'It's imperative we do whatever it takes to protect our kids' [Commentary]

One of a series of weekly commentaries from Harford County state legislators regarding the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session.

I’d like to begin by saying that the passing of Sen. Wayne Norman has been a great loss to the people of Harford County.

As my vice chairman on the Harford County Delegation, Wayne was genuine and always had the best interests of his constituents at heart.

My staff and I are keeping the senator and his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Wayne was a stand-up man and will be sorely missed by all.

Last year and once again this year, I introduced legislation which would allow local school boards to enact programs that would arm select school staff members as a means of protecting our children.

My bill, HB 760, is enabling legislation which would allow each respective school system to determine what program, if any, would be best suited to meet their needs.

Iintroduced HB 760 this session prior to the tragedy that took place in Florida.

As a result of that incident, Florida passed and signed into law legislation that enacts similar programs.

That brings the total to over 15 states that have implemented comparable policies.

It’s imperative we do whatever it takes to protect our kids.

The situation with Transource is ongoing and currently before the public service commission.

It’s a direct result of the deregulation of utility companies and Maryland’s failed energy policy.

Relying on renewable energy such as solar and wind has forced Maryland to become energy dependent on out of state sources.

Ironically, those sources come from upwind states that are powering us with coal and natural gas generated electricity.

Maryland is now facing the loss of thousands of acres of pristine forest and farmland to be covered by power lines and solar panels.

This is why I’ve introduced HB 784 to repeal the eminent domain authority given to private, for-profit power companies.

This bill will revisit how these rights-of-way should be used and who should own them.

Harford County shouldn’t have unnecessary power lines blighting our landscape like giant clotheslines on what’s left of our rural horizon. We need to protect our family farmers, our property owners and our rural heritage.

Concerning the opioid issue, I’ve worked closely with Sheriff Jeff Gahler and have supported all of his initiatives to keep our county safe.

Once again, I’ve reintroduced legislation which would empower state’s attorneys with the ability to charge dealers of fentanyl laced heroin with aggravated murder when a death results from use of the drug.

The sale of heroin is already murder for profit; the sale of fentanyl laced heroin is merely murder for greater profit.

These dealers are serial killers and must be held accountable for the pain, suffering and deaths they’re inflicting.

Possession and distribution charges alone do not provide justice for what I view as murder and I see no reason why our laws should continue to protect criminals and the drug trade.

But, the Judiciary Committee is largely a committee of lawmakers for lawbreakers dedicated to protecting villains over victims.

Unfortunately, this legislation has been held up in the rules committee.

The situation involving the Ansar Housing Complex in Joppa is slowly moving through the court system.

The feds set up hearing dates for the fair housing complaint.

Depositions are being taken in the federal lawsuit against myself and the county, while the Writ of Mandamus case is still awaiting a hearing date.

The county filed an attorney’s grievance complaint against me in that case, which was quickly rejected by the grievance board and determined to be unfounded.

Due to the federal lawsuit, I’m limited as to what I can say further concerning this issue other than I will continue to work on the behalf of the people and take a stand for fair housing.

Another major issue pending in the General Assembly is that of state subsidies for Amazon, which I personally refer to as corporate welfare.

I believe what is holding us back in Maryland is the corporate income tax on business.

We would be better off if we reduced that tax rate in hopes of bringing more businesses to Maryland rather than simply offering everything we have to one company.

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