The legislative session adjourned for the year on Monday at midnight.
Annapolis, Md. (KM) – The 2022 Maryland General Assembly came to an end on Monday night at midnight. Frederick County Delegate Jesse Pippy (R) says the 90-day session wasn’t what he expected. “This year, we were somewhat promised it wouldn’t have been it was such a controversial year given that it was the last year of a four-year term, and an election year. But there were a few controversial bills that were passed, in my opinion,” he said.
Pippy says one measure would set up a family leave program which he called a new payroll tax. “So every employer in the state that has 15 or more employees will now be required to pay into a state-run fund until it gets up to $101.5-billion, and then all the employees will also have to pay,” he said.
The money will be used to help employees who needs to take off following the birth of a baby, or to take care of an older relative, or try to recover from an illness. Pippy said he understands families may need this time away from work, but he had hope incentives cold be offered to employers to set up these programs on their own. “Here we are we’re trying to alleviate expenses for Marylanders and we’re adding a new tax,” he said.
The Governor vetoed that bill, but the General Assembly overrode that.
But Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr (D) had a different take on the 2022 Maryland General Assembly. “This one’s been very productive,”: he said. “We did a lot of landmark legislation which doesn’t happen in an election year.”
Kerr pointed to his bill which deals with children’s having seizures in class. “And that’s the Bryneleigh’s Act, the Seizure Safe Schools Act, that make sure that teachers can recognize the symptoms of a seizure if one were to occur in their classroom,” he says. It’s named after a girl who has a rare seizure disorder.
Another piece of landmark legislation which was worked out between the Governor and the Legislature, would provide some tax relief to retirees, small businesses and low income families. Kerr also says it would eliminate the sales tax on some consumer items. “Baby formula is already not taxed because it’s food. But we took off things like baby powder and diapers and ointments and baby bottles. And we took the tax off anything dealing with oral health: toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, all of that is no longer taxed,” Kerr says.
Delegate Pippy noted that the money for these tax breaks comes from the state’s projected surplus. “Many times you have a budget surplus, that means the government has collected too much of taxpayer money. And we should give it back,” he says.
But there were disagreements among lawmakers over several bills covering abortion rights. They included a measure to allow midwives, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants along with medical doctors to perform abortions. There would also be an abortion care training program set up at a cost of $3.5-million. And health insurance plans would be required to provide coverage for abortions at no cost to the patient.
“They’re actually expanding abortion access to Maryland,”; Pippy says. “They appropriate $3.5-,million a year to train additional people to perform abortions.”
But Delegate Kerr says he supports a woman’s right to choose when it comes to having an abortion. “I think what we did this year would just guarantee that women who find it necessary because of their situation in life and find themselves pregnant to avail themselves of a safe, legal abortion if hey find that necessary,” he says.
Both Delegates Pippy and Kerr are running for re-election this year. If he’s reelected, Pippy says he will continue working to protect the most vulnerable in society. “I work at protecting those most vulnerable in our communities, whether they be children or other vulnerable populations. And we’ve been successful at passing legislation to hold those who wish to harm other accountable,” he says.
“My policy area that I work in mostly is health care,” Kerr says. “We can still do an expanding of affordable health care to Marylanders, taking a look at the cost of prescription drugs, finding a way to lower that.”
By Kevin McManus