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Senator Justin Ready shares two big issues coming out of the 2024 session.

At midnight on April 8th, the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session officially came to a close. It’s a great honor to serve Carroll County as well as the Frederick County portion of Mount Airy in the State Senate. In the 90 day session we dealt with dozens of subjects. However, there were two main areas that received the most focus - crime and our budget and taxation policies. For me and our other Republican Senators, these remain areas of biggest concern moving forward. 

 

First I’ll discuss crime. For the last several years, Republicans in Annapolis have tried to work with the Democratic Party supermajority in a bi-partisan manner to address the violent crime plaguing our state. We did see progress this Session with legislation that will reverse some of the “juvenile justice reform” policies that actually have made it harder to hold juveniles accountable for criminal behavior, and particularly difficult to get younger offenders into services. However, despite serious crime concerns continuing throughout the Baltimore region, Democratic Party leaders in Annapolis, particularly in the House of Delegates refused to pass legislation to ensure jail time for repeat, violent criminals or even take the basic step of passing a clean bill to make theft and possession of stolen firearms a felony with serious jail time. Instead, Annapolis’ liberal establishment remains focused on going after law-abiding citizens and their 2nd Amendment rights. We saw this with ridiculous proposals to require expensive insurance policies for people with carry permits and a push to nearly double the sales tax on firearms, ammunition and accessories. Thankfully, those were defeated but passage of the so-called Gun Industry Accountability Act (HB 947), subjects firearm manufacturers and retailers in Maryland and other states to frivolous taxpayer-funded government lawsuits that will do nothing to stop criminal activity.

 

Although there were some modest steps on crime overall, the General Assembly must go much further to put bad guys behind bars and give our prosecutors and law enforcement the tools they need. This Session was a slight shift towards the right direction, but we must keep working in the coming years to truly protect Marylanders.

Second, the state’s budget and the potential for huge tax increases dominated the 2024 Session. For the past several years, the General Assembly has passed bills with massive, long-term spending mandates – which we have opposed. For example, the Kirwan Commission Blueprint, which was passed a few years ago, increases K-12 education funding by $38 Billion over the next 10 years – without a way to pay for it. Republicans argued that this was an unsustainable mandate – with no accountability for actual results. Now, it’s clear that these mandated spending increases will surpass our tax revenues in the coming years, which means we need to either cut or at least slow down increases in spending or have to raise taxes. Marylanders suffering under the effect of high inflation cannot afford a greater tax burden. Even Governor Moore has said that one of the biggest problems Maryland faces is how expensive it is to live here. In the coming months as we prepare for the next Session, I will continue to advocate for a “live within our means” approach to state government. It is possible - in fact  quite doable - to keep our state budget balanced and modestly increase investment for important priorities like education, transportation and public safety. We simply have to re-prioritize and slow down the rate of spending growth. As we move forward, I will do my best to keep the community updated and I welcome comments and questions anytime at SenatorReady@gmail.com.


-Senator Justin Ready

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