Last week was a busy week in the General Assembly. The General Assembly ends on Monday April 11th (it’s called Sine Die). Normally there is a rush to get bills passed on the last day, but this year is different.
It is assumed that a number of the important bills will be vetoed by Governor Hogan. Most years (3 out of 4) legislators are not so concerned because when the legislature comes back into session, they can override the Governor’s veto. But this year we will be electing a whole set of new (and existing) legislators and the new General Assembly cannot override vetoes passed this year.
Therefore, the General Assembly must override any vetoes before the Session ends on April 11th. Because the Governor has a number of days to consider whether or not to veto legislation, all bills have to get to his desk by April 1st in order for the General Assembly to have the time to vote on overrides. (It’s called Presentment Day) That is why a number of important pieces of legislation were passed in the last few days. Some of those important bills that were passed and now are on the Governor’s desk are:
Climate Change Bill: A sweeping piece of climate change legislation that would push the state to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 would require building owners to start relying on electricity for space and water heating needs, creating a “green bank” that would invest state funds into private projects that reduce gas emissions and expanding the state electric vehicle fleet
Abortion Care Access Bill: Health care workers besides physicians could start performing abortions in Maryland and the procedure would be covered without cost by most insurance plans in the state The bill establishes and ensures that there are a sufficient number of health professionals to provide abortion care, while establishing the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program Fund, which also provides certain requirements regarding abortion services. .
Paid Family/Medical Leave Bill: The program would give workers up to 12 weeks — or, in some limited cases, as much as 24 weeks — to welcome a newborn, care for ailing relatives or deal with health issues themselves once benefits start being paid in 2025. The benefits would be funded by mandatory contributions from workers and most employers, although the payroll tax rate would be determined later.
Banning Ghost Guns: The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure to ban so-called ghost guns, which don’t have serial numbers.
Healthy Babies Equity Act, which expands Medicaid to all pregnant people regardless of immigration status
Referendum to Legalize Marijuana on the ballot this November. (Because it is a referendum this bill is not subject to a veto)
Recurring Contributions – protects Marylanders from deceptive campaign fundraising tricks by banning campaigns–and the technology platforms they use–from raising money without the affirmative consent of the donor.
Equity in Transportation Sector requires that equity be considered when State transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed
Companion Measure to Marijuana Legalization – Although Governor Hogan cannot veto the ballot amendment to legalize marijuana, he can veto the companion legislation that would — if the amendment passes in November’s election — legalize possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, remove criminal penalties on possessing up to 2.5 ounces and create a system to expunge past criminal records for those convicted of possessing marijuana.
Criminal Justice Reform – An ominous bill which includes no confinement for first-time misdemeanor offenses, unless the crime involves a gun. Another bill would require police to notify parents and let children talk to attorneys before law enforcement interrogations.
Insulin Cost Reduction Act – Requires insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to limit the amount a covered individual is required to pay in copayments or coinsurance for a covered prescription insulin drug to not more than $30 for a 30-day supply.
Tenant Protection Legislation
- Stay of Evictions Act would require a judge to delay eviction proceedings if a tenant can prove they have a pending application for rent assistance. The bill would also allow a judge to delay an eviction, even if the judge has already ruled in favor of the landlord. But it limits the delay to no more than 35 days. The measure would apply only to tenants with pending rental assistance applications “submitted before or within 30 days after the tenant’s landlord filed a written complaint regarding the failure to pay rent.”
- Senate Bill 662 and 279 would provide funds for tenants facing eviction to have legal representation.
- Tenant Protection Act requires a landlord to disclose to prospective tenants if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system; making a certain lease provision unenforceable if the landlord fails to make the disclosure; requiring a landlord to document a bill for certain utilities; providing that a tenant organization has the right of free assembly during reasonable hours and on reasonable notice to the landlord; expanding certain provisions of law regarding the rights of certain tenants to include certain victims of stalking
Tax Relief Measures Signed into Law: This one big set of bills that the Governor did not veto.
- 30-day suspension of the gas tax (ends April 17th!!)
- The Retirement Tax Elimination Act provides relief for retirees 65 and older making up to $100,000 in retirement income, and married couples making up to $150,000 in retirement income. ($1.55 billion)
- The Work Opportunity Tax Credit incentivizes employers and businesses to hire and retain workers from underserved communities that have faced significant barriers to employment. ($195 million)
- Family Budget Boosters: sales tax exemptions for childcare products such as diapers, car seats, and baby bottles, and critical health products such as dental hygiene products, diabetic care products, and medical devices. ($115.6 million)
- The bill also expands the “hometown hero” tax exemption, which allows retired law enforcement, correctional officers, fire and emergency personnel to exempt $15,000 of retirement income annually.
HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THESE BILLS
Call or send an email to your legislators. This includes both your Delegates and your Senator since we have bills in both chambers. You can find your legislators here or on our website http://mdlegislative.com under Legislators.
If you would like to include a short description of the bills, you can include the descriptions shown above.
If you want to contact your representatives in District 47 about any of the bills, you should email or call:
Senator Malcolm Augustine Malcolm.firstname.lastname@example.org 410-841-3745
Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) Diana.email@example.com 301-858-3478
Delegate Julian Ivey (47A) Julian.firstname.lastname@example.org 410-841-3326
Delegate Wanika Fisher (47B) Wanika.email@example.com 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.