Dread. Usually not a word one associates with the New Year… well, provided one is not a glass half-empty sort. Hopeful, encouraged, positive… that sort of rot is what travels the aural circuit in the week or so following clean-slate day.
But ‘round these parts – and near the nether regions of other state capitals – the newly-birthed year is greeted with a level of enthusiasm rivaled only by the anticipatory feeling derived from the possibility of a TSA cavity search.
And that point of comparison is frighteningly accurate; given said cavity is the only place our local legislators have yet to go spelunking about in search of extra revenue.
Hence the aforementioned trepidation… with the New Year comes the beginning of the annual 90-day gathering of the organized crime syndicate we call the Maryland General Assembly.
This year, thanks to the second Wednesday of January landing in the single digits, the elected Masters of Misdeeds will amass on the ninth day of the month.
Yet, long before the holidays thrust their humbuggery upon us the idling minds of the 188 members begin plotting the once a year assault on our wallets, liberties and most importantly, our intelligence.
While the non-ruling class max their credit cards, carve their turkeys and fight over the yuletide buffet with drunken Uncle Bob, the swells are already weaving a wily plot in preparation for January 9.
They call this process “pre-filing”, and many of these early-turds are not really in search of the legislation worm, but serve merely as trial balloons to gauge public reaction…you know, government according to which way the wind blows.
Or at least until the majority party decides it’s good for us whether we want it or not.
This year’s list of pre-filed bills includes flashes of new thievery (turning Route 15 in Frederick County into a Toll Road (SB 15) and tripling the fine for seat belt violations (HB 36); the continued strong-arming of small businesses by attempting to force them all to provide sick leave for employees (HB 55); more relentless assaults on personal liberties through presupposition that your organs belong to the state (SB 40); and of course, some oldies-but-half-witted-goodies like banning smoking in vehicles containing children (SB 30).
Fear not, irresponsible parents: SB 30 may protect those snowflakes eight and under, but once the bratzilla hits nine the inside of your vehicle can resemble a tire fire and the nattering nobility will suddenly turn insensate.
However, if a cursory glance at the roster of revealed foolishness doesn’t ring a loud enough alarm then surely the public toe-dipping into potential legislative waters should send your bejeezes running for its life.
First and foremost is the Pavlovian response to the Sandy Hook School massacre; the breaking news of the shooting hadn’t even been checked for accuracy (see: mainstream media) before our grist of bumbling bees swarmed the nearest TV camera.
“There is no reason anyone needs to have a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle,” was one of the first oblivious outbursts, delivered courtesy of Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin (D – Montgomery County), who then continued to demonstrate his lack of knowledge regarding the Bill of Rights with this tidy, but well-worn gem: “We can get rid of military-style assault weapons in civil society without infringing on anyone's Second Amendment rights."
Go ahead…. read that again… yep, we can take away your guns and access to guns but that’s not a violation of your Constitutional rights.
Where do they find these people? Oh, right… Montgomery County.
"We have a public health crisis that stems from the use of these guns,” added Maryland State Senator Brian Frosh (D – Montgomery County – surprise!) “Illegal guns, guns that are acquired legally—the failure to address these issues would be a failure of leadership."
Gotta hand it to the good senator when he hits one out of the park – who better to speak on the subject of failed leadership than a member of this General Assembly?
Expect plenty of feel-good chatter about banning this and outlawing that, but keep in mind that Maryland currently has some of the most restrictive gun control laws including that gun buyers must be 21 or over, wait seven days before making a purchase and not fall into any of the 14 categories that prohibit gun ownership – and more people were murdered in Baltimore City last year than the year before.
Speaking of effective… Session 2013 already promises yet another conveyor belt ride to the duty slaughter; mumblings about raising your gas tax and your sales tax and utility bills (windmills don’t pay for themselves, you know) have been increasing in volume since the last of the 24 new taxes under Governor O’Malley were implemented.
File that little nugget away right next to the gun control statistics, by the way, because when the bats settle back in the belfry they will declare the state’s fiscal ship nearly afloat… even with Maryland being ranked 35 on a recent list of state’s that have recovered most from the recession.
What say we remind them in loud and oft-repeated voices that they didn’t dazzle us with monetary magic, they simply held us at metaphorical gunpoint while rifling through our pockets.
Does that assault figurative violate any gun free zone legislation? Just wondering…
Speed Camera reform? Right, because when it comes to doing the right thing for the motoring public we’re right at the top of the watchdog list, only slightly behind political payback and profits for the camera manufacturer.
There will also be another push to banish the death penalty – which begs the question: Maryland has a death penalty?
Other early items on lawmakers’ radar are reforming campaign laws (see: the public and speed camera improvement); "fracking", which is the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing (and in a delightful coincidence also seems to unleash similarly noxious fumes from liberal environmentalists); and the pit bull ban, thanks to a ruling last year by Maryland’s highest court that declared the breed to be inherently dangerous (making a joke about how inherently dangerous any meeting of the General Assembly here would be too easy, huh?).
But fear not, fellow Marylanders… well, those of you who aren’t stuffing all your belongings in that one-way U-Haul rental… all is not gloom and doom in your favorite Cistern by the Severn.
Not only has this august body set their sights on creating both a German-American Heritage Day and a Maryland Centenarians Day, but they have donned their armaments and are preparing to do battle over the most essential issue of the decade: should we, or should we not, designate the soft-shell crab as the official state sandwich?
What dread? In two days the great minds that concocted these examples of Founding-Father-worthy legislation will be on the job and ready for action.
Kind of makes one feel all warm and fuzzy - and scared out of one's wits - doesn’t it?
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