We have come to the end of the 2023 Session in Annapolis.
We have come to the end of the 445th Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly.
It was an honor to continue to serve you this Session now in a new capacity as State Senator, serving our Appalachia Region of District 1 encompassing Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties. Your calls, e-mails, and letters have been instrumental in making decisions to benefit the residents of our District, Region, and our State. I was proud to be a member of six separate committees and caucuses this year:
- Judicial Proceedings Committee
- Executive Nominations Committee
- Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review
- Joint Committee on Program Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation,
- Joint Committee on Children, Youth, and Families
- Maryland Veterans Caucus
This session began with Governor Wes Moore’s inauguration. On Wednesday, January 18, Wes Moore was sworn in as the 63rd Governor of the State of Maryland. It was a historic day as he is just the fifth black American to hold such an honor, but he is the first in Maryland. It was a beautiful day for the beginning of a new administration. I look forward to finding ways that the Governor and I can work together to better our District and the State. It was a pleasure hosting the Governor in District 1 when he visited both Lonaconing and McHenry on February 6.
Our primary responsibility, as the Maryland General Assembly, is to pass a balanced budget while maintaining our priorities in education, public safety, healthcare, and protecting our natural resources. Despite limited revenue, we were able to greatly reduce our structural deficit.
Abortion and the Second Amendment
This Session, our fundamental, God-given rights, protected by the Constitution once again came under fire. Senate Bills 1, 341, and 798 are just those bills that violate Amendments II, V, and XIV.
Senate Bill 1
Senate Bill 1 is the response of the Supermajority of the Bruen case before the Supreme Court. The Court struck down the notion that state governments require citizens show a “good cause” in order to obtain a firearm carry permit. Now that carry permits are easier to obtain, Democrats are attempting to sterilize the impact of Bruen in Maryland by regulating where a person may carry and imposing new training and licensing requirements. It is so restrictive that it basically would make carrying at all illegal.
It is grossly unconstitutional, violating Amendment II without question. Tyranny of the government was the reason the Founders wrote the Second Amendment in the first place. The defense of the governed from a oppressive government was paramount. The American people had just spent nine years (1775-1784) fighting an overbearing and domineering government who impeded upon our God-given rights. Were the government to become tyrannical, the Founders knew that the people had the right to fight for their lives and freedoms. Thus, it was instituted concretely in the Constitution that we have a right to bear weapons for defense of ourselves.
The government consistently will concede weapon ownership for hunting purposes only but refuses to agree that the people have a right to defense of oneself. They (the government) will instead say the military or police will defend and protect instead. On a broader sense, this is true, but when criminals are attacking you or your property, or if the government were to violate your rights in a violent manner, you have the right to fight back just as so many did against the British 248 years ago.
This bill will be challenged and will most likely be ruled unconstitutional, but this will only embolden the Supermajority to continue to attack our rights. We must hold those we vote for accountable and not allow this to happen. If we passively let political entities vote for unconstitutional acts, then we ourselves are to blame for letting it to happen. We will have thrown away our freedoms, our lives, and America.
Senate Bill 341 and 798
The Constitution of the United States in and of itself guarantees our God given rights of Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and Property. This is clearly stated in Amendment V as citizens shall not, “…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” This is also repeated in Amendment XIV Section 1 where it says a State shall not, “…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” Both Senate Bills violate these Amendments to our Constitution. Senate Bill 341 requires that higher education institutions will be required to provide “reproductive health services” plans. Each plan must include access and referral to abortion clinics. This is not the responsibility of schools nor is it something the State should mandate! Senate Bill 798 – Declaration of Rights – Right to Reproductive Freedom is the Constitutional Amendment bill that will establish in Maryland that abortion will be a fundamental right and that the State of Maryland
will not be able to deny it in law.
These two bills, and most especially Senate Bill 798 are unequivocally unconstitutional and go against the Natural Laws of God and the laws of man. During the Civil War, 33,995 Marylanders wore the Union Army uniform to fight for preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. These men believed in the foundation of our country and the notion that, “All men are created equal.” Without question this included life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness apply to every American be them young, old, white, black, red, religious, or not, rich, poor, born or to-be-born. If this is all true and undisputable, how can we pass laws that deny a person about to be born their God-given Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights guaranteed by our Constitution? Even in Maryland Criminal Law Title 2 Subtitle 1 Section 2-103 outlines in Subsection C the ruling of the killing of a fetus as murder or manslaughter…just like a normal individual who is born. Thus, even this State, as much as it tries to
find ways to deny it, recognizes that there is life…a separate one…living inside the mother.
For this to be enshrined into the Maryland Constitution goes against the very values that this state was founded on as the first Catholic Settlement in America and then after the Civil War, when the Maryland Constitution was specifically ratified to ensure freedom to all and end slavery. Thus, we cannot defend abortion as it is heinous, inhumane, unconstitutional, and unnatural.
I promise to continue the fight of defending life and freedom for ALL Marylanders.
Nine Bills Pass
As a freshman Senator it is difficult to get certain bills passed let alone the ones that are your priorities. However, I was very happy that the Maryland General Assembly passed nine of my fifteen bills this year! Though I was unsuccessful with some bills, I will push for some next year. The ones that passed are as follows:
Senate Bill 276: Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System – Frostburg City Police Department
For the past few years our state government, as well as many across the country, has taken aim at law enforcement agencies all in the name of social justice. These laws that have been passed handicap departments from enforcing the law and embolden criminals. Police officers have retired early or have transferred to more rational jurisdictions or moved to ones that incentivize better. This has caused an alarming shortage of officers in our counties, towns, and state.
Our town of Frostburg is one such jurisdiction suffering from the problem of retainment. This bill will now allow the City of Frostburg to participate in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System, also known as LEOPS. As Frostburg is strong fiscally, it will be able to participate with no trouble at all. This will be a good way to retain officers in Frostburg and keep our citizens safe!
Senate Bill 277: Sheriff’s Sales – Notice, Procedures, and Subordinate Interests
Like last year, I made sure to address the issues that our community has with blight. This bill will be able to address the problem in Cumberland and Frostburg, by giving the local governments a direct path of obtaining the title. It will also prevent borrowers from claiming exemptions during the collection of debts when the sales are conducted.
Senate Bill 383: Notice of Intent to Travel (Maryland Child Abduction Prevention Act)
There is nothing more important than the well-being and safety of our children. They are the most vulnerable of our society and they deserve nothing more than security and their innocence to be protected. That is why I introduced, and was proud to pass, Senate Bill 383.
In this bill, a court has the authority to require either parent or guardian of a custody proceeding to provide advanced written notice to the court and the other parent or guardian of the intent to travel outside of the United States with the child or children. The court is also authorized to order abduction prevention measures in a child custody proceeding if there is credible risk with evidence established. This will in turn, establish procedures by which a parent or guardian can take to file such a case. If passed, this will apply retroactively and would be interpreted to affect any parent desiring to travel internationally with their child or children.
Senate Bill 384: Garrett County – Tax Sales – Auctioneer Fees
This was a local bill to increase tax sale auctioneer fees for each property sold. Back during the Covid-19 pandemic, all the auctions conducted were done online. It allowed for larger participation in the community as well as those outside the community. With this influx of larger participation, we proposed increasing the tax sale collection from $8 to $10. I am very happy to list it on our accomplishments for this year.
Senate Bill 385: Criminal Procedure – Restitution Orders– Recording Fees
Senate Bill 385 is one of the simpler bills I was able to have passed. The bill will extend the waiver fee for recording an Order of Restitution to all courts in the State. This will ensure that any party who is receiving restitution due to a judgement by the court, will not have to pay a fee to record that order.
Senate Bill 524: Garrett County – Board of County Commissioners – Meetings
In this bill, Garrett County Commissioners will be required to hold public meetings twice a month at the least. As public servants, it is important that Garrett County’s elected officials are seen carrying out their roles in government as well as having public participation as often as possible.
Senate Bill 525: Economic Development – Program Participation – Cannabis Business Establishment
Currently, there is an untapped industry that can bring jobs and revenue to the State of Maryland. Licensed cannabis cultivators and dispensaries are a new way to bring jobs and economic opportunities to the state and particularly the Appalachia Region that I proudly represent. In Cumberland, there is a company called Grow West, that specializes in growing and dispensing cannabis specifically for medical purposes. They have brought 150 jobs to the area and are looking to grow even more.
With this bill, enterprises such as Grow West would be able to apply for licenses for economic development and financial assistance. They would not be denied by the Department of Commerce and under the guise of Maryland Law, growth, processing, and dispensing of cannabis would increase as eligible business activities under the Job Creation and One Maryland tax credit programs.
Senate Bill 821: Garrett County Alcoholic Beverages Act of 2023
This simple bill is to allow the same alcohol licenses given to large hotels to be extended to smaller hotels and motels. Also, in the bill it attempts to expand the authorization of a gift basket permit to include alcoholic beverages purchased from wholesalers, as well as expand the hours of business on Sundays, and allow easier access to non-profits for obtaining licenses for multiple events.
Senate Bill 822: Pathways in Technology Early College High (P-Tech) School Program – High School Diplomas
My final bill that was passed is Senate Bill 822. In this bill it will require each Pathways in Technology Early College High, also known as P-Tech, student receive a high school diploma immediately following completion of high school graduation requirements. Many students who have not received their diplomas following graduation have dealt with disadvantages as a result. Currently many students do not obtain learners permits until they turn 18 years of age and without their diploma, they must wait 9 months to obtain a Provisional License and extended probationary period. This causes transportation issues for them when they are out of high school and going to the Allegany College of Maryland campus.
It will also have the state to reconsider the practice of keeping the diploma “on file” for P-Tech students so they will have access to receiving federal financial aid for housing, additional courses, and more. I also ask that all funding opportunities for P-Tech remain intact despite releasing the diploma to the students who have fulfilled the requirements of their graduation.
District 1 Wins
This year there have been great wins for our District. The Board of Public Works and the General Assembly approved many funds for projects throughout Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties. All three received a grand total of $159,595,632 from the Capital Budget. Broken down, Garrett County will receive $18,784,851; Allegany County will receive $83,939,781; and Washington County will receive $56,871,000. Some of the local bond initiatives for our District are below:
Drane House Restoration and Improvements Project (Garrett County): $50,000
Garrett County Lighthouse Inc. Safe Harbor (Garrett County): $75,000
Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Department (Garrett County): $1.2 million
UPMC (Allegany County): $1 million
Allegany Museum (Allegany County): $200,000
Allegany College of Maryland (Allegany County): $150,000 for acquisition, planning, design, construction…of the Allegany College of Maryland Tennis Courts.
Town of Luke (Allegany County): $50,000 will be provided to the acquisition, planning…construction…for municipal operations maintenance and storage facilities.
FSU Tech Infrastructure/Upgrades (Allegany County): $500,000
Midland – New Town Hall (Allegany County): $100,000
Hancock Boys and Girls Club (Washington County): $300,000 this will be provided in a grant to for improvements to the Hancock Boys and Girls Club.
Hancock Downtown Beautification (Washington County): $100,000
Town of Williamsport – Manor House (Washington County): $320,000
Town of Boonsboro (Washington County): $1 million
It was a pleasure to work with my District One colleagues during the past ninety days. As we move into the interim, I look forward to spending more time with my family and returning to my small business in LaVale, Maryland. Please do not hesitate to call my office if I may ever be of assistance. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and our district office number is 240-362-7040. Thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving as your State Senator.
Senator, District 1
Representing the Appalachia Region of Maryland
Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties