My Response to the Capital Gazette’s “Our Say” of Feb 6th

On February 6th the Editorial Board of the Capital Gazette ran the following opinion:

Feb 6 Our Say Dwyer seeks crackdown on legislators like himself

This is my response:

“Stripping Del. Don Dwyer of the right to sit on any standing committee was a message to the Pasadena Republican from the legislative leadership: Be quiet and don’t remind us you’re here.”

That’s right. The position of the Capital Gazette is that I should sit down and shut up.

The editorial board, which includes Maryland Gazette Editor Rick Hutzel wrote the above in the Feb 6 installment of “Our Say”. Their particular ire this time centers on the two bills I recently introduced, HB 734 and HB 733. I submitted these bills last week with no announcement and no press release. Because these bills are important to me personally, I sought no fanfare.

HB 734 would amend the Constitution to provide for the removal of an elected official if they are serving jail time- regardless of the offense. Because my offense did not violate my Oath of Office, or involve an abuse of power, there was no provision for my removal. Since this is a Constitutional Amendment, this bill would give voters the right to decide if they support the removal of an elected official who has been incarcerated for an offense that did not involve their elected office.

HB 733 would establish a mandatory minimum sentence on elected officials convicted of a DUI. I introduced this because two courts of law, the Speaker, Senate President, and many elected officials have said, “elected officials should be held to a higher standard”. I agree, who better than me to lead that charge? I began to use alcohol to help me cope with personal issues. I know that I am not alone when it comes to the struggle with alcohol. In a very short time, my use of alcohol nearly destroyed my life. Let me say unequivocally and without exception, I have benefitted from the sentence that I received. I want to be a testament to meeting the issue of alcoholism head on. This is an opportunity for us to set a high bar, by all means use me as an example to send a message that we are willing to be leaders regarding alcoholism and driving impaired. Let’s stop paying it lip service, calling in favors and looking the other way when one of us gets caught, as has been the case in the past.

Elected officials have already stated belief and support of holding ourselves to a higher standard, let’s lead by example! I believe that this bill should pass with flying colors.

On the contrary, the Capital Gazette believes this bill has less chance than a grocery list to pass into law.

Have they stopped to think for ten minutes what that says about the integrity of the Legislature? The Editorial Board of a major local newspaper believes that any bill with Delegate Dwyer as the sole sponsor has no chance of passing. Worse yet, they point out that the Legislature has and continues to block legislation on the basis that it has been proposed by Delegate Dwyer.

They go on to wonder what my fellow legislators will say should these bills come up for a hearing. First, every bill should come up for a hearing and a committee vote- it has long been a practice to squash unpopular bills by not calling for a committee vote. I have for years opposed this. Second, if my bills are afforded the proper legislative procedure, what my fellow legislators say or feel about these bills will be reflected in their vote, as it is with all bills proposed.

The Capital concludes its “Our Say” by stating, “…his constituents surely don’t deserve this”. I happen to disagree. Every citizen deserves elected officials willing to hold themselves to a higher standard. I would welcome your thoughts on this. I have been approached by many constituents who feel elected officials should hold a higher standard of personal conduct. I have been fortunate and grateful to continue to receive support and forgiveness for my own fall from grace by many people in my district and around the State.

 The Capital, and Mr. Hutzel specifically, have had a long history of publishing negative articles and opinions about me over the years. After years of excoriating me because of my political views, has the Capital simply resorted to knee jerk reactions to all of my legislation? I can’t help but wonder, had it been another legislator proposing these bills, would they be standing and applauding?

 Read it at Capital Gazette online

hempfarm

Industrial Hemp

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I have introduced the following bill to authorize the growth, production and sale of industrial hemp in Maryland. I believe that the economic benefits of industrial hemp will be a viable option for Maryland farmers as a cash crop.

HB 1010- Production and Sale of Industrial Hemp- This bill is modeled after the Tenth Amendment Center’s “Hemp Freedom Act”. This bill would nullify the Unconstitutional Federal prohibition on Industrial Hemp, and potentially opening up an economic boon to Maryland by authorizing a person to plant, grow, harvest, process, possess, sell, and buy industrial hemp in the State. The bill prohibits the State of Maryland to utilize agents or resources to aid any Federal punitive or legal action against any farmer who grows industrial hemp as a crop.This Bill has the support of The Maryland Farm Bureau and the Farm Bureau of Anne Arundel County.

HB 1010 has a hearing scheduled on Wednesday, Feb 19 at 1pm in the Environmental Matters Committee.

 

What is Industrial Hemp?

 Industrial hemp is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, the same plant that marijuana is derived from. The two plants differ in that marijuana comes from the leaves and flowers of the female plant whereas, Industrial hemp come from the male plant and is grown for industrial use of the stalk and seeds primarily. They also differ in levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) the chemical that is responsible for its psychoactive properties. Marijuana plants contain levels of 3-15% THC and male plants grown for industrial hemp contain less than 1% of THC. Research has consistently shown that the low THC level in hemp plants is not capable of producing the psychoactive effects that true marijuana plants do

hemppostAgricultural Opportunities

 The plant serves as a good rotation crop—choking out weeds and surviving without the aid of polluting pesticides, while taking no more nutrients from the soil than a corn crop. The mature plant’s strength makes it impervious to storm damage. All parts of hemp (fiber, hurds and seeds) are economically important. Hemp can be grown in many climates and under many conditions. It is reported that Hemp is a great rotational crop with Soy and Corn. Given the corn and soy production of Maryland and specifically the eastern shore, Industrial Hemp is a natural for Maryland farmers.

 Economic Opportunities 

 The Washington Times reported this month the potential of a $500 million industry in American Hemp production.

Many American industries, including those in textiles, foods, oil and building materials, have shown a growing interest in hemp. American clothing Manufacturers grossed about $5 million in 1991 and $50 million in 1995 on hemp products. The proposed state research projects as well as the new technology and machinery needed for a developing hemp industry will provide new jobs. Import costs for American industries using hemp, currently estimated at $120 million, and would drop considerably if it could be produced domestically.

National Support

U.S. Congress – The 2014 Farm Bill that just passed Congress, included an amendment that relaxed a 75-year old restriction on growing and researching industrial hemp. The amendment clearly defines Industrial Hemp separate and apart from marijuana.

NCSL – The National Conference of State Legislatures in 2000 adopted a policy on Industrial Hemp. That policy resulted in a letter to then President Bill Clinton Urging the USDA and the DEA to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. 

 

For further reading:

 Industrial Hemp and Marijuana: Myths and Realities

Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

The case for Hemp as Biofuel

The Environmental Cost of Hemp Prohibition

Viability of Industrial Hemp

 

Who supports it?

National Council of State Legislatures position on Hemp

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Adopts Pro-Hemp Resolution

 

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Federal Firearms Nullification Legislation

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I have introduced the following legislation this year. This bill attempts to deal with Unconstitutional actions taken by the Federal Government by way of Nullification.
 HB 995- Firearms Freedom Act- This bill would  prevent the State of Maryland or any agents of the State, or any State resources be used to enforce any act, a law, a statute, a rule, or a regulation of the Federal government relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in the State and that remains exclusively within the borders of the State.
Hearing is set for March 3, 2014 in the House Judiciary Committee
You can track this bill by going to the Maryland General Assembly website and sign up for bill tracking.
To see a great talk explaining the doctrine of nullification under the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, watch the video below.

For more information on the Tenth Amendment Movement check out The Tenth Amendment Center

To read more about Nullification under the Doctrine of Interposition, check out Publius Hulda’s Blog

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Protecting Pets and Owners

As many dog owners have been aware, the court ruling Tracey v Solesky resulted in many beloved family pets being separated from their grieving owners as landlords took action to protect themselves from liability. Only a few lucky ones were placed in new homes, many were euthanized in shelters all across Maryland. While I have tremendous sympathy and concern for victims of dog bites and attacks, these cases must lawfully be dealt with individually, rather than branding an entire breed of dog as inherently dangerous.

I hold the position that the owner of a dog is responsible for the dog, regardless of breed or heritage. I do not support any legislation that would ban certain dogs because of breed or heritage. Dog attacks or bites are very serious; however a family dog with no history of aggression should not be targeted because of his breed.

Though I did not get the opportunity to co-sponsor these bills before they were dropped, I do support and will vote for the bills below.

 HB 73- Delegate Simmons

This bill says that in a legal action against the owner of a dog that has caused injury or death, evidence that the dog caused personal injury of death creates a rebuttable presumption that the owner knew or should have known of the dogs dangerous propensities. This means the owner would have the opportunity to prove otherwise.

It also says that in any action against any person other than the owner for damages regarding personal injury or death of a dog all common law of liability relating to attacks by dogs before April 1, 2012 is retained as to the person without regard to breed or heritage of the dog

This bill nullifies the court ruling that Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous.

 HB 422- Delegate Hixon

This bill prohibits a dog from being determined to be potentially dangerous based solely on the breed, type, or heritage of the dog; prohibiting a county from enacting a local law and a municipality from adopting an ordinance prohibiting a person from owning, keeping, or harboring a dog of a specified breed, type, or heritage or take specified other actions based on the breed, type, or heritage of the dog; etc.

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Gun Legislation, Chesapeake Bay and Bond Bills

Gun Rights – Regretfully, Maryland refuses to recognize the legitimate and inalienable right to Keep and Bear Arms. Last year’s sweeping gun ban passed despite huge opposition from the public has done little to address or curtail violence in Maryland, and has had a huge negative effect on personal liberty and private property.

There is no Constitutional provision that supports Maryland’s position that all firearms must be registered with the State and that you must hold a State issued permit to lawfully carry a firearm. I have always held and voted that every Law-Abiding citizen has the right to own and carry a firearm without a permit. After all, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont, Wyoming and Oklahoma, do not require a permit to carry a firearm in public. Additional information on Constitutional Carry states.

Gun Bills Introduced in MD- keep in mind this list will grow as session continues.

Maryland Shall Issue is the leading local activist group in Maryland dedicated to restoring gun rights to citizens. They are a great resource of information regarding this issue.

Maryland Legislative Watch does a great job summarizing proposed legislation and provides links to email your legislator all in one convenient place.

The Chesapeake Bay and the Rain Tax– For decades now, we have heard about the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Legislature over that time has implemented various forms of taxes and fees intent on addressing the issue of water quality. Unfortunately this has been a ruse. In fact the money spent has primarily been used to grow the Maryland Department of the Environment to the point that it now employees 937 State employees. Regretfully the growth of MDE has done little to nothing to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.

HB11- authorizes Bay Restoration funds to be used to disconnect septic systems and to connect those homes to municipal waste water treatment facilities. The untold story is that it is those municipal facilities that dump hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated raw sewage into the bay every year. Now HB11 proposes to add additional load to an already failing municipal facility.

HB12-On the surface this bill would appear to provide funding for the implementation of the latest technology in septic systems within local jurisdictions whereby a percentage of the cost is paid by the government. What this bill and all of the issues pertaining to Bay Restoration fail to recognize (not by accident) is the fact that the primary cause of contamination in our waterways are the failures of waste water treatment plants and infrastructure. See the links below for overflow reports for 2013 alone.

SB01- Rightly recognizes that a homeowner using the latest nitrogen removing technology in a septic system should be exempted from any further expense related to environmental fees. The cost of the latest technology can run upwards of 20 thousand dollars. Because the State is only interested in raising revenue, its unlikely to pass.

Understanding sewage overflow issues

Pumping Station Overflow Report 2013

List of legislation regarding the Chesapeake Bay

BOND BILLS

A bond bill is a piece of legislation that starts with the words “Creation of State Debt” The fact that bond bills are debt should be enough that no Legislator would sponsor such a bill when we continue to raise taxes and fees claiming all along that we simply don’t have enough revenue to support the needs of the State. These Bills are the “Pork Projects” of your local State Legislators.

For this reason no Legislator should ask for or support any such legislation. I will NOT support any Legislation that increases state debt

See the growing list of pet projects that you the tax payer are footing the bill for.

Continue to check back as I will regularly update with new information and legislation to keep an eye on.

 

 

State of the State Address 1/23/2014

State of the State Address 1/23/2014

 

  • The O’Malley/Brown Administration has increased the state budget by 32% ( $9.6 billion) in 8 short years
  • The O’Malley/Brown Administration has imposed nearly 80 taxes and fees on the citizens of Maryland in that time. These taxes and fees are impacting working middleclass families the hardest.
  • Governor O’Malley has personally adopted Common Core mathematical standards, intending for you to believe that a $9.6 billion increase in state spending somehow equals a $9.1 billion dollar cut.  Love the new math.

Once again, the State of the State address by Governor O’Malley was filled with empty promises and fairytales of his accomplishments as governor.

Republican Proposed Rule Changes

Rule change 1                       

Delegate McMillan proposed a rule change that reads “Each committee shall consider AND VOTE ON every bill and resolution referred to it”  This would ensure that every bill gets a vote in committee and ending the regular practice of Committee Chairs killing bills by never bringing them to a vote.

 

Rule change 2           

Delegate Hough proposed a rule change that would prohibit a member of the majority Party from participating as the House Parliamentarian. As you can imagine, when ever questions are raised on procedure, the current Parliamentarian always rules on the side of the Majority Party. Maryland is the only State in the country where the Parliamentarian is a member of a serving Party. Other states provide a professional, non legislative member parliamentarian for unbiased rulings on issues of procedure.

Both of these proposals will die a quiet death and will NOT be incorporated.

I certainly support both proposals.