ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Yesterday, following a “victory lap” from Democrats on the passage of the ghost gun bill, Senate Republicans are encouraging their Democratic colleagues to join them and sign a petition to bring Governor Hogan’s Violent Firearms Offenders Act to the Senate Floor.
“So far this Session, we have only nibbled around the edges of really addressing violent crime,” said Senate Minority Whip Justin Ready. “While Democrats are taking this victory lap, repeat violent offenders continue to escalate this crisis without fear of real consequences. We need to act now, and there is still plenty of time to pass this legislation before the end of Session.
Earlier today, the Senate Republican Caucus issued an invitation to their Democratic colleagues to join them and sign a petition to bring the Governor’s Violent Firearms Offenders Act to the floor as well as two other bills that would pause the automatic gas tax increase for two years and require a public vote on proposed legislator salary increases.
Pursuant to Senate Rule 42, if one-third of the Senate body, 16 Senators, sign a petition they can directly bring a bill out of committee to the floor for consideration. With 15 Republicans in the Senate, just one other Senator needs to sign the petition for a bill to be considered. The following bills are part of the petition effort, and Democratic Senators can sign a petition to bring, one, two or all three bills to the floor.
SB 396 – Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022
SB 737 – Pause Maryland’s Automatic Gas Tax Increase
SJ 9 – Requiring a Vote on Legislative Pay Raises
Two Year Pause to Automatic Gas Tax Increase
While the General Assembly did provide a 30-Day gas Tax Holiday, the General Assembly can do more to alleviate the increased pressures of the rising cost of living. SB 737 would pause the automatic gas tax increase for two years and would save taxpayers $37.5 million in FY 23 and $56.6 million in FY 24 totaling close to $100 million.
“Our constituents expect cost of living relief from the Maryland General Assembly, especially at a time when we are facing record inflation and skyrocketing gas prices. The 30-day emergency gas tax suspension was a good first step, but the legislature needs to take action now to end the automatic and never-ending tax increase that was passed back in 2013”, said Senator Mary Beth Carozza. “We need to petition SB 337 out of the Budget and Taxation Committee so we can vote on legislation that would end this automatic gas tax increase for the next to years, before we adjourn this session.”
Legislator Salary Increases
Finally, Senate Republicans believe that legislator salary increases should not be passed under the cover of darkness and go into effect without a transparent and public vote.
The General Assembly Compensation Commission is appointed by the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House. They are charged with reviewing the salaries for members of the General Assembly and making recommendations for salary adjustments every four years for the upcoming term of office. In 2022, the Commission made recommendations for the salaries of office holders for the 2023-2026 term of office and presented their report to the General Assembly in January.
The 2022 Report recommends a 12% pay raise for Delegates and Senators.
Interestingly, the salaries for Governor, Lt. Governor and other Constitutional Officers require legislation to be submitted to increase their salaries, but a stealthy process increases salaries for the General Assembly without any legislative vote or approval. A vote is only taken if the General Assembly wants to reject or revise the recommendation. Therefore, the only way to get a vote on pay raises is to submit a Joint Resolution to that end.
SJ9 has been introduced to require a public up or down vote on if these pay raises should be accepted or rejected.
The people of Maryland expect us to tackle the hard issues of the day, but unfortunately, we cannot get a simple vote on bills dealing with keeping violent criminals off the street, pausing the automatic gas tax increase or even a public vote on politician’s salaries. This is unacceptable and we are taking extraordinary actions to ensure these issues are addressed.”