In the fall of 2013, I was elected by my peers in the Republican caucus as the Senate Minority Whip. It was a great honor to be selected as the second highest-ranking member of our caucus and to lead the floor strategies and debates during the 2014 session.
Also last fall, I was also appointed to a new assignment on the Senate Budget & Tax Committee. Indeed, the 2014 session provided an entirely different legislative experience for me as I used these positions to benefit Carroll and Baltimore counties in the budget process.
The Budget & Tax Committee is considered the most powerful group of 13 legislators in Annapolis (for example, the jurisdiction for budget and tax policy in the House is split between two separate committees for a total of 46 Delegates). When I sit as a member of the Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee, I am one of only four Senators who provide budget oversight of state agencies for education, higher education and economic development.
As a member of Budget & Tax, I was able to tackle difficult issues with significant ramifications for Carroll County, including:
1. Carroll's Fair Share of State Funding for Education: I led the effort to restore over $3 million of education funds to Carroll County through budget amendments adopted by the full Senate. Unfortunately,this funding was not protected by our local Delegates and the funds were deleted in the House budget. With the pension cost shift, it is essential that Carroll receive its fair share of state funding or else the County Commissioners will have to raise local property taxes to fund education.
2. Making Carroll's Rain Tax Exemption Legally-Binding: The rain tax law specifically requires each jurisdiction to create a new "impervious surface" tax. Sen. Brinkley and I introduced budget language adopted by the Senate that allows Carroll County to be exempt from the new tax. Our amendment applied to all ten counties by offering an alternative based upon dedication of property tax revenues. After intense opposition from the environmental lobby, our amendment was partially rejected by the House but the Senate held firm and legally-binding language that allows Carroll and Frederick counties to be exempt from the new tax was adopted by the full General Assembly.
3. Supporting Carroll's Nonprofits and Their Local Fundraising Initiatives: For the fourth time this term, the Senate passed a local nonprofit gaming bill solely applying to Carroll County as requested by the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association. However, when our local Delegates voted against state gaming legislation in recent years, it put them at a disadvantage to then advocate for a local gaming bill as sound public policy without appearing hypocritical. Again this year, the stand-alone Carroll County gaming bill passed in the Senate but failed in the House.
4. Improving Opportunities for the Developmentally Disabled Community: The Carroll County Senators sponsored a capital bond bill that received $175,000 to support The ARC of Carroll County and their strategic plan to renovate their existing facility. This initial support will assist the ARC in leveraging other donations towards their goal of insuring quality services in a renovated community facility for Carroll County's developmentally disabled citizens and their families.
I am excited about the opportunities for representing Carroll County if I am elected in the 2014 election. We have been fortunate in the past to have distinguished Senators, such as Charles "Bus" Smelser, Raymond E. Beck, Sr., and David Brinkley,to provide a strong conservative voice on Budget & Tax while ensuring that Carroll County and our municipalities receive their fair share of state funding.I aspire to meet the same high standards of integrity and respect that these former members of Budget & Tax have achieved through their many accomplishments for our citizens and local communities.
I look forward to working with the citizens of Carroll County on the many new challenges that confront the state of Maryland. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and advice about the 2014 election and issues pending before the Maryland General Assembly.
Editor's Note: All introductory columns appear exactly as they were received from the candidate.