Mental Health Issues could come up during the 90-day session.
Lawmakers will be heading back to Annapolis for next week's start of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly Session. Legislators will be gaveled into the 90-day session on Wednesday at 12:00 noon.
Frederick County State Senator David Brinkley says one issue he expects will come up is mental health, following the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut early last month. "From a societal point of view, we don't want to talk about it; we don't want to accept it; we don't want to deal with it. And yet, there's not one family that hasn't been touched by it in one way, shape or form. And I think that's certainly an opportunity to try to draw attention to that," he says.
Some delegates and state senators are planning to introduce legislation to deal with guns, especially assault weapons. But Brinkley says such bills may not address why someone would take up a gun and indiscriminately kill someone. "I feel that the true source deals with the mental health issues. When you have any type of individual that gains access either through weapons of that type, or, for instance, what happened in Oklahoma City where a guy created basically a truck bomb. None of that makes sense. And yet, the consequences are felt across the country," says Brinkley.
He also expects other issues to come up, including the economy. Senator Brinkley says he and Delegate Kelly Schulz are working on bills to change Maryland's corporate tax rate. "That one piece of legislation will deal with making Maryland's corporate tax rate mirror Virginia's tax rate," Brinkley says. "That's at least one item that will be taken off the table when employers are looking to come to the east coast to set up operations."
Brinkley notes a lot of what happens in the General Assembly when it comes to the economy and how to pay for necessities such as roads and schools will depend on how Congress acts. This week, the US House of Representatives and the Senate approved legislation that prevents huge tax increases from taking affect this month. But federal lawmakers still have to deal with automatic across-the-board spending cuts which could take affect in February.
One item in the Frederick County Commissioners' 2013 Legislative Package would give the board authority to ban the sale and possession of synthetic drugs, such as "spice." Brinkley thinks that has a good chance of passage. "We're seeing some of the municipalities do the ban. I think some of the other counties have had the opportunity to do that. Ocean City started this, I think, about two or three years ago," says Brinkley.
In Frederick County, the city of Frederick and the towns of Walkersville and Thurmont have imposed bans on synthetic drugs within their corporate boundaries.