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Legislative Updates

I have highlighted some of the bills that may interest you that I have fought for as State Senator.

The following represent some of the bills where I was
the lead sponsor or co-sponsor.

Click on any of the summary links below for details!

Legislation that Successfully Passed

Partially Successful Legislation


Legislation that Successfully Passed

Courthouse Dog Child Witness Program  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: Senator Simonaire successfully led the effort to create a pilot program in two counties where children are provided highly trained therapy or facility dogs in the courtroom. Children who have been sexually abused, witnessed a vicious crime, or been the recipient of domestic abuse, etc. face tremendous stress and emotional challenges in the courtroom. It has been shown that having a friendly dog by their side allows them to relax and share the truth that they would not otherwise have been able to share. Kilo, a trained therapy dog, assisted in the presentation at the Senate and House committee hearings.

Hunting/Fishing Wounded Soldiers Donation Program  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed:Senator Simonaire successfully led the effort to create a program for persons or organizations to donate fishing or hunting licenses to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a disabled military individual, a Gold Star recipient who lost a loved one in combat, or a permanently disabled person. Local non-profits will then request the donated licenses from DNR when they have sponsored fishing or hunting trips for such individuals.

Increasing Graduation Rates  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: This legislation expands the 4 year scholarship up to a 5th year. Numerous students require more than 4 years to finish their degree. Prior to this legisltion, scholarships were prohibited from exceeding 4 years no matter the reason for a student taking an additional year. This created great hardship for many diligent working students.

Reducing Senior's Burden of Property Taxes  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed:The Anne Arundel County tax deferral program that allows homeowners who are 62 years or older or permanently disabled to freeze their property taxes, needed extra protections. This bill altered the program to ensure that the interest-free tax deferrals were not due if an individual temporarily did not meet the income eligibility requirements for a year.

Honoring Veterans Act  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed:While many businesses offer discounts to our veterans, sadly some businesses were not recognizing official veteran’s documentation for the discount. This legislation does not require discounts or benefits honoring our veterans, but it says if you offer it to veterans, it must be equally given to all veterans across Maryland. The bill was passed unanimously and supported by the Maryland Veteran’s Caucus.

Incentives for Businesses  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed:Benefit Corporations charters legally guarantee that their business will provide benefits to the community. This bill was crafted to attract good paying Benefit Corporations to our county by offering business incentives.

Downs Park, Lake Shore Athletic Fields, etc  (Top)

Lead and Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed: Capital projects for our district included grants for the rennovations of Pasadena’s Downs Park Amphitheater and the Lake Shore girl’s softball fields, and major renovations for Glen Burnie High School’s field house and concession stand.

Clean Waterways Act  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: Due to high levels of bacteria, several creeks within our community have been unsuitable to human touch for decades. This legislation increases Maryland’s outdated penalties for dumping raw sewage into our waterways. Current penalties were simply a slap-on-the-wrist as sewage spills exceeded 300 million gallons this year.

Prohibition of Dog Baiting  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: Unspeakable acts were being committed against dogs. Dogs were taken and used as Dog Bait in the Dog Fighting world. They would tie the dog's legs and mouth shut, then let a potential dog fighting dog attack the defenseless bait dog to test the killer instinct of the other dog. It is cruel and inhumane. SB 360 made it illegal and the associated acts such as selling, transporting or using a facility to allow the dog baiting. There was tremendous community support for the bill.

Keeping Property Taxes Low  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed - The term property tax is a very sore subject for many, but I successfully introduced legislation that will help alleviate that burden for many in need. This legislation will help people remain in their homes by expanding the age eligibility of the property tax deferment program. This legislation enables the County to lower the eligibility age for seniors and thereby reduce their taxes.

Stopping Rockfish/Oyster Poaching  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bills Passed: - These bills worked to address the growing problem of rockfish and oyster poaching on the bay.

Recently, we witnessed numerous examples of complete disregard for the bay and it's resources.

First, we heard about the rockfish poachers illegally placing nets in the bay that ensnared over 13 tons of rockfish, resulting in the closure of our recreational sports fishing for a period of time.

In addition, it was reported that oyster poachers were illegally going into our protected oyster sanctuaries at night to dredge up and steal the oysters.

As a state, we are diligently trying to grow the oyster population to provide a natural filter system to combat the pollution in the bay. However, it was very discouraging to see the lack of teeth in our current laws to penalize these thieves appropriately. The offenders barely received a slap on the wrist.

Therefore, we successfully worked on legislation to provide meaningful penalties for those who knowingly performed these egregious poaching activities. The penalties include serious fines and/or possible license suspension or revocation. The legislation also put in a proper administrative hearing mechanism with an appeal process to ensure an appropriate judicial procedure.

Protecting our Fallen Soldiers  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: - Also, I was honored to be the lead senator on the Fallen Soldier Privacy bill that originated when one of my constituents who lost his son in Iraq shared his deplorable experience with a company profiting from the unauthorized usage of son’s name on their products.

I submitted Senate Bill 3 and by the end of session, I was pleased that the bill, The Fallen Soldier Privacy Act, unanimously passed both legislative bodies. This bill will now protect those heroic fallen soldiers and their families.

As I presented the bill, several other families who lost their loved ones joined in the effort. A special thanks goes out to them and the tremendous sacrifice they gave for our country.

Funeral Protest Buffer Zone  (Top)

One of 3 Lead Sponsors - Bill Passed: - Senators Gladden, Dyson and I were the lead sponsors on increasing the distance that protestors must stay away from a funeral, such as, the Westboro Baptist protesters.

Unfortunately, there are some who have no respect for those grieving, especially our fallen soldiers and want to make a political statement.

Matthew Synder was killed in Iraq in 2006. When his family conducted the funeral for him in Maryland, the Westboro Baptist representatives picketed with inhumane signs against their son to show "God's judgment on our nation".

Matthew's father, Al Synder, took them to the Supreme Court. The court sided on free speech, but said states can put in reasonable restrictions around the funerals.

This legislation proposes changing the 100 foot distance to 500 feet, as 100 feet is way too close to those grieving for their lost loved ones.

Senator Simonaire and Al Synder are pictured during the 2011 legislative session in Annapolis.

Making Schoolrooms Safer Act  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: - Teachers, parents and the community agree that children should be safe in schools. It is paramount that children have a safe learning environment. This bill was generated from the teachers and students voicing their concerns of under reporting of disciplinary reports and thereby keeping disruptive and potentially dangerous students in the classroom.

This bill would require the School Board to address the lack of accountability with discipline referral reports. We know that hotels, airlines and almost every other system has a tracking number, but our county schools were lacking unique tracking numbers on each report and their representative testified they did not want to change.

Despite the School Board opposing this legislation, the General Assembly in a bipartisan manner saw the pressing need and passed this bill to ensure our schools are safe.

Affordable Education for Human Trafficking Victims Act  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: - The Simonaire legislators (Father/Daughter tandem) worked together on SB 335 / HB 847 – Affordable Education for Human Trafficking Victims legislation. The legislation supports victims of human trafficking and advocacy groups that work to help restore their lives including affordable education.

Its passage is being hailed as ‘first of its kind in the U.S.’, ‘Huge legislative win for survivors of human trafficking!’. The advocates continued saying, ‘This bill marks the first legislative action designed to support the recovery and prosperity of victims outside of the justice system’.

Drug Free School Zone Signs  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed: - Drug dealers continue to target our school children. That is why Maryland enacted extremely tough laws against drug dealers doing business on school property. This local bill for Anne Arundel County makes sure that the schools are well identified as Drug Free School Zones in an attempt to discourage the targeting of our school children.

Right to Defend your Home  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed:- Providing that a person who is defending themselves is not liable for damages for a personal injury or death of an individual who forceably enters another person's dwelling or place of business.

Transparency in State Funding  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed: - This bill requires grantors, which provide State aid to grantees, to submit reports to the Department of Budget and Management by September 1st after the close of each fiscal year in which the grantor provided the aid. The data will be on a searchable website.

Penalties for Child Sex Offenders (Top)

Lead Sponsor or Co-Sponsor - Bills Passed:I was able to work across party lines on several bills that strengthen Maryland's version of Jessica's Law to punish child sex offenders.

First degree rapist and sex offenders of young children will now have a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years without parole.

These bills also require a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life for a second degree offense by an individual raping or sexually abusing a child under the age of 14.

Along with other bills this will mean no parole and no good time credits to get out early. These sex predators need to be behind bars and away from other children.

As a father of seven children, I understand how precious and fragile our children and grandchildren are in today’s society.

Lifetime Supervision Sex Offenders  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - With the growing number of sex offenders and violent sex predators, this bill creates better supervision of those convicted offenders as they enter back into the general public and into our neighborhoods. Recently there was a brutal murder and rape of young child by a previously convicted sex offender. This law strengthens our laws so an event like that will be less likely to occur.

Loretta's Law  (Top)

Lead Sponsor with Senator Kelley - Bill Passed - A local senior in our community authorized a Power of Attorney and was swindled out of all her sizeable amount of money and assets. She ended up broke living in a nursing home without any way to pay for it. This bill will provide for protections at the front end of the process and hopefully drastically minimize situations like this in the future.

Silver Alert Program  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - This bill creates the Silver Alert Community Program that coordinates with the State Police to disseminate information to assist in locating missing persons who suffer from impairments, such as, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The mechanics of this program are similar to the Amber Alert program for missing children.

Seniors Investment Protection Act  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - This bill prohibits a person from using a senior credential or designation to mislead a person in connection with the offer, sale, or purchase of securities when acting as a broker-dealer, agent, investment advisor, or investment advisor representative; A person found guilty is subject to a fine not to exceed $100,000 and up to 5 years in jail.

Hit and Run Yellow Alert  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed - After see hit and run case after case, I sponsored the Hit-n-Run Yellow Alert legislation with the support of numerous local families.

Denver and Aurora (pop. 3.2 million) had enacted a similiar program and there were 17 alerts activated in the last 2 years and amazingly 13 were solved as a result.

Maryland became the 2nd in the nation to enact this legislation. The law focuses on fatalities and the seriously injured. The program is similar to the Silver and Amber Alerts. The Yellow Alert will create much needed public awareness of the growing problem and also solve cases that remove dangerous drivers from our roads.

Neighborhood Crime Prevention Act  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed - The Assistant States Attorney from Anne Arundel County requested I put in legislation that would help deal with drug dealers and domestic violence problems in our county and throughout the state.

I was informed that law enforcement officers were often able to catch drug dealers trespassing on private or posted property, but they had a difficult time actually catching them with possession of the drugs. Additionally, domestic violence victims complained about repeat unsolicited visits by their abusers at their home address.

This bill creates a three tiered penalty system for trespassing violations, such that, the penalties are increased for repeat offenses if they occurred within a two year period.

I think abusing anyone is a tragic situation. I serve on the Governor's Family Violence Counsel and I believe this is will be an important piece of legislation to reduce domestic violence in our county.

Maryland Gang Prosecution Act  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - This bill allows law enforcement to crack down on the growing gang violence in our state. It provides better tools for identifying, convicting and sentencing gang members. Many of our communities are feeling the destructive influence of gang activity. This is a positive advancement of Maryland law to reduce gang violence.

Drug Nuisance Removal  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - For persons who assemble for the purpose of illegally administering, illegally manufacturing, or distributing drugs, this legislation reduces the waiting time before legal action can be taken against a tenant or owner of record to remove these drug nuisance problems. This bill provides our police with tools to fight the drugs in our communities.

Protecting the Rights of Victims  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed - With crime on the rise, it is important that we protect the rights of victims who suffered at the hands of the criminal. This legislation ensures that the victim has the right to be present at any hearing request to shorten the jail sentence of their convicted criminal.

Extended Protective Orders  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - These bills increase the period of time for which a judge is authorized to extend a temporary protective order to ensure the delivery of the protective order.

These bills extend the maximum duration of a final protective order from 1 year to 2 years if the abuser continues to abuse after the original protective order expired.

Fairness in Reckless Penalties  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - Bill Passed - When a person is convicted of a traffic violation, such as, negligent or reckless driving, that causes the death of another individual, current law only allows a minor traffic fine for the violator. Tragic situations like this have occurred in our area and throughout the state. This law grants the judge the discretion to suspend the driver license of the violator for up to six months and also allows the victim's representative to be present at the hearing and also provide testimony.

Income Tax Checkoff for Developmental Disabilities  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - There is a growing and unmet need with those that have disabilities in our state. This bill establishes a checkoff box on the Maryland Income Tax form for voluntary contributions to the 'Waiting List Equity Fund' for services to individuals with developmental disabilities. These are voluntary donations made from the individuals of the state and has no effect on tax income received by the State of Maryland, but it will have a positive impact for those with disabilities.

Affordable Housing Land Trust  (Top)

Co-Sponsor - Bill Passed - This bill establishes the Affordable Housing Land Trust Act and specifies the powers and duties of an affordable housing land trust and the contents of an affordable housing land trust agreement.

Partially Successful Legislation

Honoring our Youth  (Top)

Lead Sponsor - This idea came from my son, Isaac Simonaire, and it would have marked the first Monday of October as Young Heroes Day. It was designed to recognize and honor the significant contributions and important role young people play in our society and state.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and had the personal support of the Governor, but it died in the House on the last day of session.

Isaac was pleased when upon the request of Senator Simonaire the Governor made an Executive Proclamation honoring Young Heroes Day for the first Monday in October for one year.

 


Citizens for Bryan Simonaire
Authority: Steve Kirchner - Treasurer


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