Dear Fellow Marylander,
I hope this letter finds you healthy and in good spirits after the trials of the past year. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and hopefully is approaching an end, this year’s work in Annapolis was accompanied by virtual hearings, an auxiliary “annex” House floor, access restrictions from the general public, and other unprecedented measures. While well-intentioned, I am hopeful many of these measures will be lifted as soon as possible so the general public can once again be closer to the legislative process and living their lives.
Despite these challenges, I am happy to report that this year brought some of the best results for Cecil County ever. Serving my seventh year as the Cecil County Delegation chair, we were able to secure funding in the State budget for several local items, as well as pass several beneficial pieces of legislation. I continue to serve on the Ways & Means Committee as the Deputy Minority Whip and provide a voice for our district on tax, gaming, education, and election law. Working with my colleagues, I was able to pass four pieces of legislation that benefit Cecil County and our district.
The first of these is HB-582, which is a narrowly-focused ten-year sales and use tax exemption for the redevelopment of the Bainbridge Naval Training Center. This will help to attract business, and subsequently jobs, to the area by making the site more attractive to investors. HB-1259 alters the current financing structure of the Fair Hill Racetrack as well as flexibility of race days to better prepare for future equine events, including the International 5 Star. Working with the new Minority Leader Jason Buckel (R-Allegany County), HB-532 alters the distribution of casino money proceeds for each licensee in local jurisdictions across the State, including a 39% to 42% bump for Cecil County. This increase in revenue is to be used for keeping us competitive with neighboring states, which in turn will generate more money for Cecil County’s local Video Lottery Terminal small business impact fund, as well as the State Education fund. HB-692 alters the terms and compensation of the Cecil County Board of Education with the intent to attract more candidates to run for these seats.
Capital Budget Highlights for Cecil County
Local Parks & Playground Infrastructure – $1,500,000
Bainbridge Site Redevelopment – $1,500,000
Fair Hill Racetrack Improvements – $2,098,793
NorthBay Education – $1,000,000
Elkton Colored School Museum & Cultural Center – $250,000
Cecil County Farm Museum – $95,000
In addition to these specific items, this year’s budget included large sums of money for broadband service expansion, education, and other essential services which Cecil County will benefit from. Direct aid to Cecil County from the State has increased by 2.2% from last year’s budget.
In addition to my work on local issues, I was successful in passing bills dealing with statewide policy. HB-545 requires DNR to make available and, on request, issue any recreational hunting or fishing license or stamp in a digital or electronic format (traditional paper licenses are also still an option). I checked to see if DNR could do something like this without additional legislation, but they currently cannot due to the current “wet” signature requirement. With this bill, an individual may now satisfy any requirement under the Natural Resources Article of the Maryland Code to possess or display the recreational licenses or stamps with a digital or electronic format as provided by DNR. HB-1262/SB-762 Maryland Electricians Act – Revisions, among other regulatory streamlining measures, would establish statewide Apprentice and Journeyman Electrician licenses, in addition to preserving and making statewide the existing Master license. This legislation brings much needed uniformity across the State for these three levels of licensing to benefit blue-collar tradespeople.
Regretfully some of my bills did not pass this year, but I plan on revisiting many of these issues again. This list includes, but is certainly not limited to: election integrity, repealing Maryland’s membership in the inter-state national popular vote compact, EMS & Fire reimbursements, sportsman’s rights, and tax relief for small businesses.
The General Assembly dealt with several consequential topics this year, most notably police reform legislation. I much preferred the original good-faith, bipartisan Senate proposal, but House leadership decided to abandon that version in favor of the more problematic proposal. I ultimately decided to vote NO on HB-670, the “Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 – Police Discipline and Law Enforcement Programs and Procedures.” I believe the bill goes too far in restricting law enforcement officer’s ability to carry out their day-to-day work. Several amendments were proposed to make this bill better, some even on bipartisan lines, but all were ultimately defeated. I am however happy to report that we successfully killed a bill in the Ways & Means Committee that would have defunded and ultimately removed school resource officers from their duties to protect children.
Working with my friend and colleague Robin Grammer (R-Baltimore County), we not only stood strong for the 2nd amendment, but also stood up to make sure the 4th amendment is being protected when making policy decisions. This included areas such as protecting handgun permit applicants from arbitrary denials, restricting warrantless surveillance, and protecting due process for citizens. We both plan to revisit these issues next year.
Maryland finally legalized sports betting via HB-940. This is an issue I have been personally working on for a few years, and am glad a finished product was able to pass. If we dragged this out for another year or two, we would have lost even more money to neighboring states that are ahead of the ball on this topic.
Part of what makes democracy work is an engaged and informed citizenry. The past and present happenings of the Maryland General Assembly can always be found at https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/. More information on this past legislative session can also be found in the 2021 90 Day Report: http://dls.maryland.gov/pubs/prod/RecurRpt/2021rs-90-day-report.pdf.
It has been a privilege to serve as your delegate this session. The team this year consisted of Chief of Staff, Daniel Smith; Legislative Assistant, Grant Handley; Community Outreach Liaison, Rodney Heinze; and Legislative Intern, Georgia Barchowsky. Our District 35 Team consists of Senator Jason Gallion, Delegate Mike Griffith, Delegate Teresa Reilly, and myself. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our offices in the future should you need to do so. Thank you.
Delegate Kevin B. Hornberger
District 35-A, Cecil County