Thinking aloud about the Maryland Legislative Session

MD State House ChamberWarning: I am not a political blogger. I don’t like politics. I don’t pay attention to politics.  I don’t like the colors red or blue or elephants or donkeys.  I’m just a tax paying, registered voter trying to make a decent wage and life for my family. That being said allow me to think aloud on this post about the Maryland Legislative Session that just ended. 🙂

Sooooo on Tuesday I received two emails; one from Joseline Pena-Melynk in my private email and one in my work inbox from someone named Warren Miller. I’m already on Joesline’s email list so no surprise there but the other one furrowed my eyebrows a little.  I opened the one from Miller and saw that it had an attachment that said “End of Session 13”. I knew then it was something political and that was odd because I only use my work email address for work related stuff. No politics unless we’re deciding on our union president and crap like that. I had no idea who Mr. Miller was but I read his attachment anyway. It turned out to be a summary of the bills that were passed in Annapolis over the past session.  It was organized by the “Good”, the “Bad”, and the “Ugly”. HA!! Ok. Mr. Miller what do you have to say? He had some interesting info in there about money, guns, gas, and wind energy. I still didn’t know who the hell he was. TO THE IPHONE!!!! I looked him up with this wonderful app I have and found out practically everything I need to know.

My new pen pal is Warren Miller, a 49-year-old Republican Representative from Woodbine. He’s married, has two kids, and attended Howard Community College before getting a BS in Business Admin from Towson State.  Since 2003, he has voted against many things I would vote in favor of such as death penalty repeal, allowing judges to confiscate firearms from domestic abuse suspects (that’s a no-brainer for me, even before I read the bill.), establishing state health insurance exchanges, and prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. But before I wrote him off I went back to his email attachment. I told you there was some interesting stuff in there.

One notable talking point was the Gas Tax included in Governor O’Malley’s Transportation Infrastructure and Investment Act of 2013. This 1% new tax on the retail price of gas will go into effect on July 1 of this year. Sounds like nothing at first but it increases to 2% on January 1, 2015 then 3% on July 1, 2015 then 4% on January 1, 2016, and 5% on July 1, 2016. By 2017, we could be paying as much as 44 cents per gallon for gas sales tax. YIKES!!!  The money is supposed to go to transportation costs, road repair, building bridges, etc. I get that but I fear it too. If the Democrats are pushing for this increase in taxes are they also pushing for an increase in my pay? In the past four years I have had one stinking pay increase that totaled exactly 1%. That measly little 1% has practically dissipated when the FICA tax reared it’s ugly head earlier this year. So basically I make less money now than four years ago.

As a person who commutes 40 minutes one way to work everyday,  I need that gas taxes to stay down. Otherwise, when 2016 comes around I’m going to be working to buy gas. Also, people tend to forget (or maybe I tend to forget) that when gas tax goes up, food prices go up with it. I am the primary grocery shopper in my household and I swear I have never seen the price of apples go up so high so fast. UGH!!!  C’mon Dems!! I have a son with a bottomless stomach in my household.  The small silver lining to rising food costs is that it could mean more business for the local farmer’s markets whose prices aren’t so ridiculous. Buying local won’t seem so sub-par when you have to pay $3 for a peach at Giant.

I’m still trying to figure out what the Democrats long term plan is for helping the middle class that helped and keeps them in office.  What are Joseline and her tax-and-spend friends going to do to help me off set the cost of living so I can accommodate the rising price of gas? Are they planning to cut some of the government bloat that sucks our economy dry? I didn’t see anything about cuts to save money in her newsletter but again I don’t pay extreme attention to politics. When I do listen to the Dems side of the story however, they’re not always forthcoming with the downsides of their plan. For example, President Obama’s latest budget proposal calls for a change in the way the cost of living is calculated for Social Security.  I hear that switching to what’s called “chained CPI” will help reduce the Federal debt by as much as $230 billion dollars. Sounds good! But the downside that didn’t get touted was that seniors are going to catch hell in a few years (not that they aren’t catching it now). I saw one article say..

“Someone who started collecting the average Social Security benefit for a retired worker in 1999 would receive $12,972 in 2012. But let’s say the Social Security Administration had already been using chained CPI — that person would get only $12,336 this year, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. That’s nearly 5% less. The difference gets bigger over time. According to the National Women’s Law Center, a retiree who was collecting $17,520 last year would see 6.5% less, or $1,139, by age 85, if chained CPI were adopted now. A decade after, their payments would be 9.2% smaller, or $1,612”

You see? People can make things sound great right now but in the future it won’t seem like such a good idea. Gas prices are higher and income is lower? Really? What’s the plan? I’m not for or against anyone here, I just want to hear both sides. I’m a Libra. It goes with the territory.

In other legislative news…

  • Gun control laws in Maryland are going to get a little stricter so you if you were planning on buying a 45 rifle or an AR-15 to..ahem….”hunt” you better get on it (oh how I wish that law could be retroactive and get those guns banned NOW. The sooner the better).
  • The soft-shell crab sandwich is now the official state sandwich. I have lived in Maryland for 15 years and have never had a soft-shell crab. And I L-O-V-E crabs!! Any suggestions on where to get one?
  • The Maryland General Assembly passed the Offshore Wind bill.  I have no idea what the hell that bill is about but if you were cheering for it, congratulations.

Thanks for reading my think aloud. I gotta get back to my paid writing gigs now.

PS I thanked Mr. Miller and asked him to keep me on his mailing list.

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