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Tomlinson: George Washington would recoil at today’s Maryland General Assembly

Today, the federal government and the State of Maryland commemorate the birth of our first president and father of our country, George Washington, by observing a holiday.

Those who have the day off commonly refer to it as Presidents Day, and celebrate by sleeping in on their mattresses — or by buying new ones on sale. Many folks wish the Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly would also take the day off and stop pushing legislation that borders on the unnecessary and the outright ridiculous.

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Today marks the 41st day of Maryland’s 2020 Session in Annapolis, and Democratic senators and delegates are dropping bad bills like busy beavers dropping trees.

The worst of these is titled the Family Bereavement Act of 2020. Sounds harmless enough, right? This proposed measure will mandate businesses allow employees to use paid leave to mourn the death of an employee’s immediate family member or the employee’s pet. Yes, you heard that correctly — a pet. I understand that my generation now treats its pets better than the previous generation treated its children, but to force a small business to grant an employee time off because Milo or Otis passed away is absolutely absurd. Two years ago, roughly one thousand of my dear Sea-Monkeys tragically departed this cruel world. If this bill would have become law two years ago, I wonder how many days of bereavement leave I would have been able to use to grieve?

In 2016, Maryland gave ex-felons who are on parole or probation the right to vote. Now, the Democrats want to go one step farther. Senate Bill 91/House Bill 51 will require corrections officials to provide convicted felons with a voter registration form and inform them of his or her right to vote before release. I am a firm believer that there needs to be more opportunities to assimilate ex-felons back into society, but I have a difficult time understanding how shoving a voter registration form in an outgoing inmate’s hand is a top priority. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University in 2013 found that convicts overwhelmingly register as Democrats. For example, the study found that in New York state, 62% of convicts registered as Democrats and 9% registered as Republicans. In 2016, 40,000 ex-felons became eligible to vote in Maryland. Once you start to break down the numbers, it becomes quite clear why Maryland’s Democratic legislators want to see more ex-felons voting.

Next witness: SB0990/HB0464 would establish an Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Services Program that, according to the language of the bills, will “provide a location supervised by health care professionals or other trained staff where drug users can consume preobtained drugs” and “provide sterile injection supplies.” These bills will give community-based organizations permission to set up supervised bring-your-own-drugs locations where drug addicts can shoot up. I support the idea that we need innovative solutions to combat the heroin and fentanyl epidemic, but this is not one of them.

Another bill, the Conflicts of Interest Act of 2020 has been introduced by Democrats for no other reason but to target Gov. Larry Hogan. As stated in the bill’s text, the potential new law will require: “the Governor to send a copy of a certain disclosure to the presiding officers of the General Assembly…”; require “certain State officials to place certain interests in a blind trust or divest certain assets or holdings for a certain purpose”; and prohibit “a certain individual from appointing certain individuals as trustee of a certain trust or receiving certain communications regarding the management of a certain trust.” Del. Vaughn Stewart, a Montgomery County Democrat, has made it no secret that he drafted the bill to go after Hogan. As of last week, Stewart had not found a senator to cross-file his bill. Let’s hope those in the Senate have better sense.

A bill that seems to be heating up, SB0457/HB0539, would allow counties and municipalities with populations of 30,000 or greater to establish resilience authorities that, according to the bill, would “work in partnership with local governments to accelerate infrastructure financing, reduce the cost of implementation, and mitigate and manage the risks of climate change.” If this bill passes, I am certain that our friends in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will take the state up on its offer to create resilience authorities to fight the ever-dangerous threat of global warming, but I believe that Carroll County will pass on this opportunity.

The final bill I will discuss is the one that concerns me most: the Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act of 2020. The bill’s euphemistic title plays down the fact that the legislation bans stores from providing customers with plastic carryout bags. Furthermore, the bill establishes a civil penalty for violations and requires each county government to enforce the law. Much like the statewide Styrofoam ban that passed last year, this bill will put an unneeded burden on the shoulders of counties and hurt businesses large and small. My recommendation for Marylanders is to start holding on to your tote bags, because after July 1, 2021, you’re going to need them!

In the very same State House that Maryland’s General Assembly meets in today, General George Washington voluntarily resigned his military commission to the Congress of the Confederation in 1783. If Washington went to the State House today and witnessed some of the legislation being championed by the Democrats, he might not recognize what Maryland has become.

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Christopher Tomlinson, a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, writes from Melrose. Email him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.

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