MD Legislative Report – Jan 28, 2021

MD Legislative Report – Jan 28, 2021

     The 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly started on Wednesday January 13.  Over 1,300 bills have been introduced since the beginning of session.

            Things are definitely much different this year. The House of Delegates has decided not to meet as a body but to have Committee Hearings in January and only to start voting on bills in February.  The full Senate is meeting every day.

            Very few bills have been voted out of Committee so there is not much information to report on bill progress.  I have listed below some of the bills I am following and the hearing dates on those bills.  If there is another bill you are interested in knowing about, please let me know.

            There were two significant developments in the first two weeks:

1)      The Senate overrode 16 vetoes from last session and held many hearings.  The biggest override was the override of the veto of the bill that funded the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.  Some of the other important veto overrides are scheduled for early February.

2)      Speaker Adrienne Jones announced a comprehensive legislative package dedicated to closing race-based economic and health gaps for minority communities. Because it is so important I am going to print here her statement:

The 2021 Racial and Economic Justice Agenda package was developed this fall with over three dozen local, state and national leaders on ideas to address systemic racism across sectors. The agenda makes 30 policy recommendations, including nine pieces of legislation, in five key areas: housing, corporate management, banking, health, business and government.

As part of The Agenda, I will be introducing legislation to expand economic opportunities for more wealth inclusion. The bill will require any company receiving State capital funding over $1 million to demonstrate racial diversity on its board and in its mission; mandate any company doing business with the State to demonstrate racial diversity on their board beginning in FY23; and create a State equity scorecard that shows a corporation’s diversity and spending that go to minority businesses.

The Agenda will also include bills to:

  • Prevent loan and credit applicants from being denied if they can provide alternate forms of credit worthiness (Queen);
  • Create tax-free savings accounts to help first-time homebuyers afford the high cost of a down payment, closing costs etc. (Brooks);
  • Add a Certified Business Enterprise component to help Maryland minority companies compete for State bids (Washington);
  • Improve the State’s procurement process and provide more technical resources to minority businesses (Wilson);
  • Redirect $10 million to TEDCO’s Builder’s Fund so minority business have access to more meaningful venture opportunities (D. Barnes);
      • Establish Health Equity Resource Communities dedicated to closing gaps in our healthcare system (Barron/J. Lewis);
      • Declare racism a public health crisis and require all healthcare providers to complete bias training as part of their licensing process (Pena-Melnyk).”

Here are some local Prince George’s 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

 

 

Overriding Governor’s Vetoes

 

          Last year Governor Hogan vetoed 25 bills.  The Senate last week overrode 16 of the less controversial bills.  It is expected that they will meet to override some of the other bills in February.  The House of Delegates is expected to override the bills in February also.

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 would have extended the state’s 6% sales tax to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. (Have you seen all the TV ads.  Big business is spending a lot of money to make sure this bill does not become law.!)

Long guns: This bill would have required 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 would have charged 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.

 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. No bill # yet

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 Economic Matters Committee – Feb 5

 

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. No bill # yet

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. This bill makes a number of 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, this bill requires the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative Sessions. No bill # yet

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 House Judiciary Comm – 2/9

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 – Hearing House Judiciary Comm – 2/9 1:30 PM – Senate Hearing 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. No Bill # yet

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.

Democracy and Voting Rights

  • Voting Rights for Imprisoned Felons – HB 53 – 1/26 Ways and Means Comm – 1:30 PM
  • 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.  House Hearing Held- Senate Hearing Educ and Health Comm – Feb 4 -11 AM
  • Public Financing for Candidates Running for General Assembly – HB 536 – Hearing Ways and Means Comm – Feb 2 1:30

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 – Hearings Held

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 Educ, Health and Env Comm – Jan 28 11 AM

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 – House Hearing Held – Sen EHE Comm 1/26

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

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- Hearing Senate Finance Comm 1/28 1 PM and Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm 1:30 PM

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

 

Housing

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

Right to Counsel in case of eviction – HB 16/SB 154 – Senate Hearing Judicial Proceedings – 1/28 11 AM

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 – Env & Trans Comm 1/26 -1:30 PM

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 – 1/27

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. – 2/17 1:30 PM

o    Driver Privacy Act – Protects the privacy of MD drivers by requiring ICE and other Federal agencies to obtain a arrant in order to access personal information that the MVA gathers about drivers.  HB 23 / SB 234 – Hearing Sen Judicial Proceedings 1/28 11 AM

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

o    Action of Change of Name – Waiver of Publication Requirement – Hearing Held

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

o     

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 1/28 1:30 PM

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.

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.

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.plg.solutions.

Big Challenges Ahead in the 2020 MD Legislative Session

Big Challenges Ahead in the 2020 MD Legislative Session

 

     What a year!! Is there much more to say?  Between Trump and COVID I have never lived through a year like this.  While our attention has focused on the horrific events that occurred at the Capital this week, there will be important issues developing in Annapolis starting next week.

 

     The 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly starts on Wednesday January 13.  In Maryland as well as the rest of the country we are facing a crisis from COVID 19 and a need to work on criminal justice issues.  There will be major initiatives to   prohibit rent increases, foreclosures, and late fees during the pandemic and to allocate funds to landlords to allow for rent forgiveness. Another initiative (MD Essential Workers Protection Act) ensures that during a state of emergency essential employees receive $3/hr. hazard pay; 14 day paid sick leave; the right to refuse dangerous work; free COVID testing; and PPE at no cost to the workers.

 

            Here are some of the legislative bills that I will be following this year.  I will be adding bills and their numbers as they are posted.  If there is another bill you are interested in knowing about, please let me know. 

 

     The legislature will also be voting on overriding Governor Hogan’s vetoes of bills passed by the General Assembly last year.  Normally this is done in the first few days of the session but because of COVID the procedure will be different.  This year the House of Delegates will solely be holding committee hearings for the first month and will not convene to vote on bills (including overriding vetoes) until the middle of February.

 

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 would have extended the state’s 6% sales tax to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services.

Long guns: This bill would have required 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 would have charged 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.

 

 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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. This bill makes a number of 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, this bill requires the state to study several other structural issues and to recommend changes for future legislative Sessions.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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

 

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.

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 – Hearing House Economic and Trans. Comm – 1/20 – Sen EHE Comm 1/26

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.

 

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 – SB 228 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

 

Housing

 

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

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

Tenant Protection Act of 2021 – HB 50

* 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.

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 – 1/27

o    Termination of Private Immigration Detention Centers:  Required local entities that have existing immigration detention agreements to terminate their contracts

o    Driver Privacy Act – Protects the privacy of MD drivers by requiring ICE and other Federal agencies to obtain a arrant in order to access personal information that the MVA gathers about drivers.  HB 23 / SB 234 – Hearing Sen Judicial Proceedings 1/28 11 AM

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

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

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

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 275

Capital gains surtax- Apply a 1% surtax on capital gains income to partially offset special treatment in federal tax code. HB 201 – Hearing Date 1/21 – Ways and Means Comm

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

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 Date 1/21 – Ways and Means Comm

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

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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.plg.solutions.

New Maryland Laws Effective January 1, 2021

Happy New Year Everybody!  2021 can only get better!

Here are some new laws in Maryland that take effect on Jan. 1.

Due to the truncated legislative session in 2020 the number of new laws is smaller than in previous years but here are some of the main bills.

 

State Minimum Wage New Minimum Wage: $11.60 And $11.75

Starting Friday, Jan. 1:

  • Organizations with at least 15 employees will increase the minimum wage to $11.75.
  • Those with fewer than 15 employees will see a minimum wage increase to $11.60.

Prince George’s County, which has had its own higher minimum-wage standards, will align with the state’s starting Friday. Its minimum wage had been $11.50; but effective Jan. 1, 2021, it will be the same as the state’s minimum wage.

 

For employers with at least 15 employees, this is the increase schedule:

  • Jan. 1, 2021 — $11.75
  • Jan. 1, 2022 — $12.50
  • Jan. 1, 2023 — $13.25
  • Jan. 1, 2024 — $14
  • Jan. 1, 2025 — $15

 

For employers with 14 or fewer employees, this is the schedule:

  • Jan. 1, 2021 — $11.60
  • Jan. 1, 2022 — $12.20
  • Jan. 1, 2023 — $12.80
  • Jan. 1, 2024 — $13.40
  • Jan. 1, 2025 — $14
  • Jan. 1, 2026 — $14.60
  • July 1, 2026 — $15

 

 

 

Voluntary Disability Self-Disclosure Card

The Motor Vehicle Administration must make a card providing details of an individual’s developmental disabilities available by Jan. 1, 2021, to any person of driving age who requests one and to the parents of a minor who requests one. The card, which is voluntary, may include written guidance on effective communication between law enforcement officers and people with developmental disabilities.

 

In Vitro Fertilization Coverage

A new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021, that enables unmarried people to have in vitro fertilization (IVF) covered by insurance if they have met certain requirements, such as three attempts at artificial insemination that have not resulted in pregnancy over the past year, and it also changes the time married couples and same-sex couples must wait to access the benefit as well, from two years to one year of unsuccessful attempts.

 

Prostate Cancer Screening

Health care providers cannot charge co-pays or deductibles for prostate cancer screening.

 

Baltimore Banning Plastic Bags

Plastic bags will be banned from Baltimore City, effective Jan. 13. Businesses must charge at least 5 cents for alternative bags, according to the Baltimore City Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act.

 

Montgomery County Labor Law: 30-Hour Janitorial Guarantee

In Montgomery County, employers will be required to guarantee 30-hour minimum work weeks for each employee working as a janitor, building cleaner, security officer, concierge, door person, handy person or building superintendent, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

 

Bowie Race Course Land

The city of Bowie must enter into a joint use agreement with Bowie State University, including an easement, to use the property associated with Bowie Race Course Training Center that is within 100 feet of the top of the Patuxent River bank for passive recreational activity, such as hiking, walking, picnicking and wildlife viewing, while the other parts of the land can be used for recreational activities including baseball, football, soccer and cricket, with one structure up to 50,000 square feet allowed to be built on the property.

 

Payment For Impounded Vehicles

In Prince George’s County, people must pay outstanding tickets to reclaim their vehicles from impoundment.

 

Campaign Laws: Write-In Restriction, Caller ID

Two laws dealing with campaigns will take effect Jan. 1.

  • A candidate who was defeated may not run as a write-in candidate the next year, effective Jan. 1.
  • Automated or prerecorded campaign calls must identify the organization and treasurer :

o     “This message has been authorized and paid for by (name of the payor or any organization affiliated with the payor), (name and title of treasurer or president). This message has not been authorized or approved by any candidate.”

 

Sexual Assault Victim Protection

Legislation that took effect Oct. 1 made it illegal to provide sexual assault victims with forms saying they waive their rights to an investigation. In the event that these victims request limitations of suspensions of investigations, law enforcement agencies must document the request and conduct a follow-up. Each law enforcement agency must have policies in place for this process by Jan. 1, 2021, and must submit a copy of the policy to the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee by Jan. 15, 2021. These measures ensure law enforcement agencies are protecting the rights of sexual assault victims.

 

Scooter Contact Info

Public motor scooters and electric low-speed scooters must provide tactile displays with contact information including website and mobile application information for the visually impaired.

 

Mattress Regulations

Those selling or importing juvenile products, mattresses, upholstered furniture or reupholstered furniture containing more than 0.1 percent of flame-retardant chemicals by mass.

 

Liens On Motor Vehicles

A release related to motor vehicle liens must be filed with the Motor Vehicle Administration within five business days of transfer (an extension from the previous requirement of three days) for the purpose of publicly available

electronic vehicle records.

 

Life Insurance Reduction Option

People can reduce the face value of their life insurance policy as an option to retain coverage and prevent lapse.

 

Health Care: Bias Training

Implicit bias training will be established for health professionals involved

in perinatal care.

 

Workweek guarantee in Montgomery County:

 

Montgomery County adopted a 30-hour workweek guarantee for janitors and other building maintenance staff in privately owned buildings. The bill was designed to expand health insurance to more workers. Beyond janitors, covered building staff include door attendants, concierges, security officers, handymen or superintendents not earning more than twice the living wage.

(Much of this information was taken from Elizabeth Janney, Patch Staff)

The Maryland General Assembly will reconvene on Wednesday January 13th.  In another newsletter I will let people know what are going to be the big issues and bills being discussed in Annapolis.  Jimmy

 

New Maryland Laws Effective October 1 2020

I hope everybody is staying safe.  

There are a number of new Maryland laws that became effective on October 1st.  Here is a summary of some of the most important ones.  

Ban On Use of Use of Foam Containers – HB 109/SB 205  bans the use of foam containers.  The ban on polystyrene was delayed from July until October to lessen the burden on the state’s restaurant industry, which has been badly hurt from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Law Preventing Discrimination Based on Hairstyle (Crown Act) – (HB 1444/SB531) The anti-discrimination hairstyle measure  expands the definition of “race” to include all textures of hair and hairstyles often worn by African Americans. It specifically safeguards hairstyles such as braids, twists and dreadlocks that are designed to protect the ends of hair by decreasing tangling, shedding and breakage.

 

The regulation of Black hairstyles dates to the 17th century trans-Atlantic slave trade when millions of Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas for labor, and has continued for centuries in both public and private arenas. The U.S. Army, for instance, banned twists, dreadlocks and cornrows in 2014. It lifted the ban in 2017 amid public outcry.

 

Ban On Retaliation for Inquiring About Your Own Salary (HB 123/SB 217) prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for inquiring about their own salary.

 

Hate crime expansions

 

1)     Hate Symbols (HB5/SB161)  The use of a noose or swastika to intimidate someone or a group will be barred, and the state’s definition of a hate crime will be expanded. The noose and swastika measure prohibits the use of both symbols, actual or depicted, on any property without permission of the owner or occupant with an intent to threaten to intimidate. Violating the law is punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.

 

2)    Collins Law (HB917-SB606) amends the state’s hate crimes statute to include crimes “motivated either in whole or in part by” hate or bias. Maryland’s existing law covered race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability, national origin and homelessness, but required the “sole” motivation for a crime to be hate or bias to prosecute it as a hate crime. Dawn and Richard Collins Jr., parents of the bill’s namesake, campaigned for the legislation in honor of the younger Collins, 23, who was fatally stabbed at a University of Maryland, College Park bus stop in 2017.

 

Outbreak preparations (Olivia’s Law) –  (HB 187/SB 329) will require colleges and universities to create plans to address the outbreak of infectious diseases.  It’s named for Olivia Paregol, a University of Maryland freshman from Howard County who died in 2018 after contracting adenovirus. Forty students were sickened that year, including 15 treated at hospitals.

 

Serious conditions as a result of adenovirus are rare, but they are more common in people with compromised immunity. Olivia was taking a medication to combat Crohn’s disease, weakening her immune system. Her death could have been prevented if the university had not waited 18 days to notify students and parents that the virus was spreading through the College Park campus.

 

Child Support Relief for Prisoners – Imprisoned parents who owe child support will see some relief starting in October.  A new law will allow inmates to have their child support order frozen while behind bars if they are serving a jail sentence of six months or more. Until now, the threshold was 18 months.  The law hopes to address the mountain of child support debt that can accrue while a parent is behind bars. An investigation published earlier this year found the system sets poor parents up to fail — saddling many fathers with massive debt, sometimes driving them from their children and sending some into an underground economy to make money.

 

Speed Camera Suspension of Licences – (HB46/SB177) repeals the state’s authority to suspend a car’s registration if its driver fails to pay a ticket issued for a speed or red light camera violation. Maryland was the only state to allow such suspensions. The state still will be able to refuse to renew a driver’s registration due to unpaid fines.

 

Passing A Cyclist will allow drivers to drive on the left side of a road in an area marked “no passing” to safely pass a cyclist traveling in the same direction.

 

Fair Housing — HB231/SB50. The HOME, or Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Act, expands Maryland’s fair housing policy by prohibiting landlords from discriminating against individuals based on their source of income, to include government subsidized housing vouchers, when renting or selling property.

Minority Businesses — HB404/SB499 requires the Department of Commerce to include information on the percentage of economic development assistance distributed to minority businesses.

Repeal of Sodomy Law HB 81 repeals  Maryland’s sodomy law. The ACLU reports several states dating back to Illinois in 1961 have already repealed these laws, which were historically used in a discriminatory manner against the LGBTQ community.

Strangulation — HB233/SB212 adds an additional prison sentence of up to 25 years for intentionally strangling someone during an assault.

Sexual Solicitation — HB246/SB231 bans individuals from seeking the consent of a parent or guardian of a minor when attempting to sexually solicit a minor.

House of Ruth — HB620  requires money deposited in donation boxes at Baltimore-Washington International Airport security screening checkpoints go to support House of Ruth Maryland, a center aiding victims of intimate partner violence.

Firefighting Foam Ban — HB619/SB420 bans the training use of fire-fighting foams that contain polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, as of Oct. 1, 2021. As of that date firefighters must use non-fluorinated foam during training. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS chemicals don’t break down in either the environment or the human body, and can build up over time leading to adverse health effects.

Maternal Mortality — HB286 is designed to address racial disparities in maternal health care.  This bill requires meetings convened under the Maternal Mortality Review Program to include stakeholders reflecting the racial and ethnic diversity of women most impacted by maternal deaths in the state. According to the group’s 2019 annual report, at least 40% of the 15 pregnancy-related deaths in 2017 were among non-Hispanic Black women. It is now required for this data to be taken into account and reflected in the diversity of the program.

Suicide Prevention — SB810  permits the State Highway Administration to post suicide prevention information, which includes a hotline number, on highway electronic signs within five miles of a zone designated as a high risk for suicides.

Nursing Homes — HB 364. This week each hospital or nursing facility in the state must begin ensuring personnel wear an identification tag when providing patient care. This mandate comes at a time when elderly care and vulnerability have been critical issues during the pandemic.

Remember to Vote –

Ballots requested by mail are now coming to people’s homes. (My wife’s ballot came earlier this week.)  Here is some good commentary by my former colleague, Marc Korman on the two state ballots initiatives.  I agree with what he says below:

Question 1: This statewide ballot question would grant the Maryland General Assembly the same power 49 other states have–a power most Marylanders assume we have–to move money around the budget submitted by the Governor.  This would not impact Maryland’s requirement for a balanced budget and would require the General Assembly to fund the budget within an overall amount set by the Governor.  It would also create a line item veto for the Governor on any budget changes the legislature makes.  Finally, the legislation does not take effect until the next Governor’s first budget.  Bottom line: The People’s Branch should have the authority to fund the People’s priorities. VOTE FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Question 2: The second statewide ballot question would authorize sports betting in the state of Maryland, something every jurisdiction around us has already permitted.  The revenue–possibly $20-$40m annually–goes to the education lockbox to fund our state’s education programs.  For many of us, the state’s incremental expansion of gaming from lottery to slots to table games to sports gaming has not been our first choice.  But given the actions by other states in our region the fact is much of this gambling will occur whether in Maryland or not.  If we can help fund education programs with these dollars, we should.  VOTE FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

 

Gov Hogan Vetoes Over 30 Bills, Don’t Forget to Vote and Who I’m Voting For

Gov. Hogan  vetoed nearly three dozen bills passed by the 2020 General Assembly, including the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the proposed multibillion-dollar education reform plan, as well as the revenue bills to fund it.  He also let 600 bills become law without his signature.

The Delegates and Senators can override the vetoes next January when the General Assembly resumes or in a special session that might be called this summer.

Here are some of the bills that were vetoed.

Education

*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 means 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.

 

*HBCUs: This bill would have required the state to spend $580 million to settle a long-running lawsuit from historically black colleges and universities that alleged disparate treatment, such as the state allowing predominately white institutions to duplicate programs at HBCUs.

 

Taxes

 

*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.

*Digital downloads: This bill would have extended the state’s 6% sales tax to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services.

 

Other Vetoes

 

*Baltimore Crime Resources: This bill would have required the state to fund a variety of efforts to tackle crime in Baltimore City. They include hiring crime prevention coordinators for 10 “micro zones” in the city, allowing state police to patrol certain highways in the city, creating a new warrant task force and staffing Baltimore’s pretrial complex with state officers so that city police officers can be used elsewhere.

 

*Long guns: This bill would have required 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 would have charged a fee to companies that sell prescription drugs and used the money to run the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

 

*Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: This bill would have given $5.5 million in state aid to the financially struggling BSO over five years.

 

*Ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos

 

*Expansion of MARC train service into Virginia and Delaware, and

 

[A good deal of this material was taken from an article in the Baltimore Sun by Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater]

 

For a complete list of the Governor’s vetoes and his reasons for vetoing the bills, you can go to https://governor.maryland.gov/2020/05/07/governor-hogan-announces-legislative-actions-2

 

Remember to Vote

I received my ballot in the mail.  Did you?

The Maryland Primary Election has been moved to Tuesday, June 2 and is primarily vote by mail. Ballots have been sent to every registered voter in our state. Voting by mail is very easy – just fill out your ballot, sign the envelope, and drop it in the mail. Postage is pre-paid, so you don’t need to add a stamp. All ballots must be postmarked by June 2 to be counted.

If you do not receive a ballot in the mail within the next week, please call the board of elections and they will send one to you. The number is:  301-341-7300

If you prefer, you can drop your ballot at a ballot drop box location from May 21 through June 2 at 8:00 p.m. There are drop box locations in the following locations:

  1. College Park Community Center: 5051 Pierce Avenue College Park, MD 20740
  2. Kentland Community Center: 2413 Pinebrook Avenue Landover, MD 20785
  3. Prince George’s County Board of Elections: 1100 Mercantile Lane, Suite 115A Largo, MD 20774

Fill out your ballot as soon as you receive it and send it back.

There will be a very limited number of in-person voting locations open on Election Day only. Polls will only be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and I encourage you to vote by mail from home if possible. Click here to find a list of in-person voting locations.

Who I’m Voting For

I don’t like to tell people who they should vote for but here are the people I’m voting for in the upcoming primary and the reasons why.

President:  I am going to do everything I can to see that Trump is defeated and that means working hard to make sure that Joe Biden is elected President.  Even saying that I am still going to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Primary.   While he has withdrawn as a nominee for President, his program is what I believe in.  Given the current crisis his advocacy of universal health care was prescient.   It now just makes current sense.  The more Sanders people elected to the Democratic Convention the better the platform will be and the greater chance that there will be rules enacted to ensure that the Party process is more Democratic (e.g. making sure we get rid of ‘super delegates’).  After the Convention we will all work together to defeat the worst President in modern history.

Congress:  Anthony Brown.  I think he has done a very good job.  He’s been responsive to his constituents and has shown an independent streak in Congress and has split with the Democratic leadership when necessary and has co-sponsored legislation for Medicare4All. 

Judges:  I am voting for the Judges recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission.  I personally know one of the Judges, Cathy Serrette, and know her to be a hardworking, compassionate and very progressive jurist.  She spearheaded the creation of the County’s Family Justice Center for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault and elder abuse.  The other Judges recommended are Bryon Bereano, Wytonja Curry, Sharon Kelsey and Jaret McCarthy.

On a Personal Note

            I hope people are staying safe during the current COVID-19 crisis.  My wife and I are staying home and are trying to stay safe.  We go out only when necessary.  The virus has done a job on our community. In Prince George’s County over 9,000 people have been confirmed having the virus and over 300 people have died  We know too many people who have had friends and relatives who have passed away as a result of COVID-19.  The ‘new normal’ will bring many new problems for our community.  There will be many businesses that won’t be able to open and people who won’t have jobs.  We will need the government at all levels to take aggressive action to help our residents.  And we will have to be vocal to tell our elected representatives that action is necessary. 

            I haven’t been sending out emails about COVID-19 because honestly I’ve been inundated with email about the crisis and I’m not sure I had much to add.  My main contribution has been to support my wife, Jodi Beder, who has been playing music (cello) on our porch 1 PM every day to comfort our community.  Some neighbors come by and listen (following social distancing guidelines) and I stream it live on my Facebook page every day.  You should check it out.  She was featured on Friday on Channel 7 TV:  https://wjla.com/news/local/prince-georges-county-cellist-plays-music-everyday-porch-during-pandemic

I’m quite proud of her and glad I can contribute by recording her live! 

I hope everybody stays safe and if you have any questions or need any assistance send me an email.  Jimmy

Maryland Legislative Update – March 19 2020

Legislative Update – March 20, 2020

 

Our world has all changed in the last two weeks and it has changed in Annapolis. 

For the first time since the Civil War, the Legislature adjourned early.

The General Assembly is expected to come back in the last week of May to possibly override vetoes by Governor Hogan and pass some extra legislation.

Over the last few days over 650 bills were passed by the General Assembly.

Here is a list of the bills I am following and are now waiting for the Governor’s signature.

If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland

General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    and type in the bill number.

 

Bills Passed by the General Assembly

Budget

Giving the Legislature the Power to Add to the Budget Voters will vote on a constitutional amendment this November.  Right now only the Governor can add to the proposed budget. The measure, which has been  introduced for more than 25 years, would allow the General Assembly to increase or decrease line items in the state’s budget, but not exceed the overall spending level set by Maryland’s governor. It would also diminish the power the governor has over the budget process, the strongest gubernatorial budget control in the nation.

Coronavirus

  • Emergency Funds for Coronavirus – SB 1079:Allows the Governor to transfer by budget amendment up to $50 million from the Revenue Stabilization Account to fund costs associated with COVID-19. Passed House of Delegates
  • Emergency Bill – This bill gives the governor authority to declare a ‘catastrophic health emergency’. It would also extended unemployment benefits

Consumer Rights

  • Debt Collection – HB 365This bill increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations.
  • Motor Vehicle and Homeowner’s Insurance – Use of Claim History in Rating Policies –SB 470 Prohibits an insurer, with respect to private passenger motor vehicle insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a homeowner’s insurance claim; and prohibiting an insurer, with respect to homeowner’s insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a private passenger motor vehicle insurance claim
  • Repeals the authority of the MVA to suspend a driver’s licensefor nonpayment of a traffic ticket. HB 280

Criminal Justice

  • Requires the creation of a pre-release facilityfor female inmates. Requires the creation of a pre-release facility for female inmates. Maryland does not have any such facilities for women. SB 604.
  • Jailhouse informants – The bill passed tougher restrictions on prosecutors’ use of jailhouse informants after false testimony from such witnesses led to convictions of four men who have since been cleared.

Education

  • Aid to Historically Black Colleges and Universities HB 1260: Requires the Governor in each fiscal year 2022-2031 to include in the annual state budget $57.7 million to be allocated to historically black colleges and universitiesin Maryland.
  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan Commission Recommendations) HB 1300/SB 1000
    • The bill will
  • Expand pre-kindergarten programs;
  • Increase funding to schools with a high percentage of poor, special education or limited-English students;
  • Add more programs to ensure that students are prepared for college and careers.
  • Raise teacher pay;
  • Hire thousands more educators to increase individual attention for students
  • Expand teacher planning and individualized instruction time;
    • Expand career technical education and community schools
    • Providing more support and staffing for special education and mental health services
    • Create an independent, seven-member “Accountability and Implementation Board” to oversee the overhaul.
  • The bill was amended to provide relief from some of the financial obligations facing local governments. The amendment will result in the state absorbing a greater proportion of the increased education funding in 17 jurisdictions including Prince George’s County. Prince George’s will have to pay $183 million more by 2030, down from $386 million. Prince George’s schools will receive the most new state funding: $724 million more annually by 2030.
    • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1 This bill provides more money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in school construction bonds, beginning in fiscal 2022, giving priority to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and the most students from poor families. The bonds would be paid off using casino revenues
  • Advertising of Free Digital Materials for College Students HB 318: Requires each public college in Maryland to disclose to students which courses use free digital materials and may provide access to certain low-cost print materials. Passed House of Delegates
  • Prohibits a public library from charging minors a fine for overdue library materials. HB 1000:

Environmental

  • Prohibition on Use of Chlorpyrifos – The pesticide Chlorpyrifos has been proven to cause brain damage in children, harm our environment, and kill wildlife. HB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of Chlorpyrifos in the State –

Ethics

  • Stopping the Revolving Door – HB 350/SB 202 A former secretary of a principal department of the Executive Branch cannot lobby 1 calendar year from the date the secretary leaves State office.
  • Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive HB 282

Gambling

  • Horse Racing:  A $389 million plan to renovate the Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course tracks and keep the Preakness Stakes race in Baltimore. Bonds will be issued for the projects. Those bonds would be paid back over 30 years using $17 million per year from the Maryland Lottery.  SB 987
  • Sports Betting – Maryland voters will decide in November whether to legalize sports betting. After that, lawmakers will decide who many licenses would be issued and who would get to bid on them.

Gun Control

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer.

 

  • Hate Crimes Act HB 5- This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidate

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income.

Health

  • Enshrines parts of the Affordable Care Act into state code HB 959 In case it is repealed by Congress or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • Hospitals – Financial Assistance Policies and Bill Collections – HB 1420/ SB 875 Increasing the family income threshold to between 200% and 500% of the federal poverty level at which a hospital’s financial assistance policy must provide free medically necessary care to patients; requiring that a certain financial assistance policy include a certain payment plan and a certain mechanism for a patient to request a certain reconsideration.
  • Requires health care professionals to receive implicit biastraining to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. HB 837

Revenue

  • Tobacco and nicotine taxes – Per pack tax on cigarettes would increase by $1.75 while vaping products would be taxed for the first time.
  • Digital Advertising – Maryland will be the first step to tax digital advertising.
  • 21st–Century Economy Sales Tax Act – The sales tax would be extended to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. HB 932

Social Justice

  • Repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws: HB 81 Repeals the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice;
  • Hairstyles – A ban on discrimination because of hair texture and hairstyles in order to stop employers from discriminating against employees based on how they wear their hair.

 Voting Rights

  • Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting – HB0037 – This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots.
  • Requires authority line to be used in campaign robocalls (i.e. who is paying for the robocall).  HB 216

 

Workers’ Rights

  • Wage History Act – HB 123/SB 217 Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents.
  • Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434 Establishes a health and safety standard for heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees.
  • Prohibiting an employer from taking adverse employment action against an employee for inquiring about the employee’s wages.

 

 

MD Legislative Update – March 2, 2020

Legislative Update – March 6, 2020

 

As we get closer to ‘cross-over’ date more bills are passing through one of the chambers of the Maryland Legislature.  Crossover date is the date that almost all the bills have to pass either the Senate or House of Delegates so they can be heard in a timely fashion by the other legislative body.  Cross-over date this year is March 16th   

I am listing some of the bills that passed one of the legislative bodies this week and then other bills I am tracking. All bills have to be passed by both the State Senate and the House of Delegates and then signed into law. At the end of the report I also list bills that will not pass this year. 

 

Bills That Have Made Progress This Week

 

  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan Commission Recommendations) HB 1300/SB 1000 – Passed House of Delegates

 

  • The bill will
  • Expand pre-kindergarten programs;
  • Increase funding to schools with a high percentage of poor, special education or limited-English students;
  • Add more programs to ensure that students are prepared for college and careers.
  • Raise teacher pay;
  • Hire thousands more educators to increase individual attention for students
  • Expand teacher planning and individualized instruction time;
    • Expand career technical education and community schools
    • Providing more support and staffing for special education and mental health services
    • Create an independent, seven-member “Accountability and Implementation Board” to oversee the overhaul. Local school systems would be required to submit plans showing how they are implementing the law. In addition to scrutinizing how schools are spending state taxpayers’ money, the board would be required to study student performance and how well the policies are closing an achievement gap among students of different races.
  • The bill was amended to provide relief from some of the financial obligations facing local governments. The amendment will result in the state absorbing a greater proportion of the increased education funding in 17 jurisdictions including Prince George’s County. Prince George’s will have to pay $183 million more by 2030, down from $386 million. Prince George’s schools will receive the most new state funding: $724 million more annually by 2030.
  • The big question is how it will be funded. The bill requires the state  to pay $2.9 billion more annually to local school systems by 2030. Local jurisdictions would have to pay a combined $863 million more by 2030.  A package of revenue bills was voted out of the Ways and Means Committee but  the legislature has not yet voted on the package to fund these improvements

 

  • Debt Collection – HB 365This bill increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations. Passed House of Delegates

 

 

  • Public Financing of School Board Candidates – SB 298 / HB 337 – Passed State Senate

 

  • Prohibiting an employer from taking adverse employment action against an employee for inquiring about the employee’s wages. HB 14 Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Removes prohibitions on prosecuting an individual accused of having raped or committed a sexual offense against their own spouse. HB 590 Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Extends insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization services to unmarried women in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of marital status. HB 781  Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Requires authority line to be used in campaign robocalls.  HB 216 Passed House of Delegates.

 

  • Prohibition on Use of Chlorpyrifos – The pesticide Chlorpyrifos has been proven to cause brain damage in children, harm our environment, and kill wildlife. HB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State – Passed the Senate

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Motor Vehicle and Homeowner’s Insurance – Use of Claim History in Rating Policies – HB 431 / SB 470 Prohibits an insurer, with respect to private passenger motor vehicle insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a homeowner’s insurance claim; and prohibiting an insurer, with respect to homeowner’s insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a private passenger motor vehicle insurance claim. Passed House of Delegates – Senate Hearing Held

 

 

Criminal Justice

 

  • Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323/SB 591 This bill authorizes inmates serving a lengthy term of incarceration to file a petition for modification of sentence after serving greater than 25 years in prison. The judge may modify the sentence if he/she determines that retention is not necessary for the protection of the public. Hearings Held

 

  • Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608/ SB 682– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. Hearings Held

 

  • Taking the Governor Out of the Parole System – HB 1219/SB 817 The independent Parole Board recommends whether long term prisoners should be released but for the last twenty years Maryland’s Governors have not followed up on the recommendations of the Parole Board because of politics. Hearings Held
  • Possession of small Amounts of Marijuana – HB 550 Increases from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense and provides that a person may not be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana based solely on the possession of less than 1 ounce. House Hearing Held

 

  • Partial Expungement SB 589/HB 1336 This bill expands Maryland’s current expungement law to apply to charges which did not end in a conviction even when other charges from the same incident end in a conviction. Senate Hearing Held.  House Judiciary Hearing – March 10

Education

  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future HB 1300/SB 1100 – In 2016, the Maryland Legislature formed the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the Kirwan Commission. The commission issued a report earlier this year with an aggressive plan to improve Maryland’s schools. This is the bill Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year.  The big question this year is how are we going to raise the money to fund this bill.  There are a lot of good bills that have been introduced to raise revenue.  These bills have also have to be passed to fully implement the recommendations outlined in HB 1300/SB 111. Hearings Held

 

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB This bill  provides more money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in school construction bonds, beginning in fiscal 2022, giving priority to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and the most students from poor families. Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Funding for HBCU Colleges HB 1260 / SB 1043 – Requires the Governor, in each of fiscal years 2022 through 2031, to include in the annual State operating budget $57,700,000 to be allocated to certain historically black colleges and universities.  House Hearing Held

 

  • Ban Lunch Shaming – SB 760 /HB 1173 This bill bans the practice of ‘lunch shaming’ where students have their lunches thrown away and replaced if they have unpaid bills. Hearings Held

 

Environment

  • Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209/SB 313 Prohibits a store from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; requiring a store to charge and collect at least 10 cents for each durable carryout bag the store provides to a customer Hearings Held

 

 

  • Community Choice Energy – SB 315/HB 561 Allows local jurisdiction to aggregate the residents in their community to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates and a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources. purchase energy at a lower rate. House Hearing Held

 

  • Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer Hearing Held

 

  • MTA Conversion to Electric Buses HB 432 Mandates that new buses purchased by the state be electric powered. Hearing Held

 

 

  • Consideration of Environmental and Labor Concerns in Public Service Commission Rate Decisions HB 531 Requires the Public Service Commission to incorporate the evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on the environment in their decision making process.  Also, when they are considering regulating and servicing public service companies that they consider maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers. House Hearing Held

 

  • Clean Jobs Building Act – HB 1490 – Net zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025. Hearing Held

 

  • Coal Transition Bill – HB 1545/SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns.  Hearing Held

 

  • Carbon Tax HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.  House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/12

 

  • Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – SB 926/HB 1426- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Increases the greenhouse gas reductions that the State must achieve by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and establishes a Climate Jobs Workgroup Senate Hearing Held/ House Hearing March 9

 

  • Taking Incineration out of the Renewable Portfolio Standard – HB 438 / SB 560 – Hearings Held

 

  • Prohibition From Intentionally Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere – SB 28Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem. Passed the Senate

 

Gambling

  • Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearings Held

 

Gun Control

 

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House of Delegates   Senate Hearing Held

 

 

Health Care

  • Study on Universal Health Care – SB 228 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 Hearing Held

 

  • End of Life Option – HB 643/SB 701 Allows terminally ill patients (specifically patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live) to request medication to end their lives.  There are many safeguards in this bill, such as ensuring that only the terminally ill patient can make the request; that they have to make it three separate times and then have it notarized; that a separate doctor has to certify that they qualify as terminally ill; and that the medication be self administered.  This is an option only.  It will allow those who are suffering to end their suffering. Hearings Held

 

  • Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis – HB 1400 – Hearing Held

 

  • Hospitals – Financial Assistance Policies and Bill Collections – HB 1420/ SB 875 Increasing the family income threshold to between 200% and 500% of the federal poverty level at which a hospital’s financial assistance policy must provide free medically necessary care to patients; requiring that a certain financial assistance policy include a certain payment plan and a certain mechanism for a patient to request a certain reconsideration. Hearings Held

 

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income;. Passed State Senate – House Hearing Held

 

Immigrant Justice

 

  • Restricting Cooperation with ICE in Civil Matters – HB 388  Prohibits law enforcement agents from making inquiries about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities, without a warrant.  Hearing Held

 

  • Safe Areas For Immigration Enforcement – HB 403 To allow public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all;  Hearing Held

 

  • Dignity not Detention – HB 677 – Prohibits state and local jurisdictions (or sheriffs) from entering into any agreement for the detention of individuals in an immigration detention facility owned or managed by a private entity. Additionally, no state or local entity can approve zoning for the construction of an immigration detention facility without public notice or comment. Hearing Held

 

  • Motor Vehicle Administration – Warrant for Personal Information and Reporting HB 892 / SB 649- Denies access to ICE to the part of a Motor Vehicle Administration record that contains personal information without a valid warrant. Hearings Heard

Revenue

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Held

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2/HB 695 This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission. This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising. Senate Hearing  Held  

 

  • Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3/HB 695 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Combined Reporting HB 295Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill. Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216Apply 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. Senate and House Hearings Held

 

  • Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. House Hearing Held

 

  • Sunsets All Business Tax Credits – HB 565 – This bill sets dates for certain business tax credits to end (they can always be renewed). Many of these credits are not effective and they need to be reviewed before they are automatically renewed – House Hearing Held

 

  • Enabling Counties to Enact Progressive Taxes – HB 1494 – Counties are going to have to pay more money to support education. This bill enables Counties to change their income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax.  Counties would still have to enact legislation to implement this. Hearing Held

 

  • Shut the Revolving Door Act of 2020 – HB 315/SB 206Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Passed State Senate – Hearings Held

 

Social Justice

  • Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – HB 488 -Establishes that the discovery or perception of, or belief about, another person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, does not constitute legally adequate provocation to mitigate a killing or an assault from the crime of assault.  Hearing Held

 

  • Hate Crimes Act HB 5- This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Passed State Senate  (now both bills have to pass the other chamber and if there are differences between the two bills they have to be reconciled)

 

  • Repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws: HB 81 Repeals the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice; Passed the House of Delegates

 

Transportation

  • County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 HB 292 – Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties. Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm.  House Hearing Held

 

  • Transit Safety and Investment Act – HB 368 – Governor Hogan has been removing money from the Maryland Transit Administration for the past 5 years and they are in such dire straights that they can’t afford maintenance of buses and light rail.  This bill will allow them to receive funding for all of their outstanding maintenance items. House Hearing  Held

 

Workers Rights

  • Wage History Act – HB 123/SB 217 Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents. House Hearing Held
  • Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act – HB 214 Grants collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants within the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland; House Hearing Held
  • Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434  Establishes a health and safety standard  for  heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees   Senate Hearing Finance – Feb 20

 

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839/SB 539 Bill establishes a private sector family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take unpaid leave to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition. House Hearing Feb 24

 

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB 10/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting – HB0037 – This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – HB0051 – HB 568/SB91This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  Hearing Held

 

  • Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns HB34/SB87 Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Held

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 Hearing Held

 

  • Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494 Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly – Hearing Held

 

  • Prohibition on Developers Making Contributions to County Execs – HB 1544 – There are complaints that Prince George’s County is the only County that forbids developers from making contributions to the County Executive.  This bill would make that prohibition state wide.  Hearing Held

 

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB 10/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

Local Bills                                                                      

 

  • Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County HB 258 – Hearing Held

 

  • Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive HB 282 (This is not a bill that I support) Hearing Held

 

  • Tax credits for small businesses Impacted by the Purple Lane – HB 540 /SB 645 – Creates a tax credit for a business that is impacted by the construction of the Purple Line light rail project. The credit is equal to the amount of business income lost during the taxable year as a result of the Purple Line construction  Hearomgs Je;d

Bills that Will not Pass this Year

 

  • Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Right – HB 517 Enable voters to choose to amend the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful environment as a way to protect individuals and communities against the worst possible cases of environmental degradation. Withdrawn

 

  • Prohibition of State Funds for MAGLEV – HB 715 Prohibits the State from using any appropriation for a magnetic levitation transportation system in the State; House Hearing Appropriations Committee – Unfavorable Report by Appropriations Committee – Withdrawn

 

  • Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660/SB 934 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers. MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US. – Referred to an interim study after session

 

  • Medical Debt Protection Act – HB 1081 This would increase protections including ensuring that a person couldn’t lose his/her home because of medical debt. Withdrawn

 

  • Allowing Prince George’s County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags HB 321 – Hearing on this bill was cancelled.  (There is a state-wide ban on disposable bags that is being considered in the legislature)

 

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. Will not be voted on by the Ways and Means Committee
  • Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507- 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 Will not be voted on by the Ways and Means 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 about these bills is so they can contact their 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 web-site:  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 are your representatives, you can go to www.mdelect.net  .

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

 

MD Legislative Update – February 22, 2020

Legislative Update – February 22, 2020

 

          As we get closer to ‘cross-over’ date more bills are passing through one of the chambers of the MD Legislature.  Crossover date is the date that almost all the bills pass either the Senate or House of Delegates by March 16th so they can be heard in a timely fashion in the other legislative body.  We also know now some bills that definitely will not pass this year because they received an unfavorable vote in their committee.  I am also listing those later in the report.

 

 I am listing the list of some of the bills that passed one of the legislative bodies this week and then other bills that I am tracking.  All bills have to be passed by the State Senate and the House of Delegates and then signed into law.

Bills That Have Made Progress

 

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House of Delegates / Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws: HB 81 Repeals the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice; Passed the House of Delegates

 

  • Motor Vehicle and Homeowner’s Insurance – Use of Claim History in Rating Policies – HB 431 / SB 470 Prohibits an insurer, with respect to private passenger motor vehicle insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a homeowner’s insurance claim; and prohibiting an insurer, with respect to homeowner’s insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a private passenger motor vehicle insurance claim. Passed House of Delegates – Senate Hearing Held

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Debt Collection – HB 365 This bill  increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations. Hearing Held

 

 

  • Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660/SB 934 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers. MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US. – Hearing Held

 

 

  • Medical Debt Protection Act – HB 1081 This would increase protections including ensuring that a person couldn’t lose his/her home because of medical debt. House Hearing Health and Govt Operations Feb 28

 

Criminal Justice

 

  • Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323/SB 591 This bill authorizes inmates serving a lengthy term of incarceration to file a petition for modification of sentence after serving greater than 25 years in prison. The judge may modify the sentence if he/she determines that retention is not necessary for the protection of the public. Hearings Held

 

  • Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608/ SB 682– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. House Hearing Held – Senate Hearing Feb 26

 

  • Taking the Governor Out of the Parole System – HB 1219/SB 817 The independent Parole Board recommends whether long term prisoners should be released but for the last twenty years Maryland’s Governors have not followed up on the recommendations of the Parole Board because of politics.  House Hearing Judiciary March 3 / Senate Hearing Judiciary Proceedings March 5

 

  • Possession of small Amounts of of Marijuana – HB 550 Increases from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense and provides that a person may not be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana based solely on the possession of less than 1 ounce. House Hearing Held

 

 

Education

  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future HB 1300/SB 1100 – In 2016, the Maryland Legislature formed the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the Kirwan Commission. The commission issued a report earlier this year with an aggressive plan to improve Maryland’s schools. This is the bill Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year.  The big question this year is how are we going to raise the money to fund this bill.  There are a lot of good bills that have been introduced to raise revenue.  These bills have also have to be passed to fully implement the recommendations outlined in HB 1300/SB 111. Hearings Held

 

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB This bill  provides more money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in school construction bonds, beginning in fiscal 2022, giving priority to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and the most students from poor families. Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Funding for HBCU Colleges HB 1260 / SB 1043 – Requires the Governor, in each of fiscal years 2022 through 2031, to include in the annual State operating budget $57,700,000 to be allocated to certain historically black colleges and universities.  House Hearing Feb 25

 

Environment

  • Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209/SB 313 Prohibits a store from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; requiring a store to charge and collect at least 10 cents for each durable carryout bag the store provides to a customer Hearings Held

 

  • Prohibition on Use of ChlropyrifosHB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State House Hearing Held

 

  • Community Choice Energy – SB 315/HB 561 Allows local jurisdiction to aggregate the residents in their community to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates and a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources. purchase energy at a lower rate. House Hearing Held

 

  • Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer Hearing Hearing Held

 

  • MTA Conversion to Electric Buses HB 432 Mandates that new buses purchased by the state be electric powered. House Hearing Environment and Transporation – Feb 18

 

  • Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Right – HB 517 Enable voters to choose to amend the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful environment as a way to protect individuals and communities against the worst possible cases of environmental degradation. House Hearing Environment and Transportation Feb 19th

 

  • Consideration of Environmental and Labor Concerns in Public Service Commission Rate Decisions HB 531 Requires the Public Service Commission to incorporate the evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on the environment in their decision making process.  Also, when they are considering regulating and servicing public service companies that they consider maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers. House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 27

 

  • Clean Jobs Building Act – HB 1490 – Net zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025

 

  • Coal Transition Bill – HB 1545/SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/5

 

  • Carbon Tax HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.  House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/12

 

  • Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – SB 926/HB 1426- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Increases the greenhouse gas reductions that the State must achieve by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and establishes a Climate Jobs Workgroup

 

  • Taking Incineration out of the Renewable Portfolio Standard – HB 438 / SB 560 House Hearing Held – Senate Hearing Feb 25

 

  • Prohibition From Intentionally Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere – SB 28Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem. Passed the Senate

 

 

Gambling

  • Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearings Held

 

Gun Control

 

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House of Delegates   Senate Hearing Held

 

Health Care

  • Study on Universal Health Care – SB 228 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 Senate Hearing Finance Committee Feb 19th

 

  • End of Life Option – HB 643/SB 701 Allows terminally ill patients (specifically patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live) to request medication to end their lives.  There are many safeguards in this bill, such as ensuring that only the terminally ill patient can make the request; that they have to make it three separate times and then have it notarized; that a separate doctor has to certify that they qualify as terminally ill; and that the medication be self administered.  This is an option only.  It will allow those who are suffering to end their suffering. Senate Hearing Judicial Proceedings – Feb 28

 

  • Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis – HB 1400

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income;. Hearing Environment and Transportation Committee – House and Senate Hearings Held

 

Immigrant Justice

 

  • Restricting Cooperation with ICE in Civil Matters – HB 388  Prohibits law enforcement agents from making inquiries about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities, without a warrant.  Hearing Held

 

  • Safe Areas For Immigration Enforcement – HB 403 To allow public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all;  Hearing Held

 

  • Dignity not Detention – HB 677 Phases out and eliminates existing ICE detention facilities and prevent new ones from coming to Maryland. House Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 25th

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. House Hearing Held

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. House Hearing Held

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2/HB 695 This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission. This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising. Senate Hearing  Held  

 

  • Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3/HB 695 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Combined Reporting HB 295Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs. LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. House Hearing Held

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill. Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216Apply 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. Senate and House Hearings Held

 

  • Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. House Hearing Held

 

  • Sunsets All Business Tax Credits – HB 565 – This bill sets dates for certain business tax credits to end (they can always be renewed). Many of these credits are not effective and they need to be reviewed before they are automatically renewed – House Hearing Held

 

  • Enabling Counties to Enact Progressive Taxes – HB 1494 – Counties are going to have to pay more money to support education. This bill enables Counties to change their income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax.  Counties would still have to enact legislation to implement this. House Hearing Feb 25

 

Social Justice

  • Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – HB 488 -Establishes that the discovery or perception of, or belief about, another person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, does not constitute legally adequate provocation to mitigate a killing or an assault from the crime of assault.
  • Hate Crimes Act HB 5- This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Passed State Senate  (now both bills have to pass the other chamber and if there are differences between the two bills they have to be reconciled)

 

Transportation

  • County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 HB 292 – Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties. Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm.  House Hearing Held

 

  • Transit Safety and Investment Act – HB 368 – Governor Hogan has been removing money from the Maryland Transit Administration for the past 5 years and they are in such dire straights that they can’t afford maintenance of buses and light rail.  This bill will allow them to receive funding for all of their outstanding maintenance items. House Hearing  Held

 

  • Prohibition of State Funds for MAGLEV – HB 715 Prohibits the State from using any appropriation for a magnetic levitation transportation system in the State; House Hearing Appropriations Committee – Feb. 25

 

Workers Rights

  • Wage History Act – HB 123/SB 217 Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents. House Hearing Held
  • Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act – HB 214 Grants collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants within the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland; House Hearing Held
  • Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434 Establishes a health and safety standard  for  heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees   Senate Hearing Finance – Feb 20

 

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839/SB 539 Bill establishes a private sector family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take unpaid leave to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition. House Hearing Feb 24

 

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting – HB0037 – This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – HB0051 – HB 568/SB91This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  Hearing Held

 

  • Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns HB34/SB87 Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Held

 

 

  • Shut the Revolving Door Act of 2020 – HB 315/SB 206Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearings Held

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 Hearing Held

 

 

  • Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494 Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly – Hearing Ways and Means Committtee – March 5

 

  • Prohibition on Developers Making Contributions to County Execs – HB 1544 – There are complaints that Prince George’s County is the only County that forbids developers from making contributions to the County Executive.  This bill would make that prohibition state wide. House Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 24

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

Local Bills                                                                      

  • Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags HB 321

 

  • Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County HB 258 – Hearing Held

 

  • Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive HB 282 (This is not a bill that I support) Hearing House Ways and Means Committee Feb 27

 

  • Tax credits for small businesses Impacted by the Purple Lane – HB 540 /SB 645 – Creates a tax credit for a business that is impacted by the construction of the Purple Line light rail project. The credit is equal to the amount of business income lost during the taxable year as a result of the Purple Line construction House Hearing Hold / Senate Hearing Budget and Taxation Feb 26

 

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 about these bills is so they can contact their 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 web-site:  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 web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  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 are your representatives, 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 web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

MD Legislative Update – Feb 16, 2020

Legislative Update – February 15, 2020

 

          Most all the bills have introduced.  Now progress is being made on some of the bills that have to be passed by the House of Delegates and State Senate and then signed into law.  Almost all the bills that are going to become law have to pass either the Senate or House of Delegates by March 16th so they can be heard in a timely fashion in the other legislative body. 

 I am listing the list of some of the bills that passed one of the legislative bodies this week and then other bills that I am tracking.  All bills have to be passed by the State Senate and the House of Delegates and then signed into law.

Bills That Have Made Progress

 

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB This bill  provides more money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in school construction bonds, beginning in fiscal 2022, giving priority to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and the most students from poor families. Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House of Delegates   Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

  • Hate Crimes Act HB 5- This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Passed State Senate  (now both bills have to pass the other chamber and if there are differences between the two bills they have to be reconciled)

 

  • Prohibition From Intentionally Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere – SB 28Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem. Passed the Senate

 

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Debt Collection – HB 365 This bill  increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations. Hearing House Economic Matters Feb 12

 

  • Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660/SB 934 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers. MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US. – House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 20th

 

 

  • Medical Debt Protection Act – HB 1081 This would increase protections including ensuring that a person couldn’t lose his/her home because of medical debt.

 

Criminal Justice

 

  • Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323/SB 591 This bill authorizes inmates serving a lengthy term of incarceration to file a petition for modification of sentence after serving greater than 25 years in prison. The judge may modify the sentence if he/she determines that retention is not necessary for the protection of the public. Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 4

 

  • Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608 HB 828– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. House Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 18th

 

  • Taking the Governor Out of the Parole System – HB 1219/SB 817 The independent Parole Board recommends whether long term prisoners should be released but for the last twenty years Maryland’s Governors have not followed up on the recommendations of the Parole Board because of politics.

 

  • Possession of small Amounts of of Marijuana – HB 550 Increases from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense and provides that a person may not be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana based solely on the possession of less than 1 ounce.

 

 

Education

  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future HB 1300/SB 1100 – In 2016, the Maryland Legislature formed the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the Kirwan Commission. The commission issued a report earlier this year with an aggressive plan to improve Maryland’s schools. This is the bill Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year.  The big question this year is how are we going to raise the money to fund this bill.  There are a lot of good bills that have been introduced to raise revenue.  These bills have also have to be passed to fully implement the recommendations outlined in HB 1300/SB 111. – Hearing Feb 17

 

Environment

  • Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209/SB 313 Prohibits a store from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; requiring a store to charge and collect at least 10 cents for each durable carryout bag the store provides to a customer Hearing Senate Finance Comm Feb 13 1 PM

 

  • Prohibition on Use of ChlropyrifosHB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State Hearing Environment and Transportation Feb 12

 

  • Community Choice Energy – SB 315/HB 561 Allows local jurisdiction to aggregate the residents in their community to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates and a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources. purchase energy at a lower rate. House Hearing Economic Matters Feb 13

 

  • Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 19

 

  • MTA Conversion to Electric Buses HB 432 Mandates that new buses purchased by the state be electric powered. House Hearing Environment and Transporation – Feb 18

 

  • Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Right – HB 517 Enable voters to choose to amend the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful environment as a way to protect individuals and communities against the worst possible cases of environmental degradation. House Hearing Environment and Transportation Feb 19th

 

  • Consideration of Environmental and Labor Concerns in Public Service Commission Rate Decisions HB 531 Requires the Public Service Commission to incorporate the evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on the environment in their decision making process.  Also, when they are considering regulating and servicing public service companies that they consider maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers. House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 27

 

  • Clean Jobs Building Act – HB 1490 – Net zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025

 

  • Coal Transition Bill – HB 1545/SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/5

 

  • Carbon Tax HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.  House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/12

 

  • Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – SB 926/HB 1426- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Increases the greenhouse gas reductions that the State must achieve by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and establishes a Climate Jobs Workgroup

 

  • Taking Incineration out of the Renewable Portfolio Standard – HB 438 / SB 560

 

Gambling

  • Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearing Ways and Means Feb 4 / Senate Budget and Taxation – Feb 5

 

Gun Control

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House Judiciary Committee / Senate Hearing Feb 5

 

Health Care

  • Study on Universal Health Care – SB 228 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 Senate Hearing Finance Committee Feb 19th

 

  • End of Life Option – HB 643/SB 701 Allows terminally ill patients (specifically patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live) to request medication to end their lives.  There are many safeguards in this bill, such as ensuring that only the terminally ill patient can make the request; that they have to make it three separate times and then have it notarized; that a separate doctor has to certify that they qualify as terminally ill; and that the medication be self administered.  This is an option only.  It will allow those who are suffering to end their suffering. Senate Hearing Judicial Proceedings – Feb 28

 

  • Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis – HB 1400

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income;. Hearing Environment and Transportation Committee – House and Senate Hearings Held

 

Immigrant Justice

 

  • Restricting Cooperation with ICE in Civil Matters – HB 388  Prohibits law enforcement agents from making inquiries about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities, without a warrant.  Hearing Held

 

  • Safe Areas For Immigration Enforcement – HB 403 To allow public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all;  Hearing Held

 

  • Dignity not Detention – HB 677 Phases out and eliminates existing ICE detention facilities and prevent new ones from coming to Maryland. House Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 25th

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. House Hearing Held

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. House Hearing Held

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2/HB 695 This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission. This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising. Senate Hearing  Held  

 

  • Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3/HB 695 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Combined Reporting HB 295Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs. LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. House Hearing Held

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill. Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216Apply 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. Senate and House Hearings Held

 

  • Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. House Hearing Held

 

  • Sunsets All Business Tax Credits – HB 565 – This bill sets dates for certain business tax credits to end (they can always be renewed). Many of these credits are not effective and they need to be reviewed before they are automatically renewed – House Hearing Held

 

  • Enabling Counties to Enact Progressive Taxes – HB 1494 – Counties are going to have to pay more money to support education. This bill enables Counties to change their income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax.  Counties would still have to enact legislation to implement this.

 

Social Justice

  • Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – HB 488 -Establishes that the discovery or perception of, or belief about, another person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, does not constitute legally adequate provocation to mitigate a killing or an assault from the crime of assault.

 

Transportation

  • County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 HB 292 – Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties. Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm.  House Hearing Held

 

  • Transit Safety and Investment Act – HB 368 – Governor Hogan has been removing money from the Maryland Transit Administration for the past 5 years and they are in such dire straights that they can’t afford maintenance of buses and light rail.  This bill will allow them to receive funding for all of their outstanding maintenance items. House Hearing  Held

 

  • Prohibition of State Funds for MAGLEV – HB 715 Prohibits the State from using any appropriation for a magnetic levitation transportation system in the State; House Hearing Appropriations Committee – Feb. 25

 

Workers Rights

  • Wage History Act – HB 123/SB 217 Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents. House Hearing Held
  • Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act – HB 214 Grants collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants within the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland; House Hearing Held
  • Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434 Establishes a health and safety standard  for  heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees   Senate Hearing Finance – Feb 20

 

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839/SB 539 Bill establishes a private sector family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take unpaid leave to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition. House Hearing Feb 24

 

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives

  • Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting – HB0037 – This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – HB0051 – HB 568/SB91This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  Hearing Held

 

  • Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns HB34/SB87 Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Held

 

 

  • Shut the Revolving Door Act of 2020 – HB 315/SB 206Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearings Held

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 Hearing Held

 

 

  • Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494 Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly – Hearing Ways and Means Committtee – March 5

 

  • Prohibition on Developers Making Contributions to County Execs – HB 1544 – There are complaints that Prince George’s County is the only County that forbids developers from making contributions to the County Executive.  This bill would make that prohibition state wide. House Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 24

 

 

 

Local Prince George’s County Bills                            

(Local bills go through a different process than other bills.  They are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from the local County and normally if passed by the County Delegation, they are normally approved by the whole House of Delegates.)

  • Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags HB 321

 

  • Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County HB 258 – Hearing Economic and Transportation Committee Feb 20

 

  • Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive HB 282 (This is not a bill that I support) Hearing House Ways and Means Committee Feb 27

 

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 about these bills is so they can contact their 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 web-site:  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 web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  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 are your representatives, 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 web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

Legislative Update – February 8, 2020

          The legislative bill deadline was this week.  This means that (with some exceptions) only bills that were introduced by the deadline will be guaranteed a bill hearing and have some chance of passing.   In order to meet the deadline legislators introduced over 1,000 bills this week.  The total number of bills that were introduced is now 2,600.  Here are some of the important bills that were introduced this week and the status of other bills that I am following.

New Bills Introduced

Consumer Rights

 

  • Medical Debt Protection Act – HB 1081  This would increase protections including ensuring that a person couldn’t lose his/her home because of medical debt.

 

Criminal Rights

 

  • Taking the Governor Out of the Parole System – HB 1219/SB 817  The independent Parole Board recommends whether long term prisoners should be released but for the last twenty years Maryland’s Governors have not followed up on the recommendations of the Parole Board because of politics.
  • Possession of small Amounts of of Marijuana – HB 550 Increases from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense and provides that a person may not be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana based solely on the possession of less than 1 ounce.

Democracy Initiatives

 

o   Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494  Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly

 

o   Prohibition on Developers Making Contributions to County Execs – HB 1544 –  There are complaints that Prince George’s County is the only County that forbids developers from making contributions to the County Executive.  This bill would make that prohibition state wide.

 

 

Education

 

  • Blueprint for Maryland’s Future HB 1300/SB 1100 – In 2016, the Maryland Legislature formed the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the Kirwan Commission. The commission issued a report earlier this year with an aggressive plan to improve Maryland’s schools.  This is the bill Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year.  The big question this year is how are we going to raise the money to fund this bill.  There are a lot of good bills that have been introduced to fund the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations.  They also have to be passed for these recommendations to be fully implemented.

 

Environment

 

o   Clean Jobs Building Act – HB 1490 – Net zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025

 

o   Coal Transition Bill – SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns

o   Carbon Tax  HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.

 

o   Climate Solutions Act of 2020  – SB 926- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Increases the greenhouse gas reductions that the State must achieve by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and establishes a Climate Jobs Workgroup.

 

Health

 

          Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis –  HB 1400

 

Revenue

 

o   Enabling Counties to Enact Progressive Taxes – HB 1494 – Counties are going to have to pay more money to support education.  This bill enables Counties to change their income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax.  Counties would still have to enact legislation to implement this.

Social Justice

  • Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – HB 488 -Establishes that the discovery or perception of, or belief about, another person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, does not constitute legally adequate provocation to mitigate a killing  or an assault from the crime of assault.

 

Workers Rights

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839 Bill establishes a private sector family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take unpaid leave to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies  SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Senate Hearing Held
  • Debt Collection – HB 365  This bill  increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations. Hearing House Economic Matters Feb 12

 

  • Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660/SB 934 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers.  MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US. – House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 20th

Criminal Justice

 

  • Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323/SB 591 This bill authorizes inmates serving a lengthy term of incarceration to file a petition for modification of sentence after serving greater than 25 years in prison.  The judge may modify the sentence if he/she determines that retention is not necessary for the protection of the public. Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 4

 

  • Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608 HB 828– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. House Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 18th

 

Education

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 1 Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds. House Hearing Held

Environment

  • Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209/SB 313 Prohibits a store from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; requiring a store to charge and collect at least 10 cents for each durable carryout bag the store provides to a customer Hearing Senate Finance Comm Feb 13 1 PM
  • Prohibition on Use of Chlropyrifos – HB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State Hearing Environment and Transportation Feb 12
  • Community Choice Energy – SB 315/HB 561 Allows local jurisdiction to aggregate the residents in their community to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates and a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources.  purchase energy at a lower rate. House Hearing Economic Matters Feb 13

 

 

  • Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer  Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 19

 

  • MTA Conversion to Electric Buses HB 432 – Mandates that new buses purchased by the state be electric powered. House Hearing Environment and Transporation – Feb 18

 

  • Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Right – HB 517 Enable voters to choose to amend the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful environment as a way to protect individuals and communities against the worst possible cases of environmental degradation. House Hearing Environment and Transportation  Feb 19th

 

  • Consideration of Environmental and Labor Concerns in Public Service Commission Rate Decisions HB 531  Requires the Public Service Commission to incorporate the evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on the environment in their decision making process.  Also, when they are considering regulating and servicing public service companies that they consider maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers. House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 27

 

Gambling

  • Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearing Ways and Means Feb 4  / Senate Budget and Taxation – Feb 5

Gun Control

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns,  Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer. Passed House Judiciary Committee / Senate Hearing Feb 5

Health Care

  • Study on Universal Health Care – SB 228 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  Senate Hearing Finance Committee Feb 19th

 

  • Ban on Flavored Electronic Smoking Devices – SB  54 Prohibits a person from shipping, importing, or selling electronic smoking device to which an artificial or natural flavoring  – Hearing Finance Committee Feb 13

 

  • End of Life Option –  HB 643/SB 701 Allows terminally ill patients (specifically patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live) to request medication to end their lives.  There are many safeguards in this bill, such as ensuring that only the terminally ill patient can make the request; that they have to make it three separate times and then have it notarized; that a separate doctor has to certify that they qualify as terminally ill; and that the medication be self administered.  This is an option only.  It will allow those who are suffering to end their suffering. Senate Hearing Judicial Proceedings – Feb 28

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income;. Hearing Environment and Transportation Committee – House and Senate Hearings Held

 

Immigrant Justice

 

  • Restricting Cooperation with ICE in Civil Matters –  HB 388  Prohibits law enforcement agents from making inquiries about an individual’s immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities, without a warrant.  Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 11
  • Safe Areas For Immigration Enforcement – HB 403  To allow public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all;  Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 11

 

  • Dignity not Detention – HB 677  Phases out and eliminates existing ICE detention facilities and prevent new ones from coming to Maryland. House Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 25th
  •  

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12
  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2/HB 695 This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission.  This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising. Senate Hearing  Held  

 

  • Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3/HB 695 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Senate Hearing Held
  • Combined Reporting HB 295– Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12
  • Throwback Rule HB 473 –Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12
  • Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507– 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. House Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill.  Senate Hearing Held
  • Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216– 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. Senate Hearing Held / House Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12
  • Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256– Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 13

 

  • Sunsets All Business Tax Credits – HB 565 – This bill sets dates for certain business tax credits to end (they can always be renewed).  Many of these credits are not effective and they need to be reviewed before they are automatically renewed – Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12

 

Social Justice

  • Hate Crimes Act HB 5 This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidate Passed the House of Delegates  – Senate Hearing Held

Transportation

  • County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 HB 292  – Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties. Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm.  Feb 13 at 1 PM
  • Transit Safety and Investment Act –  HB 368 – Governor Hogan has been removing money from the Maryland Transit Administration for the past 5 years and they are in such dire straights that they can’t afford maintenance of buses and light rail.  This bill will allow them to receive funding for all of their outstanding maintenance items. House Hearing  Held
  • Prohibition of State Funds for MAGLEV – HB 715 Prohibits the State from using any appropriation for a magnetic levitation transportation system in the State; House Hearing Appropriations Committee – Feb. 25

 

Workers Rights

  • Wage History Act – HB 123/SB 217    Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant’s wage history from former employers or their agents. House Hearing Held
  • Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act – HB 214 Grants collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants within the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland;  House Hearing Held
  • Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434  Establishes a health and safety standard  for  heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees   Senate Hearing Finance – Feb 20

 

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives

  • Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting – HB0037 –  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. Hearing Held

 

  • Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – HB0051 – HB 568/SB91 – This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  Hearing Held

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly SB0010/HB 103 This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

 

  • Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns HB34/SB87 Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Held

 

 

  • Shut the Revolving Door Act of 2020 – HB 315 – Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 12

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 House Hearing Ways and Means Feb 6th

 

 

Local Prince George’s County Bills

(Local bills go through a different process than other bills.  They are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from the local County and normally if passed by the County Delegation, they are normally approved by the whole House of Delegates.)

  • Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags  HB 321
  • Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County  HB 258
  • Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive HB 282 (This is not a bill that I support)

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 about these bills is so they can contact their 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 web-site:  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 web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  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 are your representatives, 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 web-site:  www.plg.solutions