Eastern Shore legislators are preparing for the 2021 General Assembly
MARYLAND – There are about 700 bills that area pre-filed for the 2021 General Assembly legislative session. The Eastern Shore’s elected officials say regardless of the troubling events that unfolded in the nation’s capitol Wednesday, they’re ready to move forward and make progress. “Yesterday is going to be gone. Next week we are all going to Annapolis, and it’s very important that everybody is on the same page,” said Delegate John Mautz.
Kirwan Commission Veto
Including taking another look at the Kirwan Commission’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed in May of 2020. Speaker Pro Tempore Sheree Sample-Hughes says she plans to work towards overriding that veto in order to secure more funding for Maryland’s schools. “We’re at a stage now in leadership where we are working to identify what all those details would look like as we move closer to next week,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Sample- Hughes.
State Senator Addie Eckardt also says she supports the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations. But She understands that some changes might need to be made to better suit local jurisdictions. “If that veto comes to be overridden I will certainly support that. But I will also support some revision of Kirwan that’s based on the needs of the jurisdictions,” said State Sen. Eckardt.
A part of the funding for the plan that was suggested was to impose a tax on businesses using digital advertising. State Senator Mary Beth Carozza says now is not the right time to do something like that. She says there are other ways that funds can be found. “This is the exact wrong time to put that additional burden on our businesses. I think we can be consistent in looking at both Kirwan and these vetoes,” said State Sen. Crozza.
Delegate Chris Adams says he doesn’t think a tax like that is appropriate right now either. “There is no tax that is going to benefit the employee or the person who is trying to get off unemployment because it basically takes money out of the pocket of businesses,” said Del. Adams.
Delegate Wayne Hartman also says he might support the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations if changes are made. “I don’t think it’s affordable for the state, for the counties. I think there are good parts, and we need to integrate this slowly over time,” said Del. Hartman.
The Eastern Shore’s leaders also talked about concerns about the pace of vaccine rollout in Maryland. State Sen. Eckardt says while the Western Shore of Maryland is having trouble getting vaccines out quickly, the Eastern Shore is actually doing pretty well. “Yes there are some places and counties that aren’t moving it out. But here on the shore we are moving it out as soon as after Christmas,” said State Sen. Eckardt.
State Sen. Carozza says she’s proud of the efforts by local health departments. “I think our local health officers have done an outstanding job of making sure our constituents know when and where they can be vaccinated,” said State Sen. Carozza.
Boosting Real Estate
The delegates and state senators say that when it comes to real estate, now is the time to take advantage of the historically low interest rates. “This is an oportune time to utilize the real estate opportunities that are here, and then delve into what policy-wise could be done,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Sample-Hughes.
Del. Adams agrees, and says that regulations that developers face in Maryland could be slowing down home building. “Something is amiss in the regulatory policy, environmental policy, that’s stopping developers from being able to take tracks of land, develop the land, and meet the demand of housing,” said Del. Adams.
Supporting Farmers, Agricultural Research
Supporting farmers and agricultural research is also a top priority for the Eastern Shore’s legislators. Delegate Charles Otto says working with legislators across the bay will be key in this. He says that’s because it’s important to stress just how crucial the agricultural industry is for the Eastern Shore. “We do have friends on the other side, even though they might sponsor some legislation that might not look too valuable to us,” said Del. Otto.
Speaker Pro Tempore Sample-Hughes says she plans to use educational opportunities to do this. She says she plans to invite legislators from the Western Shore on a tour of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to show off the work that they do. “We need to amplify all of that the University of Maryland Eastern Shore provides being an agriculture institution and a research institution,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Sample-Hughes.