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Jason Miller County Council at Large


April 25, 2018

Happily, the General Assembly Session is over

Patricia A. Kelly

With a couple of weeks to reflect on the General Assembly’s 2018 session, it seems that over 3,000 bills were created during a mere three months. I can’t imagine any need for so many. What about spending time on the big issues facing Maryland, and finding solutions that serve the people?

 

Any new measure that relates to an existing law should become an amendment to that law, not a new one.

 

Some bills, in a world with common sense, would never come up, as the problem they solve should never exist.

 

A perfect example is Ben’s Law, which failed again this year due to legislators’ concerns about returning the federal monetary bribe that helped Common Core come to Maryland. Can you imagine not allowing parents to refuse testing for a child who is extremely handicapped, nonverbal, and unable to accurately perform the tests, when there are only five such children in the state?

 

Do you think that would really skew the percentages? I support this bill, by the way, with great sadness at its necessity.

 

My favorite silly bill is SB 490, which allows you to hold gray water, such as kitchen sink water, in a tank so you can use it to water your garden. Could that ever have been illegal? It passed, so you’re safe now, you sneaky water savers.

 

There is good and bad news coming out of the 2018 session. The bad news includes the passing of HB 152, Automatic Voter Registration. Voting is a right and a privilege, not something to be imposed on people who otherwise might not bother to register.

 

Redistricting reform, championed by Governor Larry Hogan, failed. The governor hopes an upcoming Supreme Court decision will help this cause, moving us in the direction of elections which are fairer, if we can keep the Russians and Mark Zuckerberg out.

 

We, the people, and our craft beer industry, lost with the failure of microbrewery reform. By jobs, by Flying Dog Expansion. So unfair.

 

SB 138 requires the governor to join the U.S. Climate Alliance. Okay….

 

Good news includes the failure to pass the Safe Act, HB 1461, saving us once more from becoming a sanctuary state. Look for round three next year.

 

Governor Hogan and I favored HB 1302, which allows a judge to order temporary removal of guns from people determined to be at extreme risk for violence. As an emergency nurse, I have seen the use of the same procedure for mandatory mental health evaluation of people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. It seemed to work very well, with people’s rights adequately protected. This is an example of common sense violence prevention. Take their machetes, too.

 

HB 247 created a Victim Services Unit with the intent of increasing services to crime victims.

 

HB 1342 updated the legislature’s sexual harassment policy.  Another “shouldn’t be needed, but, unfortunately is” bill.

 

SB 944 prevents us from being forced to be micro-chipped by our employers. Yes, it’s another funny one, maybe ahead of its’ time, since no one is trying to do that here. Thanks, Senator Young. I feel safer now.

 

HB 653 requires a doctor to have the opioid addiction talk with his patients before prescribing opioids. Good idea, and sad it should be needed.

 

As for marijuana, you can now have an ounce, instead of 10 grams, without a civil infraction. HB 2 has created reforms and expanded licenses.  HB 1039, allowing recreational marijuana use, failed.

 

Speaking of marijuana, Surgeon General Jerome Adams opposes legalization of recreational marijuana. He thinks the components should be studied, something that hasn’t happened because of the federal designation of the drug as a Category I controlled substance. Of course, it should be studied.

 

According to the Marijuana Report, created by National Families in Action and SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) pedestrian deaths in states that have legalized marijuana have increased by 16.8% while decreasing 5.8% in other states. (Have your mom hold your hand if you want to cross the street while stoned.) Colorado is showing increasing heroin deaths since legalization, and there has been a 71% increase in high school drug violations since legalization, just to list a few statistics.

 

As this session ends, local legislators Kathy Afzali and David Vogt are bidding adieu to the legislature. Our other representatives are suiting up for the upcoming election. Go to the Maryland Government website to easily find out more about what your legislators have been up to.

 

And think before you vote. Someone should.

 

patriciaklly@aol.com

 



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