Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fire Storm with Floor Debates

Annapolis – There were two spirited debates today. In the house the issue of same sex marriage was up for floor debate. The opposition was spirited, but despite amendments none were taken and it came through clean. I thought Delegate Kumar Barve’s observation regarding this issue being sent to the voters in a referendum in 2012 maybe on point. But those who wanted this bill got their way. Maryland looks to become the six state in the union to approve of same sex marriages. A couple of issues of note Delegate Aisha Braveboy offer an amendment which was like a poison pill. It would have sent the bill back to the Judiciary Committee which has its own version same sex marriage. Delegate got a lot of bi-partisan votes on having it go to the voters. In the end it failed but did have a lot of unusual support. Also, kind of surprise at the efforts by several large churches in Prince George's going after Delegates from this area asking them to fight the move. Several outside groups will apparently take up the petitions drive to get on the ballot. The final vote will occur on Friday.

Instate Tuition for Immigrants

The other issue today was the so call “Dream Act.” The title has changed to Higher Education - Tuition Charges - Maryland High School Students. The initial idea was to provide instate tuition for dependents of undocumented works at all state colleges and universities. It’s been watered down to take affect at community colleges initially. Listen to the debate in the Senate.

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Lastly, Senator Lisa Gladden brought forth emergency legislation dealing with protesters at military funerals. This legislation came from a Supreme Court ruling in the Westboro Baptist case. The controversial church has been showing up at the funerals Iraq and Afghanistan War dead. They believe god is punishing these individuals for recognizing gays. The court ruled last week their protest are part of free speech and can go ahead. In the wake of this ruling several measures are in the works to keep them away (in Maryland you must stay 100 ft. from funerals). This new law would ban them from coming within 500 ft. Sen. Joe Getty talks about the issue.

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