State lawmakers say progress was made in session
— Cecil County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly told Cecil County Chamber of Commerce members Monday morning that this session had gains and losses, but is the second consecutive year without new taxes.
The government relations committee of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce hosted the legislative wrap-up breakfast, sponsored by W.L. Gore, at the Minker Banquet Hall in Perryville.
Officials reported that out of the 10 county-generated bills introduced this session, one was withdrawn, three failed and six passed.
“All of the bills that passed will impact business in a positive way in Cecil County,” Delegate Kevin Hornberger (R-35A-Cecil) said.
As chairman of the Cecil County delegation, Hornberger said the successful local bills included raising the sheriff’s salary, investing landfill closure funds to gain higher interest, allowing Arabian horses to be added to the list of horses that can race at Fair Hill Race Track, a marriage license bill and a bill to allow microbreweries should help the county.
Hornberger is disappointed that the bill to reduce the tax rate paid by Hollywood Casino Perryville failed to make it out of committee, but believes it may get more support next year.
State Sen. Stephen Hershey (R-36-Upper Shore), who serves as minority whip in the senate, said he feels the biggest issue facing District 36 this year was the possible closure of University of Maryland Shore Medical Center in Chestertown.
“We were able to prevent its closure for four more years while a study is being done on health care delivery in rural Maryland areas,” he said.
While legislation requiring the offering of paid sick leave for employees didn’t pass this session, Hershey believes it will eventually pass.
“I think all small business owners should keep an eye on this bill and be prepared to offer amendments to make it less onerous,” he said.
Delegate Steve Arentz (R36-Queen Anne’s) said the sick leave bill this session was “devastating.”
“It will come back, maybe this summer if there’s a special session to address it,” he said.
Delegate Jay Jacobs (R36-Kent) is frustrated that so many lawmakers who
have no personal experience with agriculture offer bills to regulate it.
“Some of these people have never stepped on a farm,” he said. “Luckily, we were able to kill many of the anti-farm bills.”
He described a bill passed on the final day of session that legislates $750 million be spent over 10 years to fund the Harry Nice Bridge replacement as “very dangerous.” Jacobs fears it could set a precedent for lawmakers to legislate more costly capital projects with no way to pay for it.
“This will end up being paid for by a toll increase,” he warned.
Delegate Teresa Reilly (R-35B-Harford/Cecil) is most proud of the work she did on the warrant intercept bill to get it out of committee so it could get a floor vote and eventually pass this session.
“This was a huge win,” said Delegate Jeff Ghrist (R-36-Caroline), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. “We have an outstanding team. We are very well respected in Annapolis.”
Delegate Andrew Cassilly (R-35B-Harford/Cecil) said that even though Republicans remain the minority party in the General Assembly he thinks they made positive ground this year.
“We were able to kill a number of bad bills,” he said, noting Maryland is moving in the right direction.
Members of the Cecil County delegation reviewed bills considered during the recently ended General Assembly session in Annapolis for county chamber members Monday.