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Steve's News from Annapolis


The legislative session has gotten off to one of the fastest beginnings since I was elected in 2006. I think this is probably due to the number of bills I am introducing as well as Governor O’Malley’s robust legislative package and budget.

Major bills from Governor O’Malley

The Governor has already introduced a number of substantial bills. I have agreed to co-sponsor four of these that I believe are important for Maryland. Of course, the legislative process will likely lead to various changes and amendments to these bills.

Repealing the Death Penalty

I have never supported the use of the death penalty. I do not believe it is a sign of a civilized society nor a deterrent. It is expensive and has, in my opinion, no real value. My convictions have been supported by the story of Kirk Bloodsworth, an Eastern Shore waterman who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a 9 year old girl. After serving in prison for more than 7 years, DNA exonerated him. Let us not risk the execution of innocent people.

Guns and Firearm Safety

While we must protect the Second Amendment of the Constitution, we also must find new ways to reduce gun violence. This is not only about the brutal murders at Newtown, but the killings and shootings in the state and the availability of guns without adequate background checks. I support background checks, the requirement that guns cannot be sold through gun shows without checks, a reduction in the clips or magazines to 10 bullets and the banning of assault weapons. We also need to find ways to prevent those who are violent and those with mental illnesses from accessing guns.

Early Voting

Those of us who voted early in the last election probably experienced long lines or delays in getting in to vote. HB 224 will allow registration on the day a person goes to vote early and adds more voting places and days for early voting. Baltimore County will see an increase in the number of polling places for early voting which should make it less burdensome for those who want to cast their vote before Election Day.

Wind Energy

It is critical that we find more diverse energy sources. We cannot continue to rely on oil and coal. Both are significant contributors to pollution and environmental damage. And, continuing to rely on other countries for a substantial part of our oil needs is unacceptable. That is why I have supported more investment in alternative fuels and recycling.

The Governor proposes to allow wind turbines to be built at least 10 miles out in the ocean. In my opinion, wind is just one renewable source to pursue. This bill does not add any costs to customers until production begins which is estimated to be in 2017 at the earliest. There will also be a cap on the rate increase for residential customers. I will not support any bill that makes current customers pay for the construction of the facilities.

The Proposed State Budget

The Governor’s budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has a 4% increase from the current budget. In it, however, he is able to further reduce the structural deficit while proposing to increase funding for public education, community colleges and universities, Medicaid, people with disabilities and the environment. His budget would increase various tax credits in order to further stimulate investment and jobs in biotechnology, cyber security, research and community revitalization. 

The budget starts in the House this year so we will have the first chance to comment on it. Interestingly, newspapers as diverse as the Carroll County Times and the Baltimore Sun and political commentator Barry Rascovar have said this is a prudent budget for our economic times.

Transportation Funding

Roads, highways, bridges, transit, the airport and more are largely funded through the gasoline tax. The money goes into the Transportation Trust Fund, and this tax has not been raised for twenty years. Yet the demands for a wider beltway, repairs to bridges and sidewalks, expanded bus service and better airport runways are increasing. A large segment of the business community has pushed hard for more highway funds, citing a competitive disadvantage with Virginia.

So, while the debate goes on, Senator Miller has proposed a 3% sales tax surcharge on gasoline and to allow local governments to raise taxes on gasoline (and diesel) sold in their counties. Increasing gas prices is not popular but we have to openly discuss how we meet the huge demands for better transportation. We are barely keeping up with basic maintenance.  So, please follow the discussion and debate about our growing transportation needs.

Legislation I Am Introducing

I have been working on various bills that I believe will make good policy for Baltimore County and the State. Four of these are:

  • Selection of the Baltimore County Board of Education
    • This legislation will change the way our Board of Education is chosen. Currently, members are appointed by the Governor. My bill provides for a partly elected and partly appointed Board to increase accountability and better ensure the Board has diverse representation.
  • Pesticide Reporting
    • We know that pesticides can cause serious damage to people and the environment. My bill would require farmers and professional applicators (who already have to maintain records of pesticide applications) to report this data to the Department of Agriculture so that government and researchers can better evaluate risks and the potential for harm that may exist with pesticides.
  • Tax Credits
    • HB 263 would increase the percentage that would be available for renovations and improvements to historic properties. We are losing more and more of our historic treasures due to development and to neglect. I hope this bill can help slow or stop these trends.
    • HB 131 will increase the current Community Investment Tax Credit so that non-profit organizations can solicit and obtain funding support from businesses. This has been a very successful, but oversubscribed, program. Added credits should further help non-profit groups in Maryland.

I will continue to report on legislative activities and my own legislation as the Session continues. It is an honor to represent the 42nd District. I welcome your comments. Feel free to contact me at or at 410-841-3487.



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