Council Looks At Legislative Considerations

They could be included in Frederick County’s 2017 Legislative Package.

Frederick, Md. (KM)  Legislative initiatives for the 2017 Maryland General Assembly were discussed Tuesday by the Frederick County Council.

Most of the proposals came from Councilman Kirby Delauter. He’s calling for the establishment of school vouchers. “I’m going to be asking for eligible families and their children to go to private schools by using all or part of public funding set aside for their children’s education,” he said.

Such  proposals have  met with strong opposition from teachers’ unions, which  say they decreases funding for public education.

Delauter is also proposing to make Maryland a right-to-carry state when it comes to concealed weapons. “I do think it’s unconstitutional for a law abiding citizen to not be able to carrying weapon,” he said. “If you’ve been trained properly, and you pass a background check, you should have that opportunity.”

Supporters say it helps reduce crime.

Another proposal  Delauter is supporting is making Maryland a right-to-work state, where employers would be prohibited from requiring their employees to join a union, or make payments to that organization.

Councilman Jerry Donald, whose a public school teacher, raised this question. “So if there’s a union there, and they don’t join, do they still get to the negotiated contract that the union negotiated the sick leave bank, and all that stuff? Or are they out of that too,” he asked. “That’s totally up to the employer. An employer. I don’t want to legislate that. I just want to give them the right to opt out,” Delauter replied.

Donald also proposed a bill of his own. It would require the Maryland State Board of Education to re-examine and justify all mandated positions for certified teachers who are not teaching in the classroom. “I would like the state to at least sit down, and I’d also like the local Board of Ed for ones they’ve mandated over the years, but just consider are these positions  giving our system enough value. Or would some of these positions be better off having teachers back in classrooms to reduce the class size at zero cost,” he said.

When a teacher is performing other duties outside of the classroom, Donald says that can lead to overcrowding as the students have to be placed somewhere.

Even though it isn’t finished, Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater says she wants to see more resources for families who want to get their children into drug rehabilitation programs. “There are a lot of families who are struggling to either afford to get their children into these programs, or the children may not recognize that they have an addiction issue,” she said.

Fitzwater says she will get with Chief of Staff Regan Cherney to draft this bill.

The Council is expected to vote on these initiatives next week. If any of them are included in Frederick County’s Legislative Package, they will be forwarded to local lawmakers in Annapolis, who will hold their own public hearing in December. They will eventually decide in early January, after the 2017 Maryland General Assembly convenes, which bills will move forward.

By Kevin McManus