Halfway through Session

We are just over the halfway point of the 2024 Legislative Session.  This session has been jam-packed as a record amount of over 3,400 legislative bills have been filed.  Halfway through the session, the House of Delegates passed 111 bills, but only 7 were Republican initiatives.  All Republican legislation that passed has been minor bills, ranging from requiring motorcycle passengers' feet to reach the foot pegs to renaming fish.  In the coming weeks, I hope more meaningful Republican legislation is considered.

I believe the middle-class Marylanders took a beating in Annapolis last week.  The ruling party, with the help of a handful of misguided Republicans, passed significant legislation that will impact your healthcare, education, transportation, and the small business community.

HB198 - Funding Allocation to WMTA - While significant transportation projects have been cut around the state, House Bill 198 gives $237 million to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMTA).  That is a 34% increase and a crazy amount of money since only 9% of Maryland residents utilize mass transit.

A recent statewide poll from Gonzales reconfirms that 64% of Marylanders want our state government to focus on fixing roads and bridges.  Yet, the Transportation Trust Fund is facing a nearly $3.8 billion shortfall, primarily because of mass transit.  As you can imagine, I voted No; however, the bill passed and is now in the Senate.

HB558 - Changes in Educational Curriculum - House Bill 558, as amended, makes gender identity and sexual orientation its stand-alone curriculum and disallows parents to opt out their children.  The absence of parental notice or control over such a sensitive area of education represents a substantial departure from established norms of family engagement in schooling.  I voted No; however, the bill passed and is now in the Senate.  You can watch my floor speech here: https://youtu.be/_KXj5UeJ4r8

HB785 - Insurance Purchase Without Legal Residency - The passage of House Bill 785 permits nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants in Maryland access to purchase health insurance through the Maryland Exchange.  While expanding healthcare access is a noble goal, this legislation has profound consequences.  Proof of residency is usually needed in Maryland for services, but this law doesn't require it, possibly leading to fraud.  The primary issue for me is the concern over future access to healthcare providers.  This legislation could add hundreds of thousands of new people to the insurance rolls.  In contrast, we have not added a single doctor to provide healthcare at a time when we are experiencing a shortage of healthcare providers.  I voted No; however, the bill passed and is now in the Senate.

The entire floor debate on HB558 and HB785 can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/live/oixNqXVTgRE?si=y8WM1vKsamzdveQU&t=1718

HB368 - Legal Action Against Public Accommodation Businesses - Finally, House Bill 368 expands legal action against places of public accommodations.  It encourages lawsuits by awarding punitive fines to the complainant, potentially leading to social justice groups targeting businesses for personal financial gain.

This bill essentially paves the way for financial exploitation, and I voted No; however, the bill passed and is now in the Senate.

Conclusion - I am committed to representing your interests, protecting our shared values, and ensuring a fair and transparent legislative process.  Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any concerns or suggestions.