Looking back at the 2019 legislative session in Annapolis, Del. Susan Krebs thinks it was a “good year” overall.
“We had some frustrations, but that goes with the territory,” the District 5 Republican said Friday.
Krebs and other members of the Carroll County delegation celebrated bringing capital money to the county for things like a critical care unit at Carroll Hospital and a water storage tank project in New Windsor.
But they also decried the minimum wage increase, which will become law since the legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto, and a political attitude they say has taken a sour turn.
The Carroll County Times reached out to the members of the delegation to get their thoughts and feelings on how the session went. What follows is a roundup of those discussions.
On what they were able to accomplish for their constituents:
Krebs said she was glad to be able to pass a balanced budget with no tax increases, as well as a bill to improve 911 systems across the state — both of which, she said, would be good for Carroll.
Another benefit to the county, she said, was the legislature not being able to pass bills related to the sale of rifles and shotguns. The legislation would have required background checks for private sales of rifles and shotguns; under current law, background checks are only required for long gun purchases made from a licensed firearms dealer.
She called the gun-related bills from this year “a bit onerous” and said that was something her constituents cared about.
“I think we did a good job of bringing home the bacon for Carroll County,” Del. Haven Shoemaker said in early April. Shoemaker could not be reached for comment for this article.
Sen. Justin Ready also described passing a balanced budget as a win for Carroll County, and celebrated the capital funding brought in for the county, too. He also touted the passage of Laura and Reid’s Law, which allows additional criminal penalties against anyone who commits a violent crime against a pregnant woman.
Del. April Rose in early April also praised bringing capital funding money to Carroll. She was also unable to be reached for this article.
On what they wish they could have passed:
Ready and Krebs both said they would have liked to see reductions in personal taxes in Maryland, and Krebs said specifically she’d like to have seen some tax relief for retirees in the state.
Ready said “holding the line” on taxes and not implementing any statewide increases was a good thing, though he’d like to see a reduction.
“It was important that we not let the train get off the tracks,” Ready said.
On their highs and lows:
Krebs said she was happy this session to be working with Hogan, a fellow Republican, and how that has played out as bills are brought up, debated and worked on.
“I’ve just been very pleased at having professionals in place in the state government to work with,” Krebs said.
And Ready said he was pleased with the work the legislature did to address public safety and criminal justice — especially Laura and Reid’s Law.
Krebs said her biggest disappointment from the legislative session was not giving any relief to taxpayers. Ready said he was concerned about a “hard left” political bloc that has “become a lot more ascendant in the General Assembly.”
“It’s not every one one of my Democratic colleagues, but there are a lot of folks that say, ‘There’s some public policy that we want to do, and it doesn’t really make economic sense, it doesn’t really make good fiscal sense, but it seems like it’s the right thing to do. And if you’re against it … you guys will just have to deal with it,’ ” Ready said. “It was a very arrogant, sort of flippant attitude.”
On Maryland’s minimum wage increase and foam ban:
Neither representative was happy with the foam ban or the minimum wage increase in Maryland. Ready said the foam ban will make things “more difficult” for small, locally owned restaurants. And he said that, while he thought Maryland’s minimum wage didn’t necessarily need an increase, he would have liked to see a regional approach because some counties have much lower costs of living than others in Maryland.
Plastic foam — often called Styrofoam, though that is a brand name for an expanded polystyrene product — breaks down but does not biodegrade and is difficult to recycle. Maryland could become the first state in the nation to pass a ban on foam products; Hogan has not signed the bill, but it did pass by a large majority.
The ban is set to kick in on July 1, 2020, and violators who are caught with foam products — be they coffee cups or clamshell containers — could face fines up to $250.
Krebs characterized the foam ban as “really frustrating,” because she sees it as a response to a litter problem in Baltimore, not statewide.
“In Carroll County, we do not see Styrofoam on the ground, we see it in the trash,” she said.
The minimum wage in Maryland is currently $10.10 an hour. Businesses with 15 or more employees will eventually have to start paying $15 an hour by 2025, and smaller companies by 2026. Gradual increases will be applied each year until then.
She also said she was worried that the minimum wage increase will lead jobs to be eliminated, and that teenagers looking to work might not be able to find their “first jobs” because adults will be taking them instead.
“I do not expect people to live on minimum wage. That’s not the purpose of minimum wage,” Krebs said. “The purpose of minimum wage is to get a start, and then to work your way up.”