Legislative Update – February 2, 2020

          The General Assembly is in the fourth week of its 2020 Session.  The big news this week was the over-ride of five of Governor Hogan’s vetoes (listed below).  These bills have become Maryland law. 

Bills continue to be introduced.  The number is now over 1,500.  After reviewing the bill over-rides, I have listed few of the newly introduced bills and the status of other bills I am following.

 

General Assembly Overrides Five Bills Passed in 2019

 

Dream Act alterations

This measure removes the requirement that someone must go to community college before going to a four-year college.   Students and their parents must still show a record of paying taxes to be eligible for in-state tuition.

“Ban the Box” criminal record screening,

This measure prohibits private employers from including a checkbox about criminal history on job applications and would prohibit companies with 15 or more employees from asking an applicant about their criminal history at any time before the first in-person interview.

Oyster management plans

This measure establishes a consensus-based process to create a new oyster fishery management plan for the state involving environmentalists, watermen and seafood sellers.  Environmental advocates say the measure maintains sustainable oyster fisheries by taking a scientific approach to harvests, while watermen are worried about restrictions on their haul.

Repeal of the Handgun Review Board,

This bill repeals the board and direct appeals through the Office of Administrative Hearings instead.  Advocates said that repealing the board would take politics out of handgun permit decisions by putting them in the hands of judges.   Right now the Board has five people appointed by the Governor.

 

State personnel grievance procedures

This bill allows state employees to expand their ability to file  grievances related to collective bargaining agreements instead of having to go to the State Labor Relations Board

 

No Override on Two Person Crew

One bill that the legislature did not override was the bill passed in 2019 that mandated there be at least two people on all freight trains.   CSX had threatened to stop the contribution of  $113 million toward the Howard Street Tunnel project in Baltimore, which state leaders have said will greatly help the Port of Baltimore because the enlarged tunnel will be able accommodate double-stack trains and the State Senate could not come up with the 29 votes needed to override the veto.  I was disappointed by not having a vote on this bill.

 

New Bills Introduced

 

Consumer Rights         

 

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

 

Criminal Justice

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

 

Immigration Justice

  • 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

 

Environment

                  

  • 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.

Revenue

  • 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

 

  • End of Life Option – HB 643 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.

 

Transportation

 

  • 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

 

  • Heat Stress Standards HB 732 / 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

 

 

           

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

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

Education

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 1Appropriates 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

 

 

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

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231 – 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 – Feb 4 at 1 PM

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

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 13

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 222 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 13

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2 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. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12

 

  • 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 Ways and Means Feb 12

 

  • 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 Ways and Means – Feb 12

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 B&T 1/29 1 PM 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 Hearing Held / House Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 7

 

  • 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. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 13

 

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 intimidatePassed 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 Appropriations Feb 4

 

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. Hearing Economic Matters Feb 4
  • 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

 

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

 

  • 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

 

 

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