The McDermott notes: week 5

Because I posted last night, welcome to a Monday morning version of the McDermott notes.

Most of what Mike discussed from last week had to do with his spot on the Judiciary Committee, including a handful of committee votes on items which passed on their way through to the floor. These bills dealt with a number of items, and McDermott voted with the majority in sending them along. Interestingly enough, Delegate Michael Smigiel voted against HB111 and HB115, while Delegate Don Dwyer also voted against HB115. Delegates Michael Hough and John Cluster voted no on HB187. Out of that group, I can most see the civil libertarian vs. law-and-order argument on HB115 in particular. McDermott is a co-sponsor of two of these bills, so it follows he would support them. It’s not likely that any of these votes will rise to the level of the monoblogue Accountability Project, but you never know.

They also heard testimony on a number of bills, with the most prominent being various versions of “Caylee’s Law” being introduced. Because there are three versions of the bill out there, my guess is that there won’t be much problem passing one of them with the winner likely being the one sponsored by the “right” people. If I were a betting man I would wager they take HB20, slap the “Caylee’s Law” moniker on it, add the extra provisions of the bill in the GOP version (HB122) and call it a day. Makes it look like the Democrats had everything to do with it.

Another area of interest during testimony last week were animal laws. One bill the Judiciary Committee heard established a class of “at-risk” owners who have “dangerous” dogs. If little Johnny next door teases your dog mercilessly and is bitten in return, the way I read this law is that your dog could be considered “dangerous” and you would be subject to this law. I love unintended consequences. The other bill established that owners who are convicted of animal cruelty will also be liable for the cost of taking care of their seized animals. I can see the point of this, but I think it should be left at the court’s discretion rather than be mandatory.

They also dealt with a number of child support bills which would affect thousands of families in Maryland.

McDermott also mentioned some of the bills he introduced in the last few days before bills would be need to go through the Rules Committee for late introduction: HB984 would stiffen penalties for driving under the influence of controlled dangerous substances, and HB999 would make it a crime to not report child abuse.

But HB1032 sort of takes the cake for me, and makes me shake my head about the litigious society we have. I really don’t want to go to Plow Days or have little Johnny take his class farm tour and have to see this sign when common sense should dictate. It would be better to have judges who would simply laugh those fools who litigate such actions out of court.

There wasn’t much to tell about the Eastern Shore delegation meeting, according to Mike. They heard from Senator Mikulski’s office and discussed the budget with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which Mike contends is being cut too much in the area of prevention.

Finally, Mike devoted a paragraph to the lengthy (10+ hour) joint committee hearing on the subject of gay marriage. It appears McDermott will be a steadfast vote against these bills – in other words, for upholding the state law that marriage is only between one man and one woman. I would tend to think his district agrees with him on this for the most part, and I concur with that assessment as well. McDermott also stated:

I did ask (Governor O’Malley, who led off the testimony) why we simply did not put this issue before all of the voters as a referendum on the ballot…particularly when we thought enough about gambling to put that on the ballot for the people to decide.

I notice O’Malley testified first, so he didn’t have to wait until late in the evening to say his piece. Not knowing how the hearing shook out, it would be interesting to find out if those who are in favor of the change stuck around when those who oppose the bill testified (and the inverse as well.) My guess is that the “tolerant” side wasn’t so much when bill opponents testified, but I would have to have eyewitnesses to know for sure.

As the session nears its halfway point, we’ll begin to see more floor votes and fewer hearings. Bills are now getting through committee, so the impetus will be getting those which are slam-dunks through first and leaving the controversial ones for next month.