They still have a budget to pass.
Annapolis, Md (KM) With a little over a month to go before the Maryland General Assembly adjourns sine die, lawmakers are scrambling to get bills passed.
Frederick County State Senator Michael Hough (R), whose a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, says the panel will be working on legislation to increase penalties for repeat offenders. This is particularly a problem in the city of Baltimore.. “Unfortunately, there’s a very small number of people who are going and committing violent offense after violent offense,” he said. “And so many times when they pick up someone, for example for a homicide, they find out that the person has already been in the system two or three other times for crimes with firearms.”
Hough also says the General Assembly has yet to pass a state budget for fiscal year 2021.
Legislators also need to consider a bill to help pay for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a plan developed by the Kirwan Commission to help improve public education in the state. One bill to pay for the Blueprint would decrease the sales tax from six-cents to five-cents on the dollar, but it would impose a levy on services. “I don’t see that having a lot of traction. It’s very unpopular because while it would call for a decrease sales tax from six to five, Marylanders are going to end up paying a lot more in taxes. It would be a massive tax increase. We don’t pay taxes on services,” he says.
Supporters say this tax will bring $2.9-billion in revenue which would be used to help improve schools across the state, and that would make for a better educated workforce. The legislation has generated opposition from business groups which say it would hurt small companies.
While a lot of work still needs to be done before adjournment on April 6th, Hough says the Senate unanimously passed a bill covering horse drawn carriages. “If you harass or interfere with a horse that’s working, basically a horse-drawn carriage ride, it would be a criminal penalty,” he says. “And that goes along in the state of Maryland which has a criminal penalty to interfere with a horse which is in a horse race or is breeding, and this would add a working horse to that.”
Hough says the legislation has a Frederick city connection. “And it was done in part because of some of the activities we saw in the city of Frederick where a group of radical protesters known as the Frederick Vegan Army were protesting horse drawn carriage rides in the city of Frederick,” he says.
But Senator Hough says this bill, if it becomes law, will not interfere with the protesters’ 1st-Amendment rights. He says they can continue to protest, but they cannot interfere with a horse pulling a carriage with passengers.
The bill is before the House of Delegates.
By Kevin McManus