News from Annapolis
2018 Session:  Week  6             Delegate Trent K ittleman - District 9A
Delegate Trent Kittleman
  • Truth in Sentencing?
  • You're invited to "District (9) Night"
  • Ban Youth Football: Survey Results
  • Paid Sick Leave: WHERE TO GET HELP
  • Update on my bills
  • Fun Facts
  • Scholarship Information
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Truth in Sentencing ?

Question How soon can an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment be released from prison.

Answer: Twelve years.

          Maryland's criminal justice system seems to be suffering from a  unique case of schizophrenia .  
          Defendants found guilty of nonviolent crimes are given a fair sentence -- but are eligible for parole after serving just 25% of that time.
           Defendants convicted of violent crimes are sentenced to "life in prison," but are eligible for parole after serving 50% of their sentence (15 years).  
          Defendants convicted of any  crime other than rape or child sexual abuse can accumulate "diminution credits" that further reduce the time served. 
           The current system is unfair to the victims of crime who want to know that the person who victimized them not only receives a a fair sentence, but serves it as well.
        The current system is not fair to criminals because defendants are talked into a plea bargains because of the possibility of early parole -- but almost never get paroled early.  
"Diminution Credits"
          A defendant might receive an "active" prison sentence of 10 or 15 years for an offense, but be released before the entire sentence is served based on diminution credits ("dim credits").    
          Inmates can earn dim credits for good behavior.  Each credit reduces his/her sentence by one full day.
  •  An inmate convicted of a nonviolent crime can earn 10 days per month off his sentence, or four months of credit per year!   
  • An inmate convicted of certain crimes of violence can earn up to five days per month, or 60 days per year.
  • An inmate convicted of crimes such as rape or sexual offenses against minors is not permitted to earn dim credits.
          But that's not all.  Prisoners are also able to earn five additional days of dim credits for  "work-task or special-project credits, and another five days a month by participating in educational programs.
          Inmates are "limited to 20 days' credit per month from all programs."
          Twenty dim credit days per month is equal to eight months per year.  In other words, an inmate has the opportunity to reduce his sentence by two-thirds of a year for every year served.  Moreover, the dim credits are given at the beginning of their sentence, allowing a faster accumulation.  
          When you add in the potential for parole after serving just 25% of a sentence for a nonviolent crime, the actual judge-imposed sentence means very little.        
Ban Youth Football?
Survey Results
Restrict helmet to helmet contact 
         Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey last week.  The results were interesting.  (See charts below.)
          A complete ban of football and other contact sports in elementary and middle school was not favored by 60% of the respondents.
          However, when asked, "Instead of a ban, would would support extensive education and regulation of sports where a head injury could occur?", 41% were in favor versus 34% opposed.
          The comments were thoughtful.  For example, one respondent wrote:
"Support putting restrictions on plays, such as heading a soccer ball and deliberate helmet to helmet contact.  Don't support banning all contact sports across the board.  Lots of benefits to sports as well, including flag football as an alternative to tackle football."
The primary objection to both the ban and "extensive regulation" was government intrusion into our lives.  For example:
"I could support it [extensive regulation], but it is a personal decision, not the Legislature's.Can we get the government out of our personal lives?

          Thanks again for your participation and comments.  I'll keep you updated on the progress of these two bill.           
 Sick & Safe Leave Law Creating mass confusion
Sick Leave Bill generates over 800 calls to DLLR on first day
          The Paid Sick Leave bill went into effect last Sunday. On Monday, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) fielded over 800 calls and questions from businesses trying to understand what they have to do to comply with this law.  
           Both DLLR and all of Maryland's businesses had just  30 days in which to get ready to implement the new law, clearly not anywhere near enough time.
          Although DLLR has not yet completed draft regulations, the Department has posted an extensive set of Q&A that cover may of the questions businesses will have.  You can access those questions and answers by clicking here. 
        In addition to the FAQs, the department has provided a draft sample employee notice poster available on its website.   The 2-page notice poster is available on the DLLR website.  A copy is shown below.

Update on my bills
4,000 more laws?

        This year, legislators have requested over 4,000 to be drafted.  It is hard to imagine why the laws of our state -- already more than any Marylander could possible know (see photo of Maryland Code) -- need to have 4,000 changes!
          Thus it has been my practice to avoid offering legislation unless I believe there is a significant need.  
        This year, I sponsored  three bills, and have been a joint sponsor on one.  They are:
  • HB 165: "Property Tax Credit - Widow or Widower of Veteran"  Last year, the legislature passed a bill to give veterans over 65 years of age a credit on their property taxes, "not to exceed 20% of the tax," for up to five years.  The bill neglected to apply the right to that tax credit for widows or widowers of the veteran.  This bill corrects that oversight. [Note: if you are interested in political gamesmanship, here is an example.  I filed my bill early on, evidenced by its low number (165).  The day my bill was heard, the (Democrat) presenting her bill right before me, presented a bill identical to mine, but filed well after my bill (HB 502). I am all but certain that this legislation will pass . . . but it will be interesting to see whose bill gets approved.]
  • HB 748.  Criminal Law -- Fetal Homicide -- (Laura and Reid's Law)
Senator Justin Ready and I at our press conference for the family of Laura and Reid Wellen to express the importance of this change in the law to victims, which definitely include the families

          Unlike the clear majority of states, including California, in Maryland, if a pregnant woman is attacked and the attack kills the fetus within her, it is not recognized as a homicide unless the fetus is "viable," giving no protection to the fetus until it is at least 23 months old.

          If the attack harms the woman but kills the fetus before it is "viable," the attacker can be charged with no more than assault.
          The bill was heard in the Senate last Wednesday, and will be heard in my committee in the House today.  After listening to the opponents testify, I have ordered an amendment that doesn't change the substance of the bill, but that clarifies the language.
          Below is the bill as it would read after my amendments are included.
HB 798: Visual Impairments - Requirements for student screening
        This bill is back again from last year where it passed the Senate but not in the House.  We have streamlined the bill to focus solely on adding screening for bipolar vision disorder to the vision screening that the state health department already provides.  
        The hearing for this bill is this week, on Thursday, February 22.
Fun Facts
Fun Facts
        Monday a week ago was President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. To celebrate, House Republican leadership asked Del. Bob Flanagan to give a short speech about our 16th president, and I was asked to give a Lincoln-related opening prayer that day.
        In my research, I learned that during his early life, President Lincoln' religious beliefs were not well known, and at least one opposition candidate tried to make it a campaign issue.
        In 1846, Lincoln ran for congress against Peter Cartwright, the noted evangelist.  During one of his services, reverend Cartwright noticed that Abe Lincoln was in attendance.
        As his sermon drew to a close, the fiery evangelist called for all who intended to go to heaven to rise.
        Naturally, the response was heartening.  
        Then, he called for all those who wished to go to hell to stand.
        Unsurprisingly, there were not many takers.
        Lincoln had respoded to neither option.
        Cartwright closed in,.  "Mr. Lincoln, you have not expressed an interest in going to either heaven or hell.  May I enquire as to where you do plan to go?"
        Lincoln replied: "I did not come here with the idea of being singled out, but since you ask, I will reply with equal candor.  I intend to go to Congress."           
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