Crossover week is always crunch time as bills must move from the Senate to the House by Monday, March 18 to ensure final passage by Sine Die, April 8. While the push is on to clear bills out of Committee and the Chamber, the race is on to try to minimize the negative impact of legislation that is harmful to the Shore. This week Senator Carozza spoke out against legislation that would harm our watermen and job creators and voted in favor of several bills that would help keep our children safe in school and assist state retirees. Senator Carozza was also recognized by The Daily Record as a 2019 Top 100 Women.
CAROZZA STANDS UP FOR WATERMEN ON SENATE FLOOR
The full Senate continued debate on Senate Bill 448—Oysters—Tributary-Scale Sanctuaries—Protection and Restoration which would establish a network of five oyster sanctuaries and establish new regulations on them. During the Floor debate, Senator Carozza offered an amendment that would replace the Manokin River Sanctuary on the Eastern Shore with the Severn River, a sanctuary on the Western Shore for purposes of protection and restoration.
“Selecting the Severn River would allow an oyster restoration plan in an area where the community actively wants it, and in an area where the watermen do not operate,” Senator Carozza said when offering the amendment. The amendment was voted down on party lines. Since the Carozza amendment to support the commercial watermen was not adopted, Carozza voted against SB 448.
CAROZZA FIGHTS FOR JOB CREATORS DURING MINIMUM WAGE DEBATE
The full Senate considered Senate Bill 280, which would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Senator Carozza offered an amendment that would create a regional tier system for the implementation of any increase in the minimum wage.
“We live in a diverse state, reflecting different life styles, different industries, and different economic realities,” Carozza said when presenting her amendment. “This minimum wage legislation does not take any of those differences into account.” The amendment failed by a vote of 18-29, with three Democrats voting for it.
After the Floor debate and passage of Senate Bill 280, Senator Carozza stated “Our lawmakers in Annapolis need to understand the impact of their votes on our small businesses and job creators, and take into account how raising the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 puts Maryland at a huge economic disadvantage, especially compared to the minimum wage of our neighboring states with Delaware at $9.25 and Virginia at $7.25. This mandated wage increase is simply not sustainable for our small business owners, and will end up hurting the very people it’s intended to help.”
CAROZZA-SUPPORTED BILLS APPROVED BY SENATE
Several bills that Senator Carozza has cosponsored or supported are moving through the Senate. One of these is Senate Bill 561—Laura and Reid’s Law, which passed the Senate by a vote of 46-1. Introduced by Senator Justin Ready of Carroll County, Senate Bill 561 makes a crime of violence against a woman the perpetrator knows is pregnant an additional felony with a jail sentence of up to 10 years in addition to any other sentence imposed for the original crime. Senator Carozza cosponsored this bill.
“This bill goes a long way to better protecting pregnant women in Maryland by adding an additional felony if the perpetrator knows the woman is pregnant,” said Carozza. “Pregnancy-associated homicide in Maryland is 10 times the national average, and Laura and Reid’s Law brings justice to these women and their families.”
This week, Senator Carozza also voted in favor of Senate Bill 195, which would authorize the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to review data for signs of possible drug misuse and unprofessional conduct by a prescriber, and if either is found, report the prescriber to the Office of Controlled Substances Administration for an investigation; Senate Bill 946, which would provide prescription drug out-of-pocket reimbursement for specified State retirees, dependents, or surviving dependents who are enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug benefit plan; and Senate Bill 541, which would create new rules for vetting potential school employees and keeping school employees credibly accused of sexual abuse or misconduct out of our schools.
CAROZZA NAMED “TOP 100 WOMAN”
Senator Carozza was recognized by The Daily Record as one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women” for 2019.
“I’m humbled and honored to be among the women named as Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2019,” Senator Carozza said after receiving the news. “Throughout my time in public service, I have strived to build people and communities up and look forward to continuing to do so.”
"Each of this year's Maryland's Top 100 Women honorees excels in her unique endeavors, yet all share common traits. They inspire those around them -- by their actions, their words and their deeds -- to be the best," said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher of The Daily Record. "They are committed to mentoring and inspiring future generations in addition to making a difference at home, at work and in their communities. The Daily Record is pleased to honor them."
LOCALS IN ANNAPOLIS
With 25 days left of session, the number of Shore visitors in Annapolis has begun to drop. Shore visitors to Annapolis this week included Somerset County Public Works Director John Redden; Somerset County Tourism Director Julie Widdowson; Reverend Howard Travers of Pittsville; Senate “Doctor of the Day” Dr. Michael Murphy of Salisbury; Meredith Miller and Cheryll Bissett of the Wicomico Child Advocacy Center; Salisbury University President Dr. Charles Wight; University of Maryland Eastern Shore Chief of Staff Dr. Robert Mock; and Wor-Wic Community College President Dr. Ray Hoy.
The 2019 Maryland General Assembly is building up to Crossover Monday, March 18 when bills from one Chamber are sent over to the other Chamber. This means long hours in our committees and in our respective Chambers as bills are considered, debated, voted on and moved through the legislative process. It’s that point of session where the tough issues are coming to a head including the Kirwan education blueprint bill, minimum wage, physician-assisted suicide, and key public safety legislation.
SENATOR CAROZZA PARTICIPATES IN KIRWAN EDUCATION BILL HEARING
As a member of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, Senator Carozza participated in a joint hearing on March 6 with her colleagues on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee for Senate Bill 1030, which establishes education policy based on the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission).
The Kirwan Commission has made five major policy recommendations including the expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten for four year-olds; elevating teaching as a profession including teacher salary increases; setting a college and career readiness standard by the end of tenth grade; additional resources for students with disabilities and students from low-income families; and a strong accountability system. The legislation also extends the Kirwan’s Commission deadline to submit its final report to December 1, 2019 to determine the appropriate distribution of the total costs between the State and county governments.
After the hearing, Senator Carozza said, “As we move forward with the Kirwan Commission recommendations, I will insist on fair education funding formulas for the Shore, and will continue to engage our local school superintendents, county officials, teachers, parents, students and others on the education priorities in my district. There is a substantial cost to these recommendations, and we will have the hard discussions on affordability and accountability.”
CAROZZA SUPPORTS SCHOOL SAFETY IN COMMITTEE
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 6 approved Governor Larry Hogan’s school safety legislation which has advanced to the full Senate for consideration. Senate Bill 165—Safe Schools Maryland Act of 2019 would solidify the Safe Schools Maryland program within the Maryland Center for School Safety to establish an anonymous tip line 1-833-MD-B-SAFE for students, teachers, and the general public to report behaviors of concern and other threats.
“Keeping our students and all personnel safe in schools is the purpose of this legislation, and the tip line is an important tool to increase school safety,” said Senator Carozza after the vote. “The legislation calls for immediate follow-up to calls made to the tip line, which can help prevent violence and other abuse from occurring in our schools.”
LOCAL SPECIAL EVENTS ZONE BILL PRESENTED BUT NOT APPROVED
At the request of the Ocean City Mayor and OC Police Department Chief, Senator Carozza introduced Senate Bill 682 which would have increased the penalties for traffic violations in Special Event Zones in Worcester County for negligent driving, driving or participating in a race or speed contest, and other reckless driving. Last year’s bill, which was approved by the Maryland General Assembly, established a Special Event Zone during motor vehicle events in Ocean City and allowed for increased fines for speeding. Since last year’s bill did not include the other violations like reckless and negligent driving, SB 682 was introduced this session to expand the violations covered under the current law. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on March 5 but the bill did not receive a favorable report and will not be advancing this year.
“While I believe we made a strong case at the hearing for the need to expand the violations under the current law, the Committee members were not inclined to increase penalties again this year after granting the approval for the Special Events Zone last year,” said Carozza. “We are disappointed with the Committee’s decision, but we have left the door open to go back again next session and push for the increased penalties.”
SENATOR CAROZZA ADVOCATES FOR WATERMEN ON SENATE FLOOR
The full Senate held a debate this week which will go into next on legislation impacting Shore watermen. Senate Bill 448—Oysters—Tributary-Scale Sanctuaries—Protection and Restoration would establish a network of five oyster sanctuaries and establish new regulations on them. Concerns were raised about this legislation because it attempts to resolve complicated ecological questions by legislation rather than allowing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to do its job.
“The frustration you’re hearing right now is that the bill before us untangles the progress that we have begun to make,” Senator Carozza said speaking in strong support of a Floor amendment offered to the bill to provide DNR the flexibility to determine the best areas for oyster growth and restoration in the Manokin River and St. Mary’s River sanctuaries.
“I agree with the concerns that the commercial watermen and DNR have raised about this legislation which would lock each of the five oyster restoration sanctuaries in statute and takes away the State’s flexibility to manage oyster restoration,” said Carozza. “We need all the stakeholders to be working together for a prudently managed fishery, which means including our watermen in the development of these fishery management plans.”
LOCALS IN ANNAPOLIS
Shore Visitors in Annapolis this week included Somerset County District Court Judge Paula Ann Price of Princess Anne, her husband Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore Executive Director Greg Padgham, and daughter Samara; Raymond Nichols, Sr. of Berlin; Wor-Wic Community College President Dr. Ray Hoy, Vice President Bryan Newton, and Wor-Wic students; Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan; OC Police Chief Ross Buzzuro; OC Police Lieutenant Scott Harner; Delmarva Now reporter Sara Swann; Somerset County Board of Education Superintendent John Gaddis; Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino; Chesapeake Healthcare Chief Development Officer Joshua Boston; Chesapeake Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Brian Holland; Salisbury University student Jake Burdett, Andrew Likovich from Salisbury; Jay Tawes of Crisfield; Fruitland City Manager John Psota; and Delmarva Discovery Center and Museum President Stacey Weisner and her husband Mike of Salisbury.