ANNAPOLIS, MD – Members House Republican Caucus today offered several amendments to assist low-income Marylanders, retirees, and vulnerable populations.
During the debate on Senate Bill 218, a bill that will expand Maryland’s earned income tax credit to include illegal immigrants, Republican members offered amendments to expand tax credits for families with developmentally disabled children and to provide assistance to those immigrants who are lawfully present in this state, such as refugees and those with green cards.
“I believe we have the opportunity today to do some very meaningful and important things that will benefit those who need help who and are often overlooked”, said Delegate Brenda Thiam who offered the amendment to expand the child tax credits for families with developmental disabled children until the child reached the age of 21 and to limit the bill only to immigrants who are in the country legally.
“There’s a misconception that those of us in the minority party have a dislike or disdain or even hatred for immigrants or people who are not American”, said Thiam. “I see it in the headlines, I see it on social media accounts of several of my colleagues here in the General Assembly. I must adamantly dispel this misconception and encourage all of you to reject this grievous untruth. Disagreement does not equal hatred, and we do a disservice to this institution and to the citizens we represent when we sew division this way. My husband is an immigrant from Guinea West Africa. My sister-in-law and my nieces and nephews are from Colombia, South America. When I am talking about immigrants, I am talking about my family; this is my family!”
“We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws and we have to stop incentivizing breaking the law”, said Thiam. “I know I am one of the new kids here in the House of Delegates. The day I took my oath of office was one of the proudest moments of my life. In that oath, I swore to uphold the constitution and the laws of this state and this country. This amendment would allow this bill to help people, and do so without incentivizing breaking the law. This amendment will allow me to keep my oath, and still help immigrant families not unlike my own.”
Delegate Thiam’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 48-91.
Republicans also offered an amendment to eliminate the tax on retiree income.
“We are told that this bill is a matter of fairness to those who some of my colleagues refer to as ‘New Americans'”, said Delegate Robin Grammer, who offered the amendment. “But my question is what about our old Americans? What have we done for Maryland’s retirees? In response to COVID, what have we done for retirees? In the seven years I have been here, what have we done for retirees?”
“Maryland’s retirees are struggling greatly”, said Grammer. “This is not new to COVID. The cost of living in Maryland is skyrocketing and it has been for quite some time. The cost of groceries is skyrocketing. The cost of housing is skyrocketing. The cost of gas and energy is skyrocketing. What have we done for the those who are in the least economically productive period of their lives? I don’t understand why we rush so quickly to provide tax benefits to those who have recently came to our country, who have very little tax burden – and yes – some of whom are here illegally, and we do absolutely nothing for those who have spent their entire lives in our state and are struggling just to make ends meet. If we can support those who are here illegally and we can’t lend a hand to the most vulnerable Marylanders, I think its sad. And I struggle to see what we value.”
Delegate Grammer’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 53-86.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 91-44, and now moves to the Senate.