Many folks have asked my opinion on Code Home and if it is a good choice for St. Mary’s or Calvert County. After much research into the resources of the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) I drafted the Summary below that I put into an Impact Analysis presentation to the St. Mary’s County Commissioners. Both are fully referenced and linked to allow you to check it out for yourself.
The 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly was even busier than last year, having considered more than 2817 bills and 15 joint resolutions before adjourning on April 11 on what’s known as Sine Die. For the most part, the Senate passed a fiscally responsible budget that involved ‘No new taxes and no new spending.’
In addition, there were many local bills dealing with job creation for Marylanders. “I am proud to have sponsored a number of bills that benefit Southern Maryland.” Most notable was the passage of SB 998/HB 917, which as passed provides a property tax credit for new or expanding businesses in St. Mary’s County (similar to a credit already offered in Calvert County).
“Once again, disciplined spending is the order of the day, with a $400 million surplus balance that will result in no new taxes. In addition, we delivered on improved education and more job creation in southern Maryland, like the $3.1 million to stop erosion of the St. Leonard’s Creek Shoreline.”
Below are highlights of several bills I sponsored that were successful during the 2016 Session:
SB 66- Professional Corporations – Approval of Corporate Name by Licensing Unit and Professional Organization – Exemption- exempts any professional corporation in which a majority of the stockholders are individuals licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized to practice a health occupation under the Health Occupations Article from the requirement that the corporation name be approved by the appropriate licensing unit and professional organization under specified circumstances.
SB 401- Charles County and St. Mary’s County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms– authorizes an individual who holds a Deer Management Permit in Charles County and St. Mary’s County to use a shotgun or breech loading center fired rifle approved by the Department of Natural Resources to hunt deer throughout the year, including all deer hunting seasons, in the locations and under the conditions set forth in the permit.
SB 509- Real Property – Actions to Quiet Title– creates rules of practice and procedure to bring action in circuit court against adverse claims to real property to “quiet” title (a method for determining the validity of adverse claims or other clouds on title to real property).
SB 606-Maryland College Collaboration for Student Veterans Commission-establishes a commission to assist veterans to successfully transition into higher education, to share best practices among institutions of higher education and State agencies, work with institutions of higher education in the State to provide services to veterans, and publish an annual report and any other material it deems necessary.
SB 998/HB 917-St. Mary’s County – Property Tax Credit – New or Expanding Businesses– authorizes St. Mary’s County or a municipality in the county to grant, by law, a property tax credit for any property owned or leased by a new or expanding business that creates 10 or more full-time jobs in an industry targeted for expansion by the St. Mary’s County Economic Development Commission.
Passage of two Capital Bond Bills for local projects-
Historic Sotterley Plantation- $100,000 for use towards improvement projects
Historic St. Mary’s City Commission- $300,000 to be used towards reconstruction of the the Dove Pier.
The Maryland General Assembly has passed a $42 billion budget that gives Governor Larry Hogan and the State of Maryland a FY 2017 budget that contains a reasonable increase in funds for projects that ensure the state maintains its commitment to programs that benefit the well-being of its residents.
The FY 2017 budget shows real leadership: funds our top priorities and maintains a surplus – with no new taxes.
It provides cautious economic stewardship by both the Governor and the General Assembly. At the same time, it reflects our values to fund programs that benefit all residents while holding firm on budgetary restraints.
With a $403 million surplus in the general fund, the House and Senate passed SB 190 with less than a half percent change in the Governor’s budget request. In addition, this budget will result in a five-year structural deficit of over $280 million, down from the $5.1 billion deficit estimated in December 2014.
To fund state priorities, the General Assembly cut and restricted $136 million, $80 million of which was redirected from the Governor’s proposed appropriation to the Rainy Day Fund to cover existing and new programs. Priorities funded in this budget will:
- Maintain the state’s commitment to its public schools with over $6.3 billion in financial support for public schools
- Provide $15.0 million to assist with the transition to a new Prince George’s County Regional Medical System, $21.5 million for strategic demolition neighborhood revitalization projects across the state, a significant increase in critical maintenance funding to preserve state facilities, and $2.0 million in new funding for the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund to support rural entrepreneurship and community development
- Keep higher education tuition increases low
- Provide vital health care services to vulnerable populations and funding for physicians
- Increase by $12.1 million spending on substance abuse disorders to cover new and expanded services and treatment for individuals with a substance abuse disorder
For additional information about the Budget Bill as passed, please visit the following link- http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/Pubs/BudgetFiscal/2016rs-budget-docs-operating-cc-summary.pdf
Tolerance Becomes Law of Land
Tuesday night we watched more election returns in one of the most colorful presidential primaries since Andrew Jackson in 1824, and the word ‘intolerant’ has been bandied about so much we forget its true meaning. But on the same day, ISIS terrorists attacked Belgium, killing and wounding hundreds of innocents, reminding us of its real meaning.
This is our states’ most important heritage. Maryland’s fight for religious tolerance began in England and became the foundation for our laws, our Constitutional Rights and democratic movements around the world.
While England was gripped between Protestants and Catholics in the Thirty Years War, George Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, convinced King Charles I to sign a charter for his new colony modeled on the Palatinate of Durham from the Middle Ages, rather than that of the already established English colonies of Virginia or Massachusetts.
The charter was purposely vague and did not mention particular faiths to ensure a policy of religious freedom would be followed in Maryland, thereby preventing a repeat in the colony of the unhappy religious and political troubles prevalent in England. Calvert made every effort to impress upon his settlers the necessity for avoiding religious controversy. But when King Charles I lost the English Civil War he also lost his head, and support for the charter was weakened.
Protestants and Puritans from other colonies began to settle in Maryland, bringing with them renewed religious friction and political discord. It became clear that the consent of the people of the colony would be problematic.
Listen to the words from the Governors oath of 1648: “I will do equal right and justice to the Poor and to the Rich within the same Province. And I do further swear that I will not by myself nor any Person directly or indirectly trouble, molest or discountenance any Person whatsoever in the said Province professing to believe in Jesus, and in particular no Roman Catholic, for or in respect of His or Her Religion, not in His or Her Free Exercise thereof.”
In 1648 Maryland knew the essence of tolerance is allowing others the free practice of religion. And they explicitly included women. I suspect Margaret Brent, our first female lobbyist jammed it in with an amendment on 2nd reader.
In 1650 Lord Baltimore required every man and women in the colony to take an Oath of Fidelity, “I swear to not anyways infringe or prejudice Liberty of Conscience in point of Religion.” This may have extended to the Jewish faith, because some historians believe that Matthias da Sousa was our first Jewish assemblyman in St. Mary’s City – and African-American to boot. How’s that for diversity in 1642?
These principles became policy 140 years later when our Bill of Rights addressed freedom of religion. The key concept is that I will not infringe on your practice. I may not like it, I may be offended by it, but I won’t kill you or force you to convert. That was tolerance.
Intolerance turns into Maryland’s Colonial War
Despite their best efforts, the colonists could not escape religious persecution. Back in England they didn’t get the memo; the Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed a Catholic King James, replacing him with the Protestant King William.
This boiled over into Maryland as Protestants felt Lord Baltimore favored Catholics and was disloyal to William and Mary. Armies massed, battles were fought up and down the Chesapeake. 700 men laid siege to loyalists at Mattapany House in St. Mary’s County.
In 1704 Protestants won out, moved the Capitol to Annapolis, Maryland reverted to royal control, Catholics were barred from holding office, and the Anglican Church declared the official religion. “An Act to prevent the Growth of Popery within the Province” barred Catholics from teaching school. The Sheriff locked the doors of the Church in St. Mary’s City to prevent Catholics from worshiping.
This was the death of Tolerance.
6 days ago the Sheriff ceremonially unlocked the door to the reconstructed chapel at Historic St. Mary’s City that now is the resting place for Phillip Calvert, his wife, his daughter, and a display of Father Andrew White’s account and Leonard Calvert’s letter describing the original intent for this colony.
Role of tolerance in today’s society
Switch to modern day…. and we see real intolerance within and outside our country. Discord in the Middle East reflects a “deadly” return of religious intolerance, often blaming western cultures that do not follow their twisted beliefs.
There are startling parallels between religious intolerance in the 1600’s and Islamic persecution of persons who do not sympathize with the beliefs of ISIS. By August 2015, ISIS had already issued a warning to Iraq’s Christian population that they could convert, pay extra taxes, or be killed. The group has murdered thousands in Iraq as well as raped women and girls in the name of Allah. That is intolerance.
A member of the ISIS terrorist organization, referring to Christians said, “There is nothing to give them but the sword”.
That is intolerance.
Radical groups like ISIS targets America and our allies because our commitment to tolerance is anathema to them. The AP reports, “The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks….” Colleagues, make no mistake, they are here too.
America is a shining beacon to people living in cultures of intolerance. I have seen it firsthand, all over the world.
It is also true that intolerance and hate manifested themselves within American history and culture. But tolerance in this country produced positive societal beliefs on religion, politics, gender, race, freedom of speech, employment, housing, targeted investments, and human rights. As Dr. Miller might say, remember our faults but celebrate our achievements.
For our present lives we must remember the difference between offense and intolerance. We may be offended by other people’s words and ideas; but, forcing our beliefs and ideas on others is intolerant. Making others conform to our values is intolerance.
Since 1776, the United States of America remains one of the few large nations in the history of the world that has never been torn by the conflict of religious strife.
As Americans, we value freedom and the liberty to live as we wish with as little interference as possible. It is also the reason citizens of other countries envy our governance process and way of life.
The Maryland General Assembly, in particular, has a rich history of addressing tolerance in ways that enrich the lives of Marylanders.
Tolerance is truly an American value. Assaults on our politics and lifestyle only fortify our belief in the American way of life.
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The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has released the summary report on the FY2017 budget. The budget, which was released by Governor Larry Hogan in January, remains lean on spending while resisting the need to raise new taxes to offset costs. Following in the tradition of the General Assembly, the State Senate had the first look at the budget this year which sets record K-12 spending.
I am very pleased to see the structural deficit is closed, top priorities are fully funded and there are no new taxes. Maryland’s economy is growing and recovering from bad policy decisions made by the previous administration. The Senate Budget Committee has retained a Rainy Day Fund balance that will keep the budget balanced through 2020. We have record level K-12 spending, increased State aid for our local police, and funding for Southern Maryland’s trauma center in Prince George’s County’s new hospital. Future transportation funding, however, remains a contentious issue. Finally, I am pleased to share that St. Mary’s County will receive an increase of nearly $2 million in State Aid.
The Senate has done incredible work and I hope my colleagues in the House will work hard to follow the standard that has been set.
For more information on the FY17 budget as passed by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, please click the following link- 2016 Budget and Taxation Budget summary
For information on local aid to St. Mary’s County, please click the following link- St. Mary’s State aid.
The budget will be debated with the full Senate this week before crossing over into the House for consideration.
TOURISM IDEA #2
Create regional destination tourism with a St. Mary’s County Wine Trail.
TOURISM IDEA #1
Expand the County’s special wine and beer festival license to include a special beer, wine and spirits festival (BWSF) license. Participation in festivals would be limited to Maryland breweries, distilleries and wineries.
Authorizing a 15 year amortization of MetCom connection fees and/or a Capital Contribution Charge for expansion of existing businesses (including new locations).
Small Business Initiatives
Authorizing an income tax credit for creation of at least 10 new, full time jobs that remain in the County for at least five (5) years. Tax credit includes $1,000 per new job with a max of $20,000 per applicant.
Big Business Initiatives
Foreign Military Acquisition Center of Excellence
This Center will enable foreign military sales, cooperative programs, companies, institutions and governmental entities to collaborate with and benefit from AeroMaryland researchers and resources to effectively co-develop, produce and install commercial aviation solutions using Federal facilities and professionals (i.e. Foreign SYSCOM). Allowing our foreign partners to locate outside the gate in a FMS-friendly environment will enable them to conduct business on their terms, with free access to their offices and the Internet, while maintaining proximity to the Navy program offices and T&E centers.