Republican leaders in Maryland’s House of Delegates on Friday released their legislative priorities for 2019, including a state income tax cut, a registry for violent repeat offenders, and single-member districts in the General Assembly.
Flanked by fellow Republicans, Anne Arundel Del. Nic Kipke, the House’s minority leader, and Baltimore County Del. Kathy Szeliga, the minority whip, also said they would push for authority for greater use of so-called “special police” in Maryland in an effort to try to keep schools safer.
Kipke said that Republican delegates represent about 2 million Marylanders, and their constituents expect them to press for change, just as Democrats’ constituents do.
He called the GOP proposals “common sense” and “nonpartisan” ideas.
The four priorities of the House GOP leadership are:
- The “Murder and Repeat Violent Offender Registry Act of 2019,” which would establish a searchable, public registry of violent offenders, modeled after Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. It would require people convicted of murder to register for a period of 10 years following the completion of their sentence. In addition, defendants convicted of multiple violent crimes would be required to register for a 10-year period. “These are folks who’ve done really bad things to others,” Kipke said.
- The “Commonsense Tax Cut Act of 2019,” which would lower the Maryland income tax rate by a quarter percentage point. House Republicans say that would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in lower taxes for state residents. Szeliga said the amount lost to the state budget from the cut would be covered by increasing revenue.
- The “Special Police Officers Act of 2019,” which would expand existing law to allow government bodies, such as a school system or a sheriff’s department, to establish a special police officer program within their jurisdiction. In reaction to school shootings across the country, House Republicans say the act would give school officials more flexibility to hire officers to patrol school buildings and grounds.
- The “One Person One Vote Act of 2019,” which is a constitutional amendment requiring single-member state legislative districts. Currently, most House of Delegates districts are represented by multiple delegates. There are 141 members in the House of Delegates. The Republicans argue that multi-member districts allow lawmakers to hide from voter accountability, and said their proposal would create smaller districts in which residents would know their representative better.
A spokeswoman for House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, declined to comment on the Republican proposals.
Kipke, however, said he was confident the GOP could make progress on the bills. It was the first time during the tenure of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan that House Republicans have announced their own priorities.
“Maryland Democrats know our tax burden is too high,” Kipke said. “We want to take it a little further than what the governor has proposed this year.”