News Release, Maryland House Minority Caucus
Commonsense Proposals to Address Public Safety, Voting Rights, and Taxes
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, the leadership of the House Minority Caucus held a press conference in the Lowe House Office Building to announce the caucus’ priorities for this legislative session. Minority Leader Delegate Nic Kipke, Minority Whip Delegate Kathy Szeliga, Assistant Minority Leader Delegate Matt Morgan, and Chief Deputy Whip Delegate Jason Buckel highlighted four pieces of legislation: The Murder and Repeat Violent Offender Registry Act; The Special Police Officers Act; The One Person One Vote Act; and The Commonsense Tax Cut Act. These proposals smartly and aggressively address public safety, voting rights, and the pocketbook issues that all Maryland families grapple with on a daily basis.
In addition to announcing the legislation, Minority Leader Kipke strongly conveyed the overall mission of the House Minority Caucus and its collective objectives this session.
“Our caucus represents nearly two million Marylanders – people who have a voice and sent us to Annapolis to be just that,” said Minority Leader Kipke. “Our members represent districts from Western Maryland to the Lower Eastern Shore and nearly everywhere in-between. This diverse group of citizens voted us into office because they want to see problems solved. Our objective is simple – get good things done for the people of Maryland. These proposals are a first step in the right direction.”
Murder and Repeat Violent Offender Registry Act of 2019
The Murder and Repeat Violent Offender Registry Act of 2019 establishes a searchable public registry modeled after Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. It requires those convicted of murder to register for a period of 10 years following the completion of their sentence. In addition, those individuals who have a prior conviction for a violent crime and receive a subsequent conviction for a second violent crime, will be required to register for the 10-year period. Under Maryland law, violent crimes include but are not limited to murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, and carjacking. A number of states across the nation have expanded crime registries to include violent crimes. This list of states includes Virginia, Illinois, and, most recently, Ohio.
“Maryland is a great place to live, but like many states, violent crime is a major problem, and more needs to be done to safeguard our communities,” said Delegate Kipke. “The most important role of any government is to keep its citizens safe, and taking information that is already public and making it easier to find is a measure that will make our neighborhoods safer. There is a clear problem with sentencing in our state, a clear lack of transparency, and this limited public registry for the most violent criminals amongst us is the right thing to do for all Marylanders”
Commonsense Tax Cut Act of 2019
The Commonsense Tax Cut Act of 2019 will lower the Maryland income tax rate by a quarter percentage point – saving middle class Marylanders hundreds of millions of dollars every year in taxes while also making our state more competitive economically.
“While many Annapolis legislators and lobbyists are talking about raising taxes, we are fighting for Maryland families to keep more of their hard earned money,” said Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. “Governor Hogan has made great strides over the past five years controlling spending, lowering taxes, and making Maryland more affordable, but we want to go even further. Too many Maryland families are struggling, and too many businesses will not consider locating here because of the high cost of living. Maryland is stronger than it has ever been and its future potential is unlimited but only if all people can afford to live here.”
Special Police Officers Act of 2019
The Special Police Officers Act of 2019 will expand an already-existing law to give local jurisdictions another tool to keep our schools safe. The bill allows government bodies, such as a school system or a sheriff’s department, to collaboratively establish a Special Police Officer program within their jurisdiction. Rather than mandating a one-size-fits-all program, this enabling legislation gives local government much more flexibility in requesting special police officers for school safety. This allows each local government to tailor a program to their individual needs.
“The school shooting at Great Mills High School set our community back on our heels,” said Assistant Minority Leader Delegate Morgan. “We cannot account for every threat, in every situation, but we also realize that the status quo is not good enough. Finding a substantive solution to increase school safety has and will continue to be one of our top priorities and concerns. Solving the tragedy of school shootings is complex, but having more men and women on school grounds who are trained to keep our children safe is definitely part of the answer.”
One Person One Vote Act of 2019
The One Person One Vote Act of 2019 is a constitutional amendment requiring single-member state legislative districts. This legislation will give citizens more direct representation and will give every citizen an equal voice in the Maryland legislature. On a national level, 40 states already have single-member districts. This bill puts the power back into the hands of the citizens and gives them a more direct relationship with their representatives.
“Maryland is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country,” said Chief Deputy Whip Jason Buckel. “We do not have free or fair elections here – we have a fraudulent and rigged system designed to benefit the party in power. That needs to end, and the Governor, along with our caucus, is working to do just that. We must also bring an end to multi-member legislative districts because it serves the same unethical purpose as gerrymandering. Creating multi-member districts is an institutional form of voter suppression. Politicians should never pick their voters, and this is one more way they do just that in Maryland.”