Last week, the gavel ceremoniously dropped, calling to order the 433rd session of the Maryland General Assembly. For the next 90 days, our Legislature will take up issues encompassing simple procedural items, important budget considerations and of course socially divisive proposals, some of which are drawn on ideological and party lines. By April 8th, Maryland will have a budget for the coming year and another set of laws that will direct the state and its people.
Without a doubt, the most heated issue is going to be gun control. After the horrific Newtown, Connecticut and other high-profile tragedies, President Obama and Governor O’Malley are pushing for legislation that has little, if any chance, of solving the issue of violence anywhere. The Governor is going to push for a ban on certain types of semi-automatic firearms as well as placing limits on magazine capacities.
The problem I have with the Governor’s plan is that it remains one-dimensional, politically motivated, and does little to explore the complex roots of the issue. Mental health, among other factors should be given a high level of consideration. The one common factor in all of these high profile incidents is mental health. Addressing the core behavioral factors which leads individuals to commit violent acts and treating them should be our focus. If we are going to talk about the problem, then let’s talk about the real issues and not just what is politically expedient and easy to digest. I will stand up and protect our 2ndAmendment rights and I am committed to this issue.
The other hot-button issue of this session is capital punishment. The Governor has long stated that he wants to repeal the death penalty, and now there is word of an attempt to short-circuit the legislative process to force a vote on the Senate floor. This is part of a “by any means necessary” strategy that we have seen time and time again with this administration. As a legislative matter, I feel strongly that there are some crimes so heinous that the death penalty has to be an option under the law. I firmly believe that upholding Maryland’s death penalty laws will send a strong message that some crimes deserve the ultimate punishment. No person that walks into a school and murders innocent children and teachers deserves life in prison with three square meals a day and recreation time.
Finally, the perennial rush to generate a balanced budget will undoubtedly occupy the Maryland General Assembly once all other matters are put aside. Fiscal accountability seldom gets the priority that its constitutional mandate warrants. This year’s formula calls for a 4.3% increase in spending totaling a staggering $37.3 Billion dollars. If the income levels in the state have not increased at this rate, then from where all this money going to come? More importantly, when many of us have had to cut back our personal budgets, why is the only answer in Annapolis to raise spending? Maryland’s monopoly party cannot continue to tax and spend with no regard for the consequences. This state doesn’t just have a spending problem, it has a spending crisis.
In closing, I urge you to make your voice heard and your opinions known. I represent you, and will keep you informed of what is happening in Annapolis via weekly email updates. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to call or email my office with any questions or concerns you may have at (410) 841-3706 or email@example.com
Senator J.B. Jennings