Maryland House Republican Caucus Unveils Its Top Four Priorities
By Mark Uncapher
Members of the Maryland House Republican Caucus have announced a four-point list of their legislative priorities for the 2019 General Assembly. This initiative reflects the caucus’s determination to not just react to the proposals of others but advance its own agenda.
House Minority Leader Nik Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) explained that his caucus wants to ensure that the issues of concern to the nearly 2 million Maryland residents it represents are heard in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
“We represent Marylanders from every corner of the state,” Kipke said.
“Our members span districts from Western Maryland to the Lower Eastern Shore and nearly everywhere in between. White, black, old, young — the citizens who voted us into office did so because they want to see problems solved. They could not care less about who is “winning the week” or the latest legislative food fight. They want positive action, and that is exactly what the minority caucus is determined to deliver this session.”
Elaborating on their proposals for The Baltimore Sun, Kipke said, “Maryland Democrats know our tax burden is too high. We want to take it a little further than what the governor has proposed this year.”
“Too many Maryland families are struggling, and too many businesses will not consider locating here because of the cost of living. That is why we are introducing the Common Sense Tax Cut Act of 2019, which 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. “
The four priorities of the House GOP leadership are:
- The “Murder and Repeat Violent Offender Registry Act of 2019,” which would establish a searchable, public registry of violent offenders, modeled after Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. It would require people convicted of murder to register for a period of 10 years following the completion of their sentences. In addition, defendants convicted of multiple violent crimes would be required to register for a 10-year period. “These are folks who’ve done really bad things to others,” Kipke said.
- The “Commonsense Tax Cut Act of 2019,” which would lower the Maryland income tax rate by a quarter percentage point. House Republicans say that would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in lower taxes for state residents. Del. Kathy Szeliga explained that the amount lost to the state budget from the cut would be covered by increasing revenue.
- The “Special Police Officers Act of 2019,” which would expand existing law to allow government bodies, such as a school system or a sheriff’s department, to establish a special police officer program within their jurisdiction. In reaction to school shootings across the country, House Republicans say the act would give school officials more flexibility to hire officers to patrol school buildings and grounds.
- The “One Person One Vote Act of 2019,” a proposed constitutional amendment requiring single-member state legislative districts. Currently, most House of Delegates districts are represented by multiple delegates. There are 141 members in the House of Delegates. The Republicans point out that multi-member districts allow lawmakers to hide from voter accountability and said their proposal would create smaller districts where residents could get to know their representatives better.
- [i] Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/md-gop-caucus-wants-a-violent-offender-registry-a-tax-cut-and-redistricting-reform/2019/01/25/0ebf039c-203c-11e9-8e21-59a09ff1e2a1_story.html
- Baltimore Sun: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-gop-priorities-20190125-story.html
- WBAL: https://www.wbaltv.com/article/maryland-house-republicans-lay-out-agenda-for-2019/26042151
- Baltimore Sun Op-Ed by Kipke: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-0128-republican-agenda-20190125-story.html