Showing posts with label delegate michael mcdermott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label delegate michael mcdermott. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

Field Notes
Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
Feb. 24th, 2013

Week 7  Feb.18-Feb. 22, 2013
Tuesday Meeting-Special Work Group on Gun Bill:
Today, we heard from many psychiatric professionals regarding their thoughts on addressing the mental health aspects of the governor’s gun bill. They shared many concerns regarding folks who may choose to forgo treatment if it has a direct impact on their right to possess a firearm. We also spoke about where effective lines could be drawn as to when a restriction should come into play. There was not a lot of give with these folks and I could hear some frustration with my colleagues on this unwillingness to address the concerns expressed about finding this measuring line.
Tuesday Judiciary Hearing:HB-476 seeks to correct technical challenges to the legislation that was passed last year regarding bail bonds written for alien defendants. It would not hold bondsmen responsible for alien defendants who are deported by US authorities while under bond.HB-489 would provide that a State’s Attorney or Asst. State’s Attorney should be covered by laws covering threats against public officials. This is a result of a recent homicide of an Asst. State’s Attorney on the western shore after she had received many threats from an individual.HB-531 would create a new theft charge relating to mail which is taken from any location. This would provide state sanctions that replicate federal law.HB-540 would require a foreign entity to honor a Search Warrant which is served on a person representing the entity in Maryland. This can often pose a problem for law enforcement to access court ordered records from larger corporations who do not hold their records or headquarters in Maryland.HB-544 deals with transfers of Registered Sex Offenders and would make it a requirement for local law enforcement to be notified when a registrant moves into their area. It was argued that current provisions within existing law already provide for this type of notification.HB-651 would create a specific charge for an inmate using a contraband cell phone while incarcerated. This bill has been modified each of the last two years and I believe it is very necessary given the current smuggling and use of cellular phones within our correctional facilities.HB-652 addresses the identity of a minor being disclosed when they are acting as an informant for law enforcement. The shielding would remain until the trial begins.HB-709 would expand the penalties for the crime of Accessory to Commit Murder: in 1st Degree cases to a 20-year maximum; and in 2nd Degree cases to a 10-year maximum. This bill attempts to address some recent problems associated with significant support provided by accomplices to homicides. Many of these are grievous situations that a 5-year sentence simply does not provide adequate punishment.HB-713 would allow for the forfeiture of property utilized in human trafficking. Much like we confiscate and move for forfeiture in drug cases and other smuggling acts, we do not do so when it relates to human trafficking. We heard many speak passionately about the great need of the victims of this crime.HB-719 would allow a person who makes a false statement regarding a destructive device (a bomb threat) to be prosecuted in the jurisdiction where the alleged device is to have been planted. Often it is difficult to know where a call was made or to prove jurisdiction during prosecution and this would simplify the matter considerably. There was no opposition.HB-727 makes the crime of Theft over $100 and less than $1000 able to be charged via Criminal Citation. This charge was inadvertently taken out of last year’s Citation Bill and this bill simply restores this as a crime which can be charged with a citation. There was no opposition.HB-737 seeks to create a separate charge for defacing property with graffiti instead of simply charging the individuals with Malicious Destruction of Property.HB-1109 would require a comprehensive risk assessment be performed on defendants held under No Bond to determine if they truly represent a risk to the public if they are released. This would require quite a bit of personnel infrastructure in many areas of the state.
  would require a member of the Chief’s Association of Prince Georges County to be appointed to the Maryland Police Training Commission. I believe we would see other metro counties seek similar representation if this is approved.
Wednesday Meeting-Special Work Group on Gun Bill:Today we heard from the Baltimore County Chief of Police. He is an advocate for the governor’s gun bill. There was no new information exchanged. The chief believes reducing magazine capacity creates an opportunity for unarmed people to attack a shooter when he is forced to reload. I asked him that if he advocated an attack, why not allow the people to be armed in the first place so they could truly defend themselves. He rejected that notion out of hand. As a police officer, he made it clear that he never goes anywhere without being armed, but he does not see this as desirable for the law abiding public. He also believes that gun registration and fingerprinting would stop straw purchases of firearms. It is tough for liberals to give up on their policies even when they have limited success.
Wednesday Judiciary Hearing:HB-629 seeks to provide some protections for bank customers when a garnishment is attempted against a joint account held by married couples. The bill would notify an individual of their entitled exemption of $3000 by the holders of the account.HB-509 this would create a Maryland False Claims Act of 2013. This is designed to cover the Whistle Blowers who detect fraud being performed within business or government entities. It would establish in Maryland what already exists within the federal government. Currently we allow for this type of action within our Medicaid system and health care, and this would expand the law to cover all manner of fraud.HB-599 would require employers to pay the wages of an employee to attend to the requirements of Jury Duty. This bill would have a significant impact on Maryland businesses by forcing them to pay for a traditional civic duty.HB-732 seeks to include “unmarked” police vehicles under the statute governing Fleeing and Eluding from a Law Enforcement Officer. It was pointed out the changing nature of police vehicles over the years and the lights and sirens employed which further identify them as police vehicles. There was no opposition.HB-765 would qualify the testimony of a Drug Recognition Expert and their opinion as acceptable as evidence in Maryland courts. It would accept the protocols which have been scientifically accepted.HB-821 would allow certain disclosures of otherwise privileged communication between a psychiatrist and their patient. In particular where criminal activity is discussed or a threat is made directly against the psychiatrist and the disclosure is being utilized in court to prove a case. The psychologists testified of the need to protect their doctors from threats, but I found it interesting that they do not feel the same obligation for disclosing directly to police on other threats made during their treatment sessions.HB-987 would create another level of crime for those convicted of multiple DWI’s or for operating with a blood alcohol level beyond a certain level and allow for punitive damages to be awarded to victims of these acts.HB-1271 would create protections for the use of a name or likeness (usually someone with celebrity status) in the state. This is similar to copyright or trademark laws.
Thursday Morning Session:HB-226
, the governor’s offshore wind bill, was on 2nd Reader. A couple of amendments were offered to try and make the bill better. I offered one which would have required that suppliers purchase their green energy from the least expensive provider. This would greatly reduce the cost for energy being passed onto consumers. This was rejected by the democrats. Another amendment was offered by Del. McDonough which would have required that the production of the wind turbines would need to be performed in America. This was also rejected by the democrats. So a chance to give consumers a break and to make sure any jobs would actually be in the United States were summarily rejected.
Thursday Judiciary Hearings:HB-442 seeks to codify current procedures already in place with Child Care Providers across the state.HB-282 addresses the expungement of Juvenile Records. This would allow for greater expungement of juvenile records when certain criteria are met. Some actions would preclude someone from qualifying as would an established period of time which needed to elapse before a person would qualify.HB-245 would require that a health practitioner report any infant that is deemed to be “substance exposed” if certain factors exist. Ironically, the bill only addresses a child that is outside of the womb. There was quite a bit of discussion concerning whether the bill could address pre-natal issues. It was clear from the testimony that the reporting requirement is not applicable under the proposed law unless the child is outside of the womb.HB-264 would allow for the sharing of certain Juvenile Records to other states and their respective juvenile authorities. This bill has been refined since it was presented last year.HB-539 would require the reporting of the death or disappearance of a minor.HB-428 would require a college or university to disclose and report allegations of abuse. It is designed to prevent something like what occurred in Pennsylvania (the Sandusky case) where reporting requirements were unclear as to sexual assaults committed by faculty and staff members.HB-588 would allow the Baltimore City Health Department to access certain criminal  records for juveniles involved in specified activities and criminal activity. The bill is a continuation of a current practice that sunset in September of 2012.HB-876
would create a civil penalty for failing to report acts of Child Abuse and mandate reporting by certain individuals. It would also create a task for to look at other options going forward. The fines levied would be used to further prevention and detection of child abuse.
Friday Morning Session:
We had a special Joint Session recognition service to honor the 100th anniversary of the Woman’s Suffrage March which began the legislative movement to give women the right to vote. We began with only the men occupying the Chamber (there are 86) and the women members came in together. It was a good history lesson for everyone.
Voting on Third Reader Bills:
The only debated bill was the governor’s Offshore Wind Bill,
HB-226. I have written more extensively on the many problems with this legislation. I believe the bill is a true boondoggle and I highlighted the issues before the assembly. Sadly, this bill is a “leadership vote” and most of the democrat’s line up and vote for these with little thought. Such was the case today as well…a bad day for consumers.
HB 1
Third Reading Passed (132-0)HB 70
Third Reading Passed (135-0)HB 99
Third Reading Passed (135-0)HB 103
Third Reading Passed (131-4)HB 206
Third Reading Passed (133-0)HB 226
Third Reading Passed (86-48)HB 262
Third Reading Passed (133-2)HB 312
Third Reading Passed (134-0)HB 346
Third Reading Passed (135-0)HB 359
Third Reading Passed (133-0)HB 425
Third Reading Passed (134-0)HB 494
Third Reading Passed (134-0)
Friday Voting Session of Judiciary Committee:
Bills which were voted “favorable” by the Committee which will move to 2nd Reader
HB-83-Adds to the number of judge positions across the state.HB-153-Addresses Public Defender representation at certain Bail HearingsHB-197-Adds 5 points to a person’s Driver’s License if convicted of Illegal DumpingHB-244-Grants subpoena power to certain individuals within Dept. of Corrections Adm.HB-254-Allows Allegany County Jail to hold prisoners pending Initial Appearance.HB-309
-Allows for discovery proceedings to aid enforcement in monetary settlements.
Senate Action-Gun Bill
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed
SB-281, the governor’s gun bill, out of committee with amendments. It will be introduced to the full Senate on Monday and the debate will begin on Tuesday. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

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.