This week, the Senate Republican Caucus announced its legislative priorities for the 2023 Session focused on commonsense proposals to relieve the rising cost of living, combat violent crime, promote educational opportunities and parental involvement, and champion transparency and accountability in State government.
We are pleased that two out of the three public safety bills have bi-partisan support. Just as we have approached Governor Moore’s legislative priorities with an open mind and found some common ground, we are hopeful that the Governor and our Democratic colleagues will approach our legislative proposals in good faith.
Specific bills include:
- SB 261 – Gas Tax Consumer Price Index Repeal
- SB 461 – Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2023
- SB 744 – Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2023
- SB 745 – Gun Violence Accountability Act
- SB 564 – Theft of Handgun – Felony
- SB 522 – Education – Accountability & Implementation Board – Membership
- SB 566 – Family Law – Fundamental Parental Rights
Automatic Gas Tax Increase Repeal Has Hearing
On Wednesday, February 9th, the first of our Caucus Bills – SB 261 – legislation to repeal the automatic gas tax increase that is tied to inflation – received a hearing in the Senate Budget Taxation Committee. Senator Jason Gallion, the lead sponsor, presented the bill.
For the second year, Senate Republicans are working to repeal the automatic, annual gas tax increase that is tied to inflation (CPI). On July 1, 2022, Maryland’s gas tax jumped by 19.4% and increased to nearly 43 cents per gallon, making it the fourth-highest gas tax in the Country. As the United States continues to grapple with high inflation, continued sharp increases to Maryland’s gas tax can be expected into the future. To add insult to injury, Maryland’s gas tax is not responsive to market conditions, and does not decrease if inflation decreases.
Repealing the automatic increase is also a matter of transparency and accountability. Every year, the gas tax increases without public input and a vote of the General Assembly. If legislators want to increase the gas tax, they need to follow the legislative process and be held accountable.
Even more concerning is that this same model is being considered for future minimum wage increases, and Senate Republicans oppose this cowardly approach from becoming common practice in Annapolis.
“Gun Day” In Annapolis
Tuesday, February 7th was “Gun Day” in the Maryland Senate. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hosted hearings until past midnight to hear three controversial firearms bills. We were pleased to welcome our Second Amendment advocates to Annapolis as they made their voices heard. Special thanks to John Lott, renowned gun rights expert, for making the trip to testify.
SB 1 – Gun Safety Act of 2023
The 2023 Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, invalidated state government requirements across the Country that required citizens to show a “good cause” in order to obtain a firearm carry permit. Now that carry permits are easier to acquire, Democrats are attempting to sterilize the impact of Bruen in Maryland by regulating WHERE citizens can carry firearms in SB 1.
In blatant disregard for transparency and the individuals who prepared testimony, the bill’s sponsor secretly re-wrote the bill the afternoon before the hearing. The public was unable to access the revised bill via the General Assembly website and had to rely on paper copies that were circulated by Republican Senators on the morning of the hearing.
The new version of the bill removed the original ‘places of accommodation’ and the 100 ft. limit and changes to ‘places of public conveyance’ and includes a new and lengthy list of prohibited places to legally carry a firearm. The revision also substantially changes the process for getting a carry permit. Applicants would have to release their private and health records, provide references, take an enhanced training course and authorizes the Secretary of the State Police to obtain more background information on applicants.
Unfortunately, with Democratic supermajorities in control, it is likely that SB 1 will pass, but Second Amendment advocates plan to challenge the law in court as it blatantly violates Marylanders’ Second Amendment rights.
SB86 – Rifles and Shotguns – Possession – Age Requirement
SB86 increases the age requirement to purchase a rifle or shotgun and ammunition to 21 years old. Those under 21 years of age may still possess a rifle or shotgun in limited and various circumstance. If found guilty of violating this law, one is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to jail time not exceeding 5 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, and face a lifetime prohibition of owning or possessing a firearm.
SB113 – Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2023
This bill allows victims of a crime involving a firearm to sue the manufacturers, dealers, or any other entity that is involved in the production or sale of a firearm. A petitioner may seek injunctive relief, restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, and/or reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.