Crossover is Monday, March 21st which is the deadline for each chamber to pass its bills over to the other, without having to jump through extra procedural hoops. There has been a flurry of activity leading up to Crossover including passage of emergency legislation to suspend the gas tax for 30 days, Senate passage of the Fiscal Year ’23 Budget and four of my bills, and committee hearings on my other bill on parental notification of medical procedures and a priority local bill to support the Crisfield Police Department.
Teacher of the Year Awardees from the Eastern Shore.
L-R: Dustin Thomas, Senator Carozza, Aarti Sangwan, Logan Webster
Gas Tax Suspension & Push to End Automatic Gas Tax
On March 18th, emergency legislation to suspend the .36 cents gas tax for 30 days was signed into law. While this a great first step and show of bipartisanship, I have joined with my colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus in cosponsoring legislation to end the automatic and never-ending tax increase that was passed back in 2013. Marylanders would save $37.5 million in FY ’23 and $117 million by FY ’27. With gas prices at a seven-year high and inflation at a 30-year high, the time is now to end the automatic gas increase.
Senate Passes FY 2023 Budget
The Senate passed the amended version of Governor Hogan’s $58 billion fiscal year ‘23 budget that reflects a $7 billion surplus due to federal COVID relief funds and higher than expected tax revenues. The fiscal year ’23 budget is structurally sound with no deficits and also replenishes Maryland’s Rainy Day Fund.
 
This budget funds many of our Shore priorities including boosting tourism, ongoing COVID 19 relief and needed funding for our local health departments, and additional funding for law enforcement and education. I also noted that $350 million has been reserved for tax relief but the specifics of how those funds will be used has not yet been determined. And I will continue to push for retiree tax relief to keep Marylanders living, working, and retiring in Maryland.
 
The Budget now heads over to the House and its Appropriations Committee. The final version of the budget must be agreed upon by both chambers and passed by April 4th. Passing the budget is the only constitutionally-mandated obligation of the Maryland General Assembly each year. Next week, the Senate will take up the Capitol Budget which funds infrastructure projects throughout the State, and it will follow the same process for final passage.
My Bills Passed the Senate Unanimously:
This week, four of my bills passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. These include:
  • Senate Bill 64 Beach Erosion Control District that would provide a mechanism to repair, replace and, with specific limitations, add on to these existing facilities and bring the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum, built in 1891, into compliance with the federal Americans for Disabilities Act and current fire safety codes;
  • Senate Bill 537 Shrimp Fishery Regulations that would allow the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to establish regulations for the new shrimp fishery approved last year;
  • Senate Bill 538 Land Use - Agritourism - Definition that would include special events and occasions within the statewide Agritourism definition to give our farm families more options to diversify and expand rather than selling their valuable farm land for development; and
  • Senate Bill 695 Natural Resources - Voluntary Firewood Treatment Certification Program that would allow the Department of Natural Resources the authority to establish a Voluntary Firewood Treatment Certification Program to allow Maryland’s forest operators to continue to export their firewood products to other states.
Maryland Parental Involvement Act
Michelle Talkington, mother of six and small business owner, testified in strong support of SB 891 – The Maryland Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
On March 16th, Senate Bill 891 was introduced by me in the Senate Finance Committee, which would require parental notification of non-emergency medical procedures including abortion and would allow physicians to waive the requirement during a medical emergency or if the minor requests a judicial waiver. During my testimony, I highlighted that the purpose of Senate Bill 891 is to protect our children and to let parents be parents. Many well-respected medical organizations like the Maryland Psychological Association and the Maryland Board of Nursing, to name a couple, agree that most pre-teen and teen age children do not have the cognitive capacity to make medical decisions without parental involvement, and it is not developmentally appropriate to expect them to do so.
 
During my testimony, I referenced the written testimony of Dr. Peg Naleppa, former Chief Executive of the Peninsula Regional Medical Center and now TidalHealth, registered nurse, mother of two daughters and nana to two granddaughters.
“...as a registered nurse with 45 years of experience, I have on numerous occasions personally witnessed or have been informed by a minor of a decision he/she made independently, without parental discussion and consent. Their narrative is often- if only I had known -of both short- term and long-term unintended consequences, I would have chosen a different outcome. These comments beg the question of why didn’t informed consent act to advise the minor at the time of a procedure?”.
 
Michelle Talkington, a mother of six children, Debra Brocato, a Registered Nurse, and Eileen Roberts, Founder and President of Parents for Life testified on my panel in strong support of SB 891. 
Crisfield Police Bill 
On March 16th, my Senate Bill 958 was heard in the Senate Pensions Subcommittee. SB 958 would allow the members of the Crisfield Police Department to participate in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pensions System (LEOPS). It also entitles current Crisfield law enforcement officers to eligibility and creditable service in LEOPS for their prior service in the Crisfield Police Department. This is a local priority bill that would allow the Crisfield Police Department to retain and recruit qualified officers, and to remain competitive with neighboring law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions, during a rampant law enforcement shortage across the Shore and State of Maryland.
 
I also publicly thanked Crisfield Police Chief David Dalfonso for making the trip to Annapolis to testify in person in support of SB 958 and for his determination in working with the Maryland Retirement and Pension System through the process of bringing LEOPS to the Crisfield Police Department.
Climate Solutions Bill Update
Early this week, the Senate passed the Senate Bill 528 – the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 over the strong objections of my fellow colleagues.
SB 528 would set a statewide goal, for 2030, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% of emission levels recorded in 2006. For 2045, it would set the emissions goal to net-zero. I along with my Senate Republican colleagues have significant concerns about this bill – namely that it would have far reaching and devastating impacts on fossil fuel suppliers, many which are small businesses, sharply increase the cost of new construction, result in rent increases for those living in apartments and condos and more. 
SB 528 now moves to the House of Delegates, that also has its own package of environmental bills in consideration. 
Constituents Voices in Annapolis
On Monday, March 14th, I introduced Merin Thomas, a junior at James M. Bennett High School nominated to the State Board of Education, and Michael Purkey, Executive Director of the Deaf Independent Living Association nominated for the Maryland School for the Deaf Board of Trustees, to my colleagues on the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.
Michael Purkey and I depicted in my Annapolis office
On Friday, March 18th, Logan Webster from Somerset, Dustin Thomas from Wicomico, and Aarti Sangwan from Worcester arrived at the State House to be awarded as 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year in the Senate Chamber.
EASTERN SHORE DELEGATION UPDATE
The Eastern Shore Delegation met on Friday with representatives of Eastern Shore Behavioral Health, Washington College's President, Dr. Mike Sosulski, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore's President, Pam Gregory, and Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore's President, Erica Joseph.
Additional Community Resources
SENATE SCHOLARSHIPS IN DISTRICT 38
Students who live in Legislative District 38 may apply by emailing [email protected] to request a scholarship application. The deadline for submission of the completed application is April 15, 2022. These scholarship funds must be used toward attending a Maryland college or university (or an out-of-state institution if the student demonstrated he or she has a unique major). Please note that the completed application must be returned with the required essay. The student must have also filed their FAFSA online and should include his or her FAFSA summary sheet with the completed application.
On Tuesday, March 15th, Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the state of Maryland will drop the requirements for a four-year college degree for thousands of state jobs.
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration (SHA) is currently hiring and there are potential future job opportunities that are currently available.
While there is an online application, they are encouraging people to stop in at their location and fill out an application on the spot, so they have a chance to talk with you face to face. Address can be found below.
State Highway Administration
10980 Market Lane
Princess Anne, Maryland
American Job Center Mobile Unit
The American Job Center (formerly known as the One Stop Job Market) mobile unit will hit the road again! 
The American Job Center (AJC) has a brand new vehicle that is equipped with the latest technology that will enable them to assist job and career seekers with their employment needs.  The AJC Mobile Unit will begin its regular schedule starting in early April. They are currently working on the schedule and will be contacting all the locations that they previously visited to work out a date and time. 
Need more information? Call 410-341-6515
Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate