SALISBURY, Md. – The Eastern Shore Delegation touted their accomplishments and answered questions from the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon, as part of the Post Legislative Forum.
The members pointed to their achievements such as passing a $61 billion state budget, repealing a ban on natural gas construction by 2024, while passing tax breaks for purchasing farm equipment and retiring seniors. Senator Mary Beth Carozza says the senior tax break was 8 years in the making.
“I have people that told me if we could not make the progress they were thinking of leaving the state of Maryland some just crossing the line and into Delaware or going south so this became for us a top priority and a top priority for the Governor,” she said.
She tells us like many of the bills passed this session, the senior tax breaks were funded by Maryland’s budget surplus.
But not all bills that were passed saw unanimous support from the delegation, like paid family leave, which drew criticism from the business community and republican members of the delegation.
“That kind of bill is coming at the wrong time with historic inflation, with a war in eastern Europe, a recession that I feel is about to start, this is just an additional burden for small businesses,” said Representative Chris Adams.
Speaker Pro Tempore Sheree Sample Hughes defended the legislation, saying the state has until 2025 before payouts begin, and calling on her own experience of caring for a sick family member.
“This program for me personally, I’m looking at citizens who had to care for loved ones care for their sick child or care for their husbands who just had open heart surgery which was me in 2017 and its why I had to support it,” she said.
One area members of the delegation said they wished they could have done more was expanding the state’s gas tax holiday, and eliminating the increase in the state’s gas tax as tied to the CPI.
Currently, the gas tax in Maryland is set to increase as inflation increases, which Senator Carozza tells us was something she was hoping to eliminate.
“We had introduced the bill to stop the increasing but unfortunately it did not pass,” she said.
Members of the delegation tell us they will spend the time between legislative sessions working on implementing the state’s paid family leave and state-run insurance for small businesses, working out the greater details of the policy that passed, and scaling up state resources to support the rollout.
To view the video excerpt from WMDT:
Now that the 2022 session of the General Assembly is passed, here is a link to the listing of those bills passed and to be signed by the Governor.
MARYLAND -State Senator Mary Beth Carozza spoke with us about the need for more student visits to the statehouse in Annapolis.
Senator Carozza tells us during COVID-19 not many students were able to visit for field trips. However, on Thursday, Crisfield High School students visited which encouraged Senator Carozza.
Senator Carozza says she’s looking forward to more students making the trip to Annapolis to learn about the legislative process. She says the future of Maryland depends on the younger generation and the visits should be more purposeful so there can be a bright future for local politics. “Everything was open Thursday for them, they were able to be able to come into the senate gallery and I introduced them.” Senator Carozza adds, “We always encourage our students and our constituents to come up here and see us in action we appreciate the input very much during this session.”
The general assembly’s 2022 session ends Monday night.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The 2022 Maryland General Assembly is coming to a close and eastern shore legislators still have a few bills on their plate they hope will pass by Monday.
Maryland legislators are working double-time to get last-minute bills in front of Governor Larry Hogan, and some hot topic bills are still awaiting their fate. “This was supposed to be a non-controversial session and it’s turning out to be very controversial,” says Delegate Johnny Mautz.
According to Delegate Wayne Hartman, he’s hoping the Governor vetoes a few controversial bills. “Looking for the Governor’s vetoes to come through the paid family leave, I think it is going to be something that’s really going to be hard for the business community.” He adds, “I’m not giving up on that, we have a few more days to try to push for that and overall I think a good session.”
Not just the paid family medical leave, but bills like the ghost gun bill, gas tax extension, energy tax, and a Sunday hunting bill in Somerset county just to name a few bills on the forefront. “We’ll go all the way up till midnight on Monday and then the work has to be completed by then, adjourn sign or die and that’s it,” says Senator Mary Beth Carozza.
Eastern Shore legislators we spoke with tell us, that a lot of the major work has been done but the last three days give them a chance for any last-minute concerns. “Some of these local bills that are moving through the process and look to be on track and we just want to make sure we don’t run out of time,” says Senator Carozza.
Meanwhile, Speaker Pro Tem, Sheree Sample-Hughes says she was able to pass multiple bills and secure funding for Eastern Shore industries. She says there have been many impactful bills this session, and she wants to finish off strong. “Our members are up for the challenge and we’re really trying to get the priorities of where they need to be.”
To move forward, Speaker Pro Tem Sample-Hughes says it will take the work of legislators on both sides of the aisle. “If you have a great idea and we’re able to move forward and make things better for the citizens then that for me, that’s what it’s all about.”
However, even after the assembly ends, lawmakers say the work doesn’t stop there. “We get through the next couple of days and we get home and try to figure out the best course of action and how to deal with things,” says Del. Mautz. Del. Hartman adds, “I feel so disconnected from the community so I think it’s important to get back home and see what’s changed and catch up with the community.”
Speaker Pro Tem Sample-Hughes also says, during this session they were able to address major concerns like education, small businesses, and climate change. “we’re moving towards a cleaner environment and we’re also doing it a little bit in more of an economical way to do it.”
The end of the session is Monday at midnight.
To watch the video: