As the saying goes "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Nowhere is that more true than in the Maryland General Assembly, when the checkbooks and liberties of average Marylanders are under a yearly assault from Gov. Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly leadership.
There are thousands of bills that will be before the General Assembly this year. Many of them will be passed with zero testimony by average citizens and by unanimous votes in the General Assembly. You can have a role in passing good legislation or stopping bad legislation merely by showing up in Annapolis to testify or by contacting your legislators.
I can't recommend enough the website Maryland Legislative Watch, which is keeping an eye on all of the bills coming before the General Assembly this year and has been compiling voting records on all pieces of legislation from the last two sessions. Elizabeth Myers and her team go above an beyond the call of duty to make this information available to you, and I urge you to visit http://www.marylandlegislativewatch.com to keep on top of this information.
There are, of course, a number of high-profile issues that the General Assembly will be taking up this year:
- Budget: Passing a balanced budget is the only Constitutional requirement that the General Assembly has on a yearly basis. Given the governor's creative bookkeeping and the fact that it is an election year, the budget will likely have so many ornaments on it this year in the guise of new programs and new discretionary spending that it will look like a Christmas tree. And this despite the fact that O'Malley is about to leave a huge structural deficit in the state budget or the next administration.
- Taxes: General Assembly terms are broken into two distinct periods; a three-year period, when Democratic leadership looks to raise taxes and fees on average Marylanders, and an election year period when Democrats pretend to be for tax cuts by passing bills that provide for menial tax cuts or tax credits. Given the fact that Governor O'Malley and the Democrats have raised taxes more than 40-times with no positive results for our state budget or for taxpayers, don't expect much substantive relief.
- Minimum Wage: Democrats are often complaining about creating jobs in our state. Instead of passing laws that will reduce taxes or regulatory burdens, they are going to take the opposite tack and push for a minimum wage hike that is a recipe for catastrophe, doomed to destroy jobs and put people out of work.
- Marijuana Legalization: Senate President Mike Miller has come out recently for, if not outright legalization, then decriminalization of marijuana possession for recreational use. Despite the fact that we have people who are suffering with no jobs and dim economic prospects, left-wing Democrats seem hellbent on making this a high-profile issue.
--Brian Griffiths is a co-founder and contributing editor for Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. He is chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans. and has worked on and advised numerous local, state and federal campaigns. His Red Maryland posts appear here regularly.