands turned out for a pro-gun rally on the mall conducted at noon. It tied in with the first hearing in the Senate of SB-281, the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill. While thousands attended the rally, thousands more signed up to speak in the Senate. Just before we began speaking to the crowd, a beautiful American Bald Eagle circled overhead…not a familiar site in downtown Annapolis to be sure, but an incredible omen for those attending. I’m quite sure that for every thousand that attended, there were another 10,000 that wanted to be there to raise their collective voice against this bill.

Surely there are areas where we could work to make things better for gun owners and our communities, but much of the bill is cosmetic. Banning one type or class of firearm over another is not going to get the job done and is a fool’s errand. Portions of the bill address mental health issues, which we could focus on this year, but much of the bill misses the target. I spoke to the folks as did many other lawmakers and grass roots organizers and it was wonderful to see such a passionate response. I tell you, it made those senators take notice. If we, as citizens, responded more passionately about the other areas of life that come under attack by our elected officials, our Maryland would be a much better place to live and raise a family.
Wednesday Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-129 would create a task force committee to study the implementation of a right to civil counsel in Maryland. The principal would be to create a mechanism for providing legal counsel for civil litigants so lower income citizens could have assistance in cases involving basic needs and services. This type of bill will be hamstrung by funding issues, but the concept should be studied.
HB-130 addresses the issue of awarding attorney fees and expenses by the courts. The advocates testified that many cases do not move forward since they are not monetary based and the attorney would have difficulty taking such a case due to the financial implications. This bill would allow a Maryland judge to allow for the awarding of attorney fees in such cases is deemed appropriate by the court. There is some degree of confusion as to what courts this might apply.
HB-186  would create a Law Enforcement Training and Technology Fund by assessing a $5.00 fee on court costs for traffic violations. The money collected would be distributed to the counties through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control. This fund exists within the governor’s budget, but has never been funded.

(In Ways and Means testifying with Delegate Fisher on HB-106)

Bill Hearing on HB-106 (Repeal SB-236):
This afternoon I had my hearing on the repeal of last year’s Sustainable Growth-Septic Bill, HB-106. What a great turnout from the shore and the rest of Maryland. The testimony took a couple of hours and I heard from some of the folks on the committee who supported the governor’s bill last year that may be having a change of heart after listening to the folks today. While we had many come up for the 2nd Amendment rally on the mall today, a significant number came to testify to repeal a bill that is a jobs killer and a taking of land rights and value with no compensation to the owner. It truly represents a great land grab by the governor and I was proud to stand with Delegate Fisher (R-St. Mary’s) and make a passionate plea for them to move forward with a full repeal of this legislation. I want to thank all those who took the time to travel from all over this great state to speak out on this very important subject.
Photo: Presenting in Ways and Means with Delegate Fisher.
(Click here to see testimony-start time was 3:19 pm)
Bill Hearing on HB-188 (Generator Tax Credit):
My hearing on HB-188 was conducted before the Ways and Means Committee this afternoon. The bill allows for a tax credit of up to $7000.00 for gas stations who install emergency power generation equipment. The credit would be provided against their State Corporate Income Tax liability. I showed a prepared video of the problems encountered following Hurricane Sandy. The members asked several thoughtful questions and I believe the bill may have a chance at moving forward.
(Click here to see testimony-start time is 3:09pm)
Thursday Morning Session:
We had a good debate this morning over HB-89 which would create a surcharge tax on natural gas consumers in Maryland of up to $2.00 per month. It was said that this would “protect” consumers by putting a cap on the amount that can be charged for replacement projects on underground pipe. It was argued that these fees area already factored into utility rates by the Public Service Commission and they have the ability to include these increases in the rates at anytime they feel it is warranted. Originally, I liked the idea of a cap being in place and supported the concept. In the end, there were too many unanswered questions and potential outcomes that moved me to be unfavorable on the bill.
Thursday Special Committee on SB-281 (Gun Bill):
We heard from the State Superintendent of Public Schools and her staff regarding school safety. As one might expect, their position and approach tended to be very academic. They do not like the idea of introducing any firearms into the security equation as an option. They do not like the idea of electronic control devices either. In fact, they did not even like the idea of off-duty or retired police having the ability to carry firearms on their campuses. They want to spend the money on locking doors and training people how to respond.  This is alright, but we know that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Their failure to embrace this notion is disturbing.
Thursday Judiciary Hearings:
HB-257 seeks a change to the makeup of the local St. Mary’s Adult Protective Services Board. Currently the law requires a psychologist be one of the members and the board has had trouble keeping this particular position filled.
HB-277 would change the manner of hearings conducted before the judiciary in cases involving children in need of assistance. It would add a new review hearing to be conducted within 6-months of a child being brought into the system. This would be a minor extension of the hearing schedule already being conducted.
HB-278 would require the notification at least 10-days prior to any hearing involving a child be made to a foster parent, caregiver, or pre-adoptive parent.  This is in response to a federal mandate requiring these actions to bring Maryland into compliance with federal law. It is requested by the Maryland Judiciary.
HB-200 would make strangulation a First Degree Assault as opposed to a Second Degree Assault. There was testimony that this issue needs to be addressed to deal with domestic violence assaults. Since Second Degree Assault already carries a 10-year penalty, the committee seemed reluctant to increase the penalty for any degree of strangulation or choking as the full penalty is rarely being applied.
HB-178 is a bill that would strengthen the Dangerous Dog Law. It covers issues surrounding registration with Animal Control and dog owner liability when it comes to protecting the public from dog bites and attacks. The committee is attempting to address the Dangerous Dog Law in light of recent court decisions which make Pit Bulls, by definition, a “dangerous breed”. I believe a bill one bill will come out of the committee to address this issue.
HB-618 would place a strict liability standard on all dogs which are considered to be “running at large”. This is the bill which was favored by the Judiciary Committee during one of the Special Sessions in 2012.
Judiciary Voting Session:
The following bills were approved by the committee:
HB-12; HB-116
Friday Eastern Shore Delegation Meeting:
We heard from Sec. of Agriculture Buddy Hance today and generally it was discouraging. Former Ag Secretaries always found a kindred spirit in the Eastern Shore Delegation, but that is not true for Sec. Hance. While previous Ag Secretaries often fought against the Governor’s proposals tried to minimize the damage for the farming communities, Sec. Hance seems to accept the environmental push down of fees and over regulation as unavoidable and offers rarely a whimper of objection. Much of this was pointed out by Sen. Pipkin. Sen. Mathias defended the governor and the administration. I’m quite sure our previous Ag Secretaries from the shore would have already resigned in protest of the administration’s actions. The fact that Sec. Hance feet remain fixed speaks volumes.

We also heard from the Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) representatives who painted a very bleak picture of their industries status in Maryland. New House construction is not even close to meeting a sustainability number for the industry. Folks are still reporting 1-2 year wait times and delays for permit approvals. We heard from the banking side of industry which highlighted the damage to borrowing power done by last year’s Septic Bill (SB-236). When you contrast our decline with our neighboring states progress, it appears very unlikely that we can recover. The industry is expanding in Delaware at the same rate it is contracting in Maryland.

The Mayor’s Association was in town for meetings and we had Mayor Gee Williams from Berlin and Mayor Bruce Morrison along with his wife Laura in attendance at the meeting. I also had the privilege of being shadowed by Jack Fager who came with his mom Michelle from Ocean City to see Maryland government in action.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Field Notes By Delegate Mike McDermott

Feb. 3rd, 2013

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
By Delegate Michael A. McDermott
Week 4  Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2013
Tuesday Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-116 would allow for what is commonly referred to as “one-way” wire taps for crimes involving vulnerable adults. Current law allows for use of this type of recording for a multitude of crimes from Murder to Obstruction of Justice. This bill would add crimes against vulnerable adults to the list. We heard from several folks about the need for this mechanism to assist in these crimes, particularly many that cannot even speak for themselves.HB-156 would increase the fee of removing a shopping cart from a store premise from $25 to $100. The penalty has been in place since the 1950’s and it is believed that the increased penalty would help keep people from removing the carts for fear of prosecution. This crime is already covered by the current Theft statute which carries a more significant penalty of up to $500. I suggested that Montgomery County create a local civil penalty to encourage enforcement that could target their particular problem with these cart thefts.HB-154 would provide that someone who is sentenced in a District Court case who is convicted and sentenced who is entitled a second (new) trial before the Circuit Court would  be allowed to have their sentence stayed pending the outcome of their appeal to the Circuit Court. It would act to release people from incarceration (who have already been convicted) while their case is on appeal. According to testimony, it is unclear if anyone is having difficulty receiving an Appeal Bond while they wait for their Circuit Court trial and this may not even be a problem.HB-152 seeks to limit the double jeopardy which can occur when a case is tried before a Federal Court which could also have jurisdiction in a State Court. It basically makes the government choose the jurisdiction in which it wants to pursue a case against an individual.

Special Committee on Gun Legislation: Today the committee received an overview of the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill. We went over the major components of the legislation asking questions along the way for clarification. I have broken the bill down and, although it is not an exhaustive review, it provides a good overview. It can be viewed at this link:
Gun Bill Overview.

Wednesday Session-State of the State Speech
Today, all the pomp and circumstance of a joint session in the House of Delegates where we listen to Governor O’Malley tell us how he sees the condition of our state. The governor began by referencing the Ravens, and, had he stopped there, it would have been the most uniting speech of his career. It went downhill from there. The governor is a big government guy and he believes it all the way. He pointed to a list of accomplished areas such as education where Maryland receives “number one” ratings from certain select sources. Essentially, if a state government is willing to outspend us as a percentage of their assigned state funding on education, they can dethrone us. This is also true for our willingness to spend money we do not have to provide various services across the board for anyone who asks. For instance, we are certainly not “number one” in the outcome of the education we provide, but let’s not look at those statistics. I do not blame the governor for drawing attention to areas where the state has been awarded a blue ribbon by some magazine or association, but our failure to be intellectually honest about how we achieve the ranking only hurts our future by focussing on the wrong measure of success: outcome!

Here are some of the governor’s concluding remarks. Where he refers to “a random shuffling of the deck”, he must have been alluding to this speech and our direction as a state. ..
I leave you with these thoughts:
Life is an ever evolving story of change and choice –letting go of things and ways that were, in order to reach for that which we have yet to achieve.
It is not some random shuffling of the deck, or a tossing of cards.  Life is an intentional process, and it calls for the goodness of our own intentions.
We, here in Maryland, are called to work at the center of this intentional movement.  For every decision we make, there is a future foretold.
Jobs and opportunity; public safety, public education, public transportation, the health of our people and the health of our planet. These are our concerns; and they are also the world’s concerns.”-Governor Martin O’Malley
Go here to read the entire speech

Wednesday Judiciary Hearings:HB-163 would eliminate the Office of Orphans Court Judge from Anne Arrundel County and replace them with the Circuit Court. It was supported by the Anne Arrundel Delegation but was opposed strongly by many judges of the Orphans Court across Maryland. Based upon what I heard and observed, this bill is going nowhere.HB-150 would require that a person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident where a fatality or serious injury occurs cannot refuse to submit to a test of breath or blood to determine alcohol concentration. This bill seeks to increase the number of drivers tested  and an overall strengthening of DWI enforcement in Maryland in accident cases. There was only token resistance offered by the Office of the Public Defender.HB-78 is the “Pit Bull” legislation which seeks to mitigate the court case which made all owners of Pitt Bull dogs liable for any attacks, damage, or bites inflicted by the dog. This bill would provide that an owner can provide evidence to show that they had no reason to believe the dog in question was previously aggressive (a rebuttable presumption). Effectively, this bill will widen the liability incurred by dog owners in general as opposed to being breed specific. The impression from the co sponsors of the legislation is that the bill is a compromise and does not reflect the will of the House of Delegates in a bill which was passed last year by the House. The hearing was long with many people testifying on the bill.

Thursday Afternoon Judiciary-Budget Briefing
We received our
annual budget fiscal briefing by Director Warren Deschenaux of the Office of Policy Analysis from the Dept. of Legislative Services. Overall spending increases over 6%. There are hundreds of millions in new spending and some restoration funding. The budget includes a 3% COLA for State employees as well as Merit raises. Our debt service currently stands at $100 million, but more state spending involves trading current dollars for bonds (debt). This will increase our debt service in coming years to over half a billion dollars which will have a significant impact on future budgets. It is the proverbial kicking of the can down the road. The next two administrations will be addressing the folly of the current administrations spending policies.

There is a new $25 million fund for School Security (this will not go far across an entire state). The budget throws a one time bone to municipal governments by giving them a slight increase for local transportation issues. This is nowhere near the 90% amount the governor took from local government funding several years ago. Ironically, the governor does not call for increasing any funding for the counties in this regard. Some of these breakdowns can be found on page 5 at the above link.

Special Committee on Gun Legislation: Today the committee heard from Dr. Daniel Webster (John Hopkins) and Secretary Joshua Sarfstein (MD Dept. of Health) regarding studies on gun violence and firearms registration components instituted by various jurisdictions. The relevance of the information was questionable as there was no comparison/contrast with what Maryland is currently doing in this regard. Some information that would have been helpful was simply missing from the presentation.

Press Conference on Gun Bill: There was a
Senate-House Press Conference on the O’Malley-Brown Gun Bill. Sadly, while Republicans are standing up to the assault on the 2nd Amendment, so far the Democrats have been mostly silent with any opposition. Only Senator John Astle and Delegate Kevin Kelly have spoken up against the bill.

Friday Morning Eastern Shore Delegation Meeting:
The Delegation met with Secretary Joshua Sharfstein of the MD Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. We also met with representatives of various Hospice organizations from the Eastern Shore who reported on their activities. We received an update from the folks representing the Healthy Families Programs and agreed to write a letter to support a funding increase. Minutes from the meeting are available at this link:
Delegation Minutes 2-1-13.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Painting Classes At Delmarva Discovery Center

Watercolor Classes With Artist Willie Crockett
Artist Willie Crockett
10 classes on Monday evenings beginning
 Monday  February 4th and ending April 8th 2013.
6:00 PM until  9:00 PM
Ten classes for the fee of $150.
Incredible price, incredible teacher and Artist.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reform Economic Development To Attract Jobs

Annapolis, MD - Change Maryland proposed solutions today to generate jobs, focusing specifically on the state's economic development efforts. The National Governor's Association recently examined what states can do to advance job creation by re-evaluating traditional approaches to economic development, providing much of the underpinnings in Change Maryland's proposed solutions. Developing a performance monitoring system - a key recommendation of the nations' governors - will enhance the state's credibility within the government itself,  business community and individuals of all political parties interested in job growth.

"People demand a modern government that is honest, open and transparent in the way it does things," said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  "Nowhere is that more important than the critical task of attracting jobs to Maryland."

The NGA report highlights “Virginia Performs” which tracks a wide range of data, most notably business climate and employment growth.  A performance trend indicator - improving, maintaining, worsening – discloses the strengths and weaknesses in Virginia's economy.  Such a system in Maryland would evaluate and transform data into actionable intelligence for forging bipartisan policy solutions in the General Assembly and regulatory agencies.    Data available to inform such policy decisions range from federal economic statistics to private third-party metrics which Change Maryland has been collecting, reporting and analyzing.  

"There is no reason that Democrats, Republicans and Independents can't work together on the shared goals of increasing employment," said Hogan.  "First we need to get on the same page and provide basic economic information in one place so we can see where we are going and how to get there."

The Change Maryland report, "Solutions for Increasing Economic Performance and Jobs," is a candid assessment of the state's current economic development efforts, the focal point of which is Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development.   Both culturally and organizationally, DBED is a political marketing agency, not a job creating organization.

"We need to ramp up our state's economic development efforts and return to our core mission of attracting jobs," said Hogan. "Maryland can become a leader in economic development and attracting jobs."

Another key Change Maryland solution to attracting jobs is to reorganize DBED to emphasize recruiting business facilities - corporate headquarters, warehouses, office space and the like - to Maryland.  Currently, department resources prioritize administrative and marketing functions over facilities recruitment.

Change Maryland proposes sweeping reforms to DBED in three broad areas:

1. Increase Transparency
2. Measure Internal Performance
3. Reorganize to Attract Jobs



"Solutions for Increasing Economic Performance and Jobs"

Friday, September 14, 2012

Legislative Updates From Delegate Mike McDermott

Voter Fraud Investigation Demand
  • Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities

  • By Delegate Mike McDermott

  • Mike McDermott: “ The allegations against Wendy Rosen make her the Poster Child for Voter Fraud”

    (Annapolis) -- Delegate Mike McDermott (R), representing Maryland's Eastern Shore, is calling upon Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations of fraud committed by former 1st District Congressional Candidate Wendy Rosen. The former Democratic candidate was a challenger in the race against incumbent Congressman Andy Harris (R).

    "At a time when many declare we should not be concerned about 'voter fraud,’ the disqualified 1st Congressional District Candidate, Wendy Rosen, makes the perfect poster child " stated Delegate Mike McDermott. "These allegations must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as a vigilant reminder that our elections are precious and must be protected” continued Delegate McDermott.

    Delegate McDermott has requested an investigation of the allegations that Ms. Rosen voted in the states of Maryland and Florida during the same election cycle. The delegate went on to say, "Her [Rosen's] outrageous conduct has resulted in an attack on our strong two-party election process that should not go unpunished.  We expect more from our electorate and we must demand our candidates lead by example."

    Formal requests were filed with both Offices of the Attorney Generals Gansler (Maryland) and Bondi (Florida) requesting the investigation of alleged fraud committed by Rosen in their respective jurisdictions.

    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    Concert In Byrd Park - Snow Hill- Tomorrow

    Last concert for the season

    U.S. Army's Field Band "The Volunteers"
    Sunday   August 19, 2012
    3:30 pm

    Bring your families, blankets, and lawn chairs to the park and enjoy a wide variety of music.

    Special Session Reaps Dividends for Lower Shore - by Delegate Michael McDermott

    "Infusing Republican Principles into a Democratic Bill"

    The recent Special Session centered on the business of gaming in Maryland. As the governor sought support for the legislation, I was provided an open opportunity to help craft a bill which will do more to support our local interests. This dialogue resulted in significant changes to the bill which will have a tremendous impact across the state, on the lower shore, and, specifically, for Worcester County.

    When the original bill was passed in 2007 authorizing casinos in Maryland, a significant portion of our local impact money was sent to Baltimore City (18%) and Prince George’s County ($1 million). This was hardly appropriate as neither entity was being impacted by Ocean Downs. This was found out, after the fact, when somebody decided to read the bill.

    My discussions focussed on these kickbacks to the western shore. We also reviewed the restrictions placed on Ocean Downs which are not applied to any other site in the state (they included: no hotel, no convention center, no free food or drinks, and limited entertainment to a single piano player). My discussions with Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan indicated a strong desire to keep the restrictions in place, but an understanding that some flexibility on the entertainment issue may be reasonable. I expressed this in my negotiations and the mayor also lobbied Senate President Miller and House Speaker Busch.

    The result was a bill which addressed the restrictions while relaxing the entertainment provisions. Further, it provided an additional $200,000.00 annual grant to Worcester County and a 5% return of local impact money achieved from table games in Prince George’s County to Worcester County. It also provided relief for the owner/operators by reducing their tax rate from 67% to 57%, a recognition by the Lottery Commission that Ocean Downs has been posting losses over $2 million since opening. It was a good start, but it did not address the 18% transfer to Baltimore City.

    With the bill in the House of Delegates, I worked toward the goal of making the bill better. Two amendments were offered which made a significant difference. As a member of the Veteran’s Caucus, I was pleased that we were able to secure support for an amendment allowing American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War Posts in the state to have a few slot machines just as those on the Eastern Shore have had for years. Proceeds will be directed to our veterans through established funds while also supporting the local posts and lodges. This provision had been sought for years and I was happy that the opportunity had finally arrived.

    The issue of Baltimore City’s cut of our local impact dollars was also addressed by way of a House amendment. That change will return 100% of the money to us which had previously been given to Baltimore City, and it will happen for all three rural casinos. This was a big win.

    It is interesting that the democrats have confessed by this legislation that cutting taxes and reducing regulations are good for business and job growth in Maryland. As many of our businesses are hurting and jobs are on the line, perhaps they will be willing to do for all Maryland business and industry what they have seen as needed for gaming. I will be reminding them on a regular basis.

    This legislation will result in thousands of jobs (permanent and temporary) created in Maryland and billions in economic investment. Now the matter will go to the voters in November.

    If you believe there is a "war on rural Maryland", this marks the beginning of reparations.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Delegate Mike McDermott: 2nd Ammendment Ruling

    Let Freedom Ring Out...One Round at a Time
    by Delegate Michael A. McDermott

    There are always challenges living in a free society. Perhaps the first is ensuring that freedom continues to prosper corporately, and the second is to ensure that one’s personal freedom is not ravaged by those who may seek to do harm.

    Our wise founders took care of both in declaring our freedom and then establishing our collective Constitution to protect the essence of that liberty. Like many liberal states in the Union, Maryland has long rejected the rights of individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm through the use of a firearm concealed on their person. Denying them this liberty became the subject of a lawsuit known as the “Woollard Case”.

    In recent days, the Hon. Judge Benson Legg of the Federal Court of Appeals has issued his awaited order in the case declaring that Maryland’s “good and substantial cause” standard represents an unconstitutional burden for Marylanders.

    The court has clearly stated that our people do not need a “good and substantial” reason to exercise their God given (and Constitutionally recognized) right to protect themselves and their loved ones with a firearm at all times. The burden does not rest on the individual to prove they have a need, and this ruling will require the Maryland State Police to come up with new standards when it comes to the issuance of Carry Permits.

    This is not the end of the fight, but it represents a true milestone in the battle to have Maryland join the majority of states which do not stand unnecessarily in the way of their citizens right to wear and carry firearms. Kudos to those who have fought the good fight. Particular praise should be ascribed to Delegate Michael Smeigel (R-Cecil) who has been rock steady in raising the questions in the House Judiciary Committee in recent years. His work has not gone unnoticed and has truly defined the position of the Maryland State Police when it comes to the issuance of Handgun Carry Permits on the record.

    States that have trusted their citizens with the right to carry firearms have benefitted from lower murder rates and fewer violent crimes. States that have stood in the way of their people continue to struggle.

    The bottom line in Maryland is this: If you want to protect a piece of gold on your way to the bank, the state will allow you, as a merchant, to have a permit to carry a firearm while making the deposit. If you want to transport diamonds from one place to another, the state will allow you to protect your property with a concealed firearm. Yet, up until this decision, the same state police will not allow you to conceal a firearm to protect your family when you take a trip to the mall.

    There is something terribly skewed when we place greater value on jewelry and money than we do on those we love. Is there any question of “greater value” in these cases? While carrying a firearm may not be the choice of everyone, it should be recognized as a precious right of a free people. It should not be up for debate.

    A government “of the people” should not fear those same people and their right of self protection. When government steps in to differentiate between certain rights over others, the red flags should go up in the hearts of all who love freedom.

    I encourage all who desire one to file the required paperwork for a Wear and Carry Permit with the Maryland State Police. Clearly, the burden for a citizen to prove a need has been lifted. The burden now rests with the state to find a legitimate reason to deny the right.

    The battle is far from over, but Judge Legg has ruled in favor of the Constitution, and that is good news for Marylanders. Now on to the Supreme Court for an exclamation point!