MD Legislative Update – Feb 22, 2022

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

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

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

 

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

 

Clean Air and Water Please! – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical Debt Protection – 

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

Cannabis Legalization –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environment and Transportation Committee

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

Economic Matters Committee

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


Health and Government Affairs Committee

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

Judiciary Committee

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

Ways and Means Committee

  • HB 488 – Public Financing of Local Elections

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Environment and Transportation Committee

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

 

Judiciary Committee

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

Economic Matters Committee

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

Ways and Means Committee

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

For your Senator:

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

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

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

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

Judicial Proceedings Committee

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

Finance Committee

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

 

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

General Information

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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