SCHOOL CHOICE
June 08, 2022

How would you feel if the government treated food purchases like it does k-12 education?  After all, food is a critical need for all humans.

Here is a hypothetical idea to help envision the issue:

Let's set up about 30 government grocery stores in each county.  Then assign the residents a store they can go to purchase groceries based on their home address.  You will not be allowed to go to a different store for equity purposes.  You can only go to your assigned store.  You also have no say over what groceries are sold in this store.   All merchandise sold in this government store will be decided by a government board run by the state.  If you want or need different items, you must lobby the state legislature or the local grocery store board.

Oh, by the way, none of the employees at this government store will ever be rewarded based on work ethic, creativity, or ingenuity.  They will only be awarded based on their seniority. 

Can you envision such a government grocery store system?  Would this be something you want over the free market choices we have now?

The above scenario scares me to death, and I do not believe Americans would be willing to accept shopping for groceries this way.  Unfortunately, however, we accept this measure of government control every day when we send our children to school. 

Children attend schools assigned to them based on their home address.  Parents have a minimal amount of input into the policies of those schools or the curriculum that is taught.  Suppose your public school is underperforming; too bad for you.  Your child is offered no other options unless you can afford to send them to private school or homeschool.  If you don't like it, you are told to lobby your state legislature or local school board.

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CSM VAX REPLY LETTER
May 24, 2022

I want to thank CSM President Dr. Murphy for her kind and timely reply last Thursday to my letter requesting that CSM change its mandated vaccine policy for student enrollment.

Yesterday, I sent a reply letter back to CSM and their Board of Trustees, reiterating the position of many constituents who have contacted me regarding this issue.

As students graduate high school next week, college plans are a top priority for many parents. The mandated vaccine requirement at CSM is a big issue for many in our area, especially with much of our citizens' tax dollars going to fund the institution of CSM. The children of those same taxpayers should not be forced to decide between their personal and private health choices and pursuing their educational and career goals. I am hopeful that CSM will lead by example and reverse its student admission policy as soon as possible.

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COLLEGE VAX POLICY
May 18, 2022

Over the last few weeks, I've had numerous constituents approach me with concerns that the College of Southern Maryland may no longer be a viable college option for their children because of their mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. Yesterday, I sent a letter to CSM's President, Dr. Maureen Murphy, asking her and the board to reconsider their policy of requiring a COVID-19 vaccination to receive an education from CSM.
   I believe adult students attending our local college should be free to make their own health decisions, and CSM's mandated vaccine policy should not be a factor in their decision-making.  I strongly feel that college students should not be forced to decide between their personal and private health and pursuing their educational and career goals. I am hopeful that CSM's will lead by example and reverse their student admission policy.

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END OF SESSION LETTER 2022
April 15, 2022

At midnight on Monday, April 11th, Maryland's 443rd Legislative session ended, heralding the conclusion of the first "close to normal" session since COVID.  One of my top priorities is communicating directly with you and keeping you informed.   Therefore, I would like to share my yearly "End of Session" legislative letter with my perspective on important legislation and how I voted on each.  This year saw several controversial bills, including abortion bills, "green new deal" legislation, and congressional and legislative redistricting.

Political acrimony aside, as the Chair of the St. Mary's County Delegation, I also focused on county issues, introducing several bills dealing at the request of the St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners.

MY BILLS

This year I introduced two bills that I felt would have had a very positive result for every Marylander. 

HB 144 - Motor Fuel Tax Rates - Consumer Price Index Adjustment – Repeal

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 price at the pump.   Inflation was up 8.5% last month.  With Marylanders already facing rapidly increased costs, I believe it's time we stop the automatic gas tax increase from happening by repealing the CPI portion of the law.  While this bill didn't move out of committee, it did help to change the conversation.  Two weeks after, I tried to amend this policy to another bill; Democrats introduced and passed HB1486 - 30-day gas tax holiday. 

HB 799 - Vaccine by Choice Act of 2022

I am proud to have introduced HB 799- State and Local Government - COVID-19 - Vaccination by Choice Act of 2022.  The foundation of a free society is built on the individual's freedom to choose.  Forcing people to inject a vaccine or risk losing employment is the antithesis of a free society.  HB 799 would have ensured that state and local governments, governmental entities, and publically funded schools K-12 and Institutes of higher Learning do not require proof of COVID -19 vaccination as a requirement for employment or continued employment. While government should not mandate private industry policies, we can and should set the example and act in good faith of the purpose of government, and that is to protect the individual liberties of the citizens.  The bill hearing was quite enlightening for many of my Democratic colleagues; however, this bill died in committee without a vote.

 

GAS TAX HOLIDAY

HB 1486 - Gas Tax Holiday

Since the beginning of the Legislative Session, I have been pushing for tax relief, especially at the fuel pump.  Unfortunately, inflation and lack of domestic crude have resulted in a 70% increase in fuel price over a year ago. The legislation repealed Maryland's .37 cents per/gallon fuel tax for 30 days.  This bill went into effect on March 18th and lasted for 30 days.  I voted YES, but I believe that the measure is insufficient to provide real relief from high gas prices.  As the session came to a close, Republicans attempted to extend the gas holiday for 45 additional days, but Democrats refused to allow our amendment to pass.

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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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