Members Making News February 17th-23rd

A collection of media coverage of our Caucus members this week.

 

 

  • After the Kirwan Commission released their preliminary report that offered recommendations for improving schools in Maryland, but without any suggestions of how to solve the state’s current funding formula, Delegate Haven Shoemaker expressed his dissapoint over the commission’s inability to address the funding formula that could help Carroll County schools. Speaking of how the commission poorly used their time to produce the report, Delegate Shoemaker said, “Government seems to do that a lot…Equally concerning is that very little time has been devoted to fixing the funding formula currently in place in Maryland which shortchanges Carroll County because we’ve had declining enrollment, but we’re considered rich. This needs to be fixed pronto.” To read more about this issue, click here to be redirected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Republican Leaders Applaud Decision to Drop Charges Against 2nd Amendment Activists

2nd Amendment Arrest

Annapolis – House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga today applauded the dropping of charges against two 2nd Amendment activists who were arrested in front of the State House on Monday night. Kevin and Jeff Hulbert, members of The Patriot Picket, an organization that supports 2nd Amendment rights and stage peaceful protests during the legislative session, were arrested during a protest Monday night. The charges against them were dropped today.

“This arrest never should have happened,” said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. “Citizens have a sacred right to free speech which applies everywhere but especially at the Maryland State House. These gentlemen have been coming to Annapolis to lawfully express their views for years. I am relieved the charges against these gentlemen have been dropped and want to thank Governor Larry Hogan, Speaker Mike Busch, and State’s Attorney Wes Adams who I believe all shared my concerns about this unacceptable incident. The Capitol Police do a fantastic and not often easy job; I look forward to working with them to ensure something like this never happens again to anyone lawfully expressing their First Amendment rights.”

“Unimpeded political speech is a cornerstone of our democracy and a sacred right held by all Americans,” said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. “While I am glad to see the charges dropped, this arrest never should have happened. I hope this incident serves as a learning opportunity for the Capitol Police and they can, in the future, strike the appropriate balance and protect the public without impeding on free speech. Otherwise, this arrest could have people thinking twice before they come to Annapolis to express their views. That would be a travesty.”

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House Republican Caucus Unanimously Re-Elects Kipke and Szeliga

nic-and-kathy-photo-17Annapolis – House Republicans today unanimously re-elected Delegate Nic Kipke and Delegate Kathy Szeliga to serve as House Minority Leader and House Minority Whip.

Delegates Kipke and Szeliga have served in these leadership rolls since 2013.

“I am honored to have the continued support of my colleagues,” said Kipke. “We are so fortunate to have such a fantastic group of leaders in our Caucus with diverse backgrounds, careers, and experiences. They all work tremendously hard to better the lives of those they represent. I am grateful for their confidence and for the opportunity to serve with them. We have a great task ahead of us as we work with Governor Hogan to bring common sense back to Annapolis.”

“The coming legislative session looks to be a contentious one,” said Delegate Kathy Szeliga. “The Democratic majority is furious that Governor Hogan is so popular and they’re focused on ignoring their own constituents by undermining the good work he has done for our state. Our members are ready to help Governor Hogan fight for common-sense solutions to the challenges our state faces.”

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House Republicans Fight Against Automatic Pay Increases

The subject of automatic pay increases has become more heated as the 2014 Legislative Session comes to a close. Since the start of the session, House Republicans have attempted to force a vote to block automatic pay increases, but have been twice thwarted by the Democratic Majority who has buried the resolutions in the House Rules Committee. A letter was also sent to House Speaker Mike Busch in February protesting the increases. (Click here to read it.)

The above video shows highlights from the floor debate led by Delegate Cathy Vitale (Anne Arundel), Delegate Herb McMillan (Anne Arundel) and Delegate Kelly Schulz (Frederick) where House Republicans attempted to force a floor vote on the pay increases. They were defeated 48-87. Below is a copy of the official voting record. The “yea” votes for were a floor vote on the pay increases, the “nay” votes were against the vote, so effectively a “nay” vote was a vote for a pay increase.

WP_20140401_002

With time in the Session running out, it grows more unlikely that those resolutions will be heard and voted on; and if nothing is done, the pay increase will automatically go into effect.

House Republicans oppose these pay increases because the job of a legislator is supposed to be a part-time job. It’s a job you take for the honor of serving the public, not for a salary. Maryland has a citizen legislature and being a Delegate or Senator was never designed to be full-time employment. This pay increase becomes even more hypocritical as we learned last month that Maryland lost nearly 10,000 jobs in February. The legislators that want to give themselves a raise are the same legislators that raised taxes, tolls and fees more than 80 times over the last 7 years and continue to promote policies that are costing Maryland much-needed jobs as citizens have to work even harder to make this state their home. 

House Republicans Present Plan for Maryland’s Fiscal Future

Annapolis, Md. – Today, House Republicans announced their alternative budget plan in response to the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s FY2015 budget proposal that raises overall spending by more than $2 billion over last year. This represents a cumulative spending increase of $10.6 billion since they took office in 2007.

2014 Budget Growth (2)“Despite more than 80 tax, fee and toll increases since 2007, the O’Malley/Brown Administration relies on broken promises and one-time fixes to balance the budget,” said Delegate Gail Bates (Howard). “This is poor management. We cannot steal from the pensions of our hardworking state employees or codify ‘one time fixes’ like hijacking county highway user revenues to fund more wasteful and mismanaged programs.”

“Continuing on this misguided path is irresponsible and ties our hands in the future,” said Delegate Andrew Serafini (Washington). “We will be forced to choose between two bad options: more taxes or deep cuts. What major programs will we have to cut or what taxes will we have to raise because we cannot exercise fiscal discipline today?”

The House Republican alternative budget proposal limits spending growth to just 1% over last year, restores the contribution to the state pension fund, and leaves a fund balance to cushion against possible revenue shortfalls later this year.

“We believe our budget proposal protects the promises made by our state,” said Delegate Tony McConkey (Anne Arundel). “The Republican budget plan fully funds pensions and reduces the fiscal cliff facing Maryland by responsibly restraining spending in next year’s budget.”

The State of the State: Separating Fact from Fantasy

confusedomalleyGovernor O’Malley claims he cut spending by $9.1 billion

Budget Growth 2014

Really?! Take a look at the numbers!

Nearly 80 increases in taxes, tolls, and fees, $9.1 billion in spending increases, and we still have a deficit. An annual unemployment rate that remains static, even as America’s unemployment rate decreases. The third highest rate of food stamp growth in America. The fourth highest home foreclosure rate in America.
This is the REAL State of the State;
because we can’t spend our way out of a deficit, or tax ourselves into prosperity.

O’Malley/Brown Administration Gets Dizzy Spinning Jobs Numbers

It appears that the O’Malley/Brown Administration got a little dizzy while spinning the rather dismal July jobs report. Given that Maryland lost nearly 10,000 jobs last month, that’s understandable. It takes a lot of spin to try to turn that kind of job loss into anything positive.

In July, Maryland had the third worst job numbers in the country, and unemployment increased from 7% to 7.1%, while US unemployment “edged down.”

Governor O’Malley said in a statement that while the job numbers were disappointing, Maryland demonstrates “tremendous economic strength”.  He said that Maryland’s unemployment rate, while high, “remains four percent below the national average”. The Governor went on to mention, as he is wont to do, Maryland’s Triple A bond rating  – as if that’s related to jobs.

Let’s take a moment to peel back the layers of the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s self-serving rhetoric. The Unemployment Rate for the United States in July 2013 is 7.4%. Maryland’s unemployment rate rose to 7.1%. That is a 0.3% difference not a 4% difference as the Governor claims. Perhaps it is just more O’Malley/Brown Math, like their claims to have cut the budget as they have increased state spending by more than $7 billion.  They also failed to mention that the last three jobs reports have been bad for Maryland.

It is the worst kind of arrogance to tell people who have lost their jobs and families who are fighting to keep the wolves from the door that they should take comfort in the knowledge that their state has a great Triple A bond rating. What about the gas tax increase, sales tax increase, toll increases and fee increases that take money out of every family’s pocket in Maryland?  The time has long past for the O’Malley/Brown Administration to abandon the “Let Them Eat Cake” policy that has guided them, and yet they continue to repeat this nonsense while praising their progressive utopia.

Maryland’s alleged “economic strength” is as nonsensical as the rest of the drivel coming from the O’Malley/Brown Administration. If you really want to look at a state that can boast that title, you need only look across the Potomac to Virginia. Virginia is just as vulnerable to sequestration as Maryland is – if not more so. But if you compare the job numbers, you see two very different stories. Maryland’s July Unemployment rate was 7.1%, Virginia’s was 5.7%. Maryland lost 4,900 private sector jobs in July, while Virginia gained 4,100. According to the Tax Foundation, Maryland has lost more than 66,000 taxpayers between 2000 and 2010, with a loss of more than $5.5 billion in taxable income. On the other hand, Virginia gained nearly 129,000 new residents and an additional $1.1 billion in taxable income over that same time period (and before sequestration).

The reality of the situation is that the O’Malley/Brown Administration has been on a tax-and-spend frenzy since they were sworn into office in 2007. They blew through a surplus, increased taxes, tolls, and fees over 70 times and did NOTHING to soften the blow of the federal cutbacks that everyone knew were on the horizon. The havoc that the O’Malley/Brown policies will wreak on Maryland will be felt long after Governor O’Malley marches off to his next big gig. The sad part is that if the Governor had spent more time doing his job rather than running for his next job, the status of Maryland’s jobs would not be so bleak.

The House Republican Caucus realizes that tax relief is needed now if Maryland is to recover its strength and be a state where citizens can grow up, attend college, start businesses, raise families and retire without an ever-present hand in their wallets. Our Caucus is planning a significant tax relief package that will be introduced in advance of the 2014 Legislative Session. We will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, citizens are encouraged to connect with us at www.houserepublicancaucus.com and www.facebook.com/mdhousegop to share their ideas and experience.

Del. Nicholaus Kipke
House Minority Leader

Del. Kathy Szeliga
House Minority Whip