As the General Assembly session chugs along into its second half, we’re beginning to see more votes being taken during House sessions – no longer is the time being spent with first readers of new House bills. They’re also getting the bills passed by the Senate to consider.
Two key happenings on Monday were the traditional Washington’s Birthday speech given by a Democrat and a challenge to the same-sex marriage vote count. McDermott opined that Delegate John Olszewski’s speech on Washington “implied he liked taxes…but maybe he was referring to Washington, D.C.”
But more important is the vote count challenge, since it’s against House rules to have voted and not placed up on the board. As of this writing, the official count is 72-67 but Delegate John Bohanan’s vote was originally not counted, which is why initial reports had it 71-67. This challenge has meant the day’s journal is not yet official.
Yet this is also interesting because House rules in the past have allowed Delegates to change their vote; on occasion in doing my monoblogue Accountability Project I notice this and those who do so are penalized. (The same is not true for the Senate.) It will be interesting what the record eventually shows for Bohanon.
McDermott broke the three days of hearings conducted last week down into three distinct groups: Tuesday was “gun day,” Wednesday was “DWI day,” and Thursday was “family law day.” It seems to be the custom that similar bills are lumped together in a hearing scenario, and that probably helps assure that lobbyists on each side of these issues have their calendars in sync.
Mike lamented that pro-Second Amendment legislation normally didn’t even get a vote in his committee, while those bills which continue to make Maryland a state hostile to lawful gun owners will likely not only make it out of committee but probably reach the floor. McDermott’s view is that Maryland should join the 40 “shall issue” states and place the burden on the state as to why a person should not carry a gun instead of placing the onus on the person who wants to carry to give a reason why. My reason is that there’s a Second Amendment which says I can.
Regarding the DWI bills, Mike is a co-sponsor of several of these, but a couple in particular may raise the ire of civil libertarians. I think the second one could be a problem since the state uses so many unmarked police cars.
Mike noted that all three days had standing room only crowds, which bolsters my point about the lobbyists having the days circled on their calendar in advance.
There were also three bills voted out of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, with the only one I could find drawing opposition being HB96. Oddly enough, the 16-4 vote found four of the seven Republicans voting no, with McDermott and Delegate Michael Hough the only ones voting yes. (Delegate Don Dwyer was absent.) I’d be interested to know why they objected, with my one thought being that it limits a judge’s options in the case.
McDermott also noted the Senate’s work on Thursday, and compared it with how the House passed the gay marriage bill:
The Senate voted quickly on the O’Malley-Brown Same Sex Marriage Bill. They also created two legislative days out of one calendar day and passed the bill in the afternoon. No amendments were accepted onto the bill by the Democrats which could have at least made the bill better. These included amendments to address homosexual-same sex marriage curriculum in public schools and a prohibition on a minor being able to enter into a same sex marriage. As a result of these rejections, when the governor signs the bill into law next week a 16 year old boy will be able to marry a 40 year old man and our schools will be forced to instruct that same sex marriage is a normal option.
As a result, the referendum process has begun. The people of Maryland will have the last word when we force the issue into the ballot box. In the coming weeks, I will provide detailed information on how to get involved in the referendum. For those who helped in the referendum on Illegal Alien In-State Tuition last year, it will be the same process. We will now be on guard in the House for legislation that will seek to make the referendum process more complicated and arduous for the people. We know it is coming.
For his Friday “diary” Mike referred readers to the House Proceedings calendar to show the votes taken and bills passed. It’s worth noting that, out of 22 bills considered on the House docket for the day, 16 passed without a single “no” vote and three others with just token opposition. Only three had any significant force against them, and these dealt with the following subjects:
- HB74, which extended the life of the State Board of Certified Interior Designers
- HB104, which makes certain uses of a cell phone while driving a primary offense
- HB173, which allows an electronic signature to be placed on file for voter registration
I would say all three of these have some potential to be part of the monoblogue Accountability Project, with HB104 and HB74 the two most likely to be used. Unfortunately, these votes aren’t public record yet so I don’t know who voted correctly or incorrectly.
McDermott was also pleased with the advancement of two of his bills, which he claimed would save the state millions of dollars. (He also said this at the Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, which I’ll detail more tomorrow.) Interestingly enough, McDermott credits Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello with assisting on the bill.
Obviously it was a less stressful week than Week 6, but things will probably heat up as the budget bills begin to advance.
While Mike didn’t mention this, Friday also marked the day – since there was no legislative action on an alternative – that Governor O’Malley’s state gerrymandering officially became law, pending any court action of course. Now Mike shares District 38A with fellow Republican Delegate Charles Otto while the northeastern section of his old district becomes District 38C, an open seat. The parts of his former District 38B closest to Salisbury will presumably be left for Delegate Norm Conway to defend two years hence.