Today it’s the turn of the loyal opposition Republicans to have the magnifying glass placed on some of their legislative agenda. While there were a couple measures that were mostly-GOP sponsored among those highlighted in Part 1 yesterday, today these are strictly GOP issues – at least among the local delegation.
This time I need only introduce local Republicans, beginning with District 37. That covers the western portion of Wicomico County and extends northward through Talbot and Caroline counties. Delegates Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway represent District 37B, while Rich Colburn is the State Senator there. On the east side of Wicomico County and points farther south and east toward Ocean City and the Virginia border in District 38, a portion is represented by Delegate Page Elmore of District 38A while my State Senator is Lowell Stoltzfus. And as a courtesy to Congressional voters, where the list of local sponsors also includes State Senator Andy Harris I’m adding his name.
In this case, I’ll have both House and Senate bills so we’ll do the House side first in numerical order, followed by the Senate side. And as I did yesterday, I’ll link to the General Assembly site.
I’ll begin with HB189 (Eckardt, Haddaway), which lowers the permitted increase in property tax rates year-over-year to 5 percent, down from the current 10 percent. The county people may scream but property owners would catch a break if this were to pass. The bill was heard last week.
Similarly in a taxation vein, HB193 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway) increases the exclusion for estate taxes from $1 million to $2 million, which should help families maintain reasonably successful farms and business for another generation. This bill also had a hearing last week.
HB259 (Eckardt) provides that a person may not require the disclosure of a Social Security number unless required to by state or federal law. Unfortunately, this was shot down in committee last week.
Giving back-to-school shoppers a break on sales tax is the goal of HB291 (Eckardt, Haddaway). This would establish a 12-day sales tax holiday for certain items of clothing and footwear this August. It had a hearing last week.
Harassment on websites such as Myspace and Facebook would be addressed by HB344 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway); this expands the current law against threatening or harassing e-mails to postings on social networking sites.
Much like HB291 above, HB345 moves an existing August sales tax holiday scheduled to begin in 2010 up to 2008. It’s a different way to skin a cat, and had its hearing last week as well.
While I don’t believe in the concept of “hate” crimes (a crime is a crime to me), nevertheless HB528/SB111 (Eckardt, Haddaway) expands those protected classes to include the homeless. The House bill was heard in late January, while the Senate bill not surprisingly passed through the Judicial Proceedings committee.
Getting back to sanity, HB530 (Eckardt) proposes a Constitutional amendment designed to cap state spending growth to a factor determined by population growth plus inflation, with certain exceptions. This has a hearing scheduled for February 28.
Renewing their bid to put actual rules in place for video slot machines, HB557 (Eckardt) is the GOP’s failed legislation from 2007. (Last year it was known as HB25.) Once again they’ve scheduled a late hearing on March 13, the better to squash the bill before it has much of a chance to move.
HB608/SB417 (Eckardt, Elmore) is an “opt-in” provision that requires utility companies to be granted customer permission before adding an energy efficiency program surcharge to their utility bills. Don’t look for me to grant them permission or, in all likelihood, for this emergency bill to pass. Both House and Senate versions will be heard next week.
Not allowing “sanctuary” cities in Maryland is the impetus behind HB735/SB421 (Delegate Elmore, Senator Colburn). This would require local governments to “fully comply with and support” federal immigration laws. CASA de Maryland should already have February 27th reserved for the Senate and March 11th for the House.
Much like the aforementioned HB259, a bill to prohibit requiring Social Security numbers on the Homestead Property Tax Credit application is HB791/SB113 (Delegate Eckardt, Senators Colburn and Harris). The House hearing is February 28, while the Senate version was heard in January.
Once again, the GOP tries to make English the official state language with HB886 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway). This will be another late-session House hearing on March 12th.
Here’s another bill the Democrats will never let sneak through. HB1102 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway) “authoriz(es) the election director of a local board to remove a voter from the statewide voter registration list if the voter is not a citizen of the United States” after a review by the Clerk of the Circuit Court in each county. You can tell this puppy is being buried by the March 18th hearing date.
Likewise, HB1103 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway), a bill that mandates the State Administrator of Elections do an audit of the statewide voter registration list prior to each general election (every 2 years), is probably just as dead of a duck because it too has a March 18th hearing scheduled. Can’t have all those illegals and dead people booted off the voter rolls right before an election can we?
Another bill dealing with elections, HB1199 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway) requires either the presentation of a valid photo ID or swearing an affadavit of identification under penalty of perjury in order to vote. Same hearing date as the two above, and look for the NAACP and ACLU to show up in force at the House that day.
Again taking the time to introduce a bill almost certainly doomed to fail in our Democrat-controlled legislature, HB1299 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway) is called the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights; a Constitutional amendment that requires voter approval of new taxes, spending limits for the state, and a giveback of any surplus tax revenue to those who pay the taxes. And I thought the voter bills were being buried, this gets a hearing March 20th.
At the risk of offending the author of Mainstream Shore, I’ll point out that HB1345 (Eckardt, Elmore, Haddaway) is the Maryland Marriage Protection Act, which asks state voters to approve a Constitutional amendment specifying marriage is between one man and one woman. While it is not crossfiled, SB169 (Colburn, Stoltzfus, Harris) asks for essentially the same thing. The House bill is heard on the 28th, the Senate version had a hearing last week.
Now I’ll move to those bills which are strictly Senate bills.
SB34 (Colburn – sole sponsor) would require voters to prove they were United States citizens. This bill was actually prefiled so it had a January hearing.
SB40 (Harris – lead sponsor, Colburn) is a bill “Prohibiting public institutions of higher education from classifying specified individuals as in-State students for purposes of tuition remission; requiring the governing board of each public institution of higher education to adopt specified policies; etc.” There’s a hearing scheduled February 21st. That sort of settles the in-state tuition for illegals flap, doesn’t it?
Similarly to HB1199 above, SB136 (Harris – lead sponsor, Colburn) is a photo ID requirement for voting, but allows one who has no photo ID to cast a provisional ballot.
Looking out for our pocketbooks, SB151 (Colburn, Stoltzfus, Harris) was an attempt to rescind the 1 cent sales tax increase on the Eastern Shore. (Good idea, but about 5% too small in my estimation.) I note that it “was” because the Budget and Taxation Committee turned thumbs-down on it. Eastern Shore, I suspect you may thank the Democrats for that as well. It’s too bad committee votes aren’t public.
SB230 (Colburn, Harris) is the “Public School Collective Bargaining Sunshine Act”. What this would do is require collective bargaining agreements between the local boards of education and the collective bargaining units be made available to the public. This has a hearing on February 21st. Let’s see how quickly the teachers’ unions call on their Democrat toadies to shoot that one down, although the county boards might just follow close behind because many of them are elected to their posts.
Requiring those who apply for drivers’ licenses in Maryland to provide proof of citizenship or legal residency, SB621 (Colburn, Stoltzfus) has a hearing on February 26th. Look for the illegals lobby to be in full throat shouting that one down as well as the one below.
Last but not least, that same February 26th hearing slot is reserved for SB681 (Colburn), which would require law enforcement to alert ICE if it’s determined that a detainee is an undocumented alien. Of course, it’s no guarantee that ICE will show up to do its thing, but at least we’re trying.
So that is a look at just a few of the bills our local representatives to the General Assembly are backing. If you read through the body of work represented by each of our political parties, it should be obvious which party’s legislation has the interests of those of us who live on the Shore at heart, and which party uses their dominance to thwart common-sense legislation.