LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS UNDERWAY
January 22, 2022
The 444th Session of the Maryland General Assembly has begun, and I am honored to be here representing our community.
In this Legislative session, I believe there are several critical issues facing constituents, including inflation, addressing violent crime, empowering parents in their child's education, political redistricting, and election integrity.
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. I will send out a weekly email on important topics that come before us during the legislative session, and I encourage and welcome your feedback.
This week, as promised, my first bill of this session was HB 144 Motor Fuel Tax Rates - Consumer Price Index Adjustment – Repeal. (Fiscal Note is below)
Like you, I am concerned about the impact of rapidly increased inflation and energy cost on the citizens of Maryland. A little-known fact is that the Maryland gas tax is connected to CPI (consumer price index). As inflation increases, so does Maryland's fuel tax, essentially an automatic tax increase that goes into effect every July 1st.
This bill repeals that automatic tax increase and stops the projected $37 million tax increase. In my opinion, the $37 million in the fiscal note is a very low estimate of the actual tax citizens will be paying next year. I called and spoke to the fiscal analyst before the bill hearing this past Tuesday. The fiscal analysis was based on an assumption of a 4.5% inflation increase this year and a 2.6% increase next year. This is a low estimate as inflation swelled to 7% last month and after growing 6.5% last quarter.
I am hopeful the House Ways and Means Committee members take action on this legislation. I will attempt to add the measure to another bill later in session through the amendment process if they do not.
If you support this legislation, please consider signing our support petition at: https://www.voteformattmorgan.com/gastax22
Though the start of this session has been slow, we expect to return to the Floor this coming week to debate the Legislative Re- Districting maps.
The Senate has passed SJ2, the partisan Legislative Redistricting Advisory Committee (LRAC). The House crossfile is HJ2
As expected, Governor Hogan's bipartisan appointed redistricting committee, the Maryland Citizen Maryland Citizens' Legislative Districting Plan of 2022, will languish in the rules committee. This coming Wednesday, we will attempt to amend the Citizens Redistricting Map to the SJ2/HJ2 bill, whichever one comes to the House Floor first. I will post a link to the floor debate on my Facebook page.
GAS TAX INCREASE
January 07, 2022
Like many of my constituents, I am concerned about the impact of rapidly increased inflation and energy cost burdening the citizens of Maryland. A little-known fact is that the Maryland gas tax is connected to CPI (consumer price index). As inflation increases, so does Maryland's fuel tax; essentially, it is an automatic tax increase. Last quarter inflation grew 6.5%, with many economists predicting it will go much higher. With consumers facing a rapid rise in the price for all consumables and especially fuel at the pump, I believe it's time we stop the automatic gas tax increases. I have drafted legislation to do just that.
Help Me Stop the Gas Tax Increase!
I believe that all tax increases should be voted on and justified by your representative. Connecting a tax to an economic index like CPI is an automatic tax increase and allows politicians off the hook to explain it. Especially in times such as these, when we are all struggling to recover from the pandemic is no time to raise taxes. If you believe, as I do, that all tax increases should have a vote, will you help me by signing my petition of support to stop Maryland Fuel Tax increases?
Petition link: https://www.voteformattmorgan.com/gastax22
STATE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT REDISTRICTING
December 30, 2021
As you may remember, Governor Hogan’s bipartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission released their final map at the beginning of November after many public meetings and public work sessions. Their map is below and shows my district that combines Northern St. Mary’s with Southern Charles County with a number change of 41A.
Subsequently, on Monday, December 20th, the Legislative Redistricting Commission, the commission made up of almost entirely Democrats, released their proposed map.
The Southern Maryland area of the LRAC map looks very similar to the current 2010 map. The LRAC map keeps St. Mary's whole along with the Southern tip of Calvert County to balance out the population for the Senate district. However, I do want to take the time to thank both commissions for following through with what citizens from our area wanted regarding keeping St. Mary’s County together. I put out a call to action email back in September asking citizens to weigh in with keeping St. Mary’s whole, and I again want to thank those citizens who took the time to testify and write letters. Clearly, your voices were heard.
The Maryland General Assembly convenes on January 12th, and redistricting will be among the most hotly contested topics. I am sure Democrats will make minor adjustments to their LRAC map, but I cannot see any significant changes that would impact our area. However, the redistricting issue may take some time to sort out and will likely be decided by the courts.
CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING WRAP UP
December 10, 2021
Bring on the court case!
I have to hand it to General Assembly Democrats. They took the most gerrymandered map in the entire country and gerrymandered it more.
This week General Assembly convened in Special Session to pass a Congressional Redistricting Plan. State Legislative Redistricting will be completed in the regular session starting January 12, 2022.
Two redistricting plans came before the General Assembly, one from the non-partisan Maryland’s Citizen’s Redistricting Commission and the other from the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC) (Democrat Map).
The LRAC was comprised of members of the General Assembly to determine where the district lines would be drawn. While this effort included two Republican members for the first time in the state’s history, the ultimate product was a partisan map that did not receive the support of the Republican members of the Committee. This bill came before the General Assembly as House Bill 1.
The Citizen’s Commission was appointed by the Governor under the principle that it is the citizens of Maryland who should determine what politician represents them. They produced a fair and non-partisan map that was brought before the General Assembly as House Bill 2.
SPECIAL SESSION 2021
December 03, 2021
I just wanted to give you a quick email update to let you know that the Maryland Legislature is convening a one-week Special Session to consider Congressional District maps. In addition, the Legislature will also be considering several vetoes from the last regular session.
The Legislature will consider several bills which layout newly drawn Congressional districts.
You can find the Congressional redistricting bills here on the Maryland General Assembly website: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Index/house
House Bill 1 is the plan proposed by the Democrat Majority Party, and House Bill 2 is the plan proposed by the Bipartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission.
State Legislative Redistricting maps will not be discussed until the start of the regular session, which reconvenes January 12th.
Among the many bills that the Governor vetoed, which will be considered for an override:
HB 16, which prohibits the detention of illegal immigrants in cooperation with federal immigration agents. Read the Governor’s veto letter.
SB 202, which would allow for the release of a person sentenced to life in prison for a violent crime in as little as 17 years, without the signature of the Governor. Read the Governor’s veto letter.
HB 319, which is called a tax relief bill for working families that raises taxes on some taxpayers, but does not provide that those revenues are turned over to families in need of relief. Read the Governor’s veto letter.
CALL TO ACTION - OPPOSE GERRYMANDERING OF ST. MARY'S COUNTY
September 19, 2021
A few people have contacted me with concerns about the political ramifications of the proposed new district. Let me be very clear: this is not a Republican vs Democrat thing. This is not Matt Morgan or Jack Bailey being worried about the next election. Currently, I only represent a small area that is proposed to be shifted to Calvert/Anne Arundel. In fact, I grew up in Charles County, I know the County well, and I still have a lot of friends and family in the area. I am not worried about the politics of the proposed district. I am concerned about what is fair and good for our County. If St. Mary's County is gerrymandered now, district lines stay in place for a minimum of 10 years, and I believe this may never be corrected. These changes will impact our businesses and citizens significantly.
Our constituents would have to work with various legislators across this proposed "Southern Maryland Region" to obtain assistance for local government and county issues. It could potentially negatively impact our community for decades to come and long after Senator Bailey and I are out of elected office.
Many of you have asked about testifying and submitting written testimony to the redistricting Commission. Below is a sample letter with a few essential points of why I think this is a significant problem for us in St. Mary's.
As you can see, the new proposed St. Mary's District would run North-South from the Prince George's County border to Point Lookout and East-West from Indian Head to the Patuxent River. It would also separate Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California and relocate those areas to a predominantly Anne Arundel & Calvert County district.
St. Mary's County residents having their voice and representation diluted is a top concern.
If you feel this is not how you want to be represented, we need your help to get the message to the Redistricting Commission now! Would you please submit testimony opposing this map with one simple, straightforward message?
Let St. Mary's County remain whole. Keep St. Mary's intact. Do not divide and gerrymander us!
To submit written testimony to the Commission, please use the links below:
Click here to register to provide testimony
You can also submit your comments electronically or send a redistricting email to [email protected]
Below is a sample testimony for you to use, in part or whole. I have also added a list of additional points which I feel are important that you may wish to include in your testimony.
Please do not feel that you must use what I provide, and certainly, feel free to use your own voice. I am providing this as a template.
September 20, 2021
Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission
Testimony opposing the Commission's map 9-14-21
Dear Members of the Maryland Citizen's Redistricting Commission:
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony to the Commission on this very important issue. I reside/work/have a business in St. Mary's County. My testimony is simple:
Keep St. Mary's whole and our community intact.
For the last 40 years, St. Mary's County has always been made whole regarding State Legislative Redistricting. However, the Commission's proposed map on the 14th of September separated areas in St. Mary's County of Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California and relocates those areas to a predominantly Anne Arundel & Calvert County district. The proposed map then creates one of the largest districts and least compact in the entire state by including a vast geographical area of Charles County to the St. Mary's County District.
I believe this to be wrong, and I would like St. Mary's to remain whole. St. Mary's County is unique in several ways, and as such, our interests and needs are not going to line up with those in Southern Anne Arundel County as well as the massive area in Charles County in your proposed map. Our economic development needs are different. Over 60% of our economy revolves around the large base at NAVAIR and subsequent military contractors. We have heavily invested in these industries, such as the new UMD UAS research and test center which is in the portion of the county proposed to be moved into a Calvert district. These projects are vitally important to our economic growth and our community, and separating them from the rest of our County makes little sense.
Historically, St. Mary's County has been represented as a whole. Geographically, we are located on a peninsula, and our communities are tight nit. Our needs coincide with one another, and this makes us stronger. Dividing the County, carving out sections of Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California, and adding a large section of Charles County will rob us of representation. It is unfair, and I believe that any redistricting map needs to keep St. Mary's County completely intact.
Other key points to include:
- This map grabs a section of Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California and relocates those areas to a predominantly Anne Arundel & Calvert County district.
- It further attaches a massive section of Charles County to St. Mary's County. The proposed district runs up the Charles County eastern border to the Rt. 381 Gallant Green area, then goes south down Rt. 488 towards La Plata, follows Rt. 6 west, captures the Nanjemoy area, and runs nearly to Indian Head.
- The new proposed St. Mary's District would run North-South from the Prince George's County border to Point Lookout and East-West from Indian Head to the Patuxent River. State law calls for districts to be "compact and contiguous." While the district would be contiguous, it is far from compact.
- Health care needs and access to care have always been and continue to be an issue to those of us in a rural community, and we worry that lumping us in with counties of heavier concentration of population will obscure these areas of need for our citizens.
- I do not believe citizens living in Sandgates or Hollywood have the same transportation, economic development, and infrastructure needs as the people of Shady Side or the people of Edgewater in Anne Arundel County. The same can be said of the like-minded interest of the neighborhoods of Charles County in Welcome or Nanjemoy differ in comparison to St. Mary communities of Ridge and California.
- St. Mary's County transportation and infrastructure needs will have to be centered on the development of our tech corridor located in California at the Airport.
- These changes will impact our businesses and citizens since we will no longer have a "cohesive" form of representation. Our constituents and County Commissioners will now have to work with a variety of legislators across this proposed "Southern Maryland Region" to obtain assistance for local government and county issues. Everyone complains that government is slow to act, and this will only add to the length of time it takes to resolve issues for our citizens.
GERRYMANDERING OF ST. MARY'S COUNTY
September 17, 2021
Senator Bailey and I want to alert you to the following political redistricting proposal that I believe substantially gerrymanders and weakens St. Mary's County. The proposal comes from the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, which will present its draft plan this Monday evening.
Redistricting is performed every 10 years based on census data of the population. For the last 40 years, St. Mary's county has always been made whole regarding State Legislative Redistricting. While State district sizes have always been slightly larger than St. Mary's County itself, the district always included St. Mary's County as a whole; only a small section of Calvert County or, in the distant past, a tiny area of Charles County was added to ensure each district throughout the state remained somewhat equal in size. For the first time in decades, the proposed maps significantly gerrymander St. Mary's County.
CURRENT DISTRICT 29
PROPOSED DISTRICT 29
This map grabs a section of Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California and relocates those areas to a predominantly Anne Arundel & Calvert County district. It further attaches a massive section of Charles County to St. Mary's County. The proposed district runs up the Charles County eastern border to the Rt. 381 Gallant Green area, then goes south down Rt. 488 towards La Plata, follows Rt. 6 west, captures the Nanjemoy area, and runs nearly to Indian Head.
This is almost unbelievable as I write, the new proposed St. Mary's District would run North-South from the Prince George's County border to Point Lookout and East-West from Indian Head to the Patuxent River!
As a long-standing critic of gerrymandering, I know it when I see it, and I believe this is wrong.
The Maryland State Constitution requires that districts are to be "compact and contiguous".
Clearly, the proposed district that includes Mechanicsville, Oakville, Hollywood, and California is not contiguous, and the new Charles County/ St. Mary's County district is certainly not compact. The hope of any new district lines is that it would continue to keep communities together, as they share common challenges and needs that are so often tied to the geographical region.
For example, I do not believe citizens living in Sandgates or Hollywood have the same transportation, economic development, and infrastructure needs as the people of Shady Side or Edgewater in Anne Arundel County. The same can be said of the like-minded interest of the neighborhoods of Charles County in Welcome or Nanjemoy differ in comparison to St. Mary communities of Ridge and California.
This redistricting map doesn't seem right, and Senator Bailey and I are asking for your help to keep our St. Mary's community whole. Any new map should allow for St. Mary's County to remain intact for the simple reason that I believe our unique peninsula-based community is stronger together, and I do not think it should be carved up in pieces for political purposes.
CALL TO ACTION - We need your help...
If you believe as I do, you can help! The Redistricting meeting to go over these draft maps is set to occur on Monday evening via ZOOM.
I am asking you to help both Senator Bailey and me and testify at the meeting with a straightforward message for the commission.
Let St. Mary's County remain whole. Do not divide and gerrymander us!
Click here to register to provide testimony
You can also submit your comments electronically or email a redistricting comment to [email protected]
Thank you for your time and consideration