2011 Legislative Wrap Up
I’d like to take a moment to wrap up the 2011 legislative session.
As you know Maryland like many other states has over spent for decades. As result, we continually run a deficit and accumulate additional debt.
I believe the budget should have been the focus of this legislative session however; the battle over same sex marriage, cross dressing legislation and illegal immigrant tuition discounts, consumed much of this year’s session. It is my belief that these issues were in fact a smokescreen and a distraction to deflect attention away from the looming budget crisis. Unfortunately, the budget crisis was overshadowed by social issues.
Once again, the O’Malley administration and the majority party passed a 34 billion dollar budget this year. This equates to over $1 billion more than last years budget, yet you have undoubtedly heard Governor O’Malley say that he cut the budget. Included in the budget is $1.4 billion in new spending, a 10.6% increase.
Fees and Taxes
This budget is balanced with tax and fee increases, including:
- Vehicle Titling Tax doubled $50 to $100
- Vanity Plate Fee doubled from $25 to $50
- Land Recording Fees – doubled $20 to $40
- Birth Certificate Fees – doubled from $12 to $24
- Increase in Hospital Assessments adding 2.5% to rates
- Increasing Nursing Home Tax from 4% to 5.5%
The budget included a reduction in prescription benefits to retired state employees, now living on a fixed income. Because of the Governor’s failure to address the real problem of gross overspending, and failure to look for real solutions to the budget crisis, I committed once again to voting against the budget.
SB1213 raises tax on alcohol from 6% to 9% by July 1, 2011. When this bill was first introduced it was billed as a dime a drink increase with the funds going to assist the developmentally disabled citizens of MD, with the increase in sales tax gradually over several years. As it became certain that the votes were there, the bill was amended quickly to remove the allocated funding to the disabled, and to apply the increase at once. When we attempted to debate the increase, the Speaker of the House shut down debate and forced a vote on this bill. This tax will have a decidedly negative effect on many small businesses throughout the state. Bar and restaurant owners are unfairly singled out for taxing, and those especially hard hit will be Maryland businesses located on the borders to Pennsylvania and Delaware, where Marylanders will travel to buy alcohol.
In addition, many other new or increased taxes were proposed, including a gas tax and grocery bag tax. I voted against and strongly opposed all of these tax proposals.
Tuition Discounts for illegal immigrants
SB 167/ HB 470 this bill grants in state tuition rates to illegal immigrants residing and working in MD. Despite the fact that this inclusion will cost taxpayers money, will guarantee Maryland’s place as a premier “ sanctuary state” and will undoubtedly result in a federal lawsuit due to its unconstitutionality; was passed by a vote of 27- 19 in the Senate and 74-65 in the House of Delegates. Click the links to see how your Representative voted!
I voted against this and will continue to stand against benefits and rights to those residing here illegally at any rate, and especially at the cost to taxpaying citizens.
Same Sex Marriage
As you know I have been the general on the battle field of marriage in the state of Maryland for nearly 8 years now. As result, I have seen many futile attempts to legalize same sex marriages in our state.
This year that all changed. This legislative session the skid was greased by special interest and same sex marriage legislation was slated to pass. SB 116 passed easily through the Senate by a vote of 25-21 and then unexpectedly hit the brakes in the House of Delegates as the citizens came to the defense of marriage in MD by calling and visiting legislators to make their voices on this issue heard.
Much to the surprise of the homosexual activist and the Democrat leaders, after a full week, they were unable to secure the 71 votes needed to legalize same sex marriage in Maryland. In a procedural move, the bill was sent back to committee where it would rest peacefully. This maneuver prevented the Democrats from having to be on record on a vote that would most likely effect the outcome of the 2014 elections. See who voted for the bill in Judiciary Committee by following this link: Committee Votes
Pro – Life
It has been a bitter sweet session regarding the life of the unborn. Though not one of our 11 Pro Life bills made it to the full House or Senate for a vote, I am heartened because there were 11 Pro Life bills introduced by a variety of individual lead sponsors. We have 28 legislators recognized as “Pro Life” who are committed to the issue of defending the life of the unborn.
I am heartbroken that the pro life members have failed to advance even one piece of pro life legislation to the House or Senate floor. For this reason I initiated the new formation of the pro life caucus this session. The members of this year’s caucus are willing to fight the fight for the life of the unborn. To view the list of this years abortion bills, follow this link: Pro Life Bills
Its important to note that many of the bills, such as HB 23 and HB 187 simply require abortion clinics to be regulated and licensed. these were also killed in Health and Government Operations Committee, some without even getting a vote. These bills can only help preserve the safety of women in Maryland, and yet the bills do not even see a fair committee vote.
I am committed to starting a war on the issue of abortion as I have on the issue of marriage. It’s high time we stop the innocent murder of the unborn while we as a culture want to preserve the life of convicted murderers.
I have done my best to represent the values and views of those who sent me back to Annapolis to represent them. I have never wavered from my beliefs and convictions on many issues and I have never allowed political correctness to get in the way of the truth.
To this end, I rest in the belief that you will continue to allow me to represent you in the Maryland General Assembly.
Don H. Dwyer, Jr.
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