Cecil County Del. Mike Smigiel MIA on Key Annapolis Votes on Gas Tax, Licenses for Illegals, Cyberbullying
If you take a paycheck, most employers expect you to show up for the job. But taxpayers didn‚Äôt get the job done by one of their employees when Cecil County Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) was a no-show as the House of Delegates passed one of the most locally reviled bills of this year‚Äôs General Assembly session: an increase in the gas tax.
And that wasn‚Äôt his only voting MIA on important legislation. [In fact, a review of a 70-page database of all his votes during the 2013 session found that Smigiel was marked absent on a total of 194 votes on the House floor.]
One of the most controversial issues in the recently concluded General Assembly session was a proposed increase in gasoline taxes, with a new sales tax to be phased in as well as boosts in the existing state gas tax of 23.5 cents a gallon that would for the first time link future increases to inflation. As a result, drivers could expect to pay an additional 4-cents a gallon as of July 1 and the extra costs could jump by as much as 20-cents a gallon by 2016.
In the largely rural 36th District, where residents must drive long distances to work and many local businesses must compete with neighboring Delaware and its lower overall taxes and no sales tax, the gas tax hike was a key issue. Most area residents strongly opposed the tax boost, but when it came time to put up or shut up, Smigiel was silent. (Smigiel‚Äôs district includes Cecil County, Caroline County, Kent County and Queen Anne‚Äôs County, all on the Eastern Shore.)
The gas tax bill, HB1515, won passage in the House of Delegates on a vote of 76-63 on 3/22/13 (that‚Äôs the real, ‚Äėcalendar day‚Äô although in the chamber‚Äôs procedures it was the legislative day of 3/19.) But Smigiel was nowhere to be found and marked absent on the roll call.
While he was a no show on the vote, that didn‚Äôt stop Smigiel from piling on the political rhetoric on his website two days earlier, claiming under a shouting headline, ‚ÄúThe Liberty Tree is Parched,‚ÄĚ that the gas tax bill was an act of ‚Äúunbelievable gall‚ÄĚ and would be ‚Äúthe first time in history‚ÄĚ that a tax was indexed for inflation.
Talk is cheap but voting is free, even if the taxpayers have to pay the salaries of those they expect to vote on their behalf in Annapolis,
But that wasn‚Äôt the only no-show by Smigiel on key votes this year.
On a later date, the House passed a bill (SB715) to enact a controversial plan to allow the state to issue drivers‚Äô licenses to illegal immigrants, under certain circumstances, on a vote of 82-55 on 4/5/13 ( a ‚Äėlegislative day‚Äô of 3/31/13.) Again, Smigiel was marked absent on the roll call. [ http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=flrvotepage&tab=subject3&id=SB0715,h-1034&stab=02&ys=2013rs
Residents of the 36th District voted overwhelmingly last year on a ballot referendum to oppose the so-called ‚ÄúDream Act,‚ÄĚ which granted in-state tuition at public colleges in the state, under certain conditions, to illegal immigrants.
All the other members of Cecil County‚Äôs House legislative delegation attended the roll calls and they all voted NO on the gas tax increase and NO on the licenses for illegals bill.
According to court records, Smigiel cited the demands of legislative duties in Annapolis just a few days before the missed gas tax vote as the reason to grant a postponement of a Cecil County Circuit Court hearing scheduled for Monday, 3/18/13 in Smigiel‚Äôs lawsuit against the county government and County Executive Tari Moore. Smigiel filed suit to challenge Moore‚Äôs switch of her party affiliation from Republican to ‚Äúunaffiliated‚ÄĚ shortly before she was sworn in as the county‚Äôs first Executive in December.
(The hearing had been set for that date in deference to his Annapolis schedule, sources said, but a few days before the hearing he filed a motion citing provisions in state law that grant automatic court postponements to lawyers who are also serving in the General Assembly.)
Smigiel was also MIA on another key issue of concern to many parents and families‚ÄĒcyber-bullying of children. HB396 ‚Äď ‚ÄúGrace‚Äôs Law‚ÄĚ–to protect children from online bullying and harassment, passed the House Judiciary Committee on 3/21/13 by a unanimous vote‚ÄĒbut committee member Smigiel was not present and the roll call sheet lists him with an ‚Äúexcused‚ÄĚ absence from the tally.
But when the Grace‚Äôs Law bill came to the full House for passage several days later on 3/23/13, Smigiel was once again marked absent on the roll call. The bill passed the chamber on a 134-0 vote. [Roll call: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=flrvotepage&tab=subject3&id=HB0396,h-0636&stab=02&ys=2013rs
Cecil Times has phoned Del. Smigiel for his comments on his multiple missed votes on multiple dates and will update this report upon his response.