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Delegate apologizes for emotional outburst on House floor at close of General Assembly session

Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). Photos by Danielle E. Gaines.

An Anne Arundel County lawmaker who disrupted House of Delegates floor proceedings in the waning minutes of the 2023 General Assembly session apologized Tuesday, after telling Speaker Adrienne A. Jones to “take a seat.”

“I will apologize for my tone,” Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) said Tuesday afternoon. “I went back and listened to it. I was tired and emotional.”

Kipke said he was not intoxicated during the exchange, in which he shouted at the speaker in the final 10 minutes of the legislative session, after she cut short debate on a bill to limit arrests based on cannabis odor.

Jones (D-Baltimore County) said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that she’d spoken with Kipke and believed he offered a genuine apology.

“The final moments of Sine Die were an unfortunate ending to an otherwise great session. There is always tension between the majority and minority parties, but the institution is bigger than any one of us and decorum in the House chamber matters,” Jones said in the statement. “I’ll continue protect both the institution and the rights of every member. Delegate Kipke and I have served together for a long time, and I believe that when he called me this afternoon to apologize, it was genuine.”

During Monday night’s debate, Kipke sought to challenge Jones’ ruling limiting debate on House Bill 1071.

If signed by the governor, the bill will prohibit police from stopping or searching a person or vehicle based solely on the odor of cannabis, which will be legalized in the state come July 1.

The bill was set on a quick trajectory in the final hours of the General Assembly session.

The measure had passed the House by a 99-34 vote on March 18, then sat in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee until it came to that chamber’s floor after 8 p.m. Monday, when it was debated and amended for about an hour. It was sent across the hall and the amendments were accepted by the House Judiciary Committee around 11:15 p.m. The bill was called on the floor around 11:48.

“My objection was that we weren’t given a real opportunity to debate the bill,” Kipke said Tuesday.

In using the phrase “take a seat,” he was seeking to challenge the speaker’s ruling limiting debate by having another delegate decide the issue, Kipke said Tuesday. He conceded that his tone was harsh.

“I do sort of regret the tone I used because I try to be a fair arbiter in the House. But I was tired and upset,” Kipke said.

A former minority leader, Kipke said it was rare to challenge the ruling of the chair and it shouldn’t be done so lightly, but he and other lawmakers had public safety concerns when the amended bill returned to the House floor.

Kipke didn’t say whether opponents planned to run the clock out on the measure, but said he was pleased that the next bill up for consideration — which would have eased Maryland’s drug kingpin statute in light of cannabis legalization — failed to pass.

“Those bills could have been debated. We should be allowed a robust discussion,” Kipke said.

On Tuesday afternoon, he underscored his respect for Jones personally. “I do respect her,” Kipke said.

Jones’s statement concluded that she was “certain that all members of the House will remain focused on the important work we have to do for this State.”

The bill will be sent to Gov. Wes Moore (D) for consideration.


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Delegate apologizes for emotional outburst on House floor at close of General Assembly session