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The 442nd Session of the Maryland General Assembly was one of the most challenging Sessions in its history. Before the Session began, all members and staff were tested for COVID 19 in order to enter the State buildings. During the Session, Members of the Maryland General Assembly received two COVID vaccines, face masks and surgical gloves. The House of Delegates was divided into the House Chamber and the annex in the Lowe House Building with members surrounded by Plexiglas. Everyone wore masks and practiced social distancing.

Committee and Subcommittee Hearings, Delegation Meetings, Caucuses, and testimonies were all conducted by Zoom Conferences on the computer. Most staff members were working from home and there were no interns or pages on the floor this year to enhance safety protocols. There were no in person meetings, District Legislative Nights, or social events in Annapolis.

However, my office was staffed in person during the entire 90 Day Session and I received in person daily briefings from my Chief of Staff at my hotel. There were over 1,500 bills introduced this year. I introduced four bills during the 2021 Session. These were House Bill, 0779 Corporations and Associations Filing Fee- Reductions, House Bill 0834 Public Health Federal and State Funding for Abortions-Prohibitions and Exceptions, House Bill 0997 Equal Protection for Unborn Human Life Act, and House Bill 1156 Commission on Men and Fatherhood (Fatherhood Protection Act). Although these were good bills, they did not make it out of committee and did not come up for a floor vote.

HB 0779 would have reduced the business fees for businesses to make Maryland more “Business Friendly”. It did have a committee vote but received an Unfavorable Report in the Economic Matters Committee so it did not come up on the House Floor for a vote.

HB 0834 would have restricted taxpayers paying for abortions except in the case of rape and incest which did not come up for a vote in the Appropriations Committee. Senator Johnny Ray Salling cross-filed this bill in the State Senate which did not come out of the Senate Committee.

HB 0997 would have prevented abortions based on the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution for Due Process, Citizenship and Equal Protection under the law. It also did not come up for a vote in the Health and Government Operations Committee. A lot of time was spent crafting and drafting this bill to grant rights to a baby as a person during the development process.

HB 1156 would have created a state commission to enhance and grant fathers more rights after the couple files for divorce. It did not make it out of the Health and Government Operations Committee. Due to COVID, many fathers were denied visitation rights to see their children. Senator Salling also cross-filed this bill in the State Senate which did not come out of committee. These bills will be improved during the Interim and introduced next year.

However, the good news is that we passed the Governor’s Budget. Therefore, I was able to obtain funding through the Legislative Bond Initiatives for Kenwood High School Artificial Turf Field, MedStar Franklin Square, and Discovery Zone which were all good and deserving projects to help our community. Also Senator Johnny Ray Salling and I were able to obtain funding for Dundalk Crises Center to assist battered women, children, and homeless families improve their lives, living conditions, and quality of life. As the Chairman of the Baltimore County Community Issues Subcommittee, we were able to pass several bills for Baltimore County.

There are 99 Democrats and 42 Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates. I voted against the override of several of the Governor’s vetoes most of which had to do with tax increases and spending issues. Governor Hogan and I believe that taxpayer money is the peoples’ money and should be spent wisely. The last thing that we need to do is to raise taxes during a pandemic. Every time I ran for the House of Delegates, I signed the “No Tax Pledge” not to raise taxes and I have kept my promise.

I voted against the Maryland Blueprint for Maryland’s Future otherwise known as the Kirwan Commission for education spending for the next ten years. It is not that I oppose education but rather I oppose unfunded mandates. Governor Hogan already has put more money into education than any other Governor in Maryland History. I voted against the Digital Products Tax which now puts a tax on the sale of digital products to include streaming and I voted against the tax increase on the Tobacco Products. I also voted against eliminating Maryland My Maryland which has been the Official State Song since 1939 and played at the Preakness Stakes.

Most Marylanders agree that crime is our Number 1 Priority. I support our men and women in Blue and even attended the “Back the Blue” event in Essex last Fall. The Republican Caucus opposed dozens of Police Reform Bills to include forfeiting Police Pensions if unnecessary force is used on a suspect. Several Amendments were introduced on other crime bills and only a few passed. I want you to know that the Republican Caucus and I fight the good fight for the betterment of people of Maryland. When I vote on bills, I think about the impact of the 6 Million people who live in Maryland and not just the people who live in the 6th Legislative District.

My Office has received a lot of calls and emails about the mail delivery. Even though mail is a federal issue, I have been working in bipartisanship with Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) to resolve this issue.

Finally, I want to remind people to please get the COVID vaccine. It will only be effective if 70% of the people get the vaccine. Please continue to be safe, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. Together, we will all get through this pandemic safely so things can get back to normal. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you in Annapolis.