MD General Assembly Week 9 in Review

The 9th week of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2016 session brings us closer to the conclusion of the session, but there is still much excitement to come.

Earlier this week, we discussed the March for Life, the attempt to ban toy guns, the war on Maryland agriculture, and many bad bills. Here are some of the other issues that were heard:

Mandatory Pensions for All Program

Today, the Senate Budget and Taxation committee heard SB 1007, a bill which would establish a retirement system for Marylanders without access to a retirement plan. Under the plan, the state would create the “Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program and Trust,” and that agency would collect 3% of an eligible individual’s wage to participate unless that individual opts-out.

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It is a mandatory retirement program that requires people to weave through a complicated process to prevent the state from taking even more of their money from their paychecks. Additionally, the agency will also collect a 1% administrative fee and, according to the Fiscal Note, “The State may not be held liable for thepayment of retirement savings benefits payable by the program or trust.”

This bill takes money from the citizens, hands it over to the state, pays the state a cut, and does not guarantee even the original investment to be returned to those who are forced to contribute. Also, the account that would keep these retirement funds will not be secure from being raided, and which happened with the state employee pension fund.

The cross-file bill, HB 1378, will be heard Tuesday, March 15, in the House Economic Matters committee.

Defanging the Governor

The legislature’s partisan war on Governor Hogan for being a Republican continued in the State Senate with SB 555 making it out of committee. The bill would strip out the Governor’s ability to fill vacancies from the Maryland Constitution.

Similar legislation was passed in Massachusetts after the Democrat run state legislature did not want their Republican governor to fill political vacancies. This led to a referendum that allowed Republican Scott Brown to become Senator.

If this bill passes both houses, it would go to referendum in the November election to be decided on by the people.

Environmentalist’s War on Rural Maryland

On Wednesday’s update, we mentioned that SB 198, which would ban pesticides essential to farming, passed 32-14 in the Senate.

Although there was no scientific basis for the bill, 2 Republicans voted in support: Robert Cassilly (Harford 34) and Andrew Serafini (Washington 2). The bill will now be heard in the House of Delegates Environment and Transportation committee, but a hearing date has not yet been assigned. The House cross-file, HB 211, has not yet had a committee vote.

Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery 18) continued his war on Maryland farming with SB 761, which would make the Attorney General a pseudo-union representative for contract farmers. This bill was promoted by an anti-Perdue advocate who joined with Sen. Madaleno to attack chicken manure.

An attempt to further limit and prevent fracking in Maryland (SB 361) will be heard on the floor of the State Senate on Monday, March 15. There is no legal or environmental basis for the language of the bill, and it creates a legal liability without cause.

In Defense of the Taney Statue

One of the major issues of trivia importance this session was the desire by some to white wash Maryland’s past: changing the state’s song, altering the state’s motto, and the removal of the Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney statue outside of the State House.

Opponents to the existence of the Taney statue believe that Taney represented slavery itself. As Supreme Court Justice, Taney upheld slavery under the Dred Scott decision. Taney did not create slavery: it was part of the Constitution. Taney had no authority to ban slavery: it was part of the Constitution. A Supreme Court Justice cannot rewrite the Constitution, only the people could, and it took the 14th Amendment to ban slavery.

What Taney did do was serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for 28 years, and he is the highest serving Marylander in any office. The only other Supreme Court Justice, the only one who could match Taney’s prestige, is Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was descended from slaves. A statue honoring Marshall sits on the other side of the State House, in Lawyer’s Mall.

Together, the statues symbolically show where Maryland once was and where Maryland is heading in the future, with Taney at the rear of the State House and Marshall guardian the entrance.

Ultimately, it was decided that the Taney statue would be too heavy to move.

Upcoming Legislation

Here are some important bills that will be heard soon:

Legislative bond bills will be heard tomorrow, 3/12, and Monday, 3/14, in the House of Delegates Appropriations committee. Last week, we provided a breakdown of who wants your money.

SB 908 would divert transportation funds from rural projects to expensive urban only projects. Hearing Budget and Taxation 3/14

HB 1389 would cut down on voter fraud. Hearing Ways and Means – 3/14

Many gun bills will be heard in the House Judiciary committee on 3/15.

HB 1319 would help make people aware that the Chesapeake Bay exists. Hearing Health and Government Operations – 3/15

SB 690 would require unions to re-poll their members through secret ballot once every 4 years to recertify the existence of the union, which will prevent many current abuses. Hearing Finance – 3/15

SB 1123 would make it more dangerous for drivers and further congest roads. Hearing Judicial Proceedings – 3/17

SB 940 would kill Maryland jobs by raising wages far above neighboring states. Hearing Finance – 3/17

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