Commentary by Ron Miller
Perhaps the old warhorse is really retiring after this last battle. It's hard to say, though, because he's retired and unretired as if he aspires to be the Brett Favre of Maryland politics.
One thing's for sure. Maryland Senate president Thomas V. "Mike" Miller's actions during this General Assembly session suggest he couldn't care less about what his constituents think. That's indicative of a man who's headed out the door, or who thinks he's untouchable.
It's bad enough he's out there pushing for a gasoline tax to replenish the transportation fund they raided but never refilled, placing more burdens on those in southern Maryland who commute to work every day, or who are struggling financially and often have to choose between gas for the car or rent, medicine or food on the table.
Besides, we all know they're going to raid that fund again because 1) revenues are projected to go down rather than up, and they'll be scrambling to find stopgap measures to balance the budget, and 2) they can't help themselves.
It's also bad enough that he cynically allowed the same-sex "marriage" bill on the floor of the Senate for a vote, and then voted against it. Those of us who know Maryland politics know that he has the power to kill a bill by not allowing it to see the light of day.
He tried to have his cake and eat it, too, letting it come to a vote whose outcome in the state senate was certain so his political party would benefit, but voting against it so his electoral base, which is largely conservative on this issue, would credit him for doing their bidding.
In fact, it was the voters of the Prince George's County portion of his gerrymandered district that probably sent the bill down to defeat when everything pointed to its passage. I hope they don't buy what he was trying to sell with his legislative maneuvering.
Miller jumped the shark, however, when he led the charge on a bill modeled after the federal government's recently defeated DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act that would allow the children of illegal aliens in Maryland to be eligible for in-state tuition for college.
He proposed a compromise that would apply this privilege to community colleges only, but if they successfully complete a community college program and transfer to a four-year institution, they would still be eligible for in-state rates.
As a result of his efforts, the bill passed on a 27-20 vote in the senate and now heads for the House of Delegates, where it's almost certain to be passed, and Governor O'Malley has already promised to sign it into law. Miller voted for the bill, as did Senator Thomas Middleton of Charles County. Senator Roy Dyson voted against the bill.
This is bad legislation on a number of levels. First of all, it's yet another expense we can't afford. It's going to cost about $800,000 the first year of implementation, and increase to $1.6 million and $3.5 million in subsequent fiscal years. This comedy of a legislative body continues to add items to a budget that is over $1 billion out of balance, and recent revenue projections suggest things are going to get worse, with federal budget cuts, gasoline prices and the devastation to Japan's economy all having a ripple effect on Maryland's coffers.
Second, it's yet another step toward Maryland becoming a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, if it hasn't already laid claim to that title. If you are here in this country illegally and you have children, the most attractive destinations for you are probably going to be those states that offer such benefits.
Currently, there are 10 states that grant in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens. None of them border Maryland. Imagine the influx of illegal aliens from Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware as they witness the Free State waving another freebie at them to entice their migration here.
Moreover, Maryland is, in effect, extending to the children of lawbreakers a benefit that would be denied to a citizen or legal resident of the United States who lived outside of Maryland, which leads to my third point.
This bill sends the message that there are no consequences for breaking the law. The rule of law has to be consistent, or it is meaningless. The fact the federal government doesn't like or enforce its own immigration laws doesn't mean the laws are not valid or meant to be ignored.
Incidentally, that seems to be a recent trend without precedent - not enforcing the law because "I don't like it." Well then, use the legislative process to change the law, but a person or public official's personal feelings about a law are irrelevant.
The reason proposals that have illegal aliens pay fines, after which they are granted guest worker visas while the apply for citizenship, are called "amnesty" is because there's no punishment in such proposals. Illegal aliens came to this country without permission because it is being here and being able to work that they most desire.
Real punishment would be to take away that which they took from us in the first place - residency and employment. Anything less would be a mockery of the rule of law.
And please spare me the moans of "What about the children?" Do you pass laws and spend taxpayer money to invest in the children of criminals who are citizens or legal residents, or are those children on their own?
Most children of lawbreakers are expected to deal with the consequences of their parent's behavior, and must depend on family, friends and neighbors, while the children of illegal aliens, also lawbreakers, are treated as a protected class and given special considerations by the government. Don't tell me it's about the children.
Mike Miller knows it's not about the children, either, so don't pay any attention to his lips moving. This is about adding to the burgeoning number of Americans who depend on a government check for their living wages, and thereby expanding the potential voter base for the one-party monopoly in Annapolis. It's about perpetuating the oligarchy that has Maryland racing toward the ash heap of history while much of the rest of the country is trying to pull back from the abyss.
This is why redistricting is so critical to introducing even a modicum of good government to Maryland. It's too late to do anything about Mike Miller, who ensured that Prince George's County remained a critical part of his election district so he could vote against the wishes of Calvert County voters with impunity. We don't have to let it happen again.
In the meantime, we're stuck with the old warhorse who is laying down some nasty stuff along the road on his way to the glue factory, and he's laughing at us every step of the way.
Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Toms Porch, and the president of Regular Folks United, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty, free markets and our nation's founding principles. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook and Twitter.