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Saturday, January 28, 2012

New House Bill On Animal Cruelty

This House Bill just came online tonight regarding criminal act for animal cruelty.

The ink is still 'wet' on this bill and the official language will not be publicly available until the close of business on Monday - January 30, 2012.

This may contain language that will go after people who kill animals like what transpired a few days ago.

Field Notes By Delegate Mike McDermott

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities

By Delegate Mike McDermott

Week 3 January 23-27, 2012
Judicial Electronic Filing

Briefings continue in every committee from various state agencies. The Judiciary Committee heard from Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn on upgrades to the court records management system. Maryland has been in the process of moving to a relatively paperless system where records are updated and posted in real time. While the benefits are significant, the vendor costs are not a small thing. One of the focal points of the committee was the filing fees that the court intends to assess the attorneys for electronic actions taken by the court.

Budget Briefing
We received a budget briefing which I have touched on in previous press releases. In a nutshell, the overall budget grows by one billion dollars. We started with a 1.5 billion dollar deficit. Many of the revenue streams for the state have dried up. In particular the federal money on which we have become so dependant. There are significant proposals that would affect every family in Maryland if they are adopted. They include:
Income tax deduction changes (mortgage and charitable donations)
Fee increases (such as doubling of vehicle registration)
College tuition increases
Sales Tax applied to Internet purchases
Sales Tax applied to phone applications
Applying the Sales Tax to many items that, to date, have been exempt.

These would be on top of the tax and fee increases already being proposed such as :
a 15 cent (66% increase) rise in our gasoline tax
a 100 to 200% increase in the “Flush” tax
Rate and fee charges for Wind Energy proposals

Across the board, Marylanders will find themselves with fewer dollars in their pocket so the governor can have a few more in his. Even Pres. Obama does not think Marylanders making less than $250,000 should pay any additional taxes, yet our governor wants to lower that standard down to $100,000.

I urge you to call, email, write, and visit the General Assembly. It is easier for them to raise taxes than it is for them to say “no” to spending increases.

“We Are The 96%” Press Conference
On Wednesday, my freshman Republican colleagues and I conducted a press conference to highlight a Gonzales Poll which we commissioned to ask Marylanders how they felt about their current tax rates. 96% of us feel that we are being taxed enough. That number includes Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Young and old, male and female, we all agree on the tax issue. The conference received a lot of press attention and raised the level of the debate with real facts and figures. It was picked up and broadcast extensively. Unfortunately, the shore rarely sends a crew to cover any of the business ongoing in Annapolis.

Public Defender Act Hearing
On Thursday the Judiciary Committee heard from many groups on the recent decision by the Court of Appeals in Maryland which would require the Public Defender to be present at Initial Appearances before a District Court Commissioners. This has not ever been the practice and it would cost the state anywhere from 30 to over 100 million to cover these 180,000 appearances and create facilities to accommodate the change. In response to this decision, I presented HB-112 as an Emergency Bill which would change the Public Defender Act so as not to require their presence at an Initial Appearance with a court commissioner. This has stirred many to action in the criminal justice community. I was happy to see Wicomico State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello and Somerset States Attorney Dan Powell attend the hearing and let the committee know the true cost to local government if we fail to take action. Another hearing on HB-112 will be conducted next Tuesday.

Eastern Shore Delegation Meeting
We met with Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin who briefed the delegation on various DNR projects slated for funding in the governor’s proposed budget. The biggest items for our area included upgrades to the bathhouses on Assateague Island and a project to support the proposed new Ocean City Boat Ramp at 64th Street. These projects would represent several million dollars worth of improvements.

There was a passionate exchange between some delegation members and the Secretary over the use of tracking devices installed on commercial waterman's vessels last year. It seems several requests for information on this matter have received no response from the DNR. This was defended vigorously as an “ongoing” investigation although a year has passed. The Secretary stated he felt like he and his department were being “harassed” on this issue by certain members of the General Assembly (namely Sen. Colburn and Del. Smigiel). Little was resolved on this matter.

I inquired about the reductions in the Striped Bass Quota due to “anticipated theft” of the resource. I asked the Secretary to include any reductions in the original quota numbers so waterman can establish their budgets for the year without fear of reductions. It is absurd to reduce someones paycheck on the grounds that they “might” steal from you. Sen. Mathias had no problem with this premise, but most of the delegation was outraged by this approach. The purpose of having a citizen legislature is to provide direct oversight of these various government agencies and not simply take their word for any action they attempt to justify. It is called accountability and it can (as was the case on Friday), at times,be messy.

Upcoming Bills:
Next week I will provide a rundown on all of the bills I have sponsored or co-sponsored so far. They include bills to reduce or eliminate taxes, protecting private property rights, along with pieces of pro-gun legislation, and public safety bills.

Bond Bills:
For the second year, I have joined with most of my Republican colleagues in agreeing not to submit or vote for any bond bills which only serve to increase the debt for the future generations of Marylanders. Each one of these bills begins with the words, “Creation Of A State Debt...” for that is what they do. At a time when we walked in the door with a $1.5 Billion deficit, this is not the time to increase our debt, no matter how “worthy” one may think the proposal.

I have voted with the Republican Caucus to support giving any appropriated bond money available to local governments for replacement Highway User money. This would allow many road repairs and paving projects in our local area to be accomplished. I’m quite sure this notion will be summarily rejected by the democratic leadership, but we feel it is important to make these reasoned arguments.

It just does not make sense to go into debt to build a playground today for our kids that their kids will be taxed to pay for.

Fraternal Order Of Eagles Valentine's Dinner

Public Water Users Could See Flush Tax Triple While Septic Users Would Pay Double

Many homes on public water and sewer in Maryland could see their flush tax triple to over $100 a year for the Bay Restoration Fund -- much higher than homes on septic systems, which would see the fee double to a $60 cap under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed consumption-based tax.

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Part 1: Charter Schools Expand Slowly In Maryland; Laws Governing Them Are Problematic

This was National School Choice Week in America, marked by over 400 events around the country to celebrate public charter schools. But there were only one announced in Maryland, a dinner discussion set for next week in Baltimore. Public charter schools are increasing as an alternative educational option throughout the nation. But advocates say Maryland’s laws and the scrutiny given to new charter applicants are slowing progress toward more school choice.

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Iran Turns Embargo Tables: To Pass Law Halting All Crude Exports To Europe

In what is likely a long overdue move, Iran has finally decided to give Europe a harsh lesson in game theory. Instead of letting Euro-area politicians score brownie points at its expense by threatening to halt imports and cut off the Iranian economy, the Iranian government will instead propose a bill calling for an immediate halt to oil deliveries to Europe. The move, with most reports citing the Iranian news agency Mehr, has come about in response to the EU agreement to impose sanctions against Iran, which were announced earlier this week. And why not? After all if Europe is indeed serious, sooner or later Iran will be cut off but in the meantime experience significant policy uncertainty, which is precisely what the flipflops on the ground need. The one thing that Europe, however is forgetting, is that all that whopping 0.8 Mb/d in imports will simply find a new buyer.Quickly.



The Federal Reserve is responsible for the economic collapse headed our way. The chart below shows the result of their manipulations over the last three decades. Gold reveals their handy work. That is why Bernanke and his minions despise gold and use their Wall Street bank co-conspirators to try and supress the price of gold. Charts like this one show they are failing. Now for the worst part. We are currently near the 1980 low. Interest rates were 18%. Gold went parabolic and then fell for twenty years. Home prices bottomed and went up for the next twenty five years. Ben is printing $3.7 billion per day of new debt. Home prices are still being propped up by banks and the government. Real inflation is running at 10%. Interest rates are 0%. There is no doubt in my mind that we will take out the 1980 low and it will only take 70 ounces of gold to buy a median priced home within the next two years. Book it Dano.

Severely depressed real estate prices continue to be a concern for investors. For some perspective on the magnitude of the decline in home prices, today’s chart presents the median single-family home price divided by the price of one ounce of gold. This results in the home / gold ratio or the cost of the median single-family home in ounces of gold. For example, it currently takes a relatively low 105 ounces of gold to buy the median single-family home. This is dramatically less than the 601 ounces it took back in 2001. When priced in gold, the median single-family home is down over 80% from its 2001 peak, remains well within the confines of a six-year accelerated downtrend and remains very near its 1980 trough.


$28M Needed To Comply With Court Ruling, Public Defender Says; Prosecutors Say It Will Cost Them $83M

The Office of the Maryland Public Defender needs $28 million to comply with a court ruling that requires indigent defendants have lawyer at bail hearings. Prosecutors say it will cost local governments $83 million more.

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96% of Marylanders Say They Are Taxed ENOUGH

A Letter To The Editor On Extreme Prepping

I have just viewed a video called “Extreme Prepping” on my local blog and have to vent. Now, just so everyone knows here, I have become a “prepper” in the last year. I grew my first garden at age 57 last summer, and am still eating stuff out of it here in late January. I think that’s cool. My folks are a product of the depression, and Mom canned and froze stuff out of the garden and we ate cool fresh stuff year
round. I mean, I did my time helping can stuff, and helping with the garden, and it was a chore, but not a big one. It was nice knowing I didn’t need to go to the fridge for a snack, the apple and cherry trees along with a shaft of rhubarb, a green bean or two and such were always available in the back yard and tasted better than anything in the fridge.

I’ve even encouraged my neighbors to do the same, and some have increased their supply through the grocery store and not gardening. Having a full pantry will keep them out of mine if the SHTF.

Now I’ve actually canned some pickles and tomatoes for the winter, too. Have winter squash stored, and some frozen green peppers. Cool. I’ve got maybe a month or two of food saved up between me and canned and dry pantry goods. I’m saving up for a generator and want to keep maybe 10-15 gallons of gas (Damn gasohol turns to crap in 2 months anyway) but I still have to look at the experts here.

This video, however, shows some things I judge as over the top, and I’d like to offer my two cents worth.

For an introductory overview, I’d like to illustrate this in the common criminal venue. Imagine, for instance, that you are a law abiding, no criminal past member of our society. Say. For instance, you decide to kill your next door neighbor and go ahead with the deed. He was a butthead anyway. Now you need to run. Run hard, run fast. They have evidence and you are now a wanted fugitive. You are in hiding. No contact with family, friends, neighbors, no one. Change your name and maybe change
countries. You can never go home again if you want to stay “free”. WHAT is free? Not this. This is jail.

You are in a room not able to get out and see the world, as the world is looking for you. You stay in a “cave” hiding from everyone. And by doing this, where have you put yourself? IN JAIL!!!! You have no outside contact. You can’t go into town, they may recognize you from the wanted poster. Live In a cave or something. You are not able to go anywhere in public, show our face, express your opinion, speak openly, and participate in society.

Okay, let’s take this to the appropriate video. The biggest line I’d like to connect everybody with is late in the video when 3rd Mom walks into scene with daughter in the background in the underground gun range saying that she wants her kids to be able to do the “normal things kids do” when she’s in the background shooting at the targets. That’s just fine, until one sees it from the kid’s point of view!

Let’s just imagine being that kid… “I am self sufficient because my parents are. We can survive through anything because we are prepared. Problem is, this life sucks. We are supposed to live in a situation that protects us in case of the big disaster, but in reality, the big disaster is already here. Today, I have to be homeschooled or even if not, I can’t have an after school job to make money to go out with. I have to be home to harvest and dry the the silly green crap that grows in the pool Dad uses to grow fish we have to eat for lunch and dinner every freakin’ night.. Sucks. And, I’ll never get to swim in a pool, cause Dad’s turned it into a fish pond that has green crap floating on top that I have to scrape off and eat every night
for supper!. Fish and seaweed again.

Here we are and I can’t even get a job after school because there’s no time. I have to rotate a bunch of buckets, cans, and sacks of this enormous food stock that fills up 2 rooms of our house that is crap I don’t even like! Where’s the fresh crap? We have to store that and eat it when it’s old and ready to rot!

Harvest some green sh!t from the pool and net a few Tilapia from what used to be a pool and eat this crap for dinner again. That’s what we had last night, and the night before, and the night before that….

Oh, and vacation? Whoo hoo! Dad makes us go every year to this place that he’s buried a ten foot diameter piece of pipe in the ground and somehow made it into a 50 foot long motel room to try to live in. Good Lord! Mobile homes from the fifties were bigger. My brother and I have to haul buckets of water all day from this damn hand crank well pump and eat food that’s 3 years old out in the middle of nowhere.

Nice vacation. There’s never any bowling, movies, hanging out at Mickey D’s, or going to a freakin’ mall. Can I at least order pizza tonight? Noooo… Dad said he’ll just make tilapia pizza with sourdough crust instead. We wouldn’t want the pool to get overpopulated; it might throw off the Ph!

Hey, I’m all for stocking up for an emergency, but until the emergency happens, I’m going out and enjoying life with friends and neighbors, work at a job I can enjoy, and go new places on every vacation.

I know, sounds irresponsible and just plain crazy, but that’s just me…


“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”
― Will Rogers

“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
― Will Rogers

“Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.”
― Will Rogers

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
― Will Rogers

“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”
― Will Rogers

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”
― Will Rogers

“you can’t say civilization dont advance, in every war they kill you in a new way”
― Will Rogers

“Liberty doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in speeches.”
― Will Rogers

“It’s almost been worth this depression to find out how little our big men know.”
― Will Rogers

“When you’re through learning, you’re through.”
― Will Rogers

“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”
― Will Rogers

Texas Court Voids Conviction In Child Death Case

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today set aside the conviction of Ernie Lopez, an Amarillo man found guilty in 2003 of sexually assaulting six-month-old Isis Vas. The baby died shortly after the purported attack.

Lopez has been serving a term of 60 years in Texas prison for the crime. But a joint reporting effort by ProPublica, NPR, and PBS "Frontline" last year explored the possibility that Lopez might be innocent [2].

In the years since Lopez's trial, a host of physicians have reviewed the medical evidence in the case, raising questions about the soundness of his conviction. Many of these specialists have come to believe that Vas actually died of natural causes, and that Lopez never assaulted the child at all.

During a tearful prison interview, the inmate insisted he wasn’t a sex offender and killer. "That's not my character," he said. "That's not who I am."

"We are very pleased with the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision to set aside Ernie’s conviction," said one of Lopez’s attorneys, Heather Kirkwood, in an email. "The Texas courts deserve ample recognition for the careful review of the record that led to today’s decision."


Get Your Lawn Off Drugs

It's time to put aside the unpronounceable chemicals and instead opt for organic compost and mulch.


When Ron Paul Talks

It's about freedom, liberty and bringing the troops home.

NYT has a graphic out on selected words used by President Obama in his State of the Union addresses, and by Republican presidential candidates in their debates, television interviews and major speeches since May.

Of note, Ron Paul talks more about budgets and deficits than the other candidates, even though he gets less speaking time!

He is clearly not an interventionist in the economy looking to bestow special privilege to specific industries as he talks the least about oil, coal and energy--and manufacturing.

He mentions war and troops the most. This is, of course, because of his belief that they should be brought home. He mentions government the most because he sees government for the threat it is to our freedoms.

He blows away everyone else when it comes to mentioning freedom and liberty. And the other wrap themselves in patriotism by using the words America and American, but not Ron Paul.


Tim Geithner Added To List Of Gold Bugs' Best Friends

Yesterday we asked rhetorically [9]if Ben Bernanke has become the gold bug's best friend courtesy of his FOMC announcement which led to a surge in gold, and a kneejerk whimper in stocks, which has now been completely wiped out courtesy of a subpar GDP number. Today we note that it is not only the Fed, but the US Treasury, and specifically the ravenous Mr. Geithner, who just got a green light to issue another $1.2 trillion in debt, and bring total debt to $16.4 trillion, which would still be 107% of today's GDP (which we don't see growing much if at all over the next year), that can be added to the list of best Goldbug friends. As the chart below demonstrates quite vividly, in addition to global and local monetary expansion, the price of gold tends to correlate quite well with the US debt ceiling. Which means that per yesterday's Senate 52-44 vote authorizing Timmy to go hog wild (which in turn means that Bernanke will have to step in and monetize much of this new debt issuance), the price of gold just got a green light for at least $250 in upside - the implied price just got raised to $1960. Of course, anyone who thinks the US will stop issuing debt there needs a brain MRI stat. Thank you Senate. And thank you Timmy. And, of course, thank you Ben.


Drive-By Scanning: Officials Expand Use And Dose Of Radiation For Security Screening

From prisons to borders to the streets of New York, law enforcement officials are using X-ray scanners on people more often and with higher doses of radiation.

We're seeking anyone who has had personal experience with certain X-ray devices. Please see the bottom of the story for information on how you can contribute.

U.S. law enforcement agencies are exposing people to radiation in more settings and in increasing doses to screen for explosives, weapons and drugs. In addition to the controversial airport body scanners, which are now deployed for routine screening, various X-ray devices have proliferated at the border, in prisons and on the streets of New York.



Gov. Secretly Solicited Funds for Group Supporting His Same-Sex Marriage Bill

- Before leaving on his taxpayer-funded trip to New York, Governor O'Malley sent an email soliciting funds for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. Marylanders for Marriage Equality is an advocacy group supporting the same sex marriage bill Gov. O'Malley introduced just a few days ago. The email was forwarded to Delegate Mike Smigiel who had this to say about the correspondence: "I have never seen a Governor send out a notice regarding his legislative package and to simultaneously tell the legislators to donate to the very special interest group that benefits from that legislation. This is the kind of behavior that causes the public to lose faith in their elected public servants."

Not only does the fundraising letter raise ethical questions, it also poses legal implications. According to Maryland election law § 13-235 (b) the Governor is prohibited from raising money during the legislative session. "Gov. O'Malley is blatantly disregarding the longstanding prohibition against raising money during the legislative session. At best, the Governor's scheme to raise money for an organization supporting a bill he is running through the General Assembly is unethical," said Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney.

A copy of the email is reproduced below:

From: Martin O'Malley <> Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 18:33:40 +0000 Subject: Support Maryland Families

Dear ----,

In the past, I've written to ask for your support of my campaign. I've been humbled by your generosity, commitment to our State, and the support you've shown to Lt. Governor Brown and me as we work every day to create jobs and expand opportunity to greater numbers of people.

Today, I am writing to ask for your support of equal rights under the law in the context of civil marriage rights in Maryland. Marylanders of all walks of life want their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home that is protected under the law. Yesterday, we introduced the Civil Marriage Protection Act. It balances equal protection of the law for every individual with free exercise of religion without government interference. I hope that you can and will show your support of this bill, by making a contribution to Marylanders for Marriage Equality today.

This morning, I was joined by dozens of same-sex couples, their children, and faith-based leaders who are part of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the broad-based coalition we've assembled to get this bill passed. The coalition brings together Marylanders from the faith community, organized labor, civil rights groups and LGBT organizations. Other states have found a way to protect marriage equality and religious freedom and so should Maryland. Your contribution to support our efforts would mean so much, and so I am asking you to help with whatever you are able to give. A contribution of $25, $100, $500 or more would be of great value in our fight to ensure fairness and equality for all Marylanders. Please help in any way you can. We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that this important piece of legislation passes but I know that together, as One Maryland, we can make it happen.

Thank you for your support of me and of our fellow Marylanders.

Martin O'Malley