MD General Assembly Passes Key Pieces of Legislation that Now Go To Governor Hogan

Last week was a busy week in the General Assembly.  The General Assembly ends on Monday April 11th (it’s called Sine Die).  Normally there is a rush to get bills passed on the last day, but this year is different.

It is assumed that a number of the important bills will be vetoed by Governor Hogan.  Most years (3 out of 4) legislators are not so concerned because when the legislature comes back into session, they can override the Governor’s veto.  But this year we will be electing a whole set of new (and existing) legislators and the new General Assembly cannot override vetoes passed this year.

Therefore, the General Assembly must override any vetoes before the Session ends on April 11th.  Because the Governor has a number of days to consider whether or not to veto legislation, all bills have to get to his desk by April 1st in order for the General Assembly to have the time to vote on overrides.  (It’s called Presentment Day) That is why a number of important pieces of legislation were passed in the last few days.  Some of those important bills that were passed and now are on the Governor’s desk are:

Climate Change Bill: A sweeping piece of climate change legislation that would push the state to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 would require building owners to start relying on electricity for space and water heating needs, creating a “green bank” that would invest state funds into private projects that reduce gas emissions and expanding the state electric vehicle fleet

 

Abortion Care Access Bill: Health care workers besides physicians could start performing abortions in Maryland and the procedure would be covered without cost by most insurance plans in the state  The bill establishes and ensures that there are a sufficient number of health professionals to provide abortion care, while establishing the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program Fund, which also provides certain requirements regarding abortion services. .

Paid Family/Medical Leave Bill:  The program would give workers up to 12 weeks — or, in some limited cases, as much as 24 weeks — to welcome a newborn, care for ailing relatives or deal with health issues themselves once benefits start being paid in 2025. The benefits would be funded by mandatory contributions from workers and most employers, although the payroll tax rate would be determined later.

 

Banning Ghost Guns:   The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure to ban so-called ghost guns, which don’t have serial numbers.

Healthy Babies Equity Act, which expands Medicaid to all pregnant people regardless of immigration status

 

Referendum to Legalize Marijuana on the ballot this November.  (Because it is a referendum this bill is not subject to a veto)

Recurring Contributions – protects Marylanders from deceptive campaign fundraising tricks by banning campaigns–and the technology platforms they use–from raising money without the affirmative consent of the donor.

Equity in Transportation Sector requires that equity be considered when State transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed

Companion Measure to Marijuana Legalization – Although Governor Hogan cannot veto the ballot amendment to legalize marijuana, he can veto the companion legislation that would — if the amendment passes in November’s election — legalize possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, remove criminal penalties on possessing up to 2.5 ounces and create a system to expunge past criminal records for those convicted of possessing marijuana.

 

Criminal Justice Reform – An ominous bill which includes no confinement for first-time misdemeanor offenses, unless the crime involves a gun.  Another bill would require police to notify parents and let children talk to attorneys before law enforcement interrogations.

Insulin Cost Reduction Act –  Requires insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to limit the amount a covered individual is required to pay in copayments or coinsurance for a covered prescription insulin drug to not more than $30 for a 30-day supply.

 

Tenant Protection Legislation

  • Stay of Evictions Act  would require a judge to delay eviction proceedings if a tenant can prove they have a pending application for rent assistance. The bill would also allow a judge to delay an eviction, even if the judge has already ruled in favor of the landlord. But it limits the delay to no more than 35 days.  The measure would apply only to tenants with pending rental assistance applications “submitted before or within 30 days after the tenant’s landlord filed a written complaint regarding the failure to pay rent.”
  • Senate Bill 662 and 279 would provide funds for tenants facing eviction to have legal representation.
  • Tenant Protection Act  requires a landlord to disclose  to prospective tenants if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system; making a certain lease provision unenforceable if the landlord fails to make the disclosure; requiring a landlord to document a bill for certain utilities; providing that a tenant organization has the right of free assembly during reasonable hours and on reasonable notice to the landlord; expanding certain provisions of law regarding the rights of certain tenants to include certain victims of stalking

Tax Relief Measures Signed into Law:  This one big set of bills that the Governor did not veto.

  • 30-day suspension of the gas tax (ends April 17th!!)

  • The Retirement Tax Elimination Act provides relief for retirees 65 and older making up to $100,000 in retirement income, and married couples making up to $150,000 in retirement income. ($1.55 billion)

  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit incentivizes employers and businesses to hire and retain workers from underserved communities that have faced significant barriers to employment. ($195 million)

  • Family Budget Boosters: sales tax exemptions for childcare products such as diapers, car seats, and baby bottles, and critical health products such as dental hygiene products, diabetic care products, and medical devices. ($115.6 million)

  • The bill also expands the “hometown hero” tax exemption, which allows retired law enforcement, correctional officers, fire and emergency personnel to exempt $15,000 of retirement income annually.

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS

Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

Maryland Legislative Report – March 24, 2022

Crossover Day has passed and now we know which bills are ‘in play’ and which bills are ‘dead’ for this General Assembly Session.  In the next three weeks bills now have to pass the other house of the legislature, signed by the Governor (or overridden by the General Assembly if vetoed by the Governor.

Some of the big issues that will be decided in the next three weeks are:  climate change legislation, juvenile justice reform, paid family sick leave, abortion rights, and legalization of the recreational cannabis industry. There will also be legislation to provide tax relief for Maryland residents but exactly the nature of the tax relief is to be determined.  It will probably be close to $350 million.

In addition, the General Assembly signed, and the Governor signed a 30 day suspension of the 36 cents Maryland gas tax.  Make sure you fill your tank before the end of the 30-day period

Some of the other bills that passed one of the two houses in the last few days were:

COVID Related Legislation:

  • SB 956 Would provide extra protections to local public health officers, who have been targeted by citizens who resisted masking and vaccine mandates during COVID-19;

Tenant protection legislation

  • SB 384 would require a judge to pause tenant eviction proceedings for up to 30 days if a tenant shows that they have a pending rental assistance application.
  • HB 86, The Tenant Protection Act of 2022. would require landlords to give tenants pro-rated utility bills, based on factors such as unit square footage or the number of bedrooms. It would also require landlords to provide written notice of costs if a landlord withholds a security deposit and allow tenants to use community spaces for organizing tenant unions. The bill passed the Senate in a unanimous vote on Monday and is headed to the House.
  • HB 521  would let tenants petition courts to shield records in some eviction cases where the failure to pay rent was due to an income loss caused by the pandemic.  Even when such filings don’t result in an eviction and a tenant pays everything owed, court records can make it difficult for them to find housing in the future.

Family Leave Act

  • SB 275 legislates 12 weeks of partially paid leave, and up to 24 weeks for certain new parents. The House has settled on a measure that would create a commission to study the issue, but not implement legislation.  It will be argued out in a conference committee between the Senate and the House.  Hopefully the Senate version will be signed into law.

 

Disclosure of corporate contributions to advocacy organizations

  • HB 1343 would require companies with contracts of $1 million or more to disclose donations to so-called “501(c)(4)” organizations that run advertising campaigns on behalf of a particular project.

Clean cars

  • HB 1391 (Clean Cars Act of 2022) would extend an expired tax credit for electric vehicles. The bill was amended to limit the tax credit to exclude hybrid vehicles and apply only to zero-emission vehicles. The tax credit is also limited to vehicles that cost $50,000.

Gun store security

  • HB 1021 would require heightened security measures at gun stores, including alarm systems and security barriers including bars, security screens or grates on the windows and doors. The bill would also set rules for storing firearms when a store is closed and allow the state to suspend a dealer’s license if they don’t comply with the security requirements.

Water pollution enforcement expansion

  • SB 221 would allow the Maryland Department of the Environment to impose stricter penalties on those who violate state water laws

Here is a list of some of the other bills that passed one of the Houses in the General Assembly and have a chance of passage:

  • HB 740 – requires the state’s pension managers to consider climate as part of their fiduciary duty.
  • HB 275 – prohibits PFAS chemicals in fire-fighting foam, carpeting, and food packaging.
  • HB 111 – expands consumer protections for individuals with private student loan debt.
  • HB 52 – prohibits the sale of body parts of endangered animals.
  • HB 22 – bans declawing cats.
  • HB 436 – limits the ability of insurance companies to underwrite risk based on a customer’s credit history.
  • HB 384 – expands access to bronchodilators in schools for students who have asthma
  • HB 154 would require each public school district to adopt and implement guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to food allergens.
  • HB 459 – Juvenile Justice Reform: Makes reforms to the juvenile court and intake process based on the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council.
  • HB 16 – Unattended Dogs – Extreme Weather Conditions and Heat: Prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended without access to suitable shelter or suitable shade during extreme weather conditions and temperatures.
  • HB 19 – Safe Walk to School Act: Requires school boards to develop pedestrian safety plans.
  • HB 43 – Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2022: Requires the State government to establish standards for State-owned buildings to conserve energy.
  • HB 157 – Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles – Reserved Parking Spaces: Prohibits parking a vehicle in plug-in electric vehicle charging space unless the vehicle is plugged into charging equipment
  • SB0029 – Marriage Law – Minimum Age Requirement
  • SB0073 – General Assembly – Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office
  • HB0153 – Repeal of the Spousal Defense
  • HB0472 – Juvenile Justice Reform
  • HB0001 – Constitutional Amendment – Cannabis
  • HB 254 Requires the State Highway Administration to publish online the safety deficiencies they identify at each site of a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a state roadway.
  • HB 1482 – directing the state’s pension managers to divest from Russian-owned companies.
  • HB 172 – allows a taxpayer to deduct up to $300 in union dues.
  • HB 850 – prohibits schools that receive state funds from discrimination against students on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.
  • HB 1080 – expands Medicaid to cover prenatal and postpartum expenses of pregnant immigrant women and their children up to age 1.
  • HB 323 – Ensures the right of tenants to summon law enforcement or emergency services without fear of reprisal by landlords.
  • HB 707 – proposes a constitutional amendment to allow a gubernatorial candidate to select his or her Lieutenant Governor candidate after the primary election.
  • HB 696 – sets up a pilot program to help school districts purchase electric school buses.
  • HB 404 – allows local governments more autonomy to lower speed limits on local roads.
  • HB 83 – raises the age a person who can get married from 15 to 17.
  • HB 920 – repeals the Governor’s veto power over medical parole decisions.
  • Tax Relief package

o    House Bill 1151 cuts the tax on diabetic care products like testing strips, insulin pumps and glucose monitors.

o    House Bill 288 cuts the sales tax on baby products including car seats, baby bottles and bottle nipples.

o    House Bill 282 cuts the sales tax on diapers.

o    House Bill 492 cuts the tax on dental hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.

o    House Bill 364 cuts the sales tax on thermometers, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors.

o    House Bill 2 provides a tax credit to businesses that hire and retain workers from underrepresented communities who are chronically unemployed.

There is a particularly good organization that tracks important bills.  It is the Maryland Legislative Coalition.  http://mdlegislative.com .  I am using information from their website for the next few legislative updates.

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS

Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

MD Legislative Update – March 8 2022

  The 2022 General Assembly is two weeks away from ‘cross-over’ day when any bills that have not passed one house or the other will not be able to be voted on by the other house and will basically be dead.  So, in the next two weeks we will have a clear understanding of which of the bills that I have listed have some chance of passing.  I am first listing some bills that have passed one of the two houses and then some bills that have not moved out of Committee and could use some help.

  • HB 154 would require each public school district to adopt and implement guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to food allergens.
  • HB 459 – Juvenile Justice Reform: Makes reforms to the juvenile court and intake process based on the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council.
  • HB 16 – Unattended Dogs – Extreme Weather Conditions and Heat: Prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended without access to suitable shelter or suitable shade during extreme weather conditions and temperatures.
  • HB 19 – Safe Walk to School Act: Requires school boards to develop pedestrian safety plans.
  • HB 43 – Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2022: Requires the State government to establish standards for State-owned buildings to conserve energy.
  • HB 157 – Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles – Reserved Parking Spaces: Prohibits parking a vehicle in plug-in electric vehicle charging space unless the vehicle is plugged into charging equipment
  • SB0029 – Marriage Law – Minimum Age Requirement2
  • SB0073 – General Assembly – Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office
  • HB0153 – Repeal of the Spousal Defense
  • HB0472 – Juvenile Justice Reform
  • HB0001 – Constitutional Amendment – Cannabis
  • Tax Relief package

o    House Bill 1151 cuts the tax on diabetic care products like testing strips, insulin pumps and glucose monitors.

o    House Bill 288 cuts the sales tax on baby products including car seats, baby bottles and bottle nipples.

o    House Bill 282 cuts the sales tax on diapers.

o    House Bill 492 cuts the tax on dental hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.

o    House Bill 364 cuts the sales tax on thermometers, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors.

o    House Bill 2 provides a tax credit to businesses that hire and retain workers from underrepresented communities who are chronically unemployed.

 

 

There is a particularly good organization that tracks important bills.  It is the Maryland Legislative Coalition.  http://mdlegislative.com .  I am using information from their website for the next few legislative updates.

 

Action Needed

Listed below are several very important bills that need to be voted out of their committee and voted on in the next two weeks.

Please ask your legislators (if they are on the relevant committee) to push to get the bills on a voting list and try to ensure that they pass in the strongest possible posture, without any weakening amendments.  If your legislators are not on the relevant committee, ask them to make sure that they vote for the bills and do not allow any weakening amendments.

ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS –
HB0141/SB0023 Equity in Transportation Sector – Delegate Ruth/Senator Carter
HB0171/SB0135 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo/Senator Kramer
HB0596/SB0783 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights – Delegate W. Fisher/Senator Smith

GUN CONTROL BILLS – 
HB0425/SB0387 Public Safety – Untraceable Firearms – Speaker/President

HEALTH CARE BILLS –
HB0610/SB0493 Public Health – Commission on Universal Health Care – Delegate Ruth/Senator Pinsky
HB0008/SB0275 Labor and Employment – Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (Time to Care Act of 2202) – Delegate Valderrama/Senator Hayes
HB0694 Hospitals – Financial Assistance – Medical Bill Reimbursement – Delegate Charkoudian

SOCIAL JUSTICE BILLS –
HB0086/SB0006 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart/Senator Waldstreicher
HB0083/SB0029 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary/Senator Elfreth
HB0114/SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams/Senator Hettleman
HB0559/SB0265 Probation before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation – Delegate W. Fisher/Senator Lee

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.

You can find your legislators here.  With this sheet, you can filter by committee, County and District and see all of their contact information.  

For your Delegates:
My name is _________, my address is ______________, and my phone number is __________.  I am writing to let you know that I am strongly supporting the following bill(s) and would like your help in getting them on a voting list this week.  I would also like to ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments.

If you are not on the relevant committee for these bills, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor and ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments. 

Economic Matters Committee

  • HB0008 Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act) – Delegate Valderrama
  • HB0171 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo

Environment and Transportation Committee

  • HB0086 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0141Equity in Transportation Sector – Delegate Ruth
  • HB0596 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights – Delegate W. Fisher

Health and Government Operations Committee

  • HB0610 Public Health – Commission on Universal Health Care – Delegate Ruth
  • HB0694 Hospitals – Financial Assistance – Medical Bill Reimbursement – Delegate Charkoudian

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0083 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary
  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0425 Public Safety – Untraceable Firearms – Speaker
  • HB0559Probation before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation – Delegate W. Fisher

For your Senator:
My name is _________, my address is ______________, and my phone number is __________.  I am writing to let you know that I am strongly supporting the following bill(s) and would like your help in getting them on a voting list this week.  I would also like to ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments.

If you are not on the relevant committee for these bills, I would appreciate your voting for them on the Senate floor and ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments.

Finance Committee

  • SB0023 Equity in Transportation Sector – Senator Carter
  • SB0275 Labor and Employment – Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (Time to Care Act of 2202) – Senator Hayes
  • SB0493 Public Health – Commission on Universal Health Care – Senator Pinsky

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

  • SB0135 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – Senator Kramer

Judicial Proceedings Committee

  • SB0006 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Senator Waldstreicher
  • SB0029 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Senator Elfreth
  • SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Senator Hettleman
  • SB0265 Probation before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation – Senator Lee
  • SB0387 Public Safety – Untraceable Firearms – President
  • SB0783 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights – Senator Smith

 

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

 

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

 

 

Attachments area

ReplyForward

MD Legislative Update – Feb 22, 2022

The 2022 General Assembly has been in session for almost 6 weeks and 2,900 bills have been introduced. The deadline for introducing bills is over so there will be very few new bills introduced. Crossover date is March 21st, which is only four weeks away.  By then, any bills that have not passed one house or the other will not be able to be voted on by the other house and will basically be dead.  So, in the next four weeks we will have a better understanding of which of the bills that I have listed have some chance of passing.  (A number of bills have passed one of the two legislative chambers. These are some of the more interesting bills)

  • Family Law – Marriage – Age Requirements – Passed Senate
  • General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office – Passed Senate
  • Campaign Finance – Recurring Contributions and Donations (a person has to confirm that he wants the contribution to be recurring) – Passed House
  • Transitioning the State’s vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicles- Passed House
  • Allowing public school students to take time off for their mental health – House
  • Increasing the pay for jury service – House
  • Making June 19th a state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth – House
  • Repealing the spousal defense for rape and other sexual offenses – House

There is a particularly good organization that tracks important bills.  It is the Maryland Legislative Coalition.  http://mdlegislative.com .  I am using information from their website for the next few legislative updates.

 

Here are some of the bills that have been introduced in the last two week and we are following.

 

Clean Air and Water Please! – 

HB0596 Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights – Delegate W. Fisher – Hearing Date February 23rd

The Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights, if passed, will create a ballot measure that will allow voters to determine if they want to enshrine the right to clean water and air and a healthy environment into the state Constitution.  Constitutional Amendments must generally be passed in an election year, so it must pass this year.  If it passes, it will give groups (like localities) the standing to sue to ensure their rights to a clean environment are upheld.

The bill is very simple and states – The state shall: (1) serve as the trustee of the state’s natural resources, including the air, land, water, wildlife, and ecosystems of the state; and (2) conserve, protect, and enhance the state’s natural resources for the benefit of every person, including present and future generations.

Stop Discrimination in Housing – 
HB0928 Discrimination in Housing – Citizenship, Immigration Status, and National Origin – Delegate Palakovich-Carr – Hearing Date February 22nd

This bill will include citizenship, immigration status and national origin to the list of things that cannot be used to deny a person a housing contract or a rental contract or limit the terms or conditions of a sale or rental.  Additionally, sellers or rental agencies are precluded from asking about citizenship, immigration status or natural origin, or threatening to disclose it to federal authorities.

Health Equity for our Trans Friends –
SB0682 Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Gender-Affirming Treatment (Trans Health Equity Act of 2022) Senator Washington – Hearing Date February 22nd

This bill would help trans individuals to convert to their correct gender by requiring the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to cover gender-affirming treatments that are medically necessary and proscribed in accordance with the current clinical standards of care.  The program may not deny coverage by saying that these treatments are cosmetic; or by limiting the treatments; or having a separate health care provider approve them.

Guns and Suicide Prevention –
HB0659 Firearm Safety – Storage Requirements and Youth Suicide Prevention (Jaelynn’s Law) – Delegate Stein – Hearing Date February 23rd
This bill would make it a misdemeanor for a person to store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or REASONABLY should have known that an unsupervised minor IS LIKELY TO gain access to the firearm.  The fines are $1,000 to $5,000 and 90 days to 3 years in prison, depending on whether someone was hurt.  Additionally, the Public Health Service would be required to create a suicide prevention and safe storage guide that discusses how many people are killed by finding loaded guns in the home.  That guide would be available on their website.

Woman’s Right to Choose – 
SB0669 Pregnant Person’s Freedom Act of 2022 – Senator Smith – Hearing Date February 23rd
This bill is designed to ensure a woman’s right to choose in the wake of any Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade.  In the case of a provider being arrested for providing abortion services, it allows the provider to bring a lawsuit for any unlawful investigation or arrest for helping to terminate a pregnancy or providing resources that would help a woman terminate her pregnancy.  It also protects women from terminating their own pregnancy.

Stop Discrimination in Schools – 
HB0850 Schools, Prekindergarten Programs, and County Boards of Education – Discrimination – Delegate Wilkins – Hearing Date March 3rd
We have supported this bill for years.  Schools that take public money should not be allowed to discriminate.  This bill would preclude any county board, public pre-school or public primary or secondary school, non-public pre-school that receives state funds, or non-public primary or secondary school that receives state funds from discriminating against or refusing enrollment to a current student, a prospective student, or the parent or guardian of a current or prospective student on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Juvenile Justice Reform- 
SB0691 Juvenile Justice Reform – Senator Carter – Hearing Date March 3rd
This bill makes changes to the intake process for juveniles, the risk scoring process used to determine eligibility for release before a hearing, the length of time that a juvenile will remain in detention before a hearing, the process of placing a juvenile on probation, and even creates a Juvenile Justice Reform and Best Practices Commission.

Medical Debt Protection – 

HB0694 Hospitals – Financial Assistance – Medical Bill Reimbursement – Delegate Charkoudian – Hearing Date March 2nd
This bill requires that hospitals notify patients who may have qualified for free care but received a bill for services and provide refunds to any patients who were erroneously charged.  The Health Services Cost Review Commission, which oversees the hospitals, may not raise hospital rates to offset the hospitals’ refunds to patients.

Cannabis Legalization –

SB0833 Cannabis – Legalization and Regulation – Senator Feldman – Hearing Date March 3rd
This bill legalizes cannabis use for individuals over 21 years of age as of July 1, 2023.  It defines “Personal use amount” as (i) not exceeding 2 ounces; 8 (ii)concentrated cannabis that does not exceed 15 grams; (iii) an amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 1,500 milligrams; or (iv) four or fewer cannabis plants per person.  There are still fines and penalties, for exceeding the personal use amount, but possession is now a civil crime and the penalties do not to exceed $250 and 16 hours of community services.  Any convictions for past violations that did not exceed the personal use amount will be automatically expunged.  Persons who are incarcerated may request a re-sentencing.  There are additional provisions for regulation and taxation of cannabis.

Self-Directed Services –
HB1020 Developmental Disabilities Administration – Self-Directed Services (Self-Direction Act of 2022) – Delegate K. Young – Hearing on March 9th
AND
SB0868 Developmental Disabilities Administration – Self-Directed Services (Self-Direction Act of 2022) – Senator Lee – Hearing on March 8th

Self–directed Services is a waiver program where participants, or their representatives have decision–making authority over all services they receive.  These services are designed to be provided in a manner that furthers the rights of individuals with disabilities, regardless of physical or intellectual capacity, to make choices about and direct all aspects of their lives, including control over, and funding for, support services.  Participants in the self-directed services program can recruit, hire, and train the individuals who furnish services for them so they can live as independently as possible in the most inclusive community–based setting of their choice.  In the past, there have been limits on the dollar amount of individual–directed family goods and services; or on the number of hours of overnight supports provided to a recipient who receives self–directed services.  This bill removes those limits.

Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – 
HB0171 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo – Hearing on March 10th
This bill strikes a very good balance between aggressive climate policy that will help us achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and supporting those communities that have been most impacted by the dirty energy policies that we are trying to leave behind.  It also takes a somewhat poetic approach in making the very entities who have become rich by flooding our state with fossil fuels to fund our transition to clean energy.

The bill places a fee on fossil fuel products coming into the state and cleverly prohibits the entities who must pay the fee to then turn around and pass the fee on to consumers.  The fee will escalate over time to drive home the point that fossil fuels are not our future and that companies supporting that industry should abandon it as soon as possible.

The monies that are collected from the carbon fee will then be used to fund green infrastructure projects and provide support to low-income households and energy intensive trade exposed businesses affected by the change to cleaner energy sources.  The funds will also be directed towards municipalities with environmental justice populations.

SNAP for College Students – 
HB1027 Food Supplement Benefits – Students – Eligibility (SNAP for Students) – Delegate Solomon – Hearing Date March 10th
This bill will college students who cannot afford meals by allowing them to apply for SNAP benefits if they meet the following income requirements –

  • Their expected family contribution is zero on the application for Federal Student Aid
  • They are eligible to participate in a state or federally financed work-study program

Police Immunity – 
HB1012 Police Immunity and Accountability Act – Delegate Wilkins – Hearing Date March 1st
This bill strips away the qualified immunity that officers currently have.  It would make officers who deprive an individual of their Constitutional rights liable for their actions in civil or criminal court.  If they are found guilty, they would be required to pay the legal costs of the party bringing suit against them.

The bill would also require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission review any cases where an officer was held liable or entered into a settlement agreement to determine if the officer’s certification to work should be revoked.  Additionally, any local jurisdiction that pays penalties for judgements against an officer can request reimbursement for the lesser of 5% or $25,000 for the judgement.

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

For your Delegates:
My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Environment and Transportation Committee

  • HB0356 State Finance – Prohibited Appropriations – Magnetic Levitation Transportation System

Economic Matters Committee

  • HB0533 Occupations and Professions – Licenses, Certificates, and Registration – Immigrants
  • HB0436 Motor Vehicle Insurance – Use of Credit History Rating Policy – Delegate Wells
  • HB0171 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act – Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo


Health and Government Affairs Committee

  • HB 694 Medical Reimbursement Legislation
  • HB0694 Hospitals – Financial Assistance – Medical Bill Reimbursement – Delegate Charkoudian
  • HB1020 Developmental Disabilities Administration – Self-Directed Services (Self-Direction Act of 2022) – Delegate K. Young

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0122 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Delegate W. Fisher
  • HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
  • HB0559 Probation Before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation- Delegate Fisher
  • HB0691 Landlord and Tenant and Wrongful Detainer Actions – Eviction Prevention Services – Delegate Wells
  • HB1012 Police Immunity and Accountability Act – Delegate Wilkins

Ways and Means Committee

  • HB 488 – Public Financing of Local Elections

 

 

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on the website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

For your Delegates:
My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

 

Environment and Transportation Committee

  • HB0086 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0061 Charter Counties – Enforcement of Local Buildings Performance Laws (Building Energy Performance Standards Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0141 Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses – Delegate Ruth HB0928 Discrimination in Housing – Citizenship, Immigration Status, and National Origin – Delegate Palakovich-Carr
  • HB0596 Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights – Delegate W. Fisher

 

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0083 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary
  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
  • HB0153 Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense – Delegate Crutchfield
  • HB0659 Firearm Safety – Storage Requirements and Youth Suicide Prevention (Jaelynn’s Law) – Delegate Stein
  • HB0850 Schools, Prekindergarten Programs, and County Boards of Education – Discrimination – Delegate Wilkins

Economic Matters Committee

  • HB8 Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022) – Delegate Valderrama

Ways and Means Committee

  • HB 344 – Prohibiting Pay to Play Act of 2022 – Delegate Palakovich-Carr

For your Senator:

My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

  • SB0073 General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office – Senator Lam
  • SB0321 Environment – Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody – Senator Kagan

Judicial Proceedings Committee

  • SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Senator Hettleman
  • SB0138 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Senator Patterson SB0669 Pregnant Person’s Freedom Act of 2022 – Senator Smith
  • SB0691 Juvenile Justice Reform – Senator Carter

Finance Committee

  • SB0788 Cannabis – Regulation – Revisions – Senator Feldman
  • SB0833 Cannabis – Legalization and Regulation – Senator Feldman
  • SB0868 Developmental Disabilities Administration – Self-Directed Services (Self-Direction Act of 2022) – Senator Lee SB0682 Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Gender-Affirming Treatment (Trans Health Equity Act of 2022) Senator Washington

 

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

 

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

 

 

 

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

 

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

 

 

MD Legislative Update – Feb 7, 2022

The 2022 General Assembly has been in session for almost 4 weeks and over 1600 bills have been introduced.  The deadline for introducing bills is the end of next week so we will know about all the legislation that will be considered by the General Assembly.  Soon I’ll be reporting on the bills that are actually moving out of Committee and have a good chance of passage.

There is a very good organization that tracks important bills.  It is the Maryland Legislative Coalition.  http://mdlegislative.com .  I am using information from their web-site for the next few legislative updates.

Here are some of the bills that have been introduced in the last two week and we are following.

No MAGLEV! – 
SB0359/HB0356 State Finance – Prohibited Appropriations – Magnetic Levitation Transportation System – Senator Pinsky/Delegate Williams – Hearing Date February 9th and February 16
This bill would prohibit state funds from being used to create a MAGLEV transportation system in the state.  The MAGLEV project violates the principles of equity in transportation in that it would only serve Baltimore and Washington but pass through underserved black and brown communities in Prince George’s County.

Study for Universal Health Care – 
SB0493 Public Health – Commission on Universal Health Care – Senator Pinsky – Hearing Date February 9th
We all want Universal Health Care.  It’s cheaper – by a LOT – and will provide quality health care to our entire population.  Universal health care is something that the entire rest of the world has had for years.  We, on the other hand, pay a fortune for a fragmented health care system that is not usable or affordable for most people. How do we transition, though, and how much will it really cost?
This bill would establish the Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to transition to a universal health care program to provide health benefits to all residents of the State through a single-payer system.

Medical Licenses for Immigrants –
HB0533 Occupations and Professions – Licenses, Certificates, and Registration – Immigrants – Delegate Pena-Melnyk – Hearing Date February 15th
This bill would prohibit a State occupational or professional licensing board or other government agency in the State from denying a license or certification to an immigrant if the individual meets the requirements for the license or certificate.

Ban on ‘Forever Chemicals’ 
SB0273/HB0275 Environment – PFAS Chemicals – Prohibitions and Requirements (George ‘Walter’ Taylor Act) – Senator Elfreth/Delegate Love – Hearing Date February 2nd and February 9th
PFAS chemicals are ‘forever chemicals’.  They never break down.  They are used in firefighting foam, food packaging, rugs and carpets.  They are polluting our drinking water and are accumulating in our bodies.  They have been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.
This bill, if passed, would prevent the mass incineration or landfilling of PFAS chemicals.  It would also prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of products containing PFAS chemicals, such as rugs and carpets, food packaging and firefighting foam.

Stay of Eviction Waiting for Rental Assistance – 
SB0384 Landlord and Tenant – Stay of Eviction Proceeding for Rental Assistance Determination – Senator Hettleman – Hearing Date February 15th
Marylanders are getting evicted while waiting for rental assistance!  This bill would provide for the stay of eviction proceedings when a tenant is waiting for a determination regarding the tenant’s good faith application for rental assistance.  If a landlord has already received a favorable judgement in an eviction proceeding, they cannot physically evict the tenant until the rental assistance application is resolved.

Filing Suit on Fossil Fuel Companies – 
HB0363 Attorney General – Climate Change Actions – Authorization – Delegate Ruth – Hearing Date February 15th
Our Attorney General does not have the authority to sue fossil fuel companies, even though other states already have lawsuits on the books.  This bill would provide authorization for the Attorney General to investigate, commence, and prosecute or defend any suit against a publicly traded entity with a market capitalization greater than $1,000,000,000 or its subsidiaries for unlawful conduct that has contributed to climate change.

Dental Coverage for Adults

HB6/SB150 MD Medical Assistance Program – Dental Coverage for Adults

Sponsors: Delegate Cullison & Senators Augustine, Guzzone

Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide comprehensive dental care for adults whose annual household income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level

The Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act,

Senate Bill 53, would require that police officers contact a child’s legal guardian and allow them to consult with an attorney before being interrogated; And

Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

Senate Bill 165 would mandate that defendants under 18 — regardless of their alleged offense — enter the criminal justice system through the juvenile courts. Delegate Moon stated at a hearing: “I would argue that in law and criminal justice, imprisoning innocent people is a catastrophe.  It’s the professional equivalent of a doctor amputating the wrong leg.”

Wrongful Convictions

House Bill 249 would require that the Attorney General’s office and professional boards, including the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities and the Attorney Grievance Commission, be notified when the Board of Public Works learns that someone is eligible for compensation because they have been wrongfully convicted or because a judge grants a writ of actual innocence.

 

Climate Solutions Now! – 

SB0528 Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 – Senator Pinsky – Hearing Date February 15th 
This is the big, bold climate solution that we need in Maryland.  It increases our greenhouse gas reduction targets to 60% by 2030 and net zero by 2045.  It establishes and provides an initial appropriation for a Climate Catalytic Capital Fund to fund more climate pollution reduction programs focused on investments in Environmental Justice communities. It also establishes a Just Transition Employment and Retraining Task Force, electrifies the state vehicle fleet, and funds a net zero school program.

For the buildings sector, it establishes high-electrification new construction code beginning in 2023, so we start building greener buildings and also establishes a Building Emissions Performance Standard for buildings 25,000 sq. ft and larger that reaches 20% reductions in 2030, 40% by 2035, and Net-zero by 2040.  Finally, it creates an inter-agency task force to develop a plan to fund wholistic retrofits in the building sector to meet the new 2030 and 2045 state greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Eviction Prevention Services – 

HB0691 Landlord and Tenant and Wrongful Detainer Actions – Eviction Prevention Services Delegate Wells – Hearing Date February 16th

There are various organizations that provide eviction prevention services, such as social workers, counselors, financial assistance companies, civil legal aid services, or alternative dispute resolution services.  This bill allows a party in an eviction proceeding to request a recess for a reasonable amount of time to use the services of an eviction prevention services provider if a provider is available at the court building during the time scheduled for the trial.  Additionally, a continuance can be requested of 5 or more business days if either party seeks attorney representation, or to procure witnesses or obtain documents for their defense, or if a party demonstrates that the interests of justice will be better served by the court’s order of referral of the parties to an eviction prevention services provider.

PBJ –
HB0559 Probation Before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation- Delegate Fisher – Hearing Date February 15th
This bill will protect our immigrant community from deportation for small offenses that would otherwise be the catalyst for deportation proceedings.  Minor infractions, such as speeding, failure to have their taillights working, and other small offences will place a sentence on an immigrant’s record, which is often the trigger for federal immigration enforcement to arrest and deport them.

This bill will allow for probation before judgement, rather than sentencing when a person pleads guilty or nolo contender.

Drug Paraphernalia Decriminalization 
SB0509 Drug Paraphernalia for Administration – Decriminalization – Senator Carter – Hearing Dates February 16th
This bill makes it legal to use or possess drug paraphernalia for personal use.  Additionally, the fines and sentences for growing, manufacturing, processing, distributing, concealing, selling controlled dangerous substances are reduced from $2,000 to $1,000 and from 2 years to 1 year.

Greener Schools – 
SB0588 Capital Projects – High Performance Green Buildings – Senator Hettleman – Hearing Date February 15th
For schools or public safety buildings that receive 25% or more of their construction funding from state funds, the Maryland Green Building Council must ensure that those state buildings, public schools, and community colleges meet high performance building standard requirements.

SB0471 FUTURE Act – Senator Rosapepe – Hearing Date February 15th
This bill will require public colleges and universities in Maryland to be carbon neutral by 2035. It will also create an Environmental and Economic Justice scholarship fund for in-state students, establish Offices of Sustainability at each university that collaborates, and lays the groundwork for a Sustainability General Education Requirement.

Use of Credit History in Auto Insurance Rates – 
HB0436 Motor Vehicle Insurance – Use of Credit History Rating Policy – Delegate Wells – Hearing Date February 17th
This bill prohibits an automobile insurer from determining the insurance premium based, in whole or in part, on the credit history of an applicant or insured

Public Financing of Local Elections

HB 488 Delegate Jessica Feldmark – This bill will enable  public financing for all local races.  If this bill passes, all counties in MD can create public financing programs for any and all local races, one cycle AFTER they have used it for council and exec.

Medical Reimbursement Legislation

HB 694 – Delegate Lorig Charkoudian – Hospitals wrongly collected over $60 million dollars per year in 2017 and again in 2018 from patients who were eligible for free care.  The bill establishes a process to identify these patients and requires hospitals to refund patients who should have received free care.

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS

Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

For your Delegates:
My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Environment and Transportation Committee

  • HB0356 State Finance – Prohibited Appropriations – Magnetic Levitation Transportation System

Economic Matters Committee

  • HB0533 Occupations and Professions – Licenses, Certificates, and Registration – Immigrants
  • HB0436 Motor Vehicle Insurance – Use of Credit History Rating Policy – Delegate Wells


Health and Government Affairs Committee

  • HB 694 Medical Reimbursement Legislation

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0122 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Delegate W. Fisher
  • HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
  • HB0559 Probation Before Judgement – Probation Agreements – Probation Not Deportation- Delegate Fisher
  • HB0691 Landlord and Tenant and Wrongful Detainer Actions – Eviction Prevention Services – Delegate Wells

Ways and Means Committee

  •     HB 488 – Public Financing of Local Elections

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS

Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on the website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

For your Delegates:
My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

 

Environment and Transportation Committee

  • HB0086 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0061 Charter Counties – Enforcement of Local Buildings Performance Laws (Building Energy Performance Standards Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0141 Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses – Delegate Ruth

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0083 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary
  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
  • HB0153 Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense – Delegate Crutchfield

Economic Matters Committee

  • HB8 Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022) – Delegate Valderrama

Ways and Means Committee

  • HB 344 – Prohibiting Pay to Play Act of 2022 – Delegate Palakovich-Carr

For your Senator:

My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

  • SB0073 General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office – Senator Lam
  • SB0321 Environment – Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody – Senator Kagan

Judicial Proceedings Committee

  • SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Senator Hettleman
  • SB0138 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Senator Patterson

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

MD Legislative Update – January 24, 2022

The 2022 General Assembly has been in session for almost 2 weeks and over 800 bills have been introduced (400 in the House and 400 in the Senate)

 

There is a very good organization that tracks important bills.  It is the Maryland Legislative Coalition.  http://mdlegislative.com .  I am using information from their web-site for the next few legislative updates.

 

Here are some of the bills that have been introduced and we are following.

 

 

Tenant Protection- 

HB0086 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
This bill seeks to ensure more transparency between landlords and tenants regarding how utility charges are calculated, and also seeks to ensure more flexibility in dealing with tenants who are victims of domestic violence or stalking and have to terminate their contract for safety reasons.

Building Energy Performance Standards Act –

HB0061 Charter Counties – Enforcement of Local Buildings Performance Laws (Building Energy Performance Standards Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
Buildings are one of the top three producers of greenhouse gases in Maryland.  Setting Building Energy Performance Standards helps reduce greenhouse gases across the state.  Some Counties have already set standards for energy efficiency, and we will be looking for the legislature to set Standards during this legislative session.  This bill would allow Counties to enforce Building Energy Performance Standards by imposing a fine of not more than $10 per square foot of gross floor area of a building.

Ending Child Marriage –

HB0083 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary
Maryland is behind other nearby states in repealing laws related to child marriage.  Right now, girls as young as 13 can be married in Maryland, and since other states have banned this practice, people are coming to Maryland to have their children married off.  This bill would prohibit an individual under the age of 17 years from marrying and alter the conditions under which an individual who is 17 years old is authorized to marry.

Ensuring Equity in Transportation Planning –

HB0141 Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses – Delegate Ruth
This Act would promote an approach to equity that recommends anticipation and prevention as the better strategies when compared to recovery and correction which have been the principal strategies in the past.  It would ensure that the Department of Transporation treats equity as a factor in planning new roads or public transportation.

Repealing the Spousal Defense

HB0153 Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense – Delegate Crutchfield
This bill would make it a criminal offense to rape a spouse or to force sexual aggression upon a spouse when the spouses are living separately.

 

 

Corporate Tax Fairness Tax

 

SB 360 – Closing Corporate Loopholes – Large, multi-state and multinational corporations can take advantage of accounting gimmicks to avoid their tax responsibility in Maryland. This gives them a substantial advantage over small, Maryland-based businesses who pay their fair share in taxes.

 

Combined reporting  

Combined reporting treats a parent company and its subsidiaries as one corporation for state income tax purposes. Doing so prevents companies from reducing their taxable profits by artificially shifting revenue on paper to out-of-state subsidiaries. Closing the combined reporting loophole would raise at least $120 million per year.

 

Ending corporate “nowhere income” (throwback rule)
Enacting the throwback rule would close another loophole that shields some corporate profits from taxation. Maryland’s corporate income tax is calculated using a formula that considers how much of a company’s sales are located in Maryland. This system helps to prevent multiple states from taxing a business’s profits.

 

However, when a company located in Maryland makes sales into another state, this income is sometimes not taxed by any state and It becomes “nowhere income.” Proposed legislation would ensure that each dollar of corporate income in Maryland is subject to taxation by a single state, without double taxation or becoming so-called nowhere income.

 

Special Elections for Appointed Legislators – 

SB0073 General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office – Senator Lam
Almost a third of our legislators were appointed rather than elected because they replaced a member of the legislature who left before their term was completed.  This bill would require the Governor to call a special election depending on when the replacement member is seated.  If the legislator is seated on or before the date that is 55 days before the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy, a special election will be called.  This will ensure that the replacement member will only serve out the term if it is too late to announce candidacy for the next Primary or General election.

Time to Care Act – 

HB0008 Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022) – Delegate Valderrama
This bill establishes a program that both employees and employers make small contributions into each pay period.  Those contributions become a bank of funds that would allow an individual employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave without causing financial harm to the employer.
Being able to take the time to care for yourself or your loved ones helps everyone in the long term.

Expungement –

SB0138 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Senator Patterson
This bill expands the charges that can be expunged from a person’s criminal record to include charges where a probation before judgement verdict was delivered.  This means that offenders who received probation, rather than a sentence, and met the terms of their probation can get the charges expunged within three years after the probation has been completed.

Access to Counsel for Immigrants –

SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Senator Hettleman
National data shows that immigrants with lawyers are 10.5 times more likely to win their cases than those without lawyers, but 81% of detained immigrants in Maryland had no legal representation at any point in their case. Only 7% of detained, non-represented immigrants in the Baltimore Immigration Court won their case.  This bill would create a legal representation program for detained Marylanders facing deportation.  It would –

  • Provide low-income Marylanders in immigration detention access to state-funded representation in their deportation proceedings, ensuring that they get due process and increasing the chances they can remain in Maryland with their families.
  • Ensure that detained immigrants and their families understand their rights and are supported in a holistic way by designating community groups to conduct outreach and education with communities impacted by immigration detention (know your rights training, establishing neighborhood defense committees, receiving referrals to support services, etc.)
  • Assign the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) to coordinate the funding of legal services of this program. MLSC is a legislatively created non-profit organization that has four decades of experience funding legal service


Child Interrogation Protection –

HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
This bill would provide children who are taken into custody greater protection.  It requires a law enforcement officer who takes a child into custody, interrogates or charges a child with a criminal violation to provide reasonable notice to the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian.  It prohibits the interrogation of a child by the law enforcement officer until the child has consulted with an attorney and a notice has been provided to the child’s parents, guardian or custodian

Synthetic Turf Chain of Custody- 

SB0321 Environment – Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody – Senator Kagan
Synthetic turf is an often-overlooked source of toxicity.  In Maryland, synthetic turf is not regulated in any way. Often, it is thrown out when it is no longer useful, and it sits in landfills. We don’t even have information about how much synthetic turf is in Maryland and how it is being disposed of. This bill would seek to manage and report on the chain of custody from the manufacturer, then the supplier, to the end-user, and finally through disposal. This information is necessary to understand exactly how much synthetic turf is in use and how it is disposed of.

End Pay to Play by Lobbyists and Businesses: Entities

HB 344 – Prohibiting Pay to Play Act of 2022 Entities whose bottom lines are affected by decisions made by state officials shouldn’t be able to buy access and favorable outcomes through political contributions.  This legislation would prohibit campaign contributions from registered lobbyists and businesses that do business with the State to candidates for state offices.

 

 

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators.  This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers.  You can find your legislators here or on the website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.

If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.

For your Delegates:

My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

 

Environment and Transporation Committee

  • HB0086 Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0061 Charter Counties – Enforcement of Local Buildings Performance Laws (Building Energy Performance Standards Act of 2022) – Delegate Stewart
  • HB0141 Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses – Delegate Ruth

Judiciary Committee

  • HB0083 Family Law – Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry – Delegate Atterbeary
  • HB0114 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Delegate Williams
  • HB0269 Juvenil Law – Child Interrogation Protection – Delegate Bartlett
  • HB0153 Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense – Delegate Crutchfield

Economic Matters Commitee

  • HB8 Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022) – Delegate Valderrama

Ways and Means Committee

  • HB 344  – Prohibiting Pay to Play Act of 2022 – Delegate Palakovich-Carr

For your Senator:

My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all of your constituents.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.

If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

  • SB0073 General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office – Senator Lam
  • SB0321 Environment – Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody – Senator Kagan

Judicial Proceedings Committee

  • SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program – Senator Hettleman
  • SB0138 Criminal Procedure – Expungement of Records – Expansion – Senator Patterson

 

 

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

 

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

 

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

 

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net     to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application “MD GOV” which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

Maryland Legislative Report – April 15, 2021 (End of Session)

Maryland Legislative Report – April 15, 2021 (End of Session)

     The 2021 General Assembly ended on Monday.    Here are some of the most significant bills that passed.  While there was a lot of good legislation passed there were also a lot of bills that never made it to the finish line.  Some of the important bills that failed covered important issues in the areas of climate change, tax reform, and housing assistance.  (I may supplement this final report in the next few days with bills I missed or may have not summarized correctly.)

 

Criminal Justice

 

Maryland Police Accountability Act of 20211                                                          

New disciplinary process – An overhaul of the process that handles civilian complaints and allegations of misconduct or rules infractions by officers. New all-civilian committees — rather than trial boards of fellow officers — will consider evidence and decide whether officers should be disciplined.  Chiefs or sheriffs can still levy punishment but will be required to follow a matrix of minimum punishments for different types of violations or misconduct. Officers unhappy with the sanctions can appeal their cases to a trial board made up of a civilian, a fellow officer and an active or retired judge.

Body Cameras – All county-level law enforcement agencies in Maryland will have to adopt body cameras by July 2025. The four of the biggest departments in the state that have not yet — the Maryland State Police, county police in Anne Arundel and Howard counties and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office — must do so by 2023.A task force would recommend ways to extend the requirement to use body cameras to smaller police departments, as well.

Use of force – The act will set a new statewide standard for when officers can use force — and new criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison for serious violations.

Investigations of police killings – A newly created unit within the Maryland attorney general’s office would investigate all police killings of civilians. Most agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, currently investigate such cases themselves. Local state’s attorneys would still decide whether to clear officers or bring criminal charges.

Surplus military gear: The package puts new limits on what kinds of surplus gear Maryland law enforcement agencies in Maryland can obtain from the U.S. Department of Defense. Among the equipment that would now be off-limits: Grenade launchers, explosives, silencers, and aircraft, drones or vehicles outfitted with offensive weapons.

Public access to records (Anton’s Law) – The public will be allowed to request disciplinary records and internal affairs complaints lodged against officers. Departments will still be able to withhold records that are part of active investigations, redact personal details and keep witness information secret.

No-knock warrants: Police can only obtain a “no-knock” search warrant — which allows officers to burst into a home unannounced — if they can demonstrate that knocking would endanger lives. And no-knock warrants would largely be limited to daytime hours: The package would require police to carry them out between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., except in emergencies.

Scholarships for future officers A scholarship fund will cover 50% of college tuition and fees for Maryland residents who agree to spend at least five years after graduation working as an officer in the state.  Current officers will also qualify if they continue working in law enforcement after completing their degrees.

Higher payouts in lawsuits – The bill doubles the amount of money plaintiffs can win in lawsuits over police misconduct filed in Maryland state courts, raising the cap from $400,000 to $890,000. It does not affect lawsuits against police in federal court, where there are no limits on potential judgments.

Removing the governor from the parole process for people serving life sentences.  The Parole Board will make the final decision.  Governors often have political pressures which in recent years has meant that they have not followed the recommendations of the Parole Board and less people have been paroled.

Parole for juvenile offenders – This bill bans sentences of life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders. The governor vetoed the bill, but the Assembly overrode the veto.

Compensation for wrongly imprisoned – This bill will set rules for how much money to pay people who have been exonerated after being wrongly convicted and incarcerated.

Baltimore Police Department – Baltimore voters will get to decide whether the police department should be returned to full local control under legislation approved by the Assembly. City officials can schedule the referendum for 2022 or 2024.

Monitoring Fees – This Bill will bar courts from charging monitoring fees to poor Marylanders placed on home detention while awaiting trial on criminal charges.

Consumer Rights

Medical Debtors Protection Act – Expands consumer protections for individuals sued for medical debt and to create an income-based repayment plan before a lawsuit can be filed.

Utility Bills – In the future all utility bills from deregulated electricity and natural gas prices offered to families on energy assistance will have to meet, or beat, regulated utility rates.

Environmental/Climate Issues

Tree Solutions Act of 2021 – State will plant 5 million trees in the next few years.

Housing Issues

Access to Counsel – Will provide renters who are earning 50% or below area median income with access to a lawyer when facing eviction. Unfortunately, the program is not funded. The Bill will also require landlords, before they file a “Failure to Pay Rent” eviction action, to send a notice to tenants at least 10 days prior to filing their court complaint.

Testing and Remediation of Contaminated Well Water on Rental Properties

Immigration Rights

Dignity Not Detention Act – Prohibits Maryland jurisdictions from contracting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain undocumented people in their local jails.  The Bill will also prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating or sharing information with immigration agents beyond what is required by federal law

Revenue

Sports betting – Legislation that will create a framework for a legal industry of gambling on sports It would include licenses to be granted for in-person gambling, as well as for mobile and online gambling.

Local taxes – Local governments will have more flexibility in setting rates for local income taxes, including allowing for graduated rates for different income levels.

Voting and Democracy

Vote by Mail – Voters will be allowed to opt into a permanent vote-by-mail list, instead of needing to request a mail ballot in each election. Counties would be required to add more early voting centers and place them in areas close to historically disenfranchised communities and near public transit.

Worker Rights Issues

Expansion of the state’s prevailing wage law – This bill would require government-funded construction projects to pay prevailing wages on contracts over $250,000 or when at least 25% of a project’s construction costs are from state funds; current law sets those thresholds at $500,000 and 50%.

Collective Bargaining for Workers at Community Colleges

Improving unemployment – A package of bills would require a study of how to improve the unemployment benefits system, allow recipients to earn more money before their benefits are reduced, connect recipients with low-cost health insurance, require payment plans for businesses for their unemployment taxes, and expand a work-share program that helps companies avoid full layoffs.

Other Issues

New court names – Voters will decide in 2022 whether to re-christen the top courts in Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals. The new names, regarded as less confusing, would be the Appellate Court of Maryland and the Supreme Court of Maryland.

Repeal of the State Song – Maryland lawmakers voted to abolish “Maryland, My Maryland” from the laws of the state, taking the position that having no state song is better than having one that’s offensive and advocated for spurning “the Northern scum” and joining the proslavery Confederacy

 

Utility Regulation – Consideration of Climate and Labor by the Public Service Commission in setting of Utility Rates

 

Allowing Restaurants to Sell or Deliver Alcohol for Off Premise Consumption

 

College Athlete Endorsements – College athletes will be able to earn money from endorsements. The Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act, named for the former University of Maryland offensive lineman who died in 2018 after suffering heat stroke at a team workout, will require athletic departments to implement guidelines to prevent and treat serious sports-related conditions.

If you would like more information on any of these bills, please send me an email. If you would like to stop receiving these emails, please send me a note.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group website:  www.plg.solutions .

 

1 Thanks to Bryan Stole from the Baltimore Sun for this summary.

Maryland Legislative Report – March 25, 2021

MD Legislative Report – March 25, 2021

 

We have now passed ‘Crossover Day’ in the Maryland General Assembly.  This means that almost all bills must have passed one house or the other to be heard in a timely fashion by the other house and then sent to the Governor.  The 2021 Legislative Session ends on Monday April 12th     

Here are some of the bills that have passed one house or the other.   I am recording the latest developments in the front of the newsletter.   Later in the report I have listed below some of the bills I am following and the status of those bills If there is another bill you are interested in knowing about, please let me know.  Many of these bills unfortunately did not make progress this year.  After this report I will not list them so I can focus on those bills that have some likelihood of passing.

 

New Developments

 

Bills that Passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates

          (Bills still have to be reconciled to be sent to the Governor)

         

Repeal of the State Song HB667/SB8 Maryland lawmakers voted to abolish “Maryland, My Maryland” from the laws of the state, taking the position that having no state song is better than having one that’s offensive and advocated for spurning “the Northern scum” and joining the proslavery Confederacy

 

*Allowing Counties to Have Different Income Tax Rates Based on Income:  SB 133/HB 319            

 

Bills that Passed the Senate

SB 414 Climate Solutions Now Act, this is a comprehensive bill, which will increase the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirement from 40% by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  It also sets targets for electrifying state vehicle fleets, supporting solar on buildings and planting trees.  Finally, it has justice/equity provisions which will support already burdened communities.

SB 494 End to Life Without Parole sentences for crimes committed by juveniles

 

 

Bills That Passed the House of Delegates

  • HB 15: Establishes the Governor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • HB 16: Dignity Not Detention Act – Closes ICE detention centers
  • HB 31 Increases the fee to file for eviction from $15 to $75.  Maryland has one of the lowest eviction filing fees in the nation.  This increase is needed to reduce frivolous claims and incentivize landlords and tenants to resolve disputes outside of court.  The fees collected will be reinvested into rental assistance and legal aid programs.
  • HB 50 – Tenant Protection Act of 2021
    • * Make utility bill charges more accessible and transparent for tenants whose landlords use a ratio utility billing statement (RUBS)
    • * Require landlords to provide documentation for materials and services used when using security deposit funds to fix damages.
    • * Allow tenant associations to use apartment/living complex meeting rooms for tenant organizing meetings.
    • * Allow a tenant to break their lease if they are a victim of stalking.
    • * Allow a therapist or third-party professional to certify that a tenant is a victim of stalking or abuse, instead of just cops or a judge.
  •  HB 52: Requires landlords to provide two forms of notice to tenants seven days before a landlord can file for an eviction. The required notice includes resources for the tenant, including information for rental assistance programs and court services.
  • HB 80: Maryland Purple Line Tree Replacement: Construction of the Purple Line required the removal of large mature trees. This legislation requires the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of the Environment to coordinate this effort to replant trees in these communities, prioritizing communities suffering multiple environmental health harms
  • HB 104 – Requires landlords to give tenants additional notice when not renewing a lease agreement.  If a tenant has lived at a property for less than two years, a landlord must provide 60-day notice before the end of the lease period.  For those who have resided at a property for over two years, landlords will be required to give a 90-day notice.
  • HB 222 would expand access to the ballot to Maryland’s prison population by requiring correctional facilities to give people voter registration forms upon their release and provide ballot drop boxes inside facilities for inmates to submit their votes.
  • HB 270: Requires a State’s Attorney to meet with the victim of a sexual assault after a decision not to file charges or to dismiss charges in their case
  • HB 411: Prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in sexual conduct with a victim, witness, or suspect in an open investigation in which the officer is involved.
  • HB 421: Designates funds for the operation of tax assistance clinics for low-income Marylanders.
  • HB 449: Updates marriage license applications to have gender-inclusive language o
  • HB 565 Medical Debtors Protection Act – Expand consumer protections for individuals sued for medical debt and to create an income-based repayment plan before a lawsuit can be filed.
  • HB 656: Requires buses to stop at early voting centers that are nearby their existing routes when early voting centers are open.
  • HB 711: Allows Marylanders to deduct charitable donations of disposable diapers and other hygiene products from their taxable income.
  • HB 742: Requires the Board of Public Works to pay compensation and provide benefits to people who were convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned for a crime it is later discovered they did not commit.
  • HB 461: Allows mental health absences for public school students to be considered excused
  • HB 463: Offers incentives for health care practitioners who work in communities lacking health care and directs resources to reduce health disparities
  • HB 611: Bans cosmetic testing on animals
  • HB 745: Increases the number of early voting centers
  • HB 748: Requires a court to deny child custody and visitation rights to a party that has abused or neglected the child, except under specific circumstances
  • HB 832: Establishes an electric school bus pilot program
  • HB 875: Removes black liquor from Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard
  • HB 894:  Establishes collective bargaining rights for community college employees
  • HB 907 and HB 908 Unemployment Insurance Reforms: Unemployment insurance is crucial, both as a safety net and as a countercyclical stimulus to prevent a deeper recession. This year far too many people struggled with accessing their unemployment benefits. These bills make several fixes to the system including requiring increased staffing so people who need assistance can speak to a human being, timelines for completion of claims and resolution of appeals, improved language access, and greater transparency. This bill also develops a seamless connection from the unemployment insurance process to allow applicants to connect to health benefits, in a process the bill changes the benefit calculation so that people who work multiple jobs and lose one, don’t lose out on unemployment income their family needs. Small businesses would also be protected by freezing the rates they paid from before COVID, so they do not pay higher rates for having to lay off workers due to the emergency. Finally, these bills require the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative sessions.
  • HB 1068: Requires elections boards to count an absentee ballot if they receive both an absentee ballot and a provisional ballot from the same individual, instead of rejecting both ballots
  •  HB 1048 to make voting easier and more convenient by creating a permanent mail-in ballot list.  Marylanders who want to vote by mail in all future elections will be able to opt into this list and then will automatically receive a mail-in ballot for every election.  (The bill doesn’t change the ability of a voter to get a mail-in ballot for only one election.)  Elections during the pandemic have shown us that our existing mail-in voting process works and that voters should be able to choose the option that works best for them.
  • HB 1210: Requires entities to have diversity in their leadership or a mission that includes support for underrepresented communities in order to qualify for certain state grants and tax credits.
  • HB 1312: Landlord and Tenant – Eviction Actions – Catastrophic Health Emergencies This emergency legislation will strengthen the Governor’s executive order that created an affirmative defense for failure to pay rent by allowing tenants to use the defense up to six months after the COVID-19 state of emergency has ended.  Tenants will be required to show the court that they suffered a substantial loss of income due to the pandemic.  HB 1312 also freezes rent increases or fees during a health emergency.

(Thanks to Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr for providing a lot of this information.)

Status of Other Important Bills that I am Following

 

Confronting the COVID CRISIS

 

COVID-19 Eviction and Housing Relief Act of 2020

* Prohibits rent increases and late fees during the pandemic and allocates funds to landlords to allow for rent forgiveness; ensures landlords demonstrate just cause in order to stop the renewal of a lease. HB 1312 – Passed the House of Delegates

 

MD Essential Workers Protection Act

* During state of emergency essential employees 1) Receive $3/hr. hazard pay; 2) 14 day paid sick leave; 3) Right to refuse dangerous work; 4) Free COVID testing; 5) PPE at no cost to employees. HB 581 / SB 486 – No Progress

 

o Foreclosure Protection Bill. HB 1009/SB 724 No Progress

 

Unemployment Insurance Reforms:

* Unemployment insurance is crucial, both as a safety net and as a countercyclical stimulus to prevent a deeper recession. This year far too many people struggled with accessing their unemployment benefits. These bills make several fixes to the system including requiring increased staffing so people who need assistance can speak to a human being, timelines for completion of claims and resolution of appeals, improved language access, and greater transparency. This bill also develops a seamless connection from the unemployment insurance process to allow applicants to connect to health benefits, in a process the bill changes the benefit calculation so that people who work multiple jobs and lose one, don’t lose out on unemployment income their family needs. Small businesses would also be protected by freezing the rates they paid from before COVID, so they do not pay higher rates for having to lay off workers due to the emergency. Finally, these bills require the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative sessions.  HB 907, 908 – Passed the House

 

 

Criminal Justice Reform

 

Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights – It would put police officers under the same rules that cover other government employees who come under investigation;(e.g., Police officers have 5 days before they are allowed to be investigated in a disciplinary matter) – Passed the Senate with the following weakening amendments

  • Allow officers to exercise the same right to engage in political activity as other state employees while off-duty.
  • Permit officers to seek secondary employment.
  • Restrict income or property disclosures.
  • Prevent officers from being fired, disciplined, demoted or denied a promotion or transfer for exercising their constitutional rights or the rights provided for them under the bill.
  • Prohibit agencies from denying officers their right to file a lawsuit for incidents that arise while on duty.
  • Enable officers to request that formal complaints be expunged from their record if they are exonerated, the allegations were not sustained, or they were acquitted by a hearing board and three years have passed since the department’s decision.
  • Keep formal complaints from being admissible in court if they were not sustained or the officer was exonerated or acquitted by a hearing board

           

Public Information Act – Personnel Records – Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton’s Law) When you file a complaint of police misconduct, you cannot find out how the department investigates your complaint. All you can find out is the outcome and any discipline; you cannot find out whether the department conducted a thorough or lackluster investigation of your complaint. This is because the complaint file is considered a “personnel record” under Maryland’s Public Information Act, and personnel records may never be disclosed. THE SOLUTION. Remove the complaint file from the personnel record category, thereby allowing the police department to disclose the inappropriate situations. HB 120/ SB 178 – Passed the Senate

o   Removing the Governor from Parole Decisions HB 3 – – There is already a Parole Review Board that makes recommendations on who should be paroled.  In the last 20 years the number of people being let out on parole has gone down as Governors have brought politics in that decision.  Governors interested in running for higher office have been overly cautious on paroling some criminals.  Passed the House of Delegates

Criminal Justice Package (Passed the Senate)

o   SB71which would mandate that all law enforcement agencies use body-worn cameras.

o   SB74which would require all law enforcement agencies across the state to provide employee mental health assistance program for all their officers.

o   SB419which would limit the use of no-knock warrants.

o   SB599which would restrict law enforcement agencies’ ability to procure weaponized military equipment.

o   SB600which would establish that police incidents resulting in civilian fatalities undergo independent investigations.

o   SB786which would re-establish local control of the Baltimore Police Department.

 

 

Consumer Rights

 

Increasing the amount of money low-wage workers can protect from Garnishment:  Currently it is $11,000 a year.  The bill would increase it to $26,000. HB 660 – Hearing Held

Medical Debtors Protection Act – Expand consumer protections for individuals sued for medical debt and to create an income-based repayment plan before a lawsuit can be filed; prohibit lawsuits for all medical debts below $1000. HB 565/SB 514 Passed the House of Delegates

Drivers Bill of Rights – Limit the use of zip code in auto insurance rates and requires insurance companies to provide rebates to drivers through the state of emergency.  Hearing Held

o   Prohibiting Use of Credit History in Auto Insurance Rating Policies – HB 221 – Hearings Held

 

Democracy and Voting Rights

  • Voting Rights for Imprisoned Felons – HB 53 No Progress
  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office of the General Assembly – HB 265 / SB 6 Right now when there is a vacancy the Democratic Committee appoints the person to fill the term.  This bill a person would be appointed only until the next Federal or State election.  Passed the Senate
  • Public Financing for Candidates Running for General Assembly – HB 536 – No Progress

 

Education

 

Funding for Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) This bill would provide an additional $577 million to Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities over 10 years to end the state’s lengthy lawsuit over inequitable funding of the schools. – HB 1 / SB 1 – Passed the Senate and House

  • Prohibiting fees for summer school courses in public schools HB 394Passed the House of Delegates
  • The School Pedestrian Safety Act increases road safety near public schools. This bill requires school boards to create pedestrian safety plans when building new schools or renovating existing ones. HB 487: Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

Environmental/Climate Initiatives

 

Climate Solutions Now Act, this is a comprehensive bill, which will increase the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirement from 40% by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  It also sets targets for electrifying state vehicle fleets, supporting solar on buildings and planting trees.  Finally, it has justice/equity provisions which will support already burdened communities. HB 583/ SB 414 Passed the Senate

Community Choice Energy, which will be enabling legislation for each county that will allow them to aggregate their rate payers to negotiate for better rates and for the kind of energy (solar, wind, fossil fuel) that their residents want to use.

Climate Crisis Act, (a tax on carbon) Charges a fee for fossil fuel use in the state. The fee is used to fund: 1) Kirwan, 2) a benefit fund to offset any costs to low-income Marylanders, and 3) clean energy and resilience infrastructure improvements – HB 33 – No Progress

Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Rights, which will give everyone in Maryland the right to clean air, water and a pollution free environment. HB 82/SB 151 – Hearings Held

Right to Repair – Our electronics are manufactured with a large environmental footprint which is intentionally amplified when manufacturers produce products that either cannot be repaired, or for which repair information is not disclosed.  This bill will require manufacturers to publicly disclose repair information, decreasing waste and aiding small businesses. HB 84/SB 412 – Unfavorable Report in House Committee (Bill is dead)

Utility Regulation – Consideration of Climate and Labor – HB 293/SB 83 – House Hearing Held

* Climate Crisis and Education Act – Tax on carbon products – HB 33/SB 76 – Hearing Held

*Plastic Bag Reduction Act State-wide ban on plastic bags – HB 314/SB 223- Hearings Held

o   Black Liquor – This bill removes “black liquor” ― the gooey, pulpy byproduct of paper production ― from the roster of fuels that qualify for tax breaks under the state’s Renewable Fuels Standard. SB 65 – Passed the Senate

o   Clean Car Act of 2021 – Extending, for fiscal years 2021 through 2023, the Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program and the vehicle excise tax credit for the purchase of certain electric vehicles and increasing the tax credit from $1,200,000 to $1,800,000.

Ethics

Limits on Lobbyist Spending – Limits the amount a lobbyist can spent on taking legislators out to dinner to $50 per person!  HB 292 – Hearing Held

 

 

 

Health Care

 

Study on Universal Health Care –Establishes a Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to establish, a universal health care program to provide health benefits to all residents of the State through a single-payer system.  HB 470/SB 522 – House Hearing 3/11 – No Progress

Healthy Maryland Act – Establishes a comprehensive, universal single payer health care program to provide health coverage for every Maryland resident.

Housing – HB 534 – No Progress

o   Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis – HB 32 – No Progress

o   Funding for Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services which would be channeled through the Department of Health This is a way to decrease police interactions with mental health situations.  SB 286 Hearing Held

o   Out-of-Pocket Maximums and Cost-Sharing Requires all payments made by patients, either directly or on their behalf, be counted toward their deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums. Requiring health insurance carriers to count all copayments will protect Marylanders from high out-of-pocket costs. SB 290 / HB 167 No Progress

 

Housing

 

Social Housing Legislation – This bill includes tenant protections, affordable housing and zoning changes that allow for duplexes, triplexes and quarterplexes. HB 1090 – Hearing Held

Right to Counsel in case of eviction – HB 18/SB 154 – Hearings Held

Tenant Protection Act of 2021

* Make utility bill charges more accessible and transparent for tenants whose landlords use a ratio utility billing statement (RUBS)

* Require landlords to provide documentation for materials and services used when using security deposit funds to fix damages.

* Allow tenant associations to use apartment/living complex meeting rooms for tenant organizing meetings.

* Allow a tenant to break their lease if they are a victim of stalking.

* Allow a therapist or third-party professional to certify that a tenant is a victim of stalking or abuse, instead of just cops or a judge.

HB 50 – Passed the House of Delegates

 

o   Mobile Laundry for the Homeless Pilot program. – HB 189 Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

Immigration and Social Justice

 

o    Trust Act – End partnership between local and state enforcement and ICE.  HB 304 / SB 88 – Hearing Senate Judicial Proceedings Comm – Hearing Held (This bill has not moved but is probably not dead because of the importance of the issue and the sponsor is the Chair of the Senate JPR Committee)

o    Termination of Private Immigration Detention Centers:  This bill, often referred to as “Dignity not Detention,” will prevent the state’s detention centers – or any private facility – from initiating or renewing existing contracts with ICE -Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (There are currently three such circumstances in the state where immigrants are warehoused, in Howard, Frederick, and Worcester Counties.) The bill will also prevent ICE from coming into Maryland in the future to build its own detention centers. It would go into effect on 1 July 2021.Required local entities that have existing immigration detention agreements to terminate their contracts.  HB 16 Passed the House of Delegates

o    Driver Privacy Act – Protects the privacy of MD drivers by requiring ICE and other Federal agencies to obtain a warrant in order to access personal information that the MVA gathers about drivers.  HB 23 / SB 234 Passed the House

o    Action of Change of Name – Waiver of Publication Requirement  HB 39– Passed the House

o    Energy Supplier Low-Income Act – This bill will prohibit deregulated, third party energy suppliers, who target low-income zip codes, to charge OHEP customers higher rates than the standard energy supplier rate.  These suppliers have stepped up their door-to-door selling game during COVID and their predatory practices have reached an all-time high. SB 31/HB 397 – Passed the House of Delegates

    • The Love Is No Defense to Sexual Crimes Act. This bill prohibits the spousal defense for sexual offenses, ensuring that individuals cannot use the fact that they are married to their victim as a defense for sexual crimes including rape. HB 147 – Passed the House of Delegates

o     

Labor and Working Rights

                       

  • Time to Care Act establishes a family and medical leave insurance program that employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in Maryland. The funding would come from both the employer and employee. It’s estimated to cost the employee $3 to $6 a week which would come as a payroll deduction. HB 375 / SB 211 – Hearing Held
  • Collective Bargaining for Workers at Community Colleges – HB 894/SB 746 – House Hearing Held / Senate Hearing Finance Committee March 4 1 PM

Prince George’s Local Bills (these are bills that only pertain to Prince George’s County) and are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from Prince George’s County

 

  • HB 624.  Elected School Board – 9 members elected by district.  Right now, there is a hybrid school board. Some are appointed and some are elected.  The school superintendent will be appointed by the board.  The board selects the chair and vice chair. Hearing Held

 

  • HB 622 – Prohibition on MAGLEV coming through Prince George’s County – Hearing Held

 

  • HB 621 – Prince George’s County – Elementary School Students – Daily Physical Activity (Student Health and Fitness Act) – Hearing Held

 

  • HB 617 – Prince George’s County – Alcoholic Beverages – Licenses for Supermarkets – Hearing Held

 

 

Raising Revenue Through Fair Funding Initiatives

 

Little can be done without a realistic plan to raise revenue.  A group of legislators are proposing a package of revenue proposals that would raise close to $3 billion a year by taxing corporations and the super-wealthy in Maryland and not working people.  Some of these proposals are:

 

Combined Reporting – Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. HB 172 – Hearing Held

Throwback Rule -Require large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. – HB 229 – Hearing Held

Close the pass-through/LLC loophole– Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs.  LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. – HB 357 Hearing Date 1/21 – Ways and Means Comm

o Restructure personal income tax brackets and rates – Lowers income tax rates on income earners below median, raise rates on income earners above, restore millionaire tax at 7%.  HB 357 Hearing Held

Capital gains surtax- Apply a 1% surtax on capital gains income to partially offset special treatment in federal tax code. HB 201 – Hearing Held

Carried Interest – Apply a 19% state income surtax on the distributive or pro-rata share of a pass-through entity’s taxable income that is attributable to investment management services provided in the State. HB 215/SB 288 – House Hearing Held – Senate Budget and Taxation 1/28

Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal – Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. HB 165 – Hearing Held

Effective Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Act of 2020 -Requiring a publicly traded corporation that is required to file a Maryland income tax return to attach a statement identifying the corporation’s effective tax rate and an explanation of the calculation of the effective tax rate; requiring that the statement be made under oath, signed in a certain manner, subject to audit by the Comptroller, and treated as confidential taxpayer information; requiring the Comptroller to submit a certain report to the Governor and the General Assembly by March 1 each year; etc.- HB 330 – House Ways and Means Comm – Hearing Held

Country Club Bill   Would provide $100 million in additional revenue over the next 10 years by taxing country clubs statewide at the same property tax rates that other property owners pay, $10 million in one year. HB 1120 – Hearing Held

Decouple from federal CARES Act tax breaks:  The Federal CARES Act contains several major changes to tax policy.  These changes will reduce Maryland’s revenues by $110 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.  This legislation would decouple from these costly federal provisions that disproportionately benefit wealthy taxpayers. HB 495 – Hearing Held

*Make MD Tax Structure More Progressive – Changes the tax brackets to raise more revenue from wealthier individuals and less from people with less income.  HB 275 – Hearing Held

*Allowing Counties to Have Different Income Tax Rates Based on Income:  SB 133/HB 319 -Passed House of Delegates & Senate

 

Transportation

 

Purple Line Tree Replacement: Construction of the Purple Line required the removal of large mature trees. While the overall plan required replacement of these trees, they were replaced in areas far from the communities that lost them. Many of the areas that lost trees are already suffering from heat island effects and poor air quality. Walking and biking along these corridors for transit-dependent individuals is even hotter and more unpleasant without these trees. While these trees cannot be replaced in the exact locations they were removed, they can be replanted in the same neighborhoods on a combination of state, county, and private land. This legislation requires the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of the Environment to coordinate this effort to replant trees in these communities, prioritizing communities suffering multiple environmental health harms. Lorig Charkoudian is introducing this bill. HB 80 Passed the House

 

Two Man Crew: This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high-speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers. HB 492 – Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com

 

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

 

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

 

To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net    to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application MD GOV which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group website:  www.plg.solutions .

 

Maryland Legislative Report – March 6, 2021

MD Legislative Report – March 6, 2021

     The 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly is now more than halfway through its three-month session.    Most of the bills have had committee hearings and are now being reviewed by the various House and Senate Committees.  Almost all the bills must pass by ‘crossover’ day.  This means it must pass one house or the other to be heard in a timely fashion by the other house and then sent to the Governor.  Crossover date this year is March 22.  Here are some of the bills that have passed one house or the other.   I am recording the latest developments in the front of the newsletter.   Later in the report I have listed below some of the bills I am following and the status of those bills If there is another bill you are interested in knowing about, please let me know. 

New Developments

 Bills that Passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates

 Expanding Earned Income Tax Credit to Non-Citizens – SB 218 – This bill was neither vetoed by the Governor nor signed by him and is now the law. This bill extends the earned income tax credit, and the state COVID relief payments, to individuals filing taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Many taxpayers filing with an ITIN are immigrants who have been excluded from other federal and state relief payments and have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and subsequent recession.

          

Bills that Passed the Senate

 

          Criminal Justice Package

  • SB71, which would mandate that all law enforcement agencies use body-worn cameras.
  • SB74, which would require all law enforcement agencies across the state to provide employee mental health assistance program for all their officers.
  • SB419, which would limit the use of no-knock warrants.
  • SB599, which would restrict law enforcement agencies’ ability to procure weaponized military equipment.
  • SB600, which would establish that police incidents resulting in civilian fatalities undergo independent investigations.
  • SB786, which would re-establish local control of the Baltimore Police Department.
  • SB627 – Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights – This bill passed the Senate but was amended and there will be an attempt to eliminate some of the amendments in the House of Delegates. The amendments to do the following:
      • Allow officers to exercise the same right to engage in political activity as other state employees while off-duty.
      • Permit officers to seek secondary employment.
      • Restrict income or property disclosures.
      • Prevent officers from being fired, disciplined, demoted or denied a promotion or transfer for exercising their constitutional rights or the rights provided for them under the bill.
      • Prohibit agencies from denying officers their right to file a lawsuit for incidents that arise while on duty.
      • Enable officers to request that formal complaints be expunged from their record if they are exonerated, the allegations were not sustained or they were acquitted by a hearing board and three years have passed since the department’s decision; and
      • Keep formal complaints from being admissible in court if they were not sustained or the officer was exonerated or acquitted by a hearing board.
  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office of the General Assembly – HB 265 / SB 6 Right now when there is a vacancy the Democratic Committee appoints the person to fill the term. This bill a person would be appointed only until the next Federal or State election

 

  • Utility Regulation – Consideration of Climate and Labor – HB 298/SB 83 – Public Service Commission must consider climate and labor in the regulating of utilities. Passed Senate
  • Black Liquor SB 65 This bill removes “black liquor” ― the gooey, pulpy byproduct of paper production ― from the roster of fuels that qualify for tax breaks under the state’s Renewable Fuels Standard.

 

  • Public Information Act – Personnel Records – Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton’s Law) SB 178 When you file a complaint of police misconduct, you cannot find out how the department investigates your complaint. All you can find out is the outcome and any discipline; you cannot find out whether the department conducted a thorough or lackluster investigation of your complaint. This is because the complaint file is considered a “personnel record” under Maryland’s Public Information Act, and personnel records may never be disclosed. THE SOLUTION. Remove the complaint file from the personnel record category, thereby allowing the police department to disclose the inappropriate situations.

 

Bills That Passed the House of Delegates

  • HB 77: The Safer Sealant Act of 2021 prohibits certain coal tar pavements with high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have contributed damaging runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • HB 81: Prohibits leaving dogs outside in extreme weather.
  • HB 130: Establishes a commission on LGBTQ affairs in the Governor’s Office.
  • HB 146: Extends the state fund to help spay and neuter pets by providing grants to lower-income pet owners.
  • HB 208: Closes a loophole to prevent non-farmers from using dangerous neonicotinoid pesticides.
  • HB 247: Ensures election judges are thoroughly trained in how to provide accommodations to voters who may need assistance and requires certain voters (e.g., people with mobility-related disabilities) to be given voting order priority.
  • HB 293: Prohibits organized animal killing contests that have monetary prizes.
  • HB 322: Allows homeowners to have low-impact landscaping, such as a rain garden, and bars a homeowner’s association from prohibiting such landscaping.
  • HB 391: This bill seeks to protect the environment from balloons that are released and later return to the ground as litter.
  • HB 400: Ensures education continuity for juveniles in detention facilities awaiting court proceedings. This bill requires public schools to keep these students enrolled in their original school and provide them with educational materials while awaiting disposition of the student’s case.
  • HB 398 would require employers to provide employees with two hours of paid time off to vote on Election Day or during early voting if they are scheduled to work the entire time that the polls are open that day.
  • HB 156: Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act, which make it easier for college students and members of the military to vote.
  • HB 205: Requires public schools to provide free menstrual hygiene products in bathrooms.
  • HB 207: Requires nursing homes to provide immediate notifications of changes in a resident’s condition to the resident and, as applicable, their family.
  • HB 429: Requires pharmacists to notify consumers if lower-cost alternatives are available to fill their prescriptions.
  • HB 460: The Transfer with Success Act will make it easier for college students to transfer credits between institutions of higher education.
  • HB 318, the Local Tax Relief for Working Families Act of 2021, gives county governments more flexibility in setting their local income taxes. Instead of the flat tax required under current state law, this bill would allow counties to create multiple income tax brackets.  This would provide counties with the opportunity to provide tax relief to low- and middle-income taxpayers.
  • HB 641 protects consumers from losing their homeowners insurance because of weather-related claims. Under current state law, insurance companies can cancel a person’s homeowners insurance policy if they make three weather-related claims in a three years span.  This bill would prohibit insurance carriers from counting a weather-related claim that does not result in a payout to the homeowner towards the three-strike rule.
  • {Thanks again to Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr for putting this summary in her newsletter}
  • HB 3 Removing the Governor from Parole Decisions – There is already a Parole Review Board that makes recommendations on who should be paroled. In the last 20 years the number of people being let out on parole has gone down as Governors have brought politics in that decision.  Governors interested in running for higher office have been overly cautious on paroling some criminals.
  • HB 492 Two Man Crew: This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high-speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers.

 

 

Status of Other Important Bills that I am Following

 

Confronting the COVID CRISIS

 

o COVID-19 Eviction and Housing Relief Act of 2020

* Prohibits rent increases and late fees during the pandemic and allocates funds to landlords to allow for rent forgiveness; ensures landlords demonstrate just cause in order to stop the renewal of a lease. HB 1312 Hearing Held

 

o MD Essential Workers Protection Act

* During state of emergency essential employees 1) Receive $3/hr. hazard pay; 2) 14 day paid sick leave; 3) Right to refuse dangerous work; 4) Free COVID testing; 5) PPE at no cost to employees. HB 581 / SB 486 – House Hearing Held

 

o Foreclosure Protection Bill

* The bill: 1) extends foreclosure moratorium through state of emergency; 2) requires services to grant forbearance; 3) sets default (opt-out) repayment option as deferring missed mortgage payments to the end of the loan; 4) requires prompt notice of all these rights; and 5) creates private right of action to sue if any rights are violated. HB 1009/SB 724 Hearing Held

 

o Unemployment Insurance Reforms:

* Unemployment insurance is crucial, both as a safety net and as a countercyclical stimulus to prevent a deeper recession. This year far too many people struggled with accessing their unemployment benefits. These bills make several fixes to the system including requiring increased staffing so people who need assistance can speak to a human being, timelines for completion of claims and resolution of appeals, improved language access, and greater transparency. This bill also develops a seamless connection from the unemployment insurance process to allow applicants to connect to health benefits, in a process the bill changes the benefit calculation so that people who work multiple jobs and lose one, don’t lose out on unemployment income their family needs. Small businesses would also be protected by freezing the rates they paid from before COVID, so they do not pay higher rates for having to lay off workers due to the emergency. Finally, these bills require the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative sessions.  HB 907, 908 – Hearings Held

 

 

Criminal Justice Reform

 

o Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights – It would put police officers under the same rules that cover other government employees who come under investigation;(e.g., Police officers have 5 days before they are allowed to be investigated in a disciplinary matter) – Passed the Senate

o Public Information Act – Personnel Records – Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton’s Law) When you file a complaint of police misconduct, you cannot find out how the department investigates your complaint. All you can find out is the outcome and any discipline; you cannot find out whether the department conducted a thorough or lackluster investigation of your complaint. This is because the complaint file is considered a “personnel record” under Maryland’s Public Information Act, and personnel records may never be disclosed. THE SOLUTION. Remove the complaint file from the personnel record category, thereby allowing the police department to disclose the inappropriate situations. HB 120/ SB 178 – Passed the Senate

  • Removing the Governor from Parole Decisions HB 3 –There is already a Parole Review Board that makes recommendations on who should be paroled. In the last 20 years the number of people being let out on parole has gone down as Governors have brought politics in that decision.  Governors interested in running for higher office have been overly cautious on paroling some criminals.  Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

 

Consumer Rights

 

o Increasing the amount of money low-wage workers can protect from Garnishment:  Currently it is $11,000 a year.  The bill would increase it to $26,000. HB 660 – Hearing Held

o Medical Debtors Protection Act – Expand consumer protections for individuals sued for medical debt and to create an income-based repayment plan before a lawsuit can be filed; prohibit lawsuits for all medical debts below $1000. HB 565/SB 514 Hearings Held

o Drivers Bill of Rights – Limit the use of zip code in auto insurance rates and requires insurance companies to provide rebates to drivers through the state of emergency.  Hearing Held

  • Prohibiting Use of Credit History in Auto Insurance Rating Policies – HB 221 – Hearings Held

 

Democracy and Voting Rights

  • Voting Rights for Imprisoned FelonsHB 53 Hearing Held
  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office of the General Assembly – HB 265 / SB 6 Right now when there is a vacancy the Democratic Committee appoints the person to fill the term. This bill a person would be appointed only until the next Federal or State election.  Passed the Senate
  • Public Financing for Candidates Running for General Assembly – HB 536 – Hearing Held

 

Education

 

o Funding for Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) This bill would provide an additional $577 million to Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities over 10 years to end the state’s lengthy lawsuit over inequitable funding of the schools. – HB 1 / SB 1 – Passed the Senate and House

  • : Prohibiting fees for summer school courses in public schools HB 394: Passed the House of Delegates
  • The School Pedestrian Safety Act increases road safety near public schools. This bill requires school boards to create pedestrian safety plans when building new schools or renovating existing ones. HB 487: Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

Environmental/Climate Initiatives

 

* Climate Solutions Now Act, this is a comprehensive bill, which will increase the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirement from 40% by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  It also sets targets for electrifying state vehicle fleets, supporting solar on buildings and planting trees.  Finally, it has justice/equity provisions which will support already burdened communities. HB 583/ SB 414 Hearings Held

* Community Choice Energy, which will be enabling legislation for each county that will allow them to aggregate their rate payers to negotiate for better rates and for the kind of energy (solar, wind, fossil fuel) that their residents want to use.

* Climate Crisis Act, (a tax on carbon) Charges a fee for fossil fuel use in the state. The fee is used to fund: 1) Kirwan, 2) a benefit fund to offset any costs to low-income Marylanders, and 3) clean energy and resilience infrastructure improvements – HB 33 – Hearing Held

* Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Rights, which will give everyone in Maryland the right to clean air, water and a pollution free environment. HB 82/SB 151 – Hearings Held

* Right to Repair – Our electronics are manufactured with a large environmental footprint which is intentionally amplified when manufacturers produce products that either cannot be repaired, or for which repair information is not disclosed.  This bill will require manufacturers to publicly disclose repair information, decreasing waste and aiding small businesses. HB 84/SB 412 – Unfavorable Report in House Committee (Bill is dead)

* Utility Regulation – Consideration of Climate and Labor – HB 293/SB 83 – House Hearing Held

* Climate Crisis and Education Act – Tax on carbon products – HB 33/SB 76 – Hearing Held

*Plastic Bag Reduction Act State-wide ban on plastic bags – HB 314/SB 223- Hearings Held

  • Black Liquor – This bill removes “black liquor” ― the gooey, pulpy byproduct of paper production ― from the roster of fuels that qualify for tax breaks under the state’s Renewable Fuels Standard. SB 65 – Passed the Senate

 

 

Ethics

Limits on Lobbyist Spending – Limits the amount a lobbyist can spent on taking legislators out to dinner to $50 per person!  HB 292 – Hearing Held

 

 

 

Health Care

 

o Study on Universal Health Care –Establishes a Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to establish, a universal health care program to provide health benefits to all residents of the State through a single-payer system.  HB 470/SB 522 – House Hearing 3/11 – Senate Hearing Held

o Healthy Maryland Act – Establishes a comprehensive, universal single payer health care program to provide health coverage for every Maryland resident.

Housing – HB 534 – Hearing 3/11

  • Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis – HB 32 – Hearing House Judiciary Comm – House Hearing Held
  • Funding for Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services which would be channeled through the Department of Health This is a way to decrease police interactions with mental health situations. SB 286 Hearing Held

 

Housing

 

o Social Housing Legislation – This bill includes tenant protections, affordable housing and zoning changes that allow for duplexes, triplexes and quarterplexes. HB 1090 – Hearing Held

o Right to Counsel in case of evictionHB 18/SB 154 – Hearings Held

o Tenant Protection Act of 2021

* Make utility bill charges more accessible and transparent for tenants whose landlords use a ratio utility billing statement (RUBS)

* Require landlords to provide documentation for materials and services used when using security deposit funds to fix damages.

* Allow tenant associations to use apartment/living complex meeting rooms for tenant organizing meetings.

* Allow a tenant to break their lease if they are a victim of stalking.

* Allow a therapist or third-party professional to certify that a tenant is a victim of stalking or abuse, instead of just cops or a judge.

HB 50 – House Hearing Held

 

  • Mobile Laundry for the Homeless Pilot program. – HB 189 Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

Immigration and Social Justice

 

  • Trust Act – End partnership between local and state enforcement and ICE. HB 304 / SB 88 – Hearing Senate Judicial Proceedings Comm – Hearing Held
  • Termination of Private Immigration Detention Centers: This bill, often referred to as “Dignity not Detention,” will prevent the state’s detention centers – or any private facility – from initiating or renewing existing contracts with ICE -Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (There are currently three such circumstances in the state where immigrants are warehoused, in Howard, Frederick, and Worcester Counties.) The bill will also prevent ICE from coming into Maryland in the future to build its own detention centers. It would go into effect on 1 July 2021.Required local entities that have existing immigration detention agreements to terminate their contracts.  HB 16 – Hearing House Judiciary Comm. – 3/13 1:30 PM
  • Driver Privacy Act – Protects the privacy of MD drivers by requiring ICE and other Federal agencies to obtain a warrant in order to access personal information that the MVA gathers about drivers. HB 23 / SB 234 – Hearing Held
  • Action of Change of Name Waiver of Publication Requirement HB 39– Passed the House
  • Energy Supplier Low-Income Act – This bill will prohibit deregulated, third party energy suppliers, who target low-income zip codes, to charge OHEP customers higher rates than the standard energy supplier rate.  These suppliers have stepped up their door-to-door selling game during COVID and their predatory practices have reached an all-time high. SB 31/HB 397 – Passed the House of Delegates
    • The Love Is No Defense to Sexual Crimes Act. This bill prohibits the spousal defense for sexual offenses, ensuring that individuals cannot use the fact that they are married to their victim as a defense for sexual crimes including rape. HB 147 – Passed the House of Delegates

Labor and Working Rights

                       

  • Time to Care Act establishes a family and medical leave insurance program that employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in Maryland. The funding would come from both the employer and employee. It’s estimated to cost the employee $3 to $6 a week which would come as a payroll deduction. HB 375 / SB 211 – Hearing Held
  • Collective Bargaining for Workers at Community Colleges HB 894/SB 746 – House Hearing Held / Senate Hearing Finance Committee March 4 1 PM

Prince George’s Local Bills (these are bills that only pertain to Prince George’s County) and are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from Prince George’s County

 

  • HB 624.  Elected School Board – 9 members elected by district.  Right now, there is a hybrid school board. Some are appointed and some are elected. The school superintendent will be appointed by the board.  The board selects the chair and vice chair. Hearing Held

 

  • HB 622 – Prohibition on MAGLEV coming through Prince George’s County – Hearing Held

 

  • HB 621 – Prince George’s County – Elementary School Students – Daily Physical Activity (Student Health and Fitness Act) – Hearing Held

 

  • HB 617 – Prince George’s County – Alcoholic BeveragesLicenses for Supermarkets – Hearing Held

 

 

Raising Revenue Through Fair Funding Initiatives

 

Little can be done without a realistic plan to raise revenue.  A group of legislators are proposing a package of revenue proposals that would raise close to $3 billion a year by taxing corporations and the super-wealthy in Maryland and not working people.  Some of these proposals are:

 

o Combined Reporting – Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. HB 172 – Hearing Held

o Throwback Rule -Require large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. – HB 229 – Hearing Held

o Close the pass-through/LLC loophole– Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs.  LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. – HB 357 Hearing Date 1/21 – Ways and Means Comm

o Restructure personal income tax brackets and rates – Lowers income tax rates on income earners below median, raise rates on income earners above, restore millionaire tax at 7%.  HB 357 Hearing Held

o Capital gains surtax- Apply a 1% surtax on capital gains income to partially offset special treatment in federal tax code. HB 201 – Hearing Held

o Carried Interest – Apply a 19% state income surtax on the distributive or pro-rata share of a pass-through entity’s taxable income that is attributable to investment management services provided in the State. HB 215/SB 288 – House Hearing Held – Senate Budget and Taxation 1/28

o Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal – Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. HB 165 – Hearing Held

o Effective Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Act of 2020 -Requiring a publicly traded corporation that is required to file a Maryland income tax return to attach a statement identifying the corporation’s effective tax rate and an explanation of the calculation of the effective tax rate; requiring that the statement be made under oath, signed in a certain manner, subject to audit by the Comptroller, and treated as confidential taxpayer information; requiring the Comptroller to submit a certain report to the Governor and the General Assembly by March 1 each year; etc.- HB 330 – House Ways and Means Comm – Hearing Held

o Country Club Bill   Would provide $100 million in additional revenue over the next 10 years by taxing country clubs statewide at the same property tax rates that other property owners pay, $10 million in one year. HB 1120 – Hearing Held

o Decouple from federal CARES Act tax breaks:  The Federal CARES Act contains several major changes to tax policy.  These changes will reduce Maryland’s revenues by $110 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.  This legislation would decouple from these costly federal provisions that disproportionately benefit wealthy taxpayers. HB 495 – Hearing Held

*Make MD Tax Structure More Progressive – Changes the tax brackets to raise more revenue from wealthier individuals and less from people with less income.  HB 275 – Hearing Held

*Allowing Counties to Have Different Income Tax Rates Based on Income:  SB 133/HB 319 -Passed House of Delegates

 

Transportation

 

Purple Line Tree Replacement: Construction of the Purple Line required the removal of large mature trees. While the overall plan required replacement of these trees, they were replaced in areas far from the communities that lost them. Many of the areas that lost trees are already suffering from heat island effects and poor air quality. Walking and biking along these corridors for transit-dependent individuals is even hotter and more unpleasant without these trees. While these trees cannot be replaced in the exact locations they were removed, they can be replanted in the same neighborhoods on a combination of state, county, and private land. This legislation requires the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of the Environment to coordinate this effort to replant trees in these communities, prioritizing communities suffering multiple environmental health harms. Lorig Charkoudian is introducing this bill. HB 80 /SB 286 – Hearings Held

 

Two Man Crew: This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high-speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers. HB 492 – Passed the House of Delegates

 

 

 

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com

 

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

 

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

 

To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.

 

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

 

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net    to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application MD GOV which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group website:  www.plg.solutions .

 

 

Older Developments – Bills That Are Now Law

 

COVID Relief Bill

 

           
A $1.5 billion relief package to help struggling Marylanders and businesses.

Stimulus payments.  Individuals who qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019 and/or 2020 will receive one-time stimulus payments.  Eligibility is dependent on your income and number of children.  For instance, a married couple with two kids making up to $53,330 a year is eligible.  A single person with no kids can earn up to $15,820 a year and still qualify for the stimulus payment.  For people who qualified for the EITC in 2019, they will receive $500 for families or $300 for individuals.  People who qualify for the EITC in 2020 will receive $250 for families or $150 for individuals.

Expansion of the EITC.  The legislation also includes an ongoing expansion of the EITC program, which is a highly targeted and effective way of helping low-income workers and raising people out of poverty.  Maryland will now have the most generous EITC credit in the nation and low-income workers may receive hundreds of dollars more in tax refunds.  This change takes effect with tax year 2020 and will be reflected on taxpayers’ refunds.

If you think that you are eligible for the EITC in 2020 and therefore also eligible for a stimulus payment, you should file your 2020 taxes soon.  People must file their tax returns in order to receive this money.  You can get free tax preparation help through the County by calling (240) 777-1123.

Unemployment benefits.  Unemployment benefits will be exempt from the State income tax, keeping over $225.0 million in the pockets of unemployed Marylanders.  People whose claim for unemployment benefits is pending and who have been waiting in adjudication for at least 30 days will each receive $1,000.

 

Aid for businesses.  Small businesses will be allowed to keep sales tax collections of up to $9,000 over three months.  Up to 100,000 small businesses and nonprofits will be able to defer paying unemployment insurance taxes until early 2022 to help with cash flow.  Additionally, layoffs during FY 2020 and FY 2021 will not impact the employer’s experience rating–saving businesses money on their unemployment taxes.  Loans of up to $50,000 provided through the Minority and Small Business Loans program will be converted to grants.  State taxes on COVID-related loans and grants from the state will be forgiven.

Other aid.  The RELIEF Act also includes $300 million in additional relief.  People receiving benefits from the Temporary Disability Assistance Program will get an extra $100 a month through June.  Food banks will receive $10 million.  $83 million is directed to paying overdue utility bills for Marylanders.  Over $100 million in grants will be distributed to hard-hit business sectors and non-profits.

(Thanks to Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr for providing a good summary of the legislation)

 

 

Governor Vetoes that Were Over-riden by the General Assembly

 

* Kirwan Commission Reforms: The “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” required billions in extra spending on public schools to carry out education reforms recommended by the Kirwan Commission on education. The programs included expanded prekindergarten, higher teacher pay, improved career- and college-prep and more support for schools with concentrations of students from poor families. The veto of this bill meant that another bill on school construction will not go into effect. Hogan allowed the Built to Learn Act to become law, generating $2.2 billion in extra funding for school construction over the next five years using bonds that would be paid back with casino revenues.  But a provision in the bill tied the two education measures together. Until the Kirwan bill becomes law, the school construction bill does not go into effect.

* Digital downloads: This bill extends the state’s 6% sales tax to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. This bill will raise $150 million

* Long guns: This bill requires background checks on private sales and transfers of rifles and shotguns. The buyer and seller would have to go to a licensed dealer to have a federal background check completed.

* Prescription drug review board: This bill charges a fee to companies that sell prescription drugs and used the money to run the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

* Tobacco, nicotine and digital ads: Multiple taxes were rolled into one bill: an increase in the per-pack tax on cigarettes, new taxes on nicotine vaping systems and a first-in-the-nation tax on digital advertising.

 

 

Maryland Legislative Report – February 15, 2021

MD Legislative Report – Feb 15, 2021

 

The 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly has now been through one month of its three-month session.  Over 2,500 bills have been introduced.  A few bills have now passed, and others have made progress and I am recording in the front of the newsletter the latest developments.  Later in the report I have listed below some of the bills I am following and the status of those bills If there is another bill you are interested in knowing about, please let me know.

 

New Developments

 

COVID Relief Bill Passed by General Assembly and Signed into Law

           

The Maryland General Assembly passed a $1.5 billion relief package to help struggling Marylanders and businesses.

Stimulus payments.  Individuals who qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2019 and/or 2020 will receive one-time stimulus payments.  Eligibility is dependent on your income and number of children.  For instance, a married couple with two kids making up to $53,330 a year is eligible.  A single person with no kids can earn up to $15,820 a year and still qualify for the stimulus payment.  For people who qualified for the EITC in 2019, they will receive $500 for families or $300 for individuals.  People who qualify for the EITC in 2020 will receive $250 for families or $150 for individuals.

Expansion of the EITC.  The legislation also includes an ongoing expansion of the EITC program, which is a highly targeted and effective way of helping low-income workers and raising people out of poverty.  Maryland will now have the most generous EITC credit in the nation and low-income workers may receive hundreds of dollars more in tax refunds.  This change takes effect with tax year 2020 and will be reflected on taxpayers’ refunds.

If you think that you are eligible for the EITC in 2020 and therefore also eligible for a stimulus payment, you should file your 2020 taxes soon.  People must file their tax returns in order to receive this money.  You can get free tax preparation help through the County by calling (240) 777-1123.

Unemployment benefits.  Unemployment benefits will be exempt from the State income tax, keeping over $225.0 million in the pockets of unemployed Marylanders.  People whose claim for unemployment benefits is pending and who have been waiting in adjudication for at least 30 days will each receive $1,000.

 

Aid for businesses.  Small businesses will be allowed to keep sales tax collections of up to $9,000 over three months.  Up to 100,000 small businesses and nonprofits will be able to defer paying unemployment insurance taxes until early 2022 to help with cash flow.  Additionally, layoffs during FY 2020 and FY 2021 will not impact the employer’s experience rating–saving businesses money on their unemployment taxes.  Loans of up to $50,000 provided through the Minority and Small Business Loans program will be converted to grants.  State taxes on COVID-related loans and grants from the state will be forgiven.

Other aid.  The RELIEF Act also includes $300 million in additional relief.  People receiving benefits from the Temporary Disability Assistance Program will get an extra $100 a month through June.  Food banks will receive $10 million.  $83 million is directed to paying overdue utility bills for Marylanders.  Over $100 million in grants will be distributed to hard-hit business sectors and non-profits.

(Thanks to Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr for providing a good summary of the legislation)

 

 

Overriding Governor’s Vetoes

 

 

Kirwan Commission Reforms: The “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” required billions in extra spending on public schools to carry out education reforms recommended by the Kirwan Commission on education. The programs included expanded prekindergarten, higher teacher pay, improved career- and college-prep and more support for schools with concentrations of students from poor families. The veto of this bill meant that another bill on school construction will not go into effect. Hogan allowed the Built to Learn Act to become law, generating $2.2 billion in extra funding for school construction over the next five years using bonds that would be paid back with casino revenues.  But a provision in the bill tied the two education measures together. Until the Kirwan bill becomes law, the school construction bill does not go into effect.

Digital downloads: This bill extends the state’s 6% sales tax to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. This bill will raise $150 million

Long guns: This bill requires background checks on private sales and transfers of rifles and shotguns. The buyer and seller would have to go to a licensed dealer to have a federal background check completed.

Prescription drug review board: This bill charges a fee to companies that sell prescription drugs and used the money to run the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

Tobacco, nicotine and digital ads: Multiple taxes were rolled into one bill: an increase in the per-pack tax on cigarettes, new taxes on nicotine vaping systems and a first-in-the-nation tax on digital advertising.

 

Bills That Passed the House and Senate (but still must be reconciled before it is sent to the Governor)

 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities – SB 1 The Senate unanimously passed a measure that would send an extra $577 million to the state’s historically Black colleges and universities over the next decade.

 

Bills That Passed the House of Delegates

  • HB 147: The Love Is No Defense to Sexual Crimes Act. This bill prohibits the spousal defense for sexual offenses, ensuring that individuals cannot use the fact that they are married to their victim as a defense for sexual crimes including rape.
  • HB 487: The School Pedestrian Safety Act increases road safety near public schools. This bill requires school boards to create pedestrian safety plans when building new schools or renovating existing ones.
  • HB 39: Action of Change of Name – Waiver of Publication Requirement This bill waives the requirement that people seeking to change their legal name publish their intentions in a local newspaper.  It will help protect people’s privacy, especially for transgender individuals.
  • HB 189: Establishes a mobile laundry for the homeless pilot program.
  • HB 394: Prohibiting fees for summer school courses in public schools

Bills That Passed the Senate

 

Black Liquor SB 65 – The Senate gave preliminary approved to remove “black liquor” ― the gooey, pulpy byproduct of paper production ― from the roster of fuels that qualify for tax breaks under the state’s Renewable Fuels Standard.

 

 

Status of Other Important Bills that I am Following

 

Confronting the COVID CRISIS

 

COVID-19 Eviction and Housing Relief Act of 2020

* Prohibits rent increases and late fees during the pandemic and allocates funds to landlords to allow for rent forgiveness; ensures landlords demonstrate just cause in order to stop the renewal of a lease. HB 1312 Hearing Judiciary Committee 2/17

 

MD Essential Workers Protection Act

* During state of emergency essential employees 1) Receive $3/hr. hazard pay; 2) 14 day paid sick leave; 3) Right to refuse dangerous work; 4) Free COVID testing; 5) PPE at no cost to employees. HB 581 / SB 486 – House Hearing Held

 

o Foreclosure Protection Bill

* The bill: 1) extends foreclosure moratorium through state of emergency; 2) requires services to grant forbearance; 3) sets default (opt-out) repayment option as deferring missed mortgage payments to the end of the loan; 4) requires prompt notice of all these rights; and 5) creates private right of action to sue if any rights are violated. HB 1009/SB 724 – House Hearing 2/24 – 1:30 PM

 

Unemployment Insurance Reforms:

* Unemployment insurance is crucial, both as a safety net and as a countercyclical stimulus to prevent a deeper recession. This year far too many people struggled with accessing their unemployment benefits. These bills make several fixes to the system including requiring increased staffing so people who need assistance can speak to a human being, timelines for completion of claims and resolution of appeals, improved language access, and greater transparency. This bill also develops a seamless connection from the unemployment insurance process to allow applicants to connect to health benefits, in a process the bill changes the benefit calculation so that people who work multiple jobs and lose one, don’t lose out on unemployment income their family needs. Small businesses would also be protected by freezing the rates they paid from before COVID, so they do not pay higher rates for having to lay off workers due to the emergency. Finally, these bills require the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative sessions.  HB 906, 907, 908

 

Criminal Justice Reform

 

Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights – It would put police officers under the same rules that cover other government employees who come under investigation;(e.g., Police officers have 5 days before they are allowed to be investigated in a disciplinary matter) – HB 151 – Hearing Held

Public Information Act – Personnel Records – Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton’s Law) When you file a complaint of police misconduct, you cannot find out how the department investigates your complaint. All you can find out is the outcome and any discipline; you cannot find out whether the department conducted a thorough or lackluster investigation of your complaint. This is because the complaint file is considered a “personnel record” under Maryland’s Public Information Act, and personnel records may never be disclosed. THE SOLUTION. Remove the complaint file from the personnel record category, thereby allowing the police department to disclose the inappropriate situations. HB 120/ SB 178 – Hearings Held

o   House Hearing Held Removing the Governor from Parole Decisions HB 3 – – There is already a Parole Review Board that makes recommendations on who should be paroled.  In the last 20 years the number of people being let out on parole has gone down as Governors have brought politics in that decision.  Governors interested in running for higher office have been overly cautious on paroling some criminals.  Hearing Held

 

 

 

Consumer Rights

 

Increasing the amount of money low-wage workers can protect from Garnishment:  Currently it is $11,000 a year.  The bill would increase it to $26,000. HB 660 – House Hearing Judiciary Comm 2/24 at 1:30 PM

Medical Debtors Protection Act – Expand consumer protections for individuals sued for medical debt and to create an income-based repayment plan before a lawsuit can be filed; prohibit lawsuits for all medical debts below $1000. HB 565/SB 514

Drivers Bill of Rights – Limit the use of zip code in auto insurance rates and requires insurance companies to provide rebates to drivers through the state of emergency.  No Bill # Yet

o   Prohibiting Use of Credit History in Auto Insurance Rating Policies – HB 221 – Hearing Held

 

Democracy and Voting Rights

  • Voting Rights for Imprisoned Felons – HB 53 Hearing Held
  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office of the General Assembly – HB 265 / SB 6 Right now when there is a vacancy the Democratic Committee appoints the person to fill the term.  This bill a person would be appointed only until the next Federal or State election.  Hearings Held-
  • Public Financing for Candidates Running for General Assembly – HB 536 – Hearing Held

 

Education

 

Funding for Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) This bill would provide an additional $577 million to Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities over 10 years to end the state’s lengthy lawsuit over inequitable funding of the schools. – HB 1 / SB 1 – Passed the Senate and House

 

Environmental/Climate Initiatives

 

Climate Solutions Now Act, this is a comprehensive bill, which will increase the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirement from 40% by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  It also sets targets for electrifying state vehicle fleets, supporting solar on buildings and planting trees.  Finally, it has justice/equity provisions which will support already burdened communities. HB 583/ SB 414 Hearing Held

Community Choice Energy, which will be enabling legislation for each county that will allow them to aggregate their rate payers to negotiate for better rates and for the kind of energy (solar, wind, fossil fuel) that their residents want to use.

Climate Crisis Act, (a tax on carbon) Charges a fee for fossil fuel use in the state. The fee is used to fund: 1) Kirwan, 2) a benefit fund to offset any costs to low-income Marylanders, and 3) clean energy and resilience infrastructure improvements – HB 33.

Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Rights, which will give everyone in Maryland the right to clean air, water and a pollution free environment. HB 82/SB 151 – Hearings Held

Right to Repair – Our electronics are manufactured with a large environmental footprint which is intentionally amplified when manufacturers produce products that either cannot be repaired, or for which repair information is not disclosed.  This bill will require manufacturers to publicly disclose repair information, decreasing waste and aiding small businesses. HB 84/SB 412 – Hearings Held

Utility Regulation – Consideration of Climate and Labor – HB 293/SB 83 – House Hearing Held

* Climate Crisis and Education Act – Tax on carbon products – HB 33/SB 76

*Plastic Bag Reduction Act  State-wide ban on plastic bags – HB 314/SB 223- Hearings Held

 

Ethics

Limits on Lobbyist Spending – Limits the amount a lobbyist can spent on taking legislators out to dinner to $50 per person!  HB 292 – Hearing Held

 

 

Gun Control

 

A ban on 3D printed guns and guns with no serial number, which will require the creation of an agency to manage serial numbers.

 

Health Care

 

Study on Universal Health Care –Establishes a Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to establish, a universal health care program to provide health benefits to all residents of the State through a single-payer system.

Healthy Maryland Act – Establishes a comprehensive, universal single payer health care program to provide health coverage for every Maryland resident.

Housing – HB 534

o   Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis – HB 32  – Hearing House Judiciary Comm – 2/16/21 – 1:30 PM

o   Funding for Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services which would be channeled through the Department of Health This is a way to decrease police interactions with mental health situations.  SB 286 Hearing Held

 

Housing

 

Social Housing Legislation – This bill includes tenant protections, affordable housing and zoning changes that allow for duplexes, triplexes and quarterplexes. HB 1090 – Hearing 2/23 1:30 PM

Right to Counsel in case of eviction – HB 18/SB 154 – Hearings Held

Tenant Protection Act of 2021

* Make utility bill charges more accessible and transparent for tenants whose landlords use a ratio utility billing statement (RUBS)

* Require landlords to provide documentation for materials and services used when using security deposit funds to fix damages.

* Allow tenant associations to use apartment/living complex meeting rooms for tenant organizing meetings.

* Allow a tenant to break their lease if they are a victim of stalking.

* Allow a therapist or third-party professional to certify that a tenant is a victim of stalking or abuse, instead of just cops or a judge.

HB 50 – House Hearing Held

 

Immigration and Social Justice

 

o    Trust Act – End partnership between local and state enforcement and ICE.  HB 304 / SB 88 – Hearing Senate Judicial Proceedings Comm – Hearing Held

o    Termination of Private Immigration Detention Centers:  Required local entities that have existing immigration detention agreements to terminate their contracts.  HB 16 – Hearing House Judiciary Comm. – 3/13 1:30 PM

o    Driver Privacy Act – Protects the privacy of MD drivers by requiring ICE and other Federal agencies to obtain a warrant in order to access personal information that the MVA gathers about drivers.  HB 23 / SB 234 – Hearing Held

o    Universal Representation – Provide legal representation to detained MD residents facing deportation.

o    Action of Change of Name – Waiver of Publication Requirement  HB 39 Bill voted out of Committee

o    Energy Supplier Low-Income Act – This bill will prohibit deregulated, third party energy suppliers, who target low-income zip codes, to charge OHEP customers higher rates than the standard energy supplier rate.  These suppliers have stepped up their door-to-door selling game during COVID and their predatory practices have reached an all-time high. SB 31/HB 397

Labor and Working Rights

                       

  • Time to Care Act establishes a family and medical leave insurance program that employees may take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in Maryland. The funding would come from both the employer and employee. It’s estimated to cost the employee $3 to $6 a week which would come as a payroll deduction. HB 375 / SB 211 – Hearing Sen Finance Comm – 1/28 at 1 PM

Prince George’s Local Bills (these are bills that only pertain to Prince George’s County) and are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from Prince George’s County

 

  • HB 624.  Elected School Board – 9 members elected by district.  Right now, there is a hybrid school board. Some are appointed and some are elected.  The school superintendent will be appointed by the board.  The board selects the chair and vice chair

 

  • HB 622 – Prohibition on MAGLEV coming through Prince George’s County

 

  • HB 621 – Prince George’s County – Elementary School Students – Daily Physical Activity (Student Health and Fitness Act)

 

  • HB 617 –  Prince George’s County – Alcoholic Beverages – Licenses for Supermarkets

 

 

Raising Revenue Through Fair Funding Initiatives

 

Little can be done without a realistic plan to raise revenue.  A group of legislators are proposing a package of revenue proposals that would raise close to $3 billion a year by taxing corporations and the super-wealthy in Maryland and not working people.  Some of these proposals are:

 

Combined Reporting – Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. HB 172 – Hearing Ways and Means Comm 1/28 at 1:30 PM

Throwback Rule -Require large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. – HB 229 – House Ways and Means Comm 1/28 – 1:30 PM

Close the pass-through/LLC loophole– Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs.  LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. – HB 357 Hearing Date 1/21 – Ways and Means Comm

o Restructure personal income tax brackets and rates – Lowers income tax rates on income earners below median, raise rates on income earners above, restore millionaire tax at 7%.  HB 357 Hearing – House Ways and Means Comm 1/28 1:30 PM

Capital gains surtax- Apply a 1% surtax on capital gains income to partially offset special treatment in federal tax code. HB 201 – Hearing Held

Carried Interest – Apply a 19% state income surtax on the distributive or pro-rata share of a pass-through entity’s taxable income that is attributable to investment management services provided in the State. HB 215/SB 288 – House Hearing Held – Senate Budget and Taxation 1/28

Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal – Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. HB 165 – Hearing Held

Effective Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Act of 2020 -Requiring a publicly traded corporation that is required to file a Maryland income tax return to attach a statement identifying the corporation’s effective tax rate and an explanation of the calculation of the effective tax rate; requiring that the statement be made under oath, signed in a certain manner, subject to audit by the Comptroller, and treated as confidential taxpayer information; requiring the Comptroller to submit a certain report to the Governor and the General Assembly by March 1 each year; etc.- HB 330 – House Ways and Means Comm – Hearing Held

Country Club Bill   Would provide $100 million in additional revenue over the next 10 years by taxing country clubs statewide at the same property tax rates that other property owners pay, $10 million in one year. HB 1120

Decouple from federal CARES Act tax breaks:  The Federal CARES Act contains several major changes to tax policy.  These changes will reduce Maryland’s revenues by $110 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.  This legislation would decouple from these costly federal provisions that disproportionately benefit wealthy taxpayers

*Make MD Tax Structure More Progressive – Changes the tax brackets to raise more revenue from wealthier individuals and less from people with less income.  HB 275 – Ways and Means Comm – 1/28 at 1:30 PM

*Allowing Counties to Have Different Income Tax Rates Based on Income:  SB 133 – Hearings Held

 

Transportation

 

Purple Line Tree Replacement: Construction of the Purple Line required the removal of large mature trees. While the overall plan required replacement of these trees, they were replaced in areas far from the communities that lost them. Many of the areas that lost trees are already suffering from heat island effects and poor air quality. Walking and biking along these corridors for transit-dependent individuals is even hotter and more unpleasant without these trees. While these trees cannot be replaced in the exact locations they were removed, they can be replanted in the same neighborhoods on a combination of state, county, and private land. This legislation requires the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of the Environment to coordinate this effort to replant trees in these communities, prioritizing communities suffering multiple environmental health harms. Lorig Charkoudian is introducing this bill. HB 80 /SB 286 – Hearings Held

 

Two Man Crew: This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high-speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers. HB 492 – Voted out of Committee

 

 

 

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com

 

Please remember, the reason I inform people about these bills is so you can contact your state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information

 

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov     and type in the bill number.

//

For the first time ever, you are now able to watch video live-streaming of the House floor proceedings.  The 2020 session is a pilot, with only one in three days being live cast.

 

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

 

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly website. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly website:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.

 

If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:

 

Senator Malcolm Augustine       Malcolm.augustine@senate.state.md.us 410-841-3745

Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.fennell@house.state.md.us 301-858-3478

Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.ivey@house.state.md.us      410-841-3326

Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who your representatives are, you can go to www.mdelect.net    to find out who are your elected representatives   There is also a very good smart phone application MD GOV which lists all the Delegates and Senators, their Committees and their contact numbers.

 

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group website:  www.plgsolutions.