The General Assembly adjourned a month ago, and I wanted to share a few observations as to what happened during the 90 days we were in session. So, here it goes.
As I anticipated going in, as a consequence of the 2018 election, the legislature shifted pretty far to the left. Frankly, that was the result of Republicans losing eight seats in the House, and Democrats purging themselves of members (whether through retirement, or the primary) who were considered too moderate.
That set the stage for the introduction of just about every ultra-liberal type of legislation you can imagine, from green this and that to bills designed to usurp folks' second amendment rights. Thankfully, some of this legislation didn't pass; but unfortunately, several others did.
In the realm of environmentalism, it appears that folks on the far left have found a new religion. They worship at the altar of Mother Earth and they continuously chant about climate change.
In response, Maryland is leading the way by banning Styrofoam. Mind you, Amazon and all of the rest will still be permitted to use their plastic and Styrofoam packing materials, notwithstanding the ban because Maryland can't impact on interstate commerce. So, the only folks that will be impacted will be Maryland businesses (and their consumers), thereby costing them a lot of green in the name of green.
Speaking of costing green, the House of Delegates also passed a renewable energy bill mandating energy suppliers to get 50% of their power from renewable energy by 2030. This will cost consumers a ton of green, and I'm not sure what good it will do if Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is correct and the world ends by 2031 anyway.
With regard to the gun-grabbing legislation which was proposed, the 3-D gun bill, long arm transfer bill, and the AR-15 bill, all died. I suspect we will see these resurrected at some point.
It was incredibly disappointing not to see even a modest reduction in Marylanders' tax burdens pass the legislature. Of course, that is because the Democrats wanted to squirrel away every possible nickel to bankroll the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, and hence throw billions of dollars in new spending at the Democrats' favorite lobby, the teachers' union.
The Kirwan bill which passed this year was “Kirwan lite” and “only” costs the taxpayers $1.1 billion. I voted against it because nobody has bothered to determine how any of this will be paid for, and the legislature has merely set the stage for tax hikes when they trot out a “Son of Kirwan” bill next year, which will be even more costly. And while I recognize the tremendous importance of public education (heck, I'm a product of the public schools), merely throwing money at it isn't going to fix it. And the only way all of these grandiose ideas recommended by Kirwan can be paid for will be through tax hikes, plain and simple.
A lot of other things happened during session. If you are gender confused, you can now choose “X” as your gender-marker on your driver's license. Maryland businesses continued to get piled on with passage of $15 per hour minimum wage. Now with paid sick-leave, a minimum wage hike, Styrofoam bans, renewable energy revisions, and much more, we should be seeing a slew of businesses fleeing across the state line to more business friendly environs.
Another area of disappointment concerns the legislative action setting aside the governor's executive order mandating that schools should start after Labor Day. For one thing, starting school after Labor Day instead of in August just makes common sense. It's more user-friendly for our agriculture community, and for our resorts. It saves on electricity for air-conditioning, and is very popular. The thing is, the teachers' union didn't like it, and that was that.
While much of what I've discussed is negative, all-in-all, it could have been much worse. We did score some victories for Carroll County, and I'll write about those in a future piece, Good Lord willing. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we are out of session, and you can let go of your wallets for the time being.