(Nov. 23, 2018) While acknowledging a learning curve awaits, Delegate-elect Wayne Hartman (R-38C) knows his first order of business is to be sworn into office in early January, but after that he does have some legislative priorities.
“I’m not looking to go up there and create a bunch of legislation,” he said. “I’m more interested in fixing some of the current legislation.”
Hartman, whose term on Ocean City Council expired this year, is originally from Baltimore County, and has been a year-round resort resident for nearly two decades.
Fresh off a term on City Council, and well-versed on area priorities, Hartman is anticipating leading the charge to amend legislation corralling unruly behavior at annual motor vehicle events in Ocean City.
“Ocean City is asking for some tweaking to the special event zones and I’m more than happy to carry the torch on that,” he said.
Although the emergency legislation passed by the General Assembly this spring allows the State Highway Administration, and local authorities, to designate area roads as special event zones with reduced speeds and heightened fines, the mayor and council want further penalties for reckless endangerment.
Reviving Ocean City’s battle over state-mandated paid sick leave benefits is another early aim for Hartman.
In January, the General Assembly overrode a veto from Gov. Larry Hogan to pass the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. Beginning in February, businesses with 15 or more employees have to provide paid sick leave, with smaller entities required to provide unpaid leave.
“The paid leave bill … we need to look at tweaking that,” he said. “If we can get a seasonal exemption that would be a huge win.”
Resort businesses have expressed concerns that the benefits would permit seasonal employees to use accrued time to skip work at the end of the peak tourist season.
Examining state regulations for new home construction is also on Hartman’s radar.
Hartman is working on aiding previous efforts by Del. Chris Adams (R-37B) to amend a 2016 state law that requires newly constructed single-family homes to have sprinklers installed.
“I’d like to see that decision come back to the counties as opposed to having that come under a state umbrella,” he said.
Hartman feels rural counties such as Worcester should be permitted to opt out of the rule.
“It hurts a lot of residential construction,” he said.
Appreciating that tax breaks offered in other states often lure residents elsewhere, Hartman wants to examine lowering the burden for retirees with limited benefits.
“As opposed to a percentage, it would have to be a fixed amount,” he said. “Something to encourage our seniors to stay here and not go to Delaware or Florida.”
Taking over the seat from newly elected Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (D-38) is another benefit for Hartman, who envisions operating closely with her to minimize the learning curve.
“To have that person I can lean on and her having somebody there she knows she can trust and work with,” he said. “Those relationships are going to help me provide a higher level of service to the constituents in 38C.”