Here’s an update on what’s happening in Annapolis at the end of our fifth week. It has been a very long and difficult one – I will do my best to summarize some of the issues below:
Weekly Video Update: Details on Veto Overrides – Results Sadly Falling Along Party Lines: Click on the photo below for my weekly video update.
Kirwan Veto Override
On Friday, Governor Hogan’s veto of the Kirwan Commission’s ‘Blueprint for Maryland’s Future’ was overridden with a partisan vote. I was proud to stand in support of the Governor’s veto. Below are excerpts of my floor speech in support of sustaining the Governor’s veto (please excuse some of the punctuation – it was typed up for ease of speaking):
“In March 2020, this General Assembly passed HB 1300 the Kirwan bill – committing Maryland’s taxpayers to $40 Billion in new spending over the next decade on top of the billions each year that we already spend.
Right after we passed this bill, COVID-19 dramatically altered education – hopefully we will reverberate for a long time.
We hope to get back to normal soon, and it will, so in addition to the massive and unsustainable cost of up to $40 Billion in spending over the next decade, Kirwan is outdated. There is nothing in these 235 pages that addresses the issues that virtual learning has created in a pre-COVID world. Nothing about broadband connectivity, tutoring to catch up, increased role that parents and caregivers have had to take on.
But beyond that – there is an even greater, and more significant problem.
Our current education system is failing – or at least falling short of expectations. That’s not my words – that’s what the Kirwan Commission said – they say our system is failing. Nowhere in all the discussion from the Kirwan Commission’s report, in any of this bill’s 235 pages, and all the billions upon billions more we will be spending has anyone ever laid out clear, metrics of student achievement that will define success or failure in real, tangible terms.
The solution put forward in this bill basically just adds $40 Billion in new spending on top of the current structure of education.
They call this bill a “blueprint”; however, a blueprint should give you exact metrics and measurements. How big the rooms will be, where plumbing will go, what size of windows etc.
If I pay for someone to build a house and agree to a blueprint, I can visit the site during construction and say “hey the basement doesn’t measure up to the blueprint, or that plumbing doesn’t match the specs”…
This is not a blueprint – it’s a $40 Billion Statement of Aspiration.
Taxpayers are owed real accountability on the return on that investment. They are owed the truth about where things should stand at the end of this and progress reports and adjustments based on RESULTS of STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.
The good news is – we all agree that we want to improve education and support targeted investments that will yield real, tangible results. Let’s use this veto as an opportunity to pause and recalibrate. Join me in sustaining Governor Hogan’s veto and let’s work together to address these problems and pass meaningful, results driven education reform.” – Sen. Justin Ready - floor speech on Kirwan Veto Override – 2/12/2021
Private Sale/Transfer of a Rifle or Shotgun Veto Override
Another 2020 bill that Governor Hogan vetoed was Senate Bill 208, which requires any transfer of a rifle or shotgun be run through a licensed dealer. This bill breaks with hundreds of years of practice in Maryland. Sportsmen could now be criminalized for selling a hunting rifle to a friend or neighbor without taking the gun to a federally licensed firearm dealer and doing a background check.
This bill does nothing to stop gun violence or make people safer. Even though data proves that the vast majority of homicides in Maryland are carried out with stolen handguns, the General Assembly has made it a priority to go after law-abiding gun owners. I will always support the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and oppose these unreasonable restrictions.
How to Watch the 2021 General Assembly
The 2021 General Assembly Session is taking place without any members of the public being able to be in the galleries in the chambers or in the committee rooms. This is very problematic from a transparency standpoint.
However - every Senate/House floor session, committee hearing and committee voting session will be live-streamed which is unprecedented. Until last year, only committee hearings were fully live-streamed. It's all on the Maryland General Assembly website but navigation could be tricky for people who are unfamiliar with it (which is most people).
So Sam Jones, who serves on my staff, created a short video that shows where to go to watch both live floor Sessions and committee action. Please feel free to share with friends so people can see how to follow along and - as always - contact my office if we can be helpful in any way.
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 accepted up to April 15, 2021.