First, I want to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day. I hope everyone is spending it with their loved ones.
Furthermore, I'm sure everyone tuned in to Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders' remarkable response to the State of the Union address. Her words provided a striking contrast with President Biden's incoherent speech. In particular, she referenced something I repeated countless times over the past election year: Disagreements are not about party lines but rather decisions between sanity and lunacy.
Nothing makes that more evident than my schedule today. Later, I will present a bill that many of my constituents agree with to the Ways and Means Committee. HB422 will decouple the Maryland Fuel Tax from CPI. Many of you probably already know that Maryland's Fuel Tax increases every July 1st as inflation increases. Last year Marylanders experienced a 7 cents per/gallon increase last year, and if my bill is not passed, we will experience roughly the same fuel tax increase this July 1st. This would make a nearly 15-cent per/gallon tax increase in just over a calendar year and make Maryland one of the highest fuel-taxed states in our country.
At roughly the same time, I am due in my Committee, Health and Government Operations (HGO) for the bill hearing on HB283 - Gender–Affirming Treatment. Despite the title, this proposed legislation does NOT affirm gender treatment for straight people but instead allows for taxpayer-funded transgender-confirming surgery and medications. It's outrageous that it may very well be passed into law by the General Assembly- a massive misappropriation of taxpayers' hard-earned money!
The Senate approved this bill last year until it reached a roadblock in the House due to Republican dissent. This opposition was all the more effective due to our proximity to the election.
While this type of bill is ripe for jokes, let us take a moment to contemplate the parity issues this legislation causes. Under current law, taxpayer-funded Medicaid would not cover those plastic surgery enhancements if a biological woman wanted to feel more womanly. Likewise, under current law, taxpayer-funded Medicaid would not pay for breast enhancement plastic surgery if a biological woman had breast cancer. Instead, the proposed bill would require taxpayers to cover the cost of gender transition surgery for individuals subsidized by Medicaid who want to transition from male to female or vice versa. This is an absurd misuse of taxpayer dollars that should be soundly rejected.
The scariest and most insane part of this bill is that the legislation has no age limit. Taxpayers would be forced to pay for this destabilizing surgery and medications on minor children. A minor child can decide to transition genders, and parents are likely powerless to do much about it. However, the question should be asked, even if medical and parental consent is required by regulations before such drastic decisions for minors are made, are those decisions consistent with our society and current laws?
Maryland currently prohibits minors from buying liquor, cigarettes, firearms, and tattoos even with parental consent; this proposed legislation will permit them to undergo procedures such as cutting off body parts or ingesting potentially dangerous puberty-blocking drugs. Such drastic measures could lead to permanent damage with long-term consequences - Something no young person should be allowed to participate in.
People who disagree with legislation like this bill are often met with name-calling from proponents and advocates. They will loudly proclaim you a bigot, transphobic, or worse. In Virginia, parents who disagreed with these gender policies were labeled domestic terrorists. These bullying tactics are often used to silence critics, but these claims are ridiculous, and I refuse to accept them. Instead, we need to focus on what is sane and reasonable regarding these irreversible medical procedures, especially regarding our most vulnerable citizens, the children.
The devastating truth is that the transgender community is nine times more likely to take their own lives than those outside it. It's a tragedy that could be avoided with a greater understanding of this topic – especially for minors who can be most vulnerable. To effectively learn about the consequences of pushing this lifestyle on young people, I highly recommend reading an article by a whistleblower from St. Louis Children's Hospital gender clinic – these firsthand accounts are chilling.
This is about more than just taxes; this affects our collective well-being and the mental health of those who may be too young to understand the gravity of these decisions. We must protect these children from adults placing their own agendas ahead of their health and needs. Our responsibility lies in ensuring that they are safeguarded at all times.