Subtitled: one man’s tale of how Democrats run things in Annapolis.
I had heard some rumblings about funny business when it came to HB28, a bill to require proof of legal presence before receiving public benefits. There was a hearing last week but apparently only opponents of the bill were allowed to speak.
To give a little background, this is the fourth year in a row similar legislation has been introduced, and every time it has died in Delegate Norm Conway’s Appropriations Committee. Last year Conway voted against it, and presumably he’s done so in previous years as well (committee votes only went online in 2010.)
This account of the hearing comes from Howard County resident Tom Young, and although I’ve shortened it a little bit for brevity the conduct of Conway seems pretty shameful. Good thing I didn’t vote for him.
As an involved citizen in my community, I have attended and testified at Maryland House and Senate public hearings in Annapolis for almost ten years now. On February 1, 2011, I drove in from Howard County to testify in favor of a bill submitted by Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-Calvert/St. Mary’s) HB 28 – “Public Benefits – Requirement of Proof of Lawful Presence” – assigned to the Appropriations Committee.
It’s an important piece of legislation which would deny most non-emergency, taxpayer funded social services to those without lawful presence in our state. In a time of economic hardship for many citizens and massive budget deficits at the state and county level, HB 28 holds the promise of eliminating waste, fraud and abuse from overburdened public benefit programs.
Upon my arrival in Annapolis, I signed in to speak in support of HB 28 (and HB 34) as is proper procedure, along with others, and sat down in the hearing room to wait for my name to be called. The hearing, chaired by Delegate Norman Conway (D-Wicomico/Worcester) started off like any other. Delegate O’Donnell presented his bill to the committee, but instead of those in favor of HB 28 being called up to testify first, Delegate Conway changed standard protocol and immediately called up those opposed to HB 28 to appear at the witness table. Clearly Delegate Conway had a personnel (sic) agenda to fulfill by slighting Delegate O’Donnell and those in the room supporting HB 28.
For the next hour plus, I had to listen to the anti-citizen, pro-illegal alien nonsense espoused by groups such as CASA of Maryland, the ACLU and multiple Catholic and other ethnic/religious based groupsas to why it was “our moral duty” to provide taxpayer funded social services to illegal aliens, residents who clearly have no moral or legalright to be in Maryland.
When these groups where finished, Delegate Conway abruptly ended the hearing and quickly disappeared into the back of the hearing room. At no time were those in the audience asked if there were any in attendance who wanted to testify in favor of HB 28. I rose and voiced my protest of this violation of my rights to testify at this public hearing but no one listened, including my own Delegate Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County) who told me it was a “mistake”.
I took time off from my struggling business to testify in favor of HB 28. I properly signed in as did others to support HB 28. Delegate Conway, a disciple of Governor O’Malley, obviously thinks that sincethe Democrats “won big” in the recent elections that opposing views by citizens on issues are no longer needed.
Delegate Conway’s office is now issuing statements that no one signed up to speak in favor of HB 28; that was quickly modified that citizens signed up for the wrong bill. Tomorrow I sure it will be a different story. Again this is not my first hearing. I know the drill, and I signed in to provide oral testimony against HB 28 along with others. The bottom line is that my right to address the government and to free speech was blatantly violated by Conway and his Democratic committee cronies.
On February 1, 2011, my Constitutional protections were violated in Annapolis. Where do I go now to have my voice heard on Maryland-wide issues? Do Maryland’s elected officials, like Delegate Conway, now believe they can tell me when, where and what I can say? I will return to Annapolis to give testimony throughout the current session, especially against proposed In-State Tuition for illegal aliens. I now know the levels the dominate (sic) party in office will go to in forcing their lawless agenda on our citizens. I will not run nor hide. I will dedicate myself to exposing their actions for all Marylanders to see.
One criticism I’ve leveled at Conway over the years was how he would talk like a conservative in the district but return to Annapolis and vote like a far-left liberal. Now it appears he’s learned the rest of the routine from special interests in the state capital.
And to think that last fall we could have installed a far better representative in Marty Pusey – sure, she wouldn’t lead the Appropriations Committee but she would have inched the GOP closer to the magic number of 47 needed to work around the committee process. I bet there’s a few Democrats not on the Appropriations Committee who would crap a brick if they actually had to return to their districts and explain why they voted against such a bill on the floor.
I’ll grant that I have never personally gone to Annapolis to testify for or against a bill although I have submitted written testimony on a previous occasion. However, it seems to me as a common man that theirs is already an intimidating process and those in the General Assembly’s majority would prefer to keep it that way. If you figure that Mr. Young, who only lives a relatively short distance from Annapolis, still had to spend the better part of an afternoon in vain, imagine what it’s like for someone on the Lower Shore or out in Garrett County. Most people who prefer limited government also have to work for a living and can’t take several days off work to address every pet issue; thus it falls into the hands of special interests local to the Annapolis area for the most part. (There are a few conservative groups who surely do a yeoman’s job at this too, but they are far outnumbered.)
Now if Delegate Conway has his side of the story I’ll gladly hear it, but based on his past record on this bill I doubt this bias was purely accidental and unintentional. He knows where his bread is buttered just as well as we do.
The only thing which would accrue to Norm’s credit, as opposed to the sales tax reduction I wrote on earlier, is that at least HB28 should get a committee vote and not be locked away in his desk drawer. Most likely it will split almost on party lines with Appropriations Committee Republicans voting in the state’s interest while those Democrats oppose.
It’s a long way to 2014, but surely there will be many more examples of arrogance and deceit to follow.