March 17, 2024

Ready Report: “Crossover,” Budget Passes Senate & More…

The ninth full week of the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session has concluded. Here is a brief update on what happened this week in Annapolis.

Weekly Video Update

Click the image below to watch this week’s video update from Annapolis.

“Crossover Day” on Monday

Monday, March 18th, is known as “Crossover,” which is the deadline for bills to pass one chamber and be sent to the opposite chamber. Any bills that do not pass at least one chamber by Monday will likely not pass during the 2024 Legislative Session.

Governor Moore Administration Seeks Opt Out from Own Electric Vehicle Mandates:

SB362 – the annual Budget Reconciliation & Financing Act (BRFA) – contains a curious formula adjustment to state law that allows Governor Wes Moore’s Transit Administration (at the Moore administration’s request) to not comply with the mandate about all new MTA bus purchases being electric-only. Seems that requirement isn’t cost-effective, practical or even safe considering the problems electric busses have had in cold weather on other states. But Governor Moore is NOT adjusting his executive order from 2023 that requires 43% of Maryland private vehicles sold to be EVs by 2027 and 100% by 2035. I thought we were in a CLIMATE CRISIS and Maryland must take drastic action (even though we can have essentially no statistical effect on even national emissions much less worldwide.) What’s good for powerful state government bureaucracy should be the same for Maryland working families and small businesses. Contact Governor Moore at 410-974-3901 or and ask him to give Maryland residents and businesses the same relief!

Click here to watch some of my thoughts on this issue.

FY2025 Operating Budget Passes Senate

This week, the Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget (SB 360) passed through the Senate. While I do not believe the budget is the best it could be, there are some good things in the Senate’s version.

First, the budget actually reduces overall spending from last year. It spends less taxpayer money than last year so that’s overall a good thing, and pretty rare. It’s also fully balanced with 8% reserves in Rainy Day Fund. Second, there are no new tax increases in the budget. Third, we preserved funding for the BOOST School Choice Program which has been a huge fight but does provide some help for kids to escape failing public schools. Believe it or not, the House of Delegates Democrat majority and Governor Wes Moore have proposed striking all this funding but with Senate Republicans leading the charge and the Senate overall being supportive, we’ve protected it.

On the negative side, we have begun to spend some of what was saved under the previous administration. As our structural deficit increases, this will become a growing concern. Also, I believe we should pull back on the Kirwan Education funding mandates that are over the next 10 years. If we simply stretched out the Kirwan mandates over 13 years instead of just 10, we would basically eliminate the projected out year deficits that Democrats are saying will eventually “force” us to raise taxes. SPOILER ALERT – we don’t need to! We can balance Maryland’s budget by living within our means like families and businesses do every day.

While the Senate version has passed, the House of Delegates will now work on passing their version. House Democrat leadership has announced that they want to include massive tax increases in their budget – I will be fighting to support the Senate version of the budget that includes no tax increases and actually cuts spending over last year.

Fighting for the 2nd Amendment

One of the most outrageous bills introduced this year in Annapolis is SB 784. This bill imposes an 11% tax on the purchase of firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition in the state of Maryland. Most of the tax revenue generated from this tax will go to help fund our Shock Trauma Center and State Helicopter emergency program.

Although our world class Shock Trauma system has some gaps in funding sources due to rising costs, I am firmly opposed to singling out law-abiding gun owners. I offered an amendment on the Senate floor to strike the 11% sales tax, and instead raise fines and penalties for individuals who commit crimes with firearms. My amendment included that the raise in penalties would go directly to Shock Trauma funding. Although my amendment failed on a largely party line vote, I will continue to push back against this bill and stand up for Marylanders’ 2nd Amendment rights. This bill is likely to pass Monday and go over to the House of Delegates. If it passes both houses and is signed by the Governor, I am confident there will be a court challenge – which I totally support. This is unconstitutional in my view.

Senatorial Scholarships Available

If you are or know a high school senior or college student, please consider applying for a Senatorial Scholarship.  For more information or to request an application, email Emily Van Horn at [email protected] and include your full address.  Scholarships will be accepted up to April 15, 2024.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime. My office can be reached by emailing [email protected], and my staff and I will do our best to get back to you in a timely manner. Have a great rest of the week!

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