Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Field Notes ~ By Delegate Mike McDermott

Field Notes

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
By Delegate Mike McDermott
Week 1: Jan. 7-10, 2014
Tuesday-Joint Republican Caucus Hearing
Republican Senators and Delegates heard overviews on several of the issues that we will need to address in the coming months. We heard from Travis Brown, the author of “How Money Walks”. He provided insight into how money and people are moving from state to state. Maryland is one of the states that are losing people and money at an alarming rate.

Al Redmer provided information on the problems associated with Maryland-Obamacare roll out and other issues that are causing folks to be without health insurance or unable to afford what is being offered. The situation in Maryland is a real mess and there is talk of closing down the program and turning people over to the federal government program which only further confuses folks.

Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation and Dr. Jack Smith from the Maryland Dept. of Education presented two differing sides on the Common Core rollout in our schools. This change of standards has caused quite a stir and left many with unanswered questions. I questioned Dr. Smith on a couple of items: Why was the program not phased in beginning with First Grade instead of requiring wholesale change even for those preparing to graduate? Why would Maryland (which lauds being “First” in the country in education) choose to move away from local controls which have been so effective in the past? Why should we adopt a program that gives partial credit on tests for wrong answers?
Dr. Smith’s answers: He does not know why the program was not phased in…this is the way it was presented (i.e.…if Maryland liberals want the money they have to dance for their supper). He feels adopting the new standards will keep us progressive in our education. Perhaps most interesting was his response to the kids receiving partial credit for wrong answers: He believes it is acceptable to give credit where a student has tried and showed some work product even if the final outcome was in error. To which I replied: “Doc, I do not want to drive over a Bay Bridge built by an engineer who got partial credit for a wrong math answer…how about you?”
We received an update from MACO President Rick Pollitt (Wicomico Executive) on Local and Regional Transportation Funding. Local governments continue to feel the pain of missing Transportation Funds that the state has failed to restore. Pollitt advised us how the group was looking for greater flexibility in local taxing authority as one means of covering these lost revenue. We agreed that the local tax burden for many counties was already maxed out and the citizens could not afford another back door tax to replace taxes they already pay for road projects. It is a grim picture, and, as I have stated many times, it represents a new normal for local government when it comes to returns of tax money from the state so long as these same folks are running the General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion.
Congressman Andy Harris provided an update on federal activities and responded to several questions that were asked. Many focused on Obamacare and federal spending.
Wednesday-Opening of 2014 Session:
Opening Day begins at noon and is generally scripted ceremony along the lines of a spaghetti western. This year was slightly modified since the Republican Caucus decided to nominate Minority Leader Nick Kipke for Speaker of the House. Of course, the nomination was defeated on a voice vote. Following a scripted process, Busch was elected to continue as the Speaker of the House. No one could recall the last time the minority party nominated one of their own for the Speaker’s position.
Here is a list of my pre filed bills. Some have already been assigned hearing dates in January.
A curious side note occurred: Mayor Carl Anderton of Delmar, who is also the President of the Maryland Municipal League, was in attendance along with folks like Executive Rick Pollitt, who is President of the Maryland Association of Counties. It is common for elected guests such as Pollitt and Anderton to be allowed a special seat on the floor of the House during the Opening Day ceremonies. While Executive Pollitt had a seat, Anderton was told there was no seat available for him on the floor. There were well over 10-seats available. It made many of us ponder if there was any connection between this slight and the Mayor’s candidacy for the Delegate seat currently held by Norm Conway. If so, it would be an incredibly petty act on the part of leadership.
Thursday Morning Session:
No much to report. Some bills were on First Reader and assigned to committees.
Special Republican Caucus Meeting:
A meeting was called on Thursday morning to discuss the Democrat leadership plan to potentially expel Delegate Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arrundel) from the House. Dwyer explained the situation (Boating Accident/Subsequent DWI), apologized for his actions, and detailed his reclamation actions. He indicated his acceptance of the punishment outlined for him which included his expulsion from the Ways and Means Committee.
Delegate Dwyer is not the first member to ever have issues arise from drinking and driving and subsequent legal battles. There are some prominent members of the Democratic side of the House who have faced similar situations in the past.
Friday Morning Session:
Other than a few bills on First Reader, the only other action was the removal of Delegate Dwyer from his committee assignment while maintaining full House privileges. Dwyer took to the floor and apologized to the body bringing the wrong kind of attention to the House of Delegates. He also indicated his willingness to accept the actions taken by the House leadership and his committee removal. He asked for forgiveness from the membership. There were no further comments or actions requested or taken by the members.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

How Not to Grow an Economy, Part 2
  • By  Delegate Mike McDermott

  • May. 14th, 2013

    When Pennies Become Dollars:
    How To Not Grow an Economy, Part 2
    When it comes to raising taxes, no one can minimize like a Maryland liberal. During the previous two regular sessions of the General Assembly, one can find unimpeachable evidence of how they sell a tax by the penny while beguiled Marylanders will pay a pound at the register. Consider these examples of their “bait and switch” mastery:
    The “Rain Tax” (HB-987) was tucked away in 2012 with an action date set for 10-counties on July 1st of this year. The lower shore local governments are not compelled to collect a Rain Tax from their people, though some jurisdictions are moving ahead with plans to do so. This tax is designed to pay for infrastructure improvements to address storm water management issues (many believe that this is what they pay Property Taxes for in the first place). This tax is being “marketed” as being only $20 to $50 per homeowner annually as they are assigned a flat rate no matter the size or scope of their property. The same rates do not apply for business property.

    Commercial properties, hospitals, churches, schools, etc. will be required to pay a tax rate based upon the square footage of impervious surface which they have on their respective properties. Sidewalks, driveways, and rooftops all count in figuring how much the owner, corporation, or congregation must pay. Suffice it to say, there will be no $20 bills for these properties. In fact, some of these commercial properties with their significant parking lots could easily find themselves paying in the $15,000 range and up. Just imagine the bill for a mall property!  What do you suppose a business owner or corporation with a tight bottom line  is going to do about paying this new tax? They will have little choice but to pass it on to their customers through higher costs at the register…yet they tell us it will “only cost a homeowner $20 per year!” That 20 bucks is the least of our worries.

    How about those “green” wind turbines off our coast? (SB-275)  Well, those same folks claim the new Electricity Tax will cost you less than “$2.00 per month”. What a deal! What they do not tell you is the Electricity Tax for business and commercial properties is going to be significant and will be in proportion to the amount of electricity utilized. It is so significant; the poultry growers were able to lobby hard to be exempted from most of this new burden, but not so for every other business entity in the state.

    Supermarkets are big consumers of electricity as are retail stores. Who is going to pay for the added expense that these business entities will be forced to absorb to pay for this boondoggle? It will be those same folks who were told, “You will pay less than $2.00 per month on your bill”. The folks that propose this nonsense appear to have zero conception of how a business actually operates, or perhaps they believe our business community is flush with cash and will simply take it out of their marginal profits. Well how about local government? Schools, government buildings, street lights, all will be subjected to these higher rates resulting in a direct pass through to the taxpayer. How’s that “$2.00” sounding now?
    These are the same people who just handed you a perpetual gasoline tax (HB-1515) which will increase like clockwork every July 1st and be forever linked to the consumer price index (CPI). So, when the cost of everything else goes up in your hard working life, the price of your misery at the pump will rise in proportion to the pain you experience everywhere else in your budget.  Don’t worry, if the CPI ever drops, the same legislators rejected any amendments to make the tax decrease in like manner. They also rejected the idea of some type of cap on this tax.
    Keeping this in perspective and doing the math, if they had established this same tax in 1992 linked to the CPI, Marylanders would be paying over $10.00 per gallon to fill their tanks. This adjustment would have been bad enough, but they have also added a new Sales Tax to the cost of fuel which will be phased in over the next four years. The net result will be an 80% increase in the Gasoline Taxes (currently at 24.5 cents per gallon).  Of course, this was sold to the public as “mere pennies” at the pump.
    So, what about the fact that 90% of the goods utilized on the Eastern Shore are trucked in overland? The cost of shipping goods always comes with the fuel cost factored into the overall price.

    Again I ask you, is there anyone who thinks that we will not be paying for increased cost of folks doing business with every purchase we make at a register? All of those “mere pennies” quickly add up to real dollars.
    As the government draws more money out of the economy through these new taxes and fees, taxpayers/consumers find themselves with fewer discretionary dollars. This always results in fewer dollars being put back into our local economy and every point of commerce suffers. When business slows, expansion is put on hold. When business suffers loss, people lose jobs.
    I am not sure where the disconnect lies with legislators who see nothing wrong with this tax and spend approach at governing, but I am quite sure the public is fully able to connect the dots. I was recently at a meeting of local business owners and entrepreneurs when a senator told them that what they could “conceive…the government would help them achieve”.  Sadly this was repeated so there was little doubt where he was coming from in his thoughts regarding the purpose and scope of government.
    The American dream is the recognition that if you can conceive an idea or a concept, your freedom and liberty will allow you to achieve it through personal dedication and the sweat of your own brow.  Liberty is the mortar that binds Conceiving and Achieving together. When our dreams become dependent upon the government to fulfill, we extinguish liberties flame and, along with it, the American Dream.


    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

    Week 8 Field Notes Feb.25-Mar. 1, 2013
  • Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities

  • Mar. 4th, 2013

    Week 8 Feb. 25-Mar. 1, 2013
    Monday Afternoon Hearing in Economic Matters:
    I presented
    HB-999 to the members of the Economic Matters Committee. The bill seeks some minor modifications of current liquor control laws governing only Worcester County and was requested by the Board of License Commissioners and the Worcester County Commissioners.Tuesday Judiciary Hearings:
    HB-698 would create a study of the feasibility for Ex-Offenders to be provided business development programs to promote entrepreneurships of the former inmates. Last year the bill required investing in the businesses of the former inmates, and this year it only seeks to study the issue.HB-909 would allow for the venue of a homicide scene to be the location where the body or parts of a body were recovered in instances where the establishment of a crime scene cannot be determined.HB-777 would allow Defendant Cash-Only Bail Bonds to be made by a private surety as opposed to only being made by the defendant.HB-933 would keep somebody charged with Human Trafficking saying, as a defense, that they did not know the age of the victim in the case.HB-943 would alter the crime of abducting a child under 16 years of age for the purposes of prostitution from a misdemeanor to a felony with a 10-20 year service. After reviewing the bill, it would seem better to simply eliminate this charge as a misdemeanor and simply allow a defendant to be charged with the general charge of Kidnapping which carries a 20-year sentence.HB-541 would allow for the state to issue a Certificate of Rehabilitation to an Ex-Offender who has successfully completed various established programs. The Certificate would provide a tangible way for our Division of Corrections to assert that an offender has been rehabilitated. It is thought that this may help former inmates become employable in many instances where before they were viewed with great skepticism.HB-787 would require a person be charged with Reckless Endangerment as a specific charge but it could not be considered a lesser charge for another offense unless specifically charged.HB-921 allows for victims of crimes to be provided a portion of the money earned by an inmate who is earning money while incarcerated.HB-1188 increases the age covered by the Human Trafficking statute from 18 to 21 years of age. It is believed this would aid in the prosecution of these crimes.HB-1112 would create a process for the release of an individual from custody for a person convicted but found Criminally Responsible. It would put the decision back before the Trial judge before a final disposition is rendered and a person released.HB-742 seeks to correct last year’s Citation bill which failed to capture a couple of misdemeanor charges which previously could be written via citation but now are not on the list. This bill corrects that omission.HB-891 would include Anne Arundel County to the list of counties who enhance penalties around the drug hot spot areas around a school zone.HB-1056 seeks to require sensitivity and awareness training for law enforcement personnel in Maryland to recognize the victims of human trafficking.HB-1018 seeks to create a task force to study the use of debt collectors through the office of a prosecutor to address “bad check” diversion programs. Some State’s Attorneys are utilizing these private services to assist in the collection of bad debts. The complaint was that this avoids due process.
    HB-1228 would create a commission to study the disproportionate justice impact on minorities.HB-887 would create a Search Warrant to obtain cell phone tracking information (commonly called “pinging” a location). The new technology is forcing law enforcement and the courts to examine the mechanism utilized when securing things such as cell phone records and locations. There would be an exemption for exigent circumstances where law enforcement needs to act with great speed.HB-854 would allow for the expungement of records for those persons who have been found “not criminally responsible” when the crimes are not of a violent nature. There may be some room for relief in these cases. I mentioned shielding of the records as opposed to expungement and this may be a starting point.HB-829 would require the Dept. of Corrections to adopt specific policies whereby pregnant detainees would not be shackled while they are receiving medical care relative to their pregnancy or while giving childbirth. We heard from witnesses how some of the procedures utilized by corrections staff have been overdone when it comes to securing an inmate under these circumstances. This needs to be weighed out between the issues surrounding public safety under these conditions and the bill appears to make these types of provisions.
    Wednesday Meeting of Gun Bill Work Group:
    We reviewed the amendments which had been applied to SB-281. Some represent significant modifications to the bill. The biggest changes are to the licensure process for the Handgun Qualification License which was amended to a 4 hour course at a cost of $50.00 (which does not include the cost of fingerprinting and background investigation). The Senate also added an additional feature requirement in order for a rifle to be considered an “Assault Weapon”.  They also altered the language to state that if a firearm was purchased in Maryland it would be considered to have been "registered" by the owner at the time of purchase. I will be reviewing the amendments and seeking to add additional changes and modifications to the bill as it moves through the House Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

    Wednesday Judiciary Committee Hearings:
    HB-626 would provide for increases in the salaries of the Register of Wills across the state. This is a standard review practice that adjusts wages on a periodic basis and would take effect in 2014.HB-942 seeks to tighten up the regulations governing medical records being protected from identity fraud.HB-658 would require the Register of Wills in every jurisdiction to submit a report to the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate JPR Committee. Since the issue is centered on one form, it seemed to have been worked out in the committee during deliberations.HB-1211 this is known as “Slayer’s Statute” and would prevent someone who murders another person from being able to profit from anything tied to those actions. We see this in cases involving the murder of one family member over another who may have been the person named in an estate. The idea that someone could profit in Maryland from the murder of another person is ludicrous, but we will need to pass this bill if it is to be the law in Maryland.HB-950 provides for increases in the salaries of the Clerk of Court positions across the state.  This is a standard review practice that adjusts wages on a periodic basis and would take effect in 2014.HB-837 would provide for the awarding of attorney’s fees and expenses in cases involving family farms when they prevail in suits filed for violations of environmental regulations impacting any waterway.HB-858 would modify the current Administration Law governing Estates and Trusts and the Inheritance Tax.
    Judiciary Committee Voting Session:
    Bills voted “Favorable” by the committee-
    HB-60, HB-152, HB-183, HB-250, HB-264, HB-278, HB-282,HB-311, HB-430,HB-476, HB-709, HB-719
    Thursday Morning Session:Bills Passed on Third Reader
    Of the bills passed this morning, one contains another Electric Tax/Fee that will be seen in every Maryland Consumers bill each month to continue funding the Environmental Trust Fund and various program areas. Once again, this was a “Sunset Bill” whose time had come and , of course, we renewed this tax on Marylanders without fail. These fees and taxes which the democrats often hide in plain sight are often sold to the body as being less onerous due to a “Sunset Provision” which promises to end the fee or tax collection at a date certain in the future. Sadly, the sun never sets on a tax or fee once instigated in Maryland. The same was true today with passage of HB-385.
    Thursday Judiciary Hearings:HB853 addresses Permanent Final Protective Orders and expands some of the provisions under such an Order when a 2nd Degree Assault charge is the subject of the Order.HB-792 allows the Washington County Sheriff to collect Child Support payments for inmates who are working while incarcerated. This is already allowed in many counties in Maryland and this would add Washington County to the list.HB-849 requires a different calculation for parents paying Child Support when multiple children are involved.HB-1099 seeks to craft legislative language to address reproductive rights when conception involves collaborative reproduction. It attempts to address intended parents versus the gestational rights of a surrogate in case there is a dispute.HB-715 addresses the issues surrounding the termination of parental rights in cases of rape.HB-1006 would create the ability to “shield” public access to certain non-violent misdemeanor criminal records from general public viewing. If it could be amended to require a 5-year span be applied before shielding could occur and some modifications can be made to the delineated crimes, this could be made to work.
    Friday Morning Session:
    Third Reader Bills Passed
    The House received several of the surviving members of the original Buffalo Soldiers, the 92nd Infantry Army Division composed of all black soldiers who distinguished themselves on numerous occasions and battlefields during WWII. It was an honor to see them on the floor of the House.
    Friday Joint Hearing of Judiciary and HGO Committees on Governor’s Gun Bill:
    The hearing concluded at close to 4:00 am on Saturday morning following nearly 16-hours of non-stop testimony. 1342 signed up to speak against the Governor’s Gun Control Bill while only 34 spoke up in favor of the bill.
    I wrote an update about 8-hours into the hearing not realizing I had just hit the halfway marker. There were some great points made during the hearing and we will be putting them together for distribution this week. In spite of the overwhelming presence on display against the bill, and the paltry number who showed up in support, many have their minds set and the road ahead is bound to be full of many disappointments for liberty minded Marylanders.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

    Feb. 28th, 2013

    ‘HB 837 -- Protecting Maryland’s Farm Families’
    (ANNAPOLIS) -- “The farming community plays an important role in our state’s economy. Since farmers are particularly vulnerable in these difficult economic times, we should not hesitate to ease their burden wherever we can, and stave off the frivolous environmental lawsuits taken against them.  HB 837 seeks to do just that,” declared Delegate Michael McDermott (R-Worcester and Wicomico Counties).

    “The traditional family farm is a recognized heritage and treasure,” stated Delegate McDermott, “and farmers have proven themselves to be the original conservationists, continuing a strong tradition of protecting natural resources.” But a farm family today of limited means can find itself in court up against a multi-million dollar environmental group with endless resources at its disposal. As the cost of attorney fees runs up, the expense of the litigation alone can crush a farm into bankruptcy, regardless of its culpability in the case.

    Under current law, a federal court can award legal expenses on behalf of a farm cleared of a clean-water regulatory violation, but no such recourse is available for a case in the state courts.  HB 837 (Family Farm - Prevailing Party - Attorney’s Fees and Expenses) allows a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses to a family farm  that is sued for causing water pollution but is successful in the case outcome.  This law would cover cases similar to the one that was brought against the Hudson Family Farm.  In 2010, the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, the Assateague Coastkeeper, and the Waterkeeper Alliance filed a suit against Alan and Kristin Hudson, alleging that the farm’s operations were polluting Maryland’s waters.  In December 2012, the judge ruled in favor of the Hudsons, since there was insufficient evidence to show that their farm was the source of the pollution.  However, the Hudsons now face $3 million in legal fees and expenses.

    The bill does not apply to local governments and does not undermine their authority and duty to enforce local environmental laws. It does however, protect farms from spurious suits by putting the burden of paying legal expenses on the prosecution.

    Yesterday HB 837 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee.  Both the Maryland Farm Bureau and Delmarva Poultry Industry voiced their strong support for the bill.  HB 837 has not yet received a vote from the Committee.

    “Sadly, this is something that Maryland has never had to contemplate before, but today we must take action to insure that our future farmers will have the hope of carrying on their family legacy.  The time has come to stand up and draw a line in the sand.”  said Delegate McDermott.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

    "A Minute With Mike" - Keeping Schools Safe without Compromising 2nd Amendment

    Published on Feb 27, 2013
    "A Minute with Mike" is an approximately one minute vlog (video blog) where Delegate Mike McDermott, who proudly represents the people of District 38B in the Maryland General Assembly, speaks on various topics in Maryland Legislature.

    In this vlog, Delegate Mike McDermott shares his thoughts on ways in which we can keep Maryland schools safer with three of the bills he is sponsoring that do not compromise your 2nd Amendment rights.

    A Minute With Delegate Mike McDermott- Video

    Published on Feb 26, 2013
    On February 22nd, the Maryland House of Delegates heard HB 226 - Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 on "third reader." The bill passed 86-48. In this video, Delegate McDermott addresses why he voted against the bill.

    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.