Weekly Update – March 26

Cross-over Week

This is “cross-over week” in the General Assembly – an insider’s term for the week before important bill deadlines.  Under the rules, each chamber has until Monday, March 28th to send to the other chamber those bills it intends to pass.  So, all the House Bills must be passed on to the Senate and vice versa.  Bills passed after that date must go to the respective chamber’s Rules Committee – a hurdle to avoid with less than three weeks remaining.  Cross-over week means multiple floor sessions and multiple committee voting sessions.  The pace is fast and the tension is high.

House Passes $34 Billion Budget

Contrary to what you may read in the Baltimore Sun, the House of Delegates passed a $34 billion budget Thursday night. 

During floor debate on the budget, Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell shares a chart illustrating Maryland's budget growth since 1979.

Spending is $1 billion more than last year and just about every special interest in Maryland is protected.  Well, every special interest except the taxpayers.

General Fund spending in this budget increases by 10.6% over last year.  This was largely because of the backfilling to replace Federal Stimulus dollars that are no longer available.  Had the necessary reductions been made two years ago, these increases would not have been necessary.  But, the Governor and Democratic leadership could not resist the temptation to use that temporary money to fund permanent programs.  So, here we are. 

 The budget was balanced with a combination of tax and fee increases including:

  • Doubling the Vehicle Titling Tax from $50 to $100
  • Doubling the Vanity Plate Fee from $25 to $50
  • Doubling the Land Recording Fees from $20 to $40
  • Doubling the Birth Certificate Fees from $12 to $24
  • Doubling the Parole Supervision Fee from $25 to $50
  • Increasing Nursing Home Tax from 4% to 5.5%
  • Increasing Hospital Assessments, adding 2.5% to rates
  • Applying a 2% Tax to Insurance Premiums for the Injured Workers Insurance Fund

The unsustainable nature of these spending increases will make the taxes and fees included in this budget a mere preview of things to come. 

What is important to remember is there was another option.  The House Republican Caucus offered an alternative budget that would have decreased spending and put Maryland on a course to lower taxes and fiscal stability.  The Democrats in the House of Delegates rejected this alternative at every turn.  So when the time comes for another round of massive tax increases and they tell you there is no choice but more taxes – don’t believe them. 

Transgender Bill

On track for passage today is HB 235 – Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination.  This bill would protect people who identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, or people who wish to dress in a manner that is not congruent with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

For example a male teacher who wishes to dress as a female must, without the benefit of a sex-change operation, be allowed to dress as a woman in the classroom and cannot be fired or punished for doing so.  An amendment to the bill adds that the employee must dress consistently.  A man may dress as a woman if he wishes, but he must consistently do so – he cannot switch back and forth.

The bill deals only with housing and employment.  In previous years similar bills have been introduced and have included the use of bathrooms and locker rooms, which are not included in the bill this year.  Further, the bill would protect transgendered and transsexuals from being discriminated against when renting property.  An amendment to the bill allows individuals to refuse a renter based on any criteria, but not to include discriminatory language in an advertisement.  For example, if Aunt Martha wants to rent out an apartment that she owns, and a transgender person wants to rent it, she’s free to refuse him if she wishes.  She cannot, however, put an advertisement in the newspaper that reads “Apartment for rent. One bedroom, one bath. Furnished. No smoking, no pets, no transgenders.” 

This bill has been flying under the media’s radar and may pass so the liberal Democrats in the General Assembly can appease their supporters in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender (GLBT) Community who are still upset with the failure of the Gay Marriage bill.

2 thoughts on “Weekly Update – March 26

  1. I just heard one that will not be good for Maryland:
    Virginia is for Lovers….. Maryland is for Transvestites!

  2. In the meantime Maryland’s economy continues to sink further into the Red while the O’Malley administration and the wonderful Dumbocrats in Annapolis promote bringing legalized gambling to your local Shopping Mall complexes, instead of already established gambling facilities (Don’t worry I’m sure they won’t allow your kids to slip over from the Mall to get in and see the attractions) , raising liquor taxes, and increasing transportation fees as a solution to provide the state with more money that will eventually be utilized to pay for nothing more than appeasing special interest groups for securing votes for the next election and over-inflated state project cost. Remember that if it’s a State funded project you’ll have those wonderful and cost efficient practices tied these projects through the laws of Prevailing Wage and MBE participation requirements ensuring the Maryland tax payers that they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck and that Maryland is being fair to the disadvantaged minorites that flourish throughout the Baltimore / Washington Metro Areas. But, that’s what it’s all about here in Maryland right?
    Politics and corruption run amuck and work very well hand in hand in this State.

    How about if the folks in Annapolis start actually working on the real issues here folks. That would require dealing with real solutions to the State’s budget shortfall.
    DEAL WITH IT LIKE THE REST OF US HAVE TO AND UTILIZE SOME COMMON SENSE.
    SPEND MONEY ONLY ON ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL NEEDS. EVEN IF IT MEANS YOU NEED TO PERMANENTLY SHUT DOWN AND ELIMINATE STATE FUNDED AGENCIES, DEPARTMENTS OR SPECIAL GROUPS OPERATING UNDER ANY DIRECT STATE FUNDING.
    COMMON SENSE DICTATES THAT YOU LEAVE FUNDING TO THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS ALONE. THESE FOLKS JOBS ARE WHAT YOU CALL “ESSENTIAL”. ALL THE REST ARE NON-ESSENTIAL.
    We all know that in the next few years Marylander’s will hear the same sad story again that the State’s Budget is in the Red so long as the same characters stay in their cushy government jobs in both Annapolis and the numerous state agencies. What happenned to the hundreds of Millions of Dollars that Maryland was raking in from tobacco taxes years ago? Marylander’s have seen this tobacco tax imposed on them on more than one occassion within the past few decades. So what’s happened? Did all the smokers leave Maryland. No, instead the Maryland State Govornment has gotten bitten by the hand that feeds them because they just kept taking more. A lot of folks have quit and others are purchasing tobacco out of state because it’s cheaper. Sooner or later something has to change. The priorities in Annapolis are not where they need to be and the decisions that need to be made are not being implemented, just like what we have going on in Washington, D.C. It seems that the folks in both Washington and Annapolis that don’t want to and won’t deal with what needs to be done are more concerned about holding onto their jobs than actually doing what they are elected to be doing.
    Sooner or later there will be nothing left so long as we have the same type characters in control in Annapolis. Until we replace them with folks that will end the feeding of the leaches sucking this state’s finances we’ll never get out nor stop digging the hole bigger while trying to fill it in by sucking more and more income from Maryland’s working class.

    Wake up Annapolis and do what you should be doing. There are plenty of Marylander’s and former Marylander’s that either already have or will “Vote with their feet” (R. Reagan). Many still work here, but they no longer live within the confines of the State of Maryland borders. Any ideas why they chose to move out of state?
    I am very much considering becoming one of them.

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