News from Annapolis
2018 Session:  Week   12           Delegate Trent K ittleman - District 9A
Delegate Trent Kittleman
  • Fixing the Federal Tax Problem
  • Two Hundred Years of Immigration
  •  Income Tax issue?
  • Deja Vu all over again
  • What we could have done with a few more R's
  • Education Legislation
  • More Fun Facts
  • Scholarship Information: 
    Deadline to submit is April 9 
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What happened to fixing the federal income tax problem?
          The legislature seems to have kept about two-thirds of its promise to protect Marylanders from tax increases that might be caused by the changes in the federal tax laws.
          The Legislature rejected the Governor's bill to return all of the $600 million to taxpayers, but did increase Maryland's Standard Deduction by $500 for individuals and by $1,000 for married couples, estimated to prevent Marylanders (collectively) from paying about $400 of the $600 million.  
          The Legislature "kept" the extra $200 million tax increase, putting it aside for future needs. . . on the assumption, I suppose,  that we can spend it for you better than you can.  
This is a fascinating visualization showing where immigrants to the United States have come from over the past 200 years. 
Deja Vu all over again . . .
        In 1989, then-Delegate Nathaniel Oaks was convicted of stealing more than $10,000 from his campaign account.  He also was convicted of perjury and misconduct in office. He got a five-year suspended sentence and was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service.
        He was re-elected in 1994.
        The reason his 1989 conviction is on my radar is because my  husband, Bob Kittleman,  served with Nat Oaks from 1982 when they were both first elected to the General Assembly. 
        Through Bob, I was privy to some of the lesser known escapades of the legislature.  
        For example, I attended the "Legislative Follies" every year until its death, shortly after Mike Miller scewered then-Governor Donald Schaefer with a series of scathing one-liners.
        I also knew that 'back in the day,' it was common practice for a group of legislators to dine at a local restaurant and wait for the inevitable lobbyist to appear just in time to pick up the check. 
        The more interesting part of that story to me, however, is what Bob did.  As anyone who knew Bob could tell you, he was not only one of the nicest men they ever knew, but was also irredeemably ethical.  
        Bob wasn't comfortable with the practice, but he didn't want to embarrass his fellow legislators by publicly insisting on paying for his own meal.  Instead, he would sneak off and engage in a covert money transfer from Bob to the lobbyist for the cost of his meal.
        Hard to believe he was a politician . . . 
What we COULD have done
with a few more R's . . .
        Governor Hogan has done an amazing job as governor over these past four year.  By bringing his people-oriented personality, his management skills, his political savvy, and his bipartisanship to bear, he has been able to accomplish a great deal while working with a Democrat Legislature that has a big enough majority to (1) pass any law it decides to, and (2) override any gubernatorial veto.
        Nonetheless, it can be frustrating for the Governor and for those of us minority legislative Republicans to realize what we could have accomplished with just a few more R's . . .
        Below are just 3 of the many bills the Governor has proposed that have been roundly ignored by the majority party.
HB 348: Commonsense Spending Act of 2018
        Although the Governor has the Constitutional responsibility for the State Budget, 83% of state spending is mandated  by the General Assembly.
        Every year, the legislature passes 
more and more bills that require the Governor to include a specific amount of money for whatever program or endeavor the bill entails.
       The Commonsense Spending Act of 2018 is the Governor's fourth attempt to put some level of control on how much of the budget the legislature can tie up in mandates.
        The bill simply says that t he General Assembly may not enact legislation that creates a new fiscal mandate unless it also enacts legislation that reduces or repeals an equivalent amount of mandated funding in the same session.
        [Neither the House or the Senate Committee allowed this bill to be voted on by the Committee.]
HB 352: Transparency Act of 2018

           This is at least the third year that the Governor and has tried to get the legislature to permit Marylanders to see and hear the sessions on the floor of the House and the Senate in real time and archived files.   Each year, the majority party has stonewalled the effort.  
        Here are some things that the majority party may not want you to see:
  • Legislator vote changes.  After the vote on a bill is taken, legislators can stand up and ask to change his or her vote from yes to no or from no to yes.  The changes cannot change the outcome of the actual vote.  Vote changes are commonplace. 
  • Committee Voting  Voting is different in each committee, but still retains some of that back-room feel, where legislators are often required to vote on a bill after receiving a 50-page amendment only moments before the vote is called.  
  • Debates and Votes on Floor Amendments  I also like to think that the majority doesn't want the public to see and hear the floor debates, particularly on floor amendments.  Republicans, still seven votes away from having any real control, generally offer good amendments to bad bills, and our arguments are often eloquent, articulate and irrefutable.  Democrats don't want the public to hear these arguments OR to see that these amendments never pass, and the vote is always along party lines. 
On the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, an advocate for redistricting holds a cut-out of Maryland's 6th Congressional District
HB 356: Redistricting
        After four years of trying to bring some degree of rationality back into the process of redistricting, the Governor's efforts have once again been foiled by the majority party. 
        There is still hope, however, that a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court might intervene. This past week, the Supremes heard the Maryland Case of Benisak v. Lamone.
Benisek v. Lamone

        " Benisek concerns a rather brazen move by Maryland Democrats to buy themselves an extra representative in Congress
        In 2012, after the new map was in place, an upstart Democrat unseated a Republican who had spent 20 years in the House of Representatives. It wasn't close: the Democrat won by 21 points, two years after his rival had won re-election by 28 points. 

        "Justice Elena Kagan explains the reversal of fortunes: the 'Maryland legislature...shuffle[d] 360,000 people out and [brought] in 350,000 people. The result of that is that the district went from 47% Republican and 36% Democratic to exactly the opposite, 45% Democratic and 34% Republican'. This was not happenstance. 
"'How much more evidence of partisan intent could we need?' Justice Kagan asked Michael Kimberly, the lawyer for Maryland."
        Let's hope the nine justices don't come up with an answer to that question.
        Education is always a big issue in the General Assembly.  This year, the both the Governor and members of the Legislature have introduced bills on three different topics:  school safety, school accountability, and school construction.
School Safety
       Measures have been introduced by the Governor and members of the legislature in the wake of the massacre in Parkland, Florida and the shooting here in Great Mills.
        The bills are different, but there seems to be bipartisan support for most of the measures suggested, which include:
  • Hire security administrators
  • provide more training for school police officers
  • devise active shooter plans for all schools
  • do a study to determine if the schhols are prepared for such an emergency, if the buildings are secure, and if teachers and resource officers are adequately trained.
  • Encourages hiring more school resource officers
  • require school systems to establish teams to learn to be on guard for "threatening or aberrant" behaviro
  • Hold annual active threat drills.
  • Rerquire secure, lockable classroom doors
  • Enhanced cameras or other security technology
School Accountability:
HB 355-- Accountability in Education Act of 2018
        In response to the widespread accountability concerns from parents, students, and teachers involving school systems across the state, Governor Hogan introduced the Accountability in Education Act of 2018.   Repeated allegations of wrongdoing, corruption, and mismanagement include:
  • Howard County:  We had a Superintendent who overspent, snubbed parents, ignored Public Information Requests, and paid no attention to state procurement rules. Ultimately, the state delegation had to ask the general assembly to pass a law creating a ombudsman to review her actions.  Even after that report found clear evidence of violations of Public Information Act (PIA) rules, the County still had to shell out over $1 million taxpayer dollars to remove her from office!
  • Prince Georges: After several school board members wrote a letter of complaint, an audit of the county's graduation rate found that in 2016 and 2017, nearly 5 percent of the students had been ineligible to graduate and an additional 24.5% were lacking documentation to verify that they were qualified to graduate.
  • Baltimore County: The county's superintendent (Dallas Dance) was indicted this year on four counts of perjury when he failed to disclose almost $147,000 income from private consulting firms.
  • Baltimore Community High School principal (Leslie Lewis) pleaded guilty to stealing more than $58,000 from the school.
  • Baltimore City: The list of issues is overwhelming.
HB 355
           This bill establishes the Education Monitoring Unit as an independent unit in the State to investigate, analyze, and report on the following: 
  • upholding of teacher, student, and parent civil rights; 
  • fraud, abuse, and waste regarding public funds and property;
  • child abuse, neglect and safety; and 
  • a range of specified matters relating to public schools and public school facilities. 
        The Unit must also establish and publicize an anonymous electronic tip program. 
        The bill establishes an investigator general position as well as an investigator general selection and review commission within the Unit.
          [Democrat Chairs refused to give this Bill a vote in Committee in neither the House or the Senate.]
School Construction
HB 1783 creates "open warfare" between Republican Governor and Democrat-Controlled Legislature
What is the ISSUE?
        Currently, superintendents from school systems all over the State must come before the 3-member Board of Public Works (BPW) once a year and plead their case for school construction funds.  This meeting is colloquially called the "beg-a-thon," and is not something the superintendents enjoy.
Board of Public Works (BPW)
Treasurer Nancy Kopp serves along with Republican Governor Hogan, and Democrat Comptroller Peter Franchot
        Nonetheless, it is the one and only opportunity an elected body with the responsibility to raise money through taxation, has an opportunity to weigh in on any K-12 spending decisions.  Otherwise, the county and state school boards determine how much to ask for and how to spend the billions of dollars that they receive from the State and county governments. 
        HB 1783 was amended to replace the BPW's role in overssight of billions in education funding, replacing it with an Interagency Commission on school construction that is an independent commission that operates within the Department of Education.  It's prupose is "to develop and approve policies, procedures, guidelines and regulations on State school construction allocations to local jurisdictions in an independent and merit-based manner."       

What Happened?  
        HB 1783 started out as a nice, quiet, unassuming little bill that sought to enhance funding and streamline the process of public school construction.  An admirable goal. 
        After a non-eventful hearing,  the House Appropriations Committee undertook it upon themselves to radically transform the bill into a heat-seeking-missile aimed directly at terminating the Board of Public Works . . . or at least it's role in approving school construction funds.
        The 42-page revision came to the floor of the House where, over numerous amendments and vociferous Republican debate against passage, it passed along a straight party-line vote.
         But it wasn't until the bill got to the Senate that all-out warfare broke out, as Senate Dems rushed the bill through the process at the speed of light, ultimately passing a bill --again along a straight party-line vote -- the major provision of which was never subjected to a public hearing! 
       The reason the legislature voted this week to strip Gov. Larry Hogan and Franchot of their power over school construction decisions has nothing to do with where that power should reside in order to best serve the students of Maryand.  No, the reason is because of a feud between powerful Democrat leaders.  In particular, Senate President Mike Miller and Comptroller Franchot.  
       Miller, who is never shy about expressing his feelings, has gone on incoherent tirades about some of Franchot's grandstanding this year.
        In return, during an interview on WAMU-FM's Kojo Nnamdi Show this past Friday, Franchot accused the Democratic 'machine' --and President Miller -- of corruption:
        "They say, 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely.' The Senate president has absolute power," Franchot said. "He's been flexing it for some time."
More Fun Facts 
  • Maryland has the world's oldest living people. According to the State Board of Elections, there are 48 people living in the state who are 114 or older.
  • Maryland was the first state to enact Workmen's Compensation laws in 1902 
  • The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore employed the first female professor of medicine in 1901
  • Once serving as the capital of the United States, Annapolis was known as the "Athens of America" during the seventeenth century
  • Receiving more than 4 million visitors annually, Annapolis is known as the Sailing Capital of the World
  • The American flag has flown continuously over the monument of Francis Scott Key's birthplace in Keymar, Maryland since May 30, 1849.
  • Baltimore's waterfront neighborhood of Fell's Point was the second largest point of immigration after Ellis Island
        On September 25, 1820, Salem, NJ held a trial against... tomatoes. The general populace believed that tomatoes were poisonous, so Robert Johnson stepped in to prove them wrong. To do so, he bravely stood before a crowd at the courthouse and consumed a whole basket of the delectable fruit. Not dying after consumption, the trial was promptly dismissed.    
How to apply for a Trent Kittleman Legislative Scholarship 
          District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship.
          Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
            Click here for the application.  For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy at 410-841-3556.  

DEADLINE:   Please be sure to have your completed application  postmarked by  April 9, 2018.
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy
Authority, William Oliver, Treasurer,  Friends of Trent Kittleman