This week was the first full week of the 2022 Legislative Session. As the Senate’s Committees begin to consider legislation, two of Senator Bailey’s bills received hearings this week:
Senate Bill 68 – Sexual Offenses – Crime of Violence and Lifetime Supervision would strengthen Maryland’s laws protecting minors against sexual abuse and was heard by the Judicial Proceedings Committee on Wednesday. Senator Bailey was joined by prosecutors from across the State to advocate for this important legislation, which is designed to protect our most vulnerable citizens from some of the most heinous crimes, specifically felony sexual assaults.
Senate Bill 117 – Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Police Auxiliaries and Reserve was heard by the Budget and Taxation Committee on Tuesday. This bill would raise the current subtraction modification for police auxiliaries and reserve volunteers to $7,000, matching the current subtraction modification for volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical services members. Senator Bailey is proud to recognize and support the important work of our State’s volunteer reserve police officers by sponsoring this legislation.
In addition to these two bills, Senator Bailey pre-filed four additional bills prior to the start of this session:
Senate Bill 42 – Natural Resources – Canada Geese – Bag Limits would require the bag limit for all Canada geese to be uniform across the State during the migratory Atlantic population Canada goose hunting season.
Senate Bill 79 – Higher Education – Senatorial Scholarships – Program Accreditation would require an in-state academic program to be accredited before it can be considered comparable when awarding Senatorial Scholarships. Under current law, a Senator can allow a student to use a Senatorial Scholarship at an out-of-state school only if the academic program the student is pursuing is not available at an in-state college or university, regardless of whether that in-state program is accredited.
Senate Bill 132 – Property Tax Credit – Public Safety Officer would give local governments the authority to determine which public safety officers are eligible for local property tax credits in their jurisdiction and repeal an existing $2,500 limit on the amount of the property tax credit that may be provided by local jurisdictions. This would expand the number of public safety officers eligible for this credit if granted by their local jurisdictions.
Senate Bill 220 – Calvert County – Sunday Hunting has been introduced by the Calvert County Senators and would add Calvert County to the list of counties where hunting would be permitted on each Sunday of the game bird and game mammal seasons.
In addition to these bills, Senator Bailey is working on other legislative initiatives that will be introduced as the Session continues. A full list of the Senator’s bills is available at https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Members/Details/bailey01 by clicking the “Legislation” tab under where it says “Senator Jack Bailey.”
This week, the Senate considered proposals for new State Senate and House of Delegates district to be used in the 2022 Election and for the next decade. Senator Bailey strongly supports the non-partisan efforts of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, which submitted a map that prioritized drawing fair districts over political interests. However, the Senate instead chose to pass Senate Joint Resolution 2, which was based on a redistricting plan submitted by the leadership of the General Assembly that is designed to maintain the power of the majority party rather than ensure the fair representation of all Marylanders.
Senate Republicans attempted to amend the resolution to pass the fair districts proposed by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission instead of the General Assembly’s map. This amendment failed on a party-line vote. This resolution now goes to the House of Delegates for their consideration.
Both the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission’s map and the General Assembly’s map keep St. Mary’s County together in one Senate district. This was the direct result of the advocacy of so many St. Mary’s County residents during the process of drawing these maps last year. The Citizens Redistricting Commission map would have also kept Calvert County undivided at the Senate level, however, the General Assembly’s map splits Calvert County into two Senate districts.
For those of you who may have been following this debate, you may have noticed that Senator Bailey was absent for these votes. Earlier this week, Senator Bailey tested positive for COVID-19. In accordance with the Senate’s COVID policies and procedures, he was not allowed to be present for this week’s floor sessions. He is doing well and has continued to participate virtually in Committee hearings, briefings, and meetings with members of our community. Senator Bailey hopes to return to the floor of the Senate as soon as he is allowed to fully represent the residents of District 29 in the Senate.
Community Update on the Search for Missing Boater Ernie Sigmon
Last week, the District 29 Delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of Natural Resources requesting information and a briefing for the community regarding the continued search for missing boater Ernie Sigmon. On Thursday, the Delegation met with the Secretary, a representative of the Governor’s office, involved officers, and Departmental representatives to receive a briefing of their efforts to date. The officers provided a professional, detailed description of their search, rescue, and recovery operations involving all allied agencies, and the Delegation applauds their service, efforts, and briefing. While this is an active, ongoing criminal investigation, the information that was shared indicated that the Department is continuing their efforts and is remaining engaged with Mr. Sigmon’s family. This meeting concluded with the members of the Delegation reiterating their request that the Department share more information with the community regarding their efforts in this search, as they are the agency who could provide the public with the most accurate information.
Given the amount of public interest in bringing Mr. Sigmon home, it has been made clear that our community is also very involved in this search and many have been conducting their own search efforts over the last few weeks. As a retired Natural Resources Police officer, Senator Bailey appreciates everyone’s efforts in this search and urges those individuals who are looking in the water to be as safe and cautious as possible in the cold waters during the winter months. Should anyone have information that could be helpful to the investigation please contact the Department at 1-800-628-9944.
Scholarship Application Now Available
Senator Bailey is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2022-23 academic year. This scholarship is available to students who permanently reside in District 29 and who plan to either attend a Maryland institution of higher education or who has been approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission for unique major status. More information, including the application, is available at senatorbailey.com/scholarship. Please read the instructions carefully before applying. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2022.
Individual Tax Deadline Extension
Also this week, the Comptroller announced today the filing and payment deadline for 2021 Maryland state individual income taxes has been extended by three months to Friday, July 15, 2022 to assist taxpayers facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This extension applies to state taxes and not federal taxes. More information about this extension is available from the Comptroller’s office at https://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/MDCOMP-3067d8f?wgt_ref=MDCOMP_WIDGET_C7