08 February 2023- While Democrats hold a super majority (~72%) in the Maryland Senate, the Republicans continue to look at both bipartisan and individual legislation to address the ongoing cost of living crisis, the increase in violent crime, and transparency in government.
“Just as we have approached Governor Moore’s legislative priorities with an open mind and found some common ground, we are hopeful that the Governor and our Democratic colleagues will approach our legislative proposals in good faith,” said Senate Minority Leader Steve Hershey. “In addition to these specific bills, we will promote transparency in the legislative process and focus on holding the Democratic supermajority accountable for their policies and ensuring that Marylanders are receiving the promised return on their significant investment in state government.”
Senate Republicans, per a release today, have 8 major policy goals in the upcoming session: SB216 on Gas Tax and CPI numbers, SB461 on retirement tax elimination, SB744 on violent firearms offenses, SB 745 on gun violence accountability, SB564 on the creation of a felony theft of a handgun offense, SB522 on education accountability, SB566 on parental rights, and the restoration of BOOST Funding in the next FY24 budget.
SB 261: Motor Fuel Tax Rates- Consumer Price Index Adjustment Repeal
Part of their legislative agenda again this year is the repeal of an increased gas tax based off of CPI numbers every July 1st. On that date in 2022, Republican note the gas tax jumped by 19.4%, hiking it to nearly 43 cents per gallon. That makes it the fourth highest in the country.
SB 461: Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2023
Retiree taxes were reduced last year but Republicans say that is not enough and would like it to be completely eliminated. Governor Moore was quoted, saying “Maryland is no one’s farm team”, to which Republicans agree and say they must eliminate the tax to keep retirees in the state.
Combating Violent Crime: SB 744, 745, and SB 564
Senate Republicans are focusing on three bills to address a rise in violent crime in not only Maryland but across the country. SB744, or the Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2023 died in the MD House in 2021 but has bipartisan support this time around. It would increase the penalties for committing crimes with an illegal firearms, raise the fine, and repeal the unconscionable drug dealers loophole as well as creating penalties for someone who sells a gun knowing that they will use it to commit a crime.
SB745, or the Gun Violence Accountability Act, increases the penalties for illegally possessing a firearm from 3 to 5 years in prison as well as increasing the fine from $2,500 to $10,000.
SB 564, or Criminal Law- Theft of a Handgun, makes the theft of a handgun a felony charge, rather than the current misdemeanor designation. First conviction would be 2 to 5 years of imprisonment with a $1,000 fine. Subsequent convictions would raise that to 5-10 years with a fine up to $2,500.
Education and Parental Involvement
Restoring BOOST Funding is a major goal of Republicans after FY24’s proposed budget by Governor Moore would eliminate 20% of funding for the BOOST Program, which provides scholarships for low-income students to attend nonpublic schools.
SB522, or Education Accountability Implementation Board Membership, would make the governing body that implements the “blueprint for Maryland’s future” actually have membership from Maryland’s rural jurisdictions. Currently, it does not have ANY of those rural jurisdictions.
Finally, SB 566, or the Family Law- Fundamental Parental Rights, would codify the fundamental rights of parents to “direct the upbringing, education, care, and welfare of their children” in state law and prohibits the state from infringing upon that right.
Full release from the Maryland Senate Republicans can be found HERE.