2021 Maryland General Assembly Update Week Nine: Hearings, Hearings, and Even More Hearings
Annapolis, MD—Maryland Senators are spending more time on the Senate Floor and in their committees to ensure bills are worked through before the chamber crossover date on March 22. Senator Carozza this week had hearings on three of her bills that ranged from handgun permits to hospice and hunting. Carozza also spoke out against legislation that would weaken the role of School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools and voted against the omnibus climate change bill as it jeopardizes funding for priority environmental projects in her district. In addition, she introduced constituents during the March 8 Senate Executive Nominations Committee hearing.
Handgun Permits for High-Risk Occupations
A Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing was held on Senate Bill 826—Handgun Permits – Qualifications – High–Risk Occupations on Wednesday, March 10. Senator Carozza crossfiled this legislation, introduced by Delegate Wayne Hartman in the House of Delegates, that would allow for a handgun permit to be issued based on specified high-risk occupations including a correctional officer, parole and probation officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a rescue squad member, a security guard for a church or religious organization, a physician, a physician’s assistant, a nurse, or a nurse practitioner.
“This legislation is essential for our public servants and first responders as it gives them security and the ability to protect themselves in the high-risk environments they face on a daily basis,” Senator Carozza testified. “We expect and sometimes take for granted that our first responders and other high-risk public safety professionals will be there for us, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic… I believe this is a reasonable request given the potential harm these high-risk occupations face to protect and serve our communities.”
Ocean City Fire Department Lieutenant Eric Borneman and Kimberly Tull, OC Fire Department firefighter and paramedic, both highlighted the need for this legislation.
“We have a high-risk public safety exposure,” Borneman said. “When we are on the scene, our identity and information are not protected, which can result in off-duty conflict…This would allow us the protective measure as a last resort should the situation warrant it.”
“As a single mother of two boys, I am always concerned with our personal safety,” Tull stated. “The current political climate is not favorable for public safety, and the nature of the calls we run in fire and EMS are challenging…We should not have to actually suffer an attack or prove actual documented threats in order to secure a permit for our own personal protection.”
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 891— Public Health - Maternal and Child Mortality - Review and Perinatal Hospice Services. Senate Bill 891 would require the Maryland Department of Health to publish a list of perinatal hospice services in Maryland on its website, requires the Department to provide an information sheet of these services, and authorizes physicians and nurse practitioners to inform patients of services available and provide the information sheet produced under this bill.
“Senate Bill 891 would help ensure new parents can receive information about perinatal hospice support when facing a life-limiting diagnosis and the likely loss of their baby just hours or days after birth,” Senator Carozza said in strong support of her legislation, noting that the State of Maryland has nine perinatal hospice programs.
Perinatal hospice and palliative care is specialized care provided to families when their baby is given a life-limiting diagnosis and may have just days or hours to live after birth. From the time of diagnosis through delivery, the multidisciplinary perinatal hospice team provides physical, emotional, and spiritual support. They empower families to process the diagnosis, find moments of meaning-making, welcome their baby, and say goodbye. This care is widely accepted by medical professionals, including by the American College of Obstetricians, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Maryland parents deserve to know all of their options when given a life-limiting diagnosis. Yet few Maryland families receive information about perinatal hospice or are left without support at this difficult time. Providing this information respects the autonomy, choice, and decision-making of parents,” Carozza added, highlighting the fact that Somerset County had a 120 percent increase in the infant mortality rate since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Senate Bill 891 would benefit several hundred Maryland families every year to access the available perinatal hospice resources.”
Sunday Hunting in Somerset County
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 634——Somerset County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting.
“Senate Bill 634 is a local request from our active hunters as they believe this legislation would allow more time for Somerset County families to hunt during a limited season for game bird and game mammals,” Senator Carozza said during her testimony. “This would provide Somerset County hunters with the same benefits of several other counties that allow Sunday hunting and hunting on public land.”
Senate Bill 634 would add Somerset County to the current list of counties that are permitted to hunt on each Sunday of the game bird and game mammal seasons including Allegany County, Cecil County, Garrett County, St. Mary’s County, Washington County as mentioned in Article-Natural Resources §10–410(a) (1). It also would allow Somerset County (leased to a hunt club) to hunt on public land along with Allegany County, Cecil County, Garrett County, St. Mary’s County, Washington County, Dorchester County, and Frederick County as mentioned in §10 410(a) (15).
This legislation applies to private property and only public land leased to a hunt club that is designated for hunting by DNR. This does not apply to Janes Island State Park since existing law prohibits opening lands managed by the Maryland Park Service.
Somerset County Commission Vice President Charles Laird testified in strong support of Senate Bill 634. “Just because you’re on the field does not mean you always harvest, it’s the opportunity…you’re making memories and spending time with your family,” Commissioner Laird said.
Also testifying was Ashley Webster, a Somerset County resident and hunter who supports Sunday hunting in the County.
“I work five days a week so my only time to hunt is on Saturday and Sunday without having to take time off of work...it’s mostly about memories and making those with your family,” Webster noted.
Carozza Speaks in Support of Funding Shore Priority Projects
The Senate of Maryland considered Senate Bill 414— Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 which creates new environmental mandates and impacts funding for projects around the state. Senator Carozza joined her Senate Republican colleagues in support of amendments to remove Senate Bill 414’s intent to divert $15 million from the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) to pay for a new and duplicative program to plant five million trees throughout the State.
“Our local communities have been promised these Bay Restoration Funds for priority projects to fix failing sewer systems. We should not be raiding the Bay Restoration Fund to pay for the tree planting required under the omnibus climate change bill,” said Senator Carozza.
Senator Carozza voted against Senate Bill 414, which passed the full Senate on Friday, March 12 with a vote of 34-11.
Carozza Defends School Resource Officers in Committee, Supports Law Enforcement
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee began debating Senate Bill 245-Public Schools - School Resource Officers - Requirements and Prohibitions during the voting session on Friday, March 12. Senate Bill 245 would prohibit School Resource Officers from operating on school grounds. Senator Carozza is strongly opposed to Senate Bill 245 and will vote against it.
“The bottom line is this bill and these amendments are weakening the role of our School Resource Officers to protect our most valuable asset – our children. We put these SROs in place after the mass shootings that were occurring around the country, and one right here in Maryland, and I will continue to oppose any and all legislative efforts to weaken the protection of our students, teachers, and school personnel,” said Senator Carozza in opposition to Senate Bill 245.
Carozza also reiterated her opposition to any legislation that would weaken the ability of law enforcement to do their job, such as the police reform package the House of Delegates passed on Thursday, March 11.
Constituents Confirmed by Senate
As a State Senator, Senator Carozza has the opportunity to vote on constituents who are appointed and reappointed by Governor Larry Hogan to serve on various boards and commissions throughout the State of Maryland. This week, Senator Carozza introduced before the Senate Executive Nominations Committee to confirm Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan to the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission and Dominique Sessa to the Assistive Technology Loan Program Board of Directors. Also confirmed was Anne Marie Dickerson to the Maryland Economic Development Commission.
Wicomico Page Recognized in Senate
The Maryland General Assembly Student Page program is virtual for the 2021 legislative session to keep the participating students safe and healthy. Senate Pages are responsible for providing vital services to the legislature and have the opportunity to work directly with elected officials. This week, Tenley Pelot, a senior at Parkside High School in Salisbury, served as a Senate Page.