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Del. Kathy Szeliga: Four key issues are crime, school safety, voting rights, tax cuts

Del. Kathy Szeliga: Four key issues are crime, school safety, voting rights, tax cuts
Del. Kathy Szeliga (Courtesy photo)

One of a series of weekly commentaries from Harford County state legislators regarding the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session.

Throughout my tenure here in Annapolis, I have consistently sought out real solutions to issues that real people face. Practical solutions to issues that you, my community, neighbors, friends, and family encounter every day.

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That’s why, as a leader in the House of Delegates and the highest-ranking Republican woman in the state, I worked with other members of the House Republican caucus to choose four issues that affect many Harford and Baltimore county residents: crime, school safety, voting rights, and tax cuts. We are fighting for common sense solutions to problems facing you and your family.

Public safety will constantly be a priority. One tool to keep our communities safe and increase transparency is a violent crimes registry, similar to that of the sexual offender registry that was introduced in 1995.

This registry would create an easily searchable database where those who have been convicted of murder and those who have been convicted of multiple violent crimes will be placed on a registry for ten years. This information is already publicly available, but the problem is that it is not easily accessible.

I strongly believe that we should be aware of the potential dangers facing our families and neighborhoods. Illinois, Ohio and several other states have already created similar registries and we should follow their example in order to empower people to be informed about who lives in our neighborhoods.

It is our top duty to keep our students safe and create a safe learning environment. We have introduced the Special Police Officers Act of 2019 to expand law enforcement capabilities in our schools. This enabling legislation would expand existing law allowing local sheriff’s offices to designate a Special Police Officer to secure a school or other government property.

These police officers would solely be responsible for the protection and enforcement of the property they are assigned. Assignments would occur at each local jurisdiction’s request and would be in addition to any School Resource Officers already in place.

Retired law enforcement and military personnel are top candidates for the SPO program. Stopping school shootings and violence is a multi-faceted problem, but this is a good step in protecting our children.

Maryland is notoriously considered the most gerrymandered state in the nation. A federal judge described District 6 as a “broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrated across the state.” Unfortunately this is an apt description for many of our districts, not just District 6.

The One Person One Vote Act of 2019 would create single member House of Delegates districts across the state. For instance, my citizens have three delegates in Annapolis with three votes on the House floor and three votes in committee.

Adjacent to District 7, Del. Susan McCommas’ citizens only have one delegate, one vote on the House floor and one in committee. I am in a three-member district and Del. McCommas is in a single-member district.

Citizens are not equally represented in Annapolis because of the partisan map-making used to disenfranchise some citizens. This proposal would make all districts equal by eliminating two- and three-member districts thereby utilizing only single-member districts.

Let’s have free and fair elections and let the people choose their politicians, not the other way around. Every district should be a uniform size ending the unfair and unethical grouping of various ethnic groups and political identities.

The last bill I want to highlight is an income tax cut across the board, saving middle class, working class, and small businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. The last time we saw real comprehensive tax cuts in Maryland was under Gov. Parris Glendening.

Despite the federal tax cuts that passed last year many Marylanders will see their taxes increase. I think it’s time to let you keep more of your hard-earned dollars. I will always work hard for you and your family to keep more of your own money because I believe you will do a better job of spending it than the government.

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As always, I am honored to be serving and working for you in Annapolis. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you and your family.

Republican Kathy Szeliga represents District 7 (Harford and Baltimore counties).

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