Senator Bryan Simonaire Exploits Suicide by Veterans for Political Gain
Republican State Senator Bryan Simonaire has decided that it would be politically expedient to use the very important issue of suicide by veterans to his own crass political gain.
On his Facebook page this morning, Simonaire touted the fact that the entire Senate sponsored his Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Act.
There’s only one problem. There is no Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Act. Even the picture Simonaire uses for this post exposes this fact as the bill being voted on, pictured above, is clearly labeled the bill by its actual title: Veterans Affairs – Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program – Establishment.
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So what does the bill actually do? According to the Maryland General Assembly website synopsis of SB441:
Establishing the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program in the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify eligible veterans who may participate in the Program and be paired with service dogs, provide additional funding mechanisms to assist veterans, and encourage successful Program participants to assist in outreach to identify potential participants; requiring the Department to select nonprofit entities to implement a training protocol, select participants, and provide services and training to specified veterans; etc.
Notice that the word “suicide” does not actually appear in that synopsis. Upon review of the actual text of SB441, you will note that the word “suicide” does not appear anywhere in the entirety of the seven pages of the bill.
The bill isn’t actually about suicide. It’s about service dogs. In fact, one of the provisions of Simonaire’s bill gives nonprofit entities engaged in the training of service dogs for veterans the right to terminate the ability for a disabled veteran to receive a service dog if the nonprofit entity believes that the disabled veteran’s participation in the program and the use of a service dog is detrimental to the well-being of the animal or the disabled veteran.
This bill has nothing to do with “Veteran’s Suicide Prevention” and Senator Bryan Simonaire is lying when it says it does.
The real shame of Simonaire’s deception? Is the fact that there is nothing wrong with this bill. Nothing whatsoever. According to the Fiscal Note, the net costs to the state is $147,000 for Fiscal Year 2018. The fact that every Senator sponsored bill shows a uniquely bipartisan commitment to the health of disabled veterans.
There was no need for Bryan Simonaire to lie about the purpose of the bill. But he did it anyway.
This, of course, continues a disturbing trend in the career of Senator Simonaire, who has always been more interested in getting headlines than working for conservative principles in the State Senator. As I wrote last year:
Simonaire’s a Senator who hardly has a record to boast of in Annapolis. He’s best known best for breaking his term limits pledge (he pledged to serve two terms, is currently in his third, and is planning to run for a fourth) and for being more interested in filing legislation that will get his name in the paper (see exhibit A and exhibit B among others). He’s certainly more interested in chasing headlines than defending his conservatism, and that’s before we ever get to his support of junk science bills like this one.
And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Simonaire refused to participate in the walkout by Republican State Senators who were protesting the partisan Democratic power grab to hand unconstitutional powers to Attorney General Brian Frosh. When we actually needed Bryan Simonaire to take a stand, he sat on his hands.
Maybe he was too busy trying to set up his family political dynasty or violating Senate Ethics laws to join in that protest.
Instead of a principled conservative Senator, the people of District 31 are subjected to attempt after attempt at cheap publicity such as this one. Bryan Simonaire decided to use the real and serious issue of suicide by veterans to feather his political hat in a ham-handed attempt to scare off a well-funded Republican challenger in 2018. On average, over 20 military veterans commit suicide every day. But Bryan Simonaire doesn’t actually care about that; he only cares about how he can capitalize off these suicides as a political issue in an effort to portray himself as “doing something” about it on an unrelated bill. It’s shady, and it’s unscrupulous, and both the Republican Party and the people of Pasadena deserve better from their Senator.
Bryan Simonaire owes veterans everywhere an apology for his disturbing politicization of a serious issue like veteran suicides.