Wendell R. Beitzel
|Wendell R. Beitzel|
|Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 1A district
January 10, 2007
|Deputy||Deputy Minority Whip|
|Preceded by||George C. Edwards|
January 17, 1943 |
Wendell R. Beitzel (born January 17, 1943) was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006 to represent District 1A, which covers the western Maryland counties of Garrett and Allegany County. He defeated Bill Aiken for the seat vacated by George C. Edwards, who ran for election as State Senator.
Beitzel graduated from Fairmont State College in 1964 with his B.S. (biology). He later attended Frostburg State College to get his M.S. (management), graduating in 1978. He returned to Frostburg State University, and attained his M.B.A. in 1988.
Beitzel served in U.S. Army from 1965-68. He was a microbiologist for the National Institute of Health from 1968-71. He was part owner of the Point View Inn & Motel from 1973–78, the Starlite Motel & Restaurant from 1978–83, and the Point View Inn & Motel from 1981-2003. When Beitzel Enterprise existed as a company that controlled public accommodation services, he served as President of Beitzel Enterprises, Inc. He served as the Assistant Director of Environmental Health at the Garrett County Health Department from 1971 to 1981. In 1981, he assumed the position as administrator for the Garrett County Sanitary District until 1998, he started focusing more on his owned businesses. He has been a farmer since 1983, and was also a Director of Infrastructure Development, D.C. Development LLC, 2003-06.
Wendell Beitzel became a Maryland State Delegate in 2007 after the 2006 election, where he continues to serve in the Maryland General Assembly. He was first appointed to the Health and Government Operations Committee in 2007, but was relocated to the Appropriations Committee in 2009 - where he currently sits as a member. He is part of the Capital Budget Subcommittee, Transportation and the Environment Subcommittee, and the Personnel Oversight Committee - all part of the Appropriations Committee. He has served a life of a public service for over 50 years who is still going strong.
Beitzel was the subject of criticism in 2011 when he received $427,000.00 in state funds for agreeing not to develop farm land he owned. The deal actually cost the state of Maryland $455,000, since they also contributed fees for appraisal and other professional services, totaling $28,000.00.
The property in question was a farm owned by Wendell and Ruth Beitzel near Accident, MD which they acquired around 2007.
Beitzel submitted an application to the Board of County Commissioners to establish an Agricultural District for a farm they own on Accident-Bittner Road For the purpose of seeking conservation easements utilizes the Maryland Rural Legacy Program. The Beitzel application was approved on February 6, 2008, by the Garrett County Planning Commission and by the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board on February 28, 2008. The Board of Garrett County Commissioners approved the application April 29, 2008.
The Beitzel application was then submitted with 5 others to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation by the Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development on April 30, 2008. After approved by the creation of an Agricultural Preservation district by the Garrett County Commissioners, Beitzel submitted an application to participate in the Garrett County Bear Creek Rural Legacy Program to convey development rights to the property in exchange for payment to be determined by appraisal.
The administration of the program, started by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, ordered three appraisals. After assessment of the easement, Beitzel was offered $427,000 for the conservation easement on January 12, 2009. Beitzel accepted the offer on January 28, 2009. It took several years before the transaction was finally approved by DNR while two other applications were being processed. After being informed that the application was approved by the DNR for settlement in 2011, Beitzel informed Mr. Williams A Somerville, Ethics Advisor for the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee and Legislative Ethics of the pending transaction and asked for a review of the easement to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest before and to ensure appropriate disclosure before requesting final approval by the Board of Public Works for Maryland. In addition, the Delegate submitted Form B&D Disclosure of Interest to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.
The Beitzel application was approved by unanimous vote of the Board of Public Works and the sale of the conservation easement was finalized in 2011.
Positions on Legislation
In March 2014 Beitzel voted against raising the minimum wage. The bill would have raised MD state minimum wages from $7.25 p/hour to $10.10 p/hour. The House of Delegates voted 89 to 46 for the legislation, with Beitzel being one delegate who voted against it, and spoke out against a wage increase for Garrett Counties' in order to protect the small business community. This bill would hurt small business owners causing them to go out of business. 
In 2016 Beitzel opposed legislation that would prohibit carrying firearms and deadly weapons on Maryland college campuses. Beitzel realized quickly this could hurt University educational programs that involve firearms, along with the hunting community and said that the Constitutional right to bear arms should not be violated."  He believed since hunting is so popular in his region of the state this legislation would create a huge liability for hunters who attend the University or who inadvertently travel on University property with a firearm in their vehicle. If legislation is passed, an innocent action could result in a severe criminal offense, prohibiting that person from ever owning a firearm again.
In 2017, two bills in the Maryland legislature HB1362 and SB 0835(Sanctuary State Bill) would prohibit a law enforcement official from stopping, arresting, searching, or detaining an individual for purposes of investigating a suspected immigration violation. The bills coincided with a national debate with the Trump administration on the role that local law enforcement should play in what many thought should be a federal responsibility. Beitzel commented on these bills in his mid-session newsletter. "This bill will protect undocumented aliens as they use Maryland as a sanctuary to work and play at tax payers' expense. With over populated schools, [heightened] demand for welfare programs, and needed use of medical care; Marylanders will be the ones paying for them to live here, when, instead, we should be paying for efforts to force them out."
Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development
Beitzel said he has been supporting the practice for drilling and as a landowner served to gain from drilling. “I’ve been criticized from potentially benefiting financially from (drilling),” said Beitzel, who added he would not benefit any more than those who had Marcellus Shale under their property.
In March 2015 the Maryland Legislature debated a bill HB449 that would provide for a three-year period to study the health effects of fracking. A panel of experts would study the environmental and public health risks of hydraulic fracturing. Supporting the gas industry's concerns about the bill, Beitzel expressed opposition to the bill and has argued repeatedly that additional studies and regulations would deter gas development in Western Maryland and was not business friendly. Beitzel offered several amendments to the bill which failed on the House floor before a final veto-proof vote in favor of the health study and moratorium. In the end, Beitzel was part of the 103 House members who voted for and helped pass the legislation.
In a WCBC radio interview  posted online on April 9, 2015, Beitzel further explained his opposition to creating the panel of health experts by stating "The makeup of the panel was created in such a fashion that I felt it was just so slanted to the one side that they would get the results they wanted". He finally voted for a version of the bill that did not include public health considerations, stating in an interview on WCBC radio about the final bill "it was not really a bill that was going to cause a whole lot of harm".
Beitzel's 2015 end of session newsletter blamed the cause of the fracking opposition on "competition between abundant, low-cost gas and other hydrocarbon energy now being produced from tight shale formations and renewable energy sources." The newsletter further questioned government tax credits and subsidies for renewable energy.
The fracking issue intensified in the legislature in 2017 when two bills to ban fracking in Maryland were introduced in both the House and Senate. Beitzel strongly resisted the bills and worked with the local Farm Bureau and industry interest groups to defeat it but despite their hard work it was no match for the Democratic majority and environmental interest groups who relentlessly attacked their opponents until they got what they wanted.
Beitzel was quoted in the Washington Post as saying If you don’t have property with natural gas, then you have nothing to gain from it, and it’s easier to be opposed to it. He further suggested that he would not benefit from fracking because “he does not own the gas rights for his own property, much of which is off-limits to drilling because it is either designated for agricultural preservation or located within one of the watersheds that would be protected under the state’s proposed regulations.”
The Washington Post did a follow-up story on the issue when opposition accused Delegate Beitzel of a conflict of interest, which he presented to the Maryland Ethics Council in 2011 to assure the public there was no act of wrongdoing. The question of his conservation easements was raised again, along with his former comments which had lead many to conclude that he was not disclosing the fact that he stood to benefit financially if he chose to lease his land for drilling. “I can only lease that land for agricultural purposes and other uses that are not restricted by the conservation easement,” he explained the preceding month." Beitzel later provided clarifying remarks and the Post included a copy of a legislative ethics committee report on the matter.
Regardless of Beitzel's stance on the development of natural gas in Western Maryland, his support has become obsolete since both bodies of the General Assembly passed legislation to ban the process of hydraulic fracturing (House Bill 1325/Senate Bill 740). Governor Hogan's support for a ban on hydraulic fracturing and approval to sign the bill into law prevented a proposed moratorium, which would have allowed each county to vote whether or not the residents of that county wanted to ban this practice.
State Lakes and Deep Creek
Despite the false accusations of him not caring about the future of Deep Creek Lake and the anti-environmental title given to Delegate Beitzel by his opponents due to his stance on responsible natural gas development, his past history of environmental friendly legislation shows a different story. Through Beitzel's efforts to protect and maintain Maryland's lakes, he has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to fund programs for that reason. In 2017, Beitzel sponsored HB 477 to create a fund that would be strictly used for the protecting and restoration of state owned lakes in Maryland. In 2016, he sponsored legislation that would allow property owners on Deep Creek Lake to purchase the land contiguous to theirs, giving the revenues from the sale to the Deep Creek Lake Recreation Maintenance and Management Fund. In 2013 Garrett County was awarded $1 million from the state’s capital budget for upgrades to a man-made whitewater course on Marsh Mountain (ASCI). Delegate Beitzel "was instrumental in securing the funding through Gov. Martin O’Malley’s capital budget". “Hopefully, this 2014 event will really set the stage for a lot of future activity and growth in this adventure sports arena here in Garrett County,” said Beitzel. In 2012, he pushed for legislation that would create a dedicated fund for the Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and Bay Restoration Fund, but received an unfavorable report
Affiliation with Conservative Organizations
In February 2017, Beitzel was recognized by the American Conservative Union (ACU) at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference for his "commitment to upholding conservative principles through their voting records during the 2016 legislative session." Delegate Beitzel works tirelessly for the people that elected him into office - a citizenry dominantly filled with republican and conservative beliefs. “Maryland has historically been one of the most liberal states in the country so it is with great pride we award the faithful from the Maryland General Assembly who persisted in supporting conservative principles,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.
- 2006 Race for Maryland State Senate – District 01A
- Voters to choose one:
Name Votes Percent Outcome Wendell R. Beitzel, Rep. 6,985 56.3% Won Bill Aiken, Dem. 5,406 43.5% Lost
References and notes
- "House of Delegates Results". Maryland State Board of Elections. Retrieved on Sept, 01 2007