Cardin Talks Bill Priorities, Tax Hikes, Ravens Playoff Demise

David Snyder, Owings Mills-Reisterstown Patch

With the 2012 general assembly underway, Del. Jon Cardin sat down with Patch to talk about what's on tap in the Maryland House, what he thinks his constituents should follow and much more.

Cardin is eager to introduce several bills that he feels warrant ample consideration. He also wants his constituents to follow the potential tax increases that could come as a result of other counties not being as fiscally responsible as Baltimore County. Here’s what he told Patch:

Patch: As far as the general assembly goes this session, what are your biggest priorities right now?

Cardin: I have three major bills that I’m working on. One is a healthy Maryland tax credit bill to provide monetary incentives to people who live healthy lifestyles.  Preventative health maintenance is a way to save the state and themselves money on insurance premiums. No. 2 is a bill to make the roads just a little bit safer for bicyclists. We’re trying to get cars to slow down just a little bit when they’re driving around bicycles. No. 3 is a pension exclusion for active and retired military coming back from overseas and are trying to get into workforce shortage positions in healthcare. If they’re earning money on pensions, they pay taxes on those pensions. I want to have a partial exclusion of those pensions on taxes in order to encourage these guys who are in healthcare fields to come and work in workforce shortage areas like lab techs and nurse practitioners and pharmacists and other areas where hospitals are in dire need.

Outside of your personal priorities, what are a couple of issues that will bring about the biggest debates during the session?

Gas tax, same sex marriage, pensions for teachers—moving them from the state to the counties. I would say that the other revenue raisers in the governor’s budget are going to be question marks. For example, online sales tax, the personal deduction/reductions by the governor to raise revenue. Those are going to be some of the questions.

You mentioned gay marriage, which was a big topic last year as well. What’s your stance on the bill and how do you foresee those hearings going?

I have no idea how those hearings are going to go. I’ve always been supportive of equal protection under the laws for everybody, not just same-sex couples, anybody. I will support it for that reason. I don’t see any downside to it. I see it as treating people equally under the protection of the laws.

Any issues in particular you really want your Baltimore County constituents to follow and pay attention to?

I would certainly think aid to local communities. Baltimore County happens to be one of those most stable and fiscally prudent counties—if not the most fiscally prudent county—in the state. I want Baltimore County constituents to pay attention to that because we could get penalized for that. While other counties are saying they need help, they need this, they need that, we’re the ones with the balanced budget—fully paid with no layoffs, that kind of thing—and now the state’s basically saying to the counties "you should just raise your taxes to make it all work out," which isn’t fair that we should have to do that when we’ve been doing everything right from the beginning.

Now for something outside the box of the Maryland legislative session: The Republican Presidential Primaries. Any opinion on those so far and who's caught your eye, candidate-wise?

I think that it’s Mitt Romney’s race to lose. I said from the beginning that I believe he’s going to be the candidate. I think he’s going to give [President Barack] Obama the toughest run for his money. I think that if the economy continues to improve, even slowly, that Obama is going to have a better chance of winning. I believe that Obama hasn’t been given a fair shake by the country and I think that he’s done and will continue to do some amazing things moving us forward. But, I think it’s going to be a very close general election regardless.

This might be the most important question. Reaction and thoughts toward the Ravens' demise in the AFC Championship? What are you feeling about the team?

First of all, the team did an amazing job. Let’s not let one loss overshadow an amazing season done by a true team that came together. I think that they’re going to come back and be great again next year. I think that Ray Lewis is a great leader and I hope he stays on and continues to be a great team leader. We’re going to have some rebuilding to do with our coaching staff, but all-in-all if that catch was made in the end zone then Billy Cundiff wouldn’t have been demonized.

Editor's note: Del. Cardin's comments were shortened and lightly edited for clarity and brevity.