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Week Nine: Action on Carozza Bills, Gun and Abortion Bills on the Senate Floor, EEE Committee Action

2023 Maryland General Assembly Update
Week Nine: Action on Carozza Bills, Gun and Abortion Bills on the Senate Floor, EEE Committee Action, Red Scarf Day, and a Sneak Preview
Together with retired firefighter Steve Mizell and retired Chief Bob Phillips with the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, we testified in strong support of Senate Bill 823, which would create a discount for law enforcement officers and first responders on the annual State Park pass.
The Maryland Park Service passport allows for unlimited day-use admission to Maryland’s state parks and facilities, unlimited boat launching at all applicable state park facilities, and a ten percent discount on state-operated concession items and boat rentals. The pass currently costs $75 for a Maryland resident, and this legislation would create a $40 discount for law enforcement officers and first responders, including firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and 911 specialists who are Maryland residents.
We learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that access to the outdoors is essential for health and well-being. Our first responders and law enforcement officers are on the front lines every day protecting our communities in high-stress environments. Giving our emergency responders their own discount is a simple, meaningful way to not only thank them for their service but to promote the health and well-being of our first responders.
Together with Steve Leonard with TidalHealth Regional Peninsula, and Zachary Arciaga with Johns Hopkins Medicine testified in strong support of Senate Bill 493, which would establish a task force to study the adequacy of trauma funding across Maryland for operating, capital, and workforce costs. Trauma centers often require significant resources to operate effectively as they specialize in swiftly treating life-threatening conditions and promptly providing resuscitative care.
In 2003, the Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Trauma Physician Services Fund to aid Maryland’s trauma system by reimbursing trauma physicians for uncompensated care losses and by raising Medicaid payments to 100 percent of the Medicare rate when a Medicaid patient receives trauma care at a designated trauma center. In the 20 years that have passed, there has been no comprehensive review of this Fund despite the industry growing and evolving.
Unfortunately, the reason this legislation is necessary is because we know the Fund is not effective anymore. TidalHealth Peninsula Regional is the Eastern Shore’s only trauma center, a lynchpin in Maryland’s Trauma Center System, and it is critically underfunded. At last estimate, the Fund provides less than 10% of the total cost that TidalHealth requires to keep its doors open.
I also have been in discussions with Governor Wes Moore’s administration to provide TidalHealth emergency operating funding in one of the Governor’s FY ’24 supplemental budgets. TidalHealth officials have told me that the trauma program is at a critical juncture. Without this funding, the Eastern Shore’s only trauma center could be in jeopardy.
Sunday Hunting
With a panel of expert witnesses on hunting and the impact of deer populations in rural areas, there was testimony in strong support of Senate Bills 824 and 796, which enable Sunday hunting for game birds (not migratory birds) and game mammals in Worcester and Wicomico counties, respectively.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation there are between 1-2 million animal collisions a year, resulting in 200 human deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and more than $8 billion in vehicle damages. In 2018, an estimated 11,184 deer were killed by cars in just Maryland alone. These types of accidents are more likely to occur specifically with white-tail deer on long stretches of busy rural roads. Crop damage also is a major economic concern for our farmers on the Eastern Shore, with damage estimated to cost nearly $50 per acre.
This legislation would give Wicomico and Worcester County families more time to hunt during a limited season for game bird and game mammals and simply provide our hunters the same benefits as several other counties in the State. Populations of white-tail deer have risen dramatically in response to a lack of natural predators and protective game laws, leading to a severe loss in forest diversity, more vehicular accidents, and crop damage.
The Sunday hunting bills are supported by the Wicomico County Council, the Worcester County Commission, the Maryland Farm Bureau, the Maryland Grain Producers, the Maryland Forest Association, the Maryland Bowhunter Society, and local hunting clubs.
The full Senate voted unanimously on March 10th in support of Senate Bill 135, which would establish an Ocean City promoter’s license in Worcester County. The bill also authorizes the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners to issue the license to a for-profit organization to sell beer, wine, and liquor at entertainment events within the town limits of Ocean City.
We want to attract first-class performances and festivals while maintaining the safest possible service and sale of alcohol at these events. This bill would encourage a longer tourism season, leading to more full-time jobs, more investment, and more economic growth.
Note: Senate Bill 135 is now moving to the House of Delegates for their consideration._
Senate Bill 1 was voted out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee despite serious opposition and brought to the full Senate for debate this week. Senate Bill 1, the Gun Safety Act of 2023, would greatly restrict where those who have been issued a carry permit can wear, carry, or transport a firearm.
This bill places unnecessary regulations on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I am greatly disappointed that my colleagues across the aisle are pushing for such ineffective gun control measures; the focus should be on repeat, violent offenders using guns, not law-abiding citizens who have had extensive training before being approved for a gun carry permit.
I also spoke against Senate Bill 290 which would give prosecutorial authority to the Attorney General with respect to cases involving police officer shootings resulting in the death of a suspect. This new authority granted to the Maryland Attorney General circumvents the authority of the State’s Attorneys in Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.
We are here on the Senate Floor debating a bill that goes after our law enforcement the very morning after a Maryland State Trooper, my constituent, was shot in Wicomico County when the suspect had been convicted of previous gun charges and was out on probation.
The Senate should be taking action on crime bills that go after the repeat, violent offenders, not on legislation that takes away the authority of our elected State’s Attorneys. I shared the following testimony of Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes. “Prosecutors convict the guilty and protect the innocent. They do the right thing for the right reason every day. They are not motivated by political agendas and make decisions, sometimes unpopular ones, based on the law and the facts. They are accountable to their electorate and their communities. Removing this power is a message to the people that they can’t be trusted to do the job they were elected to do.
Senate Bills 341 and 798 also were brought to the full Senate for debate this week. Senate Bill 341 would require Public Higher Education Institutions to develop and implement a reproductive health services plan, which shall include 24-hour access to over-the-counter contraception through the student health center, retail establishments on campus, or vending machines.
I presented three amendments on the Senate floor on March 10th to require public institutions of higher education to have policies in place to prohibit abortion coercion and to require basic information about mental health services be provided to students who may be struggling with reproductive health issues.
Senate Bill 798 proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution declaring that every person has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom as a central component of their individual rights to liberty and equality. If the bill is passed by three-fifths of all members of both the House of Delegates and Senate, the proposed amendment would be decided on by voters as a ballot question in the 2024 elections. “Maryland is becoming known as an abortion destination, rather than a tourist destination.” 
Maryland already has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, and now the Democrat super progressive majority is moving legislation to enshrine the right to abortion in Maryland’s Constitution. This is completely unnecessary as last year Maryland passed legislation dramatically expanding abortion by allowing non physicians to perform abortions and using taxpayer funds to pay for their training. It was astounding to me that when Senate Republicans offered a simple amendment to add the word “safely” to the Constitutional Amendment that the Democrats rejected that commonsense amendment. 
The Senate Education, Energy, and Environment Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 781 on Wednesday. This legislation requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to conduct an analysis of offshore wind transmission system expansion options and the Maryland Department of General Services must issue an invitation for bids and may enter into at least one long-term contract for a power purchase agreement (PPA) to procure between 1.0 million and 8.0 million megawatt-hours annually of offshore wind energy and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) from one or more qualified offshore wind projects.
During the hearing, I raised numerous issues about the proposed bill including the lack of action to address Ocean City’s concerns going back to 2017 opposing industrial scale offshore wind development within view of the shoreline; the poorly installed cable landfalls on Block Island that ended up exposing the beach resulting in beach closures, power outages, and cable repairs at cost of $31 million to Rhode Island utility customers; and the failure to recognize the true cost to both Maryland ratepayers and taxpayers. 
Senior Pastor Zach Wheeler of Bethesda United Methodist Church in Salisbury, joined by his two daughters Madison and Cassidy, was the guest Senate chaplain on Tuesday. 
Several other local officials visited Annapolis this week to testify including Wicomico County Council Member James Winn and his father Danny Winn; Worcester County Commissioner Caryn Abbott (far right); Wicomico County Executive and Administrator Julie Giordano and Bunky Luffman; and retired firefighter Steve Mizell, who shared his idea about a State Park pass discount for first responders with me which led to the introduction of my Senate Bill 823.
Members of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women visited Annapolis on Tuesday for Red Scarf Day, including Wendy Anspacher, Kelly Kennet, Liz Mumford, Beth Rodier (center right), Marge Matturo, Jana Hobbs (far left), and Rebecca Tittermary ( center left). As the only female Republican in the Senate, I announced them on the Senate floor.
Senator Carozza (R-District 38) and Senator Mautz (R-District 37) greet Wendy Anspacher (right) and Kelly Kennan (left) who also visited Annapolis to participate in the Maryland Federation of Republican Women Red Scarf Day.
Dr. Sherry Maykrantz (center right) of Salisbury Univ. brought several of her public health students to Annapolis for a full day experience of the legislative process.
The Senate Finance Committee will hold hearings on Senate Bills 673 and 674, known as the Physician Assistant Modernization and Parity Acts, which would update the laws regarding the working relationship between Physicians and Physician Assistants to better reflect current practices in the post COVID-19 pandemic world.
The Maryland General Assembly Crossover Deadline is Monday, March 20th as the Floor schedule and committee schedules for both the Senate and House of Delegates dramatically pick up to pass bills and cross over to the other respective chamber. After March 20th if a bill passes the Senate, it would have to pass an additional hurdle of passing out of the House Rules Committee before being sent to the appropriate House committee, and vice versa for the House of Delegates. "BUCKLE UP"
Additional Resources
Following Legislation and Testifying
Not only does the General Assembly provide multiple ways to participate in your state government proceedings, but a full set of videos is also available online:
  • Understanding the MD General Assembly
  • Finding your legislator
  • Searching for bills by number, sponsor, subject matter
  • Understanding a bill
  • Tracking a bill
  • Searching media
  • Creating a personal MyMGA Account
  • Witness Sign Up-to testify on Bills
I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please contact me on issues important to you.
Don't forget to visit me on the web at:
In Service,
Mary Beth Carozza
State Senator-District 38
Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset

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