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Tomlinson: Legislators show Carroll voters made good choices

Maryland’s 2019 General Assembly Session officially wrapped up on April 8, or Sine Die, as it is referred to in the legislative parlance of Annapolis. State senators and delegates are scattering to the four corners of the state and returning to their homes in Oakland, Ocean City, North East and St. Mary’s City to see their constituents after 90 long days that included many twists and turns.

Many of us wonder if our legislators speak another language, given some of the bills that passed during this session. In the Book of Genesis, a united mankind who spoke one language gathered together in one place and attempted to build a tower to heaven, whereupon the Lord confounded the construction by making sure no one could communicate with each other in the same language. The Lord then scattered humanity across the world.

Our legislators who gathered in the City of Anne in a towering white wooden dome sure did not seem to understand what their constituents and Gov. Hogan were telling them. They passed bills raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, dissolving the Handgun Permit Review Board, banning polystyrene foam containers, allowing anyone breathing and with a pulse to register to vote on Election Day without providing any proof of citizenship, and reversing Hogan’s executive order mandating schools begin classes after Labor Day.

However, not all that transpired in Annapolis this session was Greek to the ears of folks in Carroll County. Republican legislators listened to their constituents and were able to pass some excellent bills and kill some terrible bills.

Several bills introduced this Session would have trampled all over our Second Amendment rights if they had passed. Senate Bill (SB) 737/House Bill (HB) 786 would have created a Long Gun Qualification License. Any individual without such a license would not legally be able to transfer or receive a long gun including rifles and shotguns. This would affect gun dealers, gun ranges that rent firearms, and anyone who wishes to give family members a gun as a gift. HB612 was seeking to outlaw the Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR rifle and force Marylanders who purchased the firearm after Oct.1, 2013 to dispose of them. Our Republican senators and delegates worked hard to make sure that these bills were laid to rest and will not cross the governor’s desk.

Two of the most important bills that passed during the 2019 Session were HB100/SB125, the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) State Operating Budget, and HB101/SB126, the FY20 State Capital Budget. Both budgets contain key provisions that will benefit the people of Carroll County.

The Governor’s Operating Budget included no tax increases and no new taxes. On the campaign trail, Hogan spoke about the excessive tax burdens Marylanders face, and he is living up to his promise by not only holding the line on new taxes, but by also eliminating and lowering several established taxes and fees.

On the Capital Budget side, Carroll County’s Delegation was able to secure funding for many important projects and organizations. Through two legislative bond initiative requests, our Delegation was able to get $200,000 for a turf field and $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster. Del. Haven Shoemaker and Sen. Justin Ready made it a priority to see that funding for these initiatives made it across the finish line.

According to the Department of Budget and Management, “The Water Supply Financial Assistance Program, through the Maryland Department of the Environment, provides grants to assist small communities in the acquisition, design, construction, and rehabilitation of publicly owned supply facilities throughout the State.” Thanks to Shoemaker, New Windsor is one of the five counties or towns that will receive grant funds under this program. New Windsor will receive $250,000 for water storage tanks. In the past, Carroll was often forgotten in the budget, but under Hogan’s leadership, it has been shown some love.

Maryland conservatives saw the sanctity of life under attack during this year’s legislative Session. HB399/SB311, “The End of Life Option Act,” otherwise known by proponents as the “death with dignity” bill, and by opponents as the “assisted suicide” bill, would have allowed an individual to request aid in dying, in the style of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. This measure was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation, and most experts predicted that it would pass. However, the Senate Republican leadership put in some overtime hours and convinced nine Democrats to vote against the bill, including Senate President Mike Miller. The vote came down to a 23-23 tie, meaning the bill failed.

HB1377/SB999, “Laura and Reid’s Law” was also a victory for those who value life. Ready, the bill’s primary sponsor, introduced it after Laura Wallen was murdered by her boyfriend after he learned that she was pregnant. Under Maryland law, Laura’s boyfriend could not be charged with double homicide despite taking the lives of both Laura and their unborn child, Reid. As a result of Ready’s bill, an individual who intentionally assaults a pregnant woman, knowing the woman is pregnant, will face an additional felony assault charge and a possible prison sentence of 10 years. Despite their small numbers, Senate Republicans fought against the odds and protected the lives of all Marylanders.

Although conservatives face an uphill battle in Annapolis, county voters made the right choice in 2018’s election when they voted for the State Senate, House of Delegates, and governor. Our representation in the General Assembly and at the executive level demonstrated they can find funding for projects and organizations, crush bad legislation, and pass meaningful bills that can make a real difference. They speak our language.

Christopher Tomlinson is a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee. He writes from Hampstead. Reach him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.

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