Wednesday, August 2, 2017

$5,000 Tax Credit for Student Debt Now Available

Have you (or do you know someone who has) incurred at least $20,000 in undergraduate student loan debt and have at least $5,000 in outstanding undergraduate student loan debt remaining?  If so, you are eligible for a tax credit of up to $5,000 on your 2017 personal income tax!    
As a result of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly, there is a new tax credit available for Maryland residents.
You must
o   currently be a Maryland resident
o   have incurred at least $20,000 in total undergraduate student loan debt;
o   have at least $5,000 in outstanding student loan debt during the tax year for which you are applying.
            The deadline is September 15th to be eligible to receive a credit on this year’s taxes.  The tax credit will also be available in future years.
            There are $5 million of tax credits available.  Priority will be given to those with the highest ratio of student debt to gross income; then to those who graduated from an institution of higher education in the state of Maryland.
            You can find out more about the tax credit and get an application form by going to:  http://mhec.maryland.gov/preparing/Pages/StudentLoanDebtReliefTaxCredit.aspx .  If you do not yourself have student debt, pass the word to your friends and relatives

Lifetime Senior Pass to All National Parks to Increase from $10 to $80
            This is a great bargain. If you plan to travel to any of the national parks and you’re 62 or over, for $10 you can buy a Senior Pass, which enables you to visit any or all the national parks for no charge.   But the Lifetime Pass will increase to $80 on August 28th.  You can still get a pass for $10 by going on-line https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass, or you can get one in person at the Fort Washington National Park.  It’s a good deal…especially at $10.

5th Annual District 47 – Family and Friends Cookout
Saturday, Sept. 9, 12:00 PM to 3 :00 PM
            4300 39th Place, Brentwood
            Join us for free food, games, music and more!

            RSVP to ngrecco@house.state.md.us or leave a message at 301-858-3340

Friday, June 30, 2017

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Maryland's legislature is the first in the country to pass legislation this year to back-fill potential federal cuts to Planned Parenthood.  It will help protect access to preventive care services for nearly 25,000 Planned Parenthood patients at nine health centers in the state if the federal government cuts funding.  It directs $2 million from Maryland's Medicaid budget and $700,000 from the state's general fund to family planning services.

GOING AFTER TAXPAYER FRAUD

Safeguards aimed at protecting Maryland taxpayers from tax fraud and identity theft take effect. The law strengthens the ability of the Comptroller's Office to stop tax fraud, protect taxpayer information and hold fraudulent filers and tax preparers accountable.  The law gives added responsibilities to the Field Enforcement Division of the Comptroller's Office to investigate potential tax fraud.  It also allows the agency to seek injunctions against tax preparers suspected of fraudulent and criminal practices.    

MINIMUM WAGE

Maryland's minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25, part of incremental increases approved in 2014 to take place over several years.

OPIOID EDUCATION

The Start Talking Maryland Act requires Maryland schools to have specific education programs on opioid addiction.  It requires public schools to include the dangers of heroin and opioids in drug education starting as early as third grade and into college.  It also requires public schools to have naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.  Schools also are required to have staff trained to use naloxone.

HOMETOWN HEROES

A new state tax credit is going into effect on retirement income of law enforcement, fire, rescue and emergency services personnel who are 55 or older.  The law exempts the first $15,000 of retirement income from state taxes.

CRAFT BREWERIES

Breweries will be able to sell up to 2,000 barrels of beer annually, up from 500 barrels.  In addition to being able to sell 2,000 barrels of beer a year, Maryland breweries throughout the state can ask for permission to buy another 1,000 barrels from distributors for sale in their taprooms.  Breweries now open will be able to keep their hours, but new breweries will have to close at 10 p.m.

POLLINATOR PROTECTION

In another step to help bees, pesticides known to harm them will be prohibited on state land designated as pollinator habitat.  Last year, Maryland approved a law to designate pollinator habitat on state agency lands, but it did not prohibit the use of harmful pesticides.  The new law allows exceptions for public health emergencies.  It also gives state agencies freedom to designate which of their lands are protected and which are not.  Last year's Pollinator Protection Act made Maryland's legislature the first in the country to restrict consumer use of neonics, pesticides known to harm bees.

PROHIBITING SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS FOR KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS

A new law prohibits school districts from suspending and expelling 4-year-olds and limits the expulsion and suspension of students in kindergarten through second grade.  According to state figures, more than 2,200 students in that age group were suspended or expelled last year, many because they were disruptive or disrespectful.

LIMITING BAIL REQUIREMENTS

New court rules that overhaul the state’s bail policies also become effective on July 1.  Hoping to reduce the number of poor people stuck in jail until their trials, the state Court of Appeals in February changed its rules on issuing bail. Judges will be required to consider a person’s ability to make bail when deciding on conditions for pretrial release.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The state health department is changing its name from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to the Maryland Health Department.
 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hogan Vetoes Two Bills

Governor Hogan vetoes paid sick leave and ban the box legislation.

Last week Governor Hogan vetoed two important pieces of legislation that the General Assembly passed during the legislative session. 

The first bill was the Paid Sick Leave Act which  would have covered 700,000 Maryland workers.  It would have given employees in business of more than 15 people five days of paid sick leave a year.  Liz Richards, Director of Working Matters Coalition got it right when she said:  “Make no mistake – the victims of this decision are Maryland parents and children. Instead of being able to take the time they need to care for their families, these Marylanders will continue to be forced to make decisions like taking off work to visit their sick child in the hospital or paying the rent that month.”

The second bill was the Ban the Box Act.  This bill would have barred colleges in the state from asking about criminal history on admissions applications.  It is important to note that the bill would not stop colleges from doing background checks on prospective students. The legislation would have allowed colleges to reject applicants with criminal records as long as they did not “automatically or unreasonably restrict” admission based on that factor, and schools could have developed policies restricting such students from campus housing or certain academic programs, such as pharmacy studies and law enforcement.

The General Assembly will attempt to over-ride both vetoes when it goes back into session in January.

Governor Hogan Signs My Public School Employee Whistle Blower Act

Governor Hogan signed my Public Employee Whistle Blower Act (HB 1145). It protects public school employees from retaliation if they report abuses in the school system. I meet many school employees who tell me they are scared of making such reports because they feel they will be fired or suspended. Hopefully this legislation will help to improve our schools by exposing more of the problems that exist but aren't reported. Thanks to my friends at Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) for encouraging me to introduce this legislation.

Hogan signs hundreds of  other bills and allows others to pass into law without his signature

One of the most important bills authorizes state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to sue drug companies that dramatically increase the price of drugs. The anti-price-gouging measure, which is the first of its kind in the nation, is limited to generic and off-patent pharmaceuticals that are subject to “unconscionable” price increases. It allows the attorney general to take action if a manufacturer raises the cost of such drugs to a level considered unjustifiable.

Other important bills that became law without his signature were legislation to
 
     Allow pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives without a physician's prescription;
 
     Make it easier for people convicted of possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana to have their records expunged by cutting the waiting period from 10 years to four;

    Place new restrictions on the use of antibiotics in raising farm animals as part of an effort to maintain their effectiveness in treating human diseases;

     Curb the suspensions and expulsions of children in pre-K through second grade. The legislation would require schools in most cases to offer specialized treatment to young children with behavioral problems rather than to simply send them home.

Some of the 200 plus bills he signed were:

     Three bills overhauling the state's dated system for procuring goods and services

     Making it easier for divorced people to resume the use of their former names and

     Requiring schools to grant an excused absence to students who have conflicts due to pregnancy or parenting responsibilities.

     A bill (first of its kind nationally) to protect bees and other pollinators on state land.

     Amber's Law, a measure sponsored by Del. Aruna Miller, which allows domestic violence victims to ask a judge to require accused abusers to wear a GPS-tracking device to monitor compliance with protective orders.

Warning:  Road Work on MD 202 (Landover Road)

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is providing a new driving surface as part of a $2.8 million safety and resurfacing project on MD 202 (Landover Road) between US 50 and MD 450. The work also includes resurfacing of the ramps to and from MD 202 to US 50. Weather and progress permitting, the 1.6-mile project should be completed by fall.
In addition to resurfacing, which will be performed at the end of the project, SHA is:

•         Replacing damaged brick medians;
•         Constructing new sidewalks and ramps;
•         Repairing or replacing damaged concrete curb and gutter;
•         Cleaning and repairing drainage inlets and pipes;
•         Installing new guardrail; and
•         Replacing all pavement markings once all final resurfacing is completed.
 
Crews may close a single lane Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and two lanes Sundays through Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.  Additional work or lane closure times may be needed throughout the lifetime of the project to expedite work and keep the project on schedule.
Initial project activity will include daytime sidewalk ramp, curb and gutter work and overnight ramp resurfacing and ramp pavement-marking work. You are Invited to
 
My Midsummer Dinner Celebration - Tuesday, July 11th
 
Please join me and
Congressman Anthony Brown
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser
Senator Victor Ramirez
Delegates Diana Fennell and Carlo Sanchez
 

July 116 to 8 pm
Three Brothers Italian Restaurant
4521 Kenilworth Ave.,   Bladensburg, MD
 
Hear about my progress in Annapolis
Tell me about your concerns
Let me tell you about my plans for next year’s session
Meet your neighbors

 
$100 Supporter - $50 Friend
$5 for District 47 residents

Checks can be made out to:
Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, 4213 34th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712