This week began the second half of this year’s legislative session, and it has been very eventful. I am currently in a hearing on the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, which is expected to last well into tonight. I was glad to see so many Marylanders come out today in support of the bill, and to note a recent poll in which 85% of Marylanders support the common sense gun control that the bill represents (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/polling/marylanders-support-several-gun-restrictions-post/2013/02/26/52b32790-8033-11e2-a671-0307392de8de_print.html). As you may have heard, the Senate passed the Firearms Safety Act yesterday, and I hope that the House will do the same in the coming weeks. Additional highlights from this week include:
Keeping guns away from criminals, and ensuring prosecution of law-breakers:
In addition to the Governor’s proposal, today’s joint hearing of the Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committee also includes a bill that I introduced. I worked with Attorney General Gansler on this legislation in order to prevent individuals who are prohibited by law from purchasing guns.
Under current law, many prohibited purchasers (due to factors such as felony convictions, protective orders, or mental illness) are nonetheless able to purchase guns by lying on their applications. However, prosecutions for falsifying gun applications are exceedingly difficult, because the State must prove that the person knew that they were prohibited from purchasing a gun, not simply that they were, in fact, prohibited. As a result of the current law, numerous prosecutions have failed because the individual did not read the application before signing, did not understand the form, or, in some cases, could not read. In many other cases, State’s Attorneys have accepted plea bargains to lesser charges because they could not prove that the person knew their prohibited status.
The bill, HB 1457, will require gun sellers to read the provisions of a license application to applicants aloud, and for both the applicant and the seller to initial each provision. This bill will make it more difficult for prohibited purchasers to buy guns in the first place, and, like Miranda warnings, will ensure that prosecutors can prove that prohibited purchasers can be prosecuted under existing law. I was pleased that A.G. Gansler testified in support of the bill today, and I will continue to work for its passage. You can find a copy of the bill here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&tab=subject3&id=hb1457&stab=01&ys=2013RS
As I said last week, next Tuesday, March 5, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill I introduced that will mandate the reporting of lost or stolen guns in order to prevent straw purchases and to encourage responsible behavior by those who own guns. This bill will prevent the illegal transfer of firearms to criminals by creating a state-wide reporting requirement for lost or stolen firearms. 61 of my colleagues in the House have signed on as co-sponsors of this important legislation, but we can really use your help to spread the word about this bill. So, please tell your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the legislation, and ask them to contact their legislators to ask them to support the bill. If you’d like more information on this legislation, please contact me at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us, or visit this entry on my blog, which explains this and other gun-related bills in further detail:http://www.luke46.org/3/post/2013/02/legislative-update-4-purple-friday.html.
You can find the bill, HB 1077, here:http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&tab=subject3&id=hb1077&stab=01&ys=2013RS.
Community Renewable Energy:
I am working with Del. Dana Stein on legislation to create a community renewable energy pilot program. You can find more information about the program at my blog: http://www.luke46.org/3/post/2013/02/legislative-update-5.html, and you can find the bill, HB 1128, here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&tab=subject3&id=hb1128&stab=01&ys=2013RS.
Del. Stein and I have been working with the solar industry, environmental groups, and every day Marylanders to support the bill. The bill will be heard in the House Economic Matters Committee on Thursday, March 7, at 1:00pm. Please contact me if you are interested in attending the hearing, or if you or your neighborhood association would be interested in creating a solar co-op. I also encourage you to contact members of the Committee to ask them for their support. You can find the Committee Members here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&stab=04&id=ecm&tab=subject7&ys=2013RS.
You can find all of my updates from this session on my website, at www.luke46.org/2013-legislative-session.html. Please spread the word, and let your friends and neighbors know that they can keep up to date on my work in Annapolis by visiting www.luke46.org and signing up for my updates today!
Thank you sincerely for your continued interest and support. As always, you can reach me at 410-841-3303, or at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us.