HOPING FOR VETOES
April 05, 2022

Ten days after a judge tossed out Maryland's congressional plan for "extreme partisan gerrymandering," legislative plaintiffs dropped their appeal.  Governor Hogan signed a redrawn map into law Monday afternoon.

In other news, the Democratic majority in the General Assembly voted last week to send dozens of other bills to the Governor's desk early this legislative session, on which Governor Hogan will have to either sign or veto by the end of this week.  Submitting legislation before the end of the session allows the legislature to override any potential vetoes before the 90-day session ends next Monday at midnight.  Because this is an election year, this is likely the only opportunity for legislators to override a veto.

Here are the major legislation pieces that I hope receive the Governor's veto pen. 

House Bill 937:  This legislation expands who can perform abortions in the state and provide $3.5 million in financial support to train health care professionals to perform abortions.  The bill would also make the state's existing abortion care coverage under Medicaid permanent and require private health insurance plans to cover abortion care without cost-sharing or deductibles.

Senate Bill 275: This would offer Marylanders 12 weeks of partially paid family leave each year for illness or illness of family members.  This legislation requires employers and employees to foot $1.5 billion in new taxes to fund this new entitlement—this money taken out of YOUR paycheck.  Furthermore, the tax formula is based on a floating ratio, so the exact amount coming out of your salary cannot be identified and is subject to change.  Finally, the bill is connected to the rise in CPI and requires a "reassessment" every two years.  In other words, this tax is subject to a bi-annual automatic tax increase. 

Senate Bill 528: This legislation is part of the far left's "Green New Deal" efforts.  It is a position based on politics and not economics or science.  Unfortunately, the result will further increase energy costs and less efficient energy sources.

House Bill 425/Senate Bill 387 would ban untraceable firearms or ghost guns.  This bill is a solution to a problem that does not exist.  It targets gun hobbyists who like to build their own firearms but does not address the cause of crime committed by criminals using stolen guns.

House Bill 459/Senate Bill 691 is a wide-ranging juvenile justice reform effort based on recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council.  The bill would generally prohibit kids under 13 from facing criminal charges, though charges could be placed in criminal court for the most severe crimes, including murder and sexual offenses.  The bill would also set limits on terms of detention, out-of-home placement, and probation that juvenile courts can impose.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, it will only increase the disruptive problems that already exist in the classroom. 

House Bill 571/ Senate Bill 279: This legislation expands funding to provide tenants with access to free lawyers in eviction proceedings.  This means the taxpayers of Maryland will now be on the hook to pay for free lawyers for tenants who refuse to pay their rent.

House Bill 1080: This legislation requires the taxpayers of Maryland to pay for medical care for pregnant illegal immigrants and their babies.  This is a magnet policy that would serve to increase the number of unlawful non-citizens in our state.  

With less than one week left in the legislative session, if any of these bills are vetoed, they would need to be overridden by next Monday night.  Therefore, I urge the Governor to veto away.

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NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP
March 31, 2022

Last December, the Maryland General Assembly convened for a special session to take up the issue of Congressional redistricting.  Unfortunately, instead of working with Republican colleagues in the spirit of fair bipartisan maps, the majority party passed their heavily gerrymandered map in a true partisan fashion.  In contrast, the map drawn by Governor Hogan’s commission with citizen input languished in committee with no vote.

This Congressional map the legislature passed received an “F” grade by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, and the Courts subsequently threw out the December map last Friday. 

In her opinion, Judge Battaglia wrote that "the 2021 Plan is an outlier and a product of extreme partisan gerrymandering." The Judge further wrote,“right of all voters of political participation in Congressional elections, as protected by Article 7 of the Maryland Constitution, was violated by the 2021 plan.”     The court’s ruling closely mirrors the very arguments the members of the Republican Caucus made in opposing this Congressional Districts plan during the 2021 Special Session.

The Democrats rapidly redrew the Congressional maps over the weekend, behind-closed-door sessions yet again, with zero input from the citizens and taxpayers of Maryland.

Here is a photo of the New Maryland Congressional map.

Last night I started my floor speech by asking some very pointed questions of the Minority Leader.  My goal was to lay the groundwork for future lawsuits.  You can view my floor speech on the matter on Youtube:

I voted NO to the original plan, as well as the redraw.

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PARENTAL RIGHTS FIGHT
March 21, 2022

It is disturbing to see the ongoing trend of over-sexualizing children.  Unfortunately, some Progressives are committed to training your kids from kindergarten with inappropriate sexual education.

I believe that small children from pre-k to 3rd grade should be learning basic math and reading skills and playing outside in the sunshine.  Kids need time to be kids and should have an opportunity to learn without the burden of a particular social agenda forced on them.

On the House Floor last Thursday, my colleague, Delegate Kathy Szeliga, offered a straightforward amendment with the simple provision: “no sexual orientation or gender identity instruction should be given to kids from kindergarten through the 3rd grade that is not age-appropriate.”

If you think this amendment sounds logical and reasonable, you would be surprised to learn that the House Democrats strongly opposed this measure.

In a contentious Floor debate, Democrats accused supporters of the amendment of pushing a “Don’t Say Gay” policy.  The truth is, the Left feels that they have the right and the duty to teach “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to your kids, children as young as five years old.

I stood on the House Floor in support of the amendment.  However, I don’t believe that it is anyone’s right to teach other peoples’ elementary school-aged children topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation.  This would be the responsibility of the parents.

You can read more about the contentious floor debate in the Maryland Matters article:

https://www.marylandmatters.org/2022/03/17/house-of-delegates-rejects-florida-like-amendment-to-school-anti-discrimination-bill/

Here is a picture of the vote for the amendment.

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GAS TAX HOLIDAY PASSED
March 15, 2022

Feeling the pressure to address the issue of skyrocketing gas prices, Annapolis Democrats finally gave in a little, and today we unanimously passed a Gas Tax Holiday.  The legislation repeals Maryland's .37 cents per/gallon fuel tax for 30 days and is awaiting Governor Hogan's signature.  The Gas Tax Holiday bill is emergency legislation meaning it goes into effect immediately once signed by the Governor.

The cut comes as a welcome surprise.  Since the beginning of the Legislative Session, House Republicans have been pushing for tax relief, especially at the fuel pump.  Inflation and lack of domestic crude have resulted in a 60% increase in fuel price over a year ago.

The rapid rise in inflation led me to pre-file HB144 back in November that would stop the "Inflation Tax" on fuel schedule to increase at the rate of CPI this July 1st.  While my bill likely will not pass, it drew attention to the issue, prompting Democrats to draft and pass HB1486 quickly.

This action comes as a massive win as this is the first time the fuel tax has ever been cut in state history.  In addition, it is a huge acknowledgment that our constituents benefit from lower fuel and energy costs.  Given enough pressure, even politicians representing deep blue areas are willing to vote for the reduction.  Also, further confirmation that the Gas Tax Holiday would not have happened if Republicans had not led the charge.

This logical fact should benefit Republicans as we debate Green New Deal legislation that will significantly raise utility bills, which are coming up in the last few weeks of the session.        

I have received some social media messages from those concerned about the loss of revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund.  Overwhelmingly motorists pay into that fund with fuel and registration taxes.  However, over 61% of that fund goes to mass-transit, which only benefits some of the state's metropolitan areas.  Below is a diagram showing this. 

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STOP THE GAS TAX INCREASE
March 02, 2022

I want to take the time to update you on my efforts to stop a significant and automatic tax hike in gas tax this year. 

A little-known fact is that as inflation increases, so does Maryland's gas tax.  Maryland's gas tax is connected to the rise of CPI (consumer price index), and as CPI increases, so does the tax consumers pay at the pump.

Inflation is at a 40 year high.  With the excessive fuel costs, I believe my constituents need a break.  Yesterday, my fellow Republican colleagues and I were trying to stop the projected $37.5 million gas tax increase by amending my bill onto a Democrat bill HB288 from the house floor.

Here is the link to watch the floor debate: https://youtu.be/Yj0UPL2kOBk

Here is the link to watch the floor debate on Facebook mobile: https://fb.watch/bvu7mncFph/

Unfortunately, the amendment failed.  

There is still a chance to get this bill out of committee and onto the house floor.  If you are concerned about the rapid increase in fuel prices, please consider emailing the members of the Ways and Means Committee: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Committees/Details?cmte=w%26m

Tell them that you support HB144 and would like for them to bring it out for a vote.

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SESSION UPDATE FEB 25TH, 2022
February 25, 2022

One of my top priorities as an elected official is to keep you informed on your state government's interworking.  Therefore, I will send out a weekly email on important topics before the legislative session, and I encourage and welcome your feedback.

School Mask Mandate

As many of you are aware, I have been on the frontlines arguing for the State Board of Education to end the statewide mask mandate in our schools immediately.  But, unfortunately, for nearly a month, the State BOE dug in their heels and resisted, citing their unattainable and unscientific "off-ramps."

As my office fielded many emails and phone calls during this time, we encouraged hundreds of phone calls and emails to the State BOE.

I am happy to report that the State BOE finally reversed its early position and voted on February 22 to lift the statewide mandate.

Later today, the AELR, the joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, will vote to make face-coverings optional.  After the vote today, the decision to mask children in our school will be a local school board decision. 

Superintendent of St. Mary's county schools, Dr. Scott Smith, announced that St. Mary's County Schools would lift the mandate pending that vote.  I have it on very good authority that AELR will vote to return the mask issue to the local boards.  Hopefully, our children will have the option to mask by March 1.

Thank you to all the parents who have spoken out about this issue.

*** I have received emails from constituents who disagreed with removing students' masking requirements.  I am happy to say that today's masking policy change coincides with the news that the CDC will significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines today.  I am glad to see the federal medical and scientific community supporting a return to normal.  Link to the AP story: https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-pandemics-centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention-0be4f20f94f125c511dbca42ae317546

Sexting Bill HB-194

I agree with the provisions of this bill, which was to include education regarding the dangers of "sexting" into the sex education curriculum in school.  However, I held the bill on the house floor for possible amendments.  My colleague, Delegate Szeliga, introduced an amendment to the bill to allow for the new curriculum to be posted online, providing a high level of transparency and access for parents.  Strangely, the Democrats vehemently opposed the amendment.  I believe this speaks to the more significant problem in our state education system: parents need to be informed and have more control over their children's education. 

Home School Bill HB-832

Another concerning bill was introduced that seeks to regulate homeschool education.  The bill would create a "homeschool advisory council," adding an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to homeschool regulations.  There is no need for an additional board of individuals who are not involved in homeschooling and do not homeschool their own children.

I signed on to the letter requesting the sponsor to withdraw the legislation.

Abortion bills HB 1171, HB 937, and HB 952

This week in my HGO committee, we heard three concerning pro-abortion bills Democrats are looking to pass in the coming weeks. 

HB-1171

This bill enshrines abortion within the State Constitution in the Declaration of Rights.  If this bill passes, it would guarantee abortion on demand and would be very hard to restrict even late-term abortion. 

HB-937

The legislation requires the governor to include annually $3,500,000 of taxpayer dollars in mandated spending to train abortionists and expand the list of medical professionals that can perform an abortion.

HB-952

This bill mandates abortion services coverage by insurance.

HGO Republicans have held these bills from their committee vote for the maximum time.  But, unfortunately, they will be on the voting list next.  I will continue to stand on the side of LIFE and vote to oppose each of these bills.

Good news regarding EZ pass billing issues

Many citizens, including myself, have continued to experience problems being billed for tolls by MD EZPASS.

MDOT announced yesterday that they would waive all civil penalties for anyone owing tolls due until November 30, 2022.

If you owe EZPASS bridge or tunnel tolls and have a fine or penalty attached, you may take advantage of the civil penalty grace period if you pay the toll portion of the bill by November 30, 2022.

  Customers should note the following key dates:

  • Payments made/postmarked before February 24, 2022: Civil penalties that are already paid will not be reimbursed.
  • Payments made/postmarked February 24 – November 30, 2022: For every unpaid toll transaction paid in full, the corresponding civil penalty will be waived.  Additionally, no toll debt will be referred to CCU or MDOT MVA.
  • February 24 – Mid-March 2022: Civil penalties will be waived for each paid toll, but civil penalties remain on accounts until the software changes are in place to reflect the waiver.
  • Mid-March: The system functionality for the waiver grace period will be completed, allowing customers to confirm online that their penalties are being waived following full toll payment.
  • November 30, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.: Civil penalty waiver grace period ends.
  • December 1, 2022: All unpaid tolls AND civil penalties are due based on the printed due dates, and toll debt referrals to CCU and MDOT MVA resume.
  • Visit https://driveezmd.com/faq/ to view our Frequently Asked Questions.

Customers with unpaid Video Tolls can pay by the following methods:

MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

P.O. Box 12853 Philadelphia, PA 19176-0853 (Do not send cash)

  • Use the automated call system 24/7 at 1-866-320-9995 (select Option 1 for Notice of Toll Due, then enter the mailing number on the notice when prompted).
  • Visit an in-person Customer Service Center.

Also, customers who pay their Video Tolls before the notice is mailed will save 15% (maximum of $5 per transaction). You can pay your Video Tolls at https://csc.driveezmd.com/pay-tolls-now.

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MASK, CRIME AND VICTORY
February 11, 2022

I wanted to update you on several topics that may interest you. 

If you are receiving my newsletter for the first time, I want to thank you for answering our poll and signing my petition to stop the inflationary gas tax increase.  One of my top priorities as an elected official is to keep you informed on your state government’s interworking.  Therefore, I will send out a weekly email on essential topics during the legislative session, and I encourage and welcome your feedback.

This year we have had many ill-thought-out proposals, but one bill was awful and received a quick and decisive response from the public!

HB 181 - was introduced to remove all references to GOD from the Maryland State Constitution.

One of the founding tenets of America is that our rights are divinely endowed.  Therefore, they are rightfully called “inalienable” in our Constitution.  Removing references to God removes the origins of YOUR natural rights.  That is concerning because we have seen play out in history where governments that have taken away God have replaced natural rights with permissions.  Permissions that are granted by the government are not the same as rights.  Permission given by the government can be taken away by that very same government with only a stroke of a pen and at any given time.

My office and many others received many emails from outraged citizens against this terrible bill.  Because of the outcry, the bill’s sponsor withdrew the bill.  Marylanders stood strong together to defend against this blatant attack on the very foundation of our lives and culture!

Mask Mandate in Schools

Recently, several states, including some very blue states like New Jersey and Delaware, have set dates or have lifted the indoor mask mandate forced upon our children at school.

I have heard from many concerned parents pleading for Maryland to end this mandate.  The science has shown that non-medical grade face coverings are ineffective at stopping transmission, and I feel it is time to end the mandates.  I sent a letter to the Speaker of the House asking for a return to normalcy.  Additionally, along with the House Republican Caucus, I called upon the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools to end the mask mandate for our children.  Yesterday, Governor Hogan added his voice to the call to remove the mandates.

Unfortunately, the State Board of Education has instead dug in its heels and is recommitted to forcing our children to wear face coverings.  We trust the people in education to be intelligent enough to make evidence-based decisions.  The State Board of Education President, Mr. Crawford’s response to Governor Hogan, is an embarrassment.  His letter reiterates just how ill-informed their decisions have been regarding COVID from the beginning.

He recommitted forcing children to wear face coverings that have been ineffective at stopping transmission.  He talks about required vaccination rates when vaccines have proven ineffective in preventing COVID transmission. There is no consideration that many kids, teachers, and parents have attained natural immunity.      

The Maryland State Board of Education proves that when you have unelected bureaucrats with authority to make major unilateral decisions, constituents have very little recourse in changing those decisions.  Therefore, I call upon the State Board to follow the science, change course, and immediately allow the decision to mask children to be made by the parents.

Crime

Americans are increasingly concerned with the rising crime in our cities and communities, even while policies are being implemented in areas like Baltimore City and Montgomery County that encourage crime by not prosecuting people who commit crimes!

I am committed to not allowing that type of poor decision to impact the rest of the state.  Therefore, I have co-sponsored the Governor’s crime package, which includes measures to increase truth in sentencing and plea deals, and the violent firearms offender act.  The truth in sentencing legislation gives the state a greater ability to appeal a trial court’s decision in the cases of violent crimes committed with firearms.  It also prohibits the pre-trial release of a defendant awaiting trial for a violent crime committed with a firearm.

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