Does Annapolis Have the Criminals Backs or Yours?

Over the last couple weeks we have seen an increase in crime in our neighborhoods and as a retired Sergeant from the Baltimore County Police Dept. I am always on the alert to legislation that affects the criminal justice system and the law abiding citizens of Maryland. The past several years I have seen a disturbing trend, the Maryland Legislature gives criminals of Maryland more rights and at the same time striping law abiding citizens of their rights. I want to take some time in this article to go over some of the bad pieces of legislation that passed last year and more bad pieces of legislation that are being considered again this year relating to crime and the criminal justice system.

Last year in Annapolis the Democrat majority passed legislation in Annapolis that allowed persons with a sentence of Life in Prison, which includes about 2500 murderers and rapists, the right to parole after a certain period of time. They also gave people that are in the United States illegally the right to instate tuitions. Another piece of legislation that thankfully failed was legislation that would stop a business owner from checking the criminal backgrounds of persons they want to hire.

This year the trend continues to help the criminals of Maryland. There is legislation filed that would not allow the police to charge a person with 1st degree murder if that person was not the actual person that committed the crime. This would greatly impact crimes like we saw happen in Towson just before Christmas where 4 individuals were just charged with murdering a young man. Under this legislation only one of these individuals could be charged with 1st degree murder, even though all 4 were involved in the crime.

Another piece of legislation under consideration would not allow a district court commissioner to issue a warrant for the arrest of any individual if the application is requested by any ordinary citizen like you or me, for a misdemeanor crime. Police don’t witness every crime and citizens help police in our communities. Not allowing citizens to petition the court will lead to more petty criminals not being brought to justice and make the police work harder to get them off the street.

A third piece of legislation we are hearing is to issue citations, just like a traffic ticket to persons that commit crimes like theft, destruction of property, etc.,  and in some case domestic violence, instead of the police arresting that suspect. Can you imagine the police not arresting a spouse who just committed an act of domestic violence, but being given a ticket and not removing them from the house where the victim is? I know from my years of police work this will lead to more violence and even more severe crimes.

We, the law abiding citizens, need to stand up and speak out to say enough is enough and tell our legislators that we will not stand for the shenanigans going on in Annapolis any longer. We need to tell the legislators it’s about time to take care of the needs of those who obey the law and not those who break the law.

Posted in 2012 Session | Leave a comment

Is the Budget really balanced?

On Wednesday, Governor O’Malley introduced his state budget that targets Maryland’s small businesses and its middle class. This year’s budget comes in at $35.8 billion compared to last year’s $34.8 billion. The Governor claims to have cut over $7 billion from his budget but any person with an elementary education would see that he has added a billion dollars to the budget. With the state already $1.2 billion in the red, one would think the Governor would actually cut spending instead of increasing the budget by 2.8%.

The Governor’s budget proposal also includes numerous tax and fee increases and wild assumptions of revenue from these taxes. The Governor has proposed an increase to the tobacco tax, a new internet sales tax, a new tax on digital downloads and new tax on precious metals. He believes these new taxes will bring in the revenue need to balance the budget. Last year’s budget was balanced on paper, but when all the money was counted and the bills paid the state came up short. I believe the same thing will happen this year and we will continue to kick the can down the road to future budgets.

The Maryland constitution requires the Governor to submit a balanced budget every year. However, this year’s budget presented to the General Assembly is $166 million under funded. The Governor is assuming that the General Assembly will also pass new taxes in the form of a one cent sales tax, a higher gas tax or both to make up for the shortage. This is a bold assumption and I for one will vote against both of these tax proposals and urge my colleagues to do the same.

This Governor has an incredible lust for your hard earned money and continues to ask for more and more of it without cutting spending. Maryland does not have a revenue problem it has a spending problem and if we continue down this road of ever increasing taxes and fees we will drive our residents and businesses to other states.

As your representative in Annapolis, I feel it is my duty to look out for your best interest and not the governments. This budget is not in your best interest. Last year I voted against the Governor’s budget because it did not address the problem of spending and chose to try and balance itself on the backs of the citizens of Maryland. I will again vote against Governor O’Malley’s budget because it will do the same thing.

Posted in 2012 Session | Leave a comment

Governor O’Malley’s Redistricting Plan

Last week Governor O’Malley released his proposed legislative map for 2012 through 2022 and made a few changes to the current 8th district of Maryland. The biggest change to the map was the political exclusion of my seatmate, Delegate Joe Boteler’s home precinct. This means that Del. Boteler will no longer live in the 8th district. This was done for one reason and one reason only and that was to take the top vote recipient out of the district in an effort to win one more seat for the Democrats in the 8th. This is political gerrymandering at its best and is repeated across the state of Maryland on numerous occasions.

If you currently vote at Harford Hills Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, Pine Grove Middle or Cub Hill Presbyterian Church, you will no longer be in the 8th district. They have removed these precincts to take Delegate Boteler out of the district and in return added 4 precincts in Loch Raven and 2 precincts in Rosedale. I am very disappointed with the Governor because he has decided to split Carney in half for political reasons without thinking of the needs of its residents.

Currently this proposal is being challenged in court by the Fannie Lou Hammer PAC and I fully support their efforts. Gerrymandering is one of the most corrupt actions an elected official can do and this map is full of numerous occurrences of gerrymandering. The Governor has done a huge disservice to the citizens of Maryland and his efforts to disenfranchise voters will continue to keep Maryland a One Party State.

Posted in In the District | Leave a comment

Welcome to Delegate Cluster’s Blog

Welcome to Delegate Cluster’s Blog. During the upcoming session starting in January, I will be writing updates on the session and on legislation pending in the Maryland House of Delegates. Please follow me here and at johncluster.com to stay informed on all the political dealings in the state.

Posted in In the District | Leave a comment