Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Important Legislation Passes the House of Delegates 
 
In order for a bill to become law it has to be passed by the House of Delegates and the State Senate and then signed by the Governor.  This Monday was “cross-over” day.  All bills have to be passed by one House to be guaranteed a hearing by the other House.  We worked late Friday, all day Saturday and all day Monday to make sure we could get as much legislation out of the House of Delegates so it could get heard by the Senate in a timely fashion.  We passed a lot of good bills (including two of my own bills).  I will in this and subsequent newsletters discuss some of the legislation.
 
The Maryland Trust Act  House Bill 1362 passed the House of Delegates. The legislation prevents a state government agent from using public resources for civil immigration enforcement; prevents law enforcement officials from stopping, arresting, searching or detaining an individual simply to find out immigration or citizenship status; prevents a state government agency from creating a registry or database for the purpose of immigration enforcement or investigation; prevents state and local law enforcement officers from being deputized as immigration officers.

Continued Funding for Planned Parenthood – HB 1083 will ensure continued services for over 25,000 Marylanders including access to cancer screening, contraceptives and STD testing. The bill requires Governor Hogan to backfill $2.7M in state funding if President Trump defunds Planned Parenthood.

Limiting Suspension and Expulsion from Lower Elementary Schools –  We passed HB 425, which adds protection to students in lower elementary schools who would have previously been suspended or expelled from a public school for various offenses. It would now require that the school provide support or necessary intervention methods to remedy behavioral situations.

Taking Politics Out of Parole – HB 723 takes the politics out of parole in Maryland. There are 2,100 men and women serving parole-eligible life sentences in Maryland.  If it is proved they have been genuinely rehabilitated, they should have a meaningful chance at parole.

Maryland is one of only three states in the country where the Governor must personally approve parole for lifers, a process that has become highly politicized.  In the last 20 years almost no one in Maryland has been paroled, even after it is recommended by the Maryland Parole Commission, in large part because Governors do not want to risk a decision that may be politically unpopular.  With this bill a person would be paroled if it was the recommendation of the MD Parole Commission (which is basically comprised of former public safety officers). 
 
The Less Testing, More Learning Act of 2017 – HB 4160 has passed the House of Delegates and is nearing passage in the Maryland Senate. The legislation would require the State Board of Education to adopt regulations that would limit the amount of classroom learning time that may be devoted to federal, state, and locally mandated assessments for each grade to 2% of the specified minimum required annual instructional hours.
 
"Yes" Means "Yes" – We passed legislation that would require public schools to teach a “yes means yes” standard for sexual consent, moving the state one step closer to becoming only the second state to adopt such a mandate. This bill would require sexual-education classes in all Maryland public schools to teach a concept known as affirmative consent, defined by the legislation as “clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in each act within the course of sexual activity.” Local education officials would decide how to tailor the lessons in an age-appropriate way.

Drug Price-Gouging Bill –  We passed a bill that would let the Attorney General sue drug companies for price gouging.  Under this legislation a drug price increase by more than 50 percent would trigger a report to the attorney general, who would have power to demand an explanation for the increase.  The proposed law also allows the state's top lawyer to ask a judge to determine whether a drug company implemented an "unconscionable increase" to a critical prescription medicine. The measure allows a judge to fine the drug company, as well as order refunds to consumers.
 
Ban the Box Legislation – The House passed legislation that would make Maryland the first state to prohibit public and private colleges from including questions about criminal history on their applications. Admissions offices would be able to ask accepted students whether they have been convicted of a crime, but the bill would bar them from withdrawing an offer of admission based on the answer.

Moratorium on Home Sales Because of Water Liens – Marylanders who fall behind on their water bills would get a year's reprieve from the threat of having their homes sold under legislation passed by the House of Delegates.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Mary Washington, would put a year-long moratorium on the practice of selling people's homes when they fail to pay their water bills.

The problem of people losing their homes over unpaid water bills has been especially acute in Baltimore, where rate increases and billing errors have made affording the bills harder for low-income people. The Baltimore Sun reported in February that the city sent more than 315 owner-occupied properties to tax sale over unpaid water bills last year. No other utility provider is able to place a first lien to enforce an unpaid bill. The moratorium would take effect July 1.

Prince George’s School Board Change – HB 1565 – There has been a lot of discussion about whether Prince George’s County should have an elected board, or a hybrid board as exists now (9 elected and 5 appointed members). HB 1565 is a compromise bill that enables the School Board to overrule a decision by the Superintendent by a 3/5 vote (currently 2/3); it also stipulates that the elected School Board members will elect the Vice-Chair of the Board, who is currently now appointed by the County Executive.
 
My Legislation That Passed the House of Delegates

Improving the Rental Tax Credit Program – The Rental Tax Credit (which is for people over 60 or permanently disabled) excludes people who have more than $200,000 in retirement assets. This might sound reasonable, but it is actually a problem for the many people who do not have pensions but instead have their retirement savings in 401K and other retirement plans. While pensions aren’t calculated as retirement assets, 401Ks etc. are.  My bill would get rid of the asset limit if the money is in a retirement plan.

Public School Employee Whistleblower Protection Act (HB 1145) – Thirty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have whistleblower laws that cover public school employees, but Maryland’s state whistleblower law covers all state employees but not public school employees. In other states educators (teachers, administrators, and support staff) have filed whistleblower protection lawsuits after experiencing retaliation. HB 1145 extends whistleblower protection to public school employees.  

Whistleblower laws are necessary for good government.  This protection allows public employees to protect the interests of taxpayers and elected officials against waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse of authority. Whistleblower protection for educators in Maryland is necessary to make both the traditional public schools and the less stable charter school sector more accountable.
 
Status of Important Legislation

(I’ve underlined where there has been a change in the status.)
  1. Fracking ban (HB 1325)
    • The Governor has come out for a Fracking Ban.  The Senate still has to pass the bill, and hopefully we can have the ban signed into law.  It’s been a long time coming.

  1. Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2021 (HB 1416) 
    • Unfortunately it does not look as though this will be passed this year.

  1. Legislation that would prevent local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage above the state minimum wage (HB 317) 
    • The Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee announced that the bill was dead and would not be moved out of Committee.

  1. Death with Dignity” legislation (HB 370) (This would allow terminally ill patients above the age of 18 to request medication to end their life. The patients must have six months or less to live, and must provide oral and written consent from at least two doctors.)
    • The Senate bill died in Committee because there were not enough votes to pass it.  This bill will not pass this year.

  1. Bail Bond Legislation that eliminates the need for cash bail using a Pretrial Services assessment, when the defendant is not a flight risk, is not accused of a violent crime, and is not a danger to the community
    • Legislation on this bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

  1. Legislation putting the issue of the legalization of marijuana on the ballot (HB 665). Allows an individual in the State who is at least 21 years old to use marijuana, possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants. 
    • This bill did not come out of Committee and will not pass this year.

  1. Paid Sick Leave. The bill introduced covers employers with 15 or more employees. (HB 1)  
    • It was passed by the House of Delegates 88-51.  The State Senate also passed legislation.  The Senate Bill provides for six days off, and the House Bill, five days off.  The House and Senate will have to work out their differences and then send the bill to the Governor for his signature.  If he vetoes the bill it will come back to the House and Senate in order to override the veto.

  1. Legislation requiring that all members of the Prince George’s County School Board be elected (currently, 9 out of 14 members are elected, and the remaining are appointed). 
    • Compromise legislation passed the House.

  1. The Maryland Trust Act (HB 1362)
    • This bill passed the House of Delegates and now has to be passed by the Senate.
    •  
Scholarships

Scholarship are available for constituents living in District 47A who are attending or will be attending a Maryland undergraduate, graduate, or professional school during school year 2017-2018.  If you haven’t requested an application yet, please contact me at jimmy.tarlau@house.state.md.us and request one by email.  Or you may call my office at 301-858-3326 and leave your email address.  This year, my scholarship application is due Friday, April 15th.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


District 47 Night in Annapolis

Monday March 13th, 6 PM - 8 PM

Miller Senate Office Building

11 Bladen Street, Annapoli
s


President’s Conference Center 

What's better than a night out in Annapolis? Join our District 47 Legislators in Annapolis on  March 13th . We've got your dinner plans and civic duty covered!

Feel free to ask your elected officials about the local and state issues that you care about. Best of all, enjoy good food and great conversation with us.

RSVP at (301) 858-3745 or victor.ramirez@senate.state.md.us


Legislative Developments

Less Testing Legislation Passes House of Delegates

The Maryland House of Delegates unanimously passed the Less Testing, More Learning Act, which sets a 2% limit on the amount of annual instructional time that can be used for mandated standardized testing. That’s just over 20 hours a year, and far less than what we see in some districts and grade levels right now
Maryland Healthy Working Families Act Passes the House of Delegates
The House of Delegates last week passed by a vote of 88-51 a Paid Sick Day bill which will cover 750,000 employees in Maryland who have no access to earned paid sick days.  The bill was also passed by the important Senate Finance Committee.

Half of full-time Maryland workers earning less than $35,000 a year can’t earn paid sick days.  Without these earned paid sick days, Maryland’s children and working families suffer.  For a typical family without earned paid sick days, just 3.5 days without pay means losing an entire month’s grocery budget. For single-parent families, the situation is even worse.

Parents without earned paid sick days are more than twice as likely to send a sick child to school or daycare. For families among the working poor (which make up a quarter of Maryland’s African-American families), losing income due to illness can mean eviction, missed bills, and other extreme financial hardship.

Women make up 1/2 of the workforce, and 2/3 of family caregivers. Yet, 54% of working women lack access to earned sick days. 1 in 5 working women report that they or a family member have been fired or disciplined for taking time off to care for a family member.

Status of Important Legislation

(I’ve underlined where there has been a change in the status.)
  1. Fracking ban (HB 1325)
    • The House Environment and Transportation Committee voted it out of Committtee by 18 to 4.  It now has to be voted on by the full House of Delegates.  Hearings were held  Senate Committees. A vote has not been taken yet.
  
  1. Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2021 (HB 1416) 
    • Hearing on the bill was heard on March 7.
  
  1. Legislation that would prevent local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage above the state minimum wage (HB 317) 
    • The Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee announced that the bill was dead and would not be moved out of Committee.
  
  1. Death with Dignity” legislation (HB 370) (This would allow terminally ill patients above the age of 18 to request medication to end their life. The patients must have six months or less to live, and must provide oral and written consent from at least two doctors.)
    • The Senate bill died in the  Committee because there were not enough votes to pass it.  This bill will not pass this year.
  
  1. Bail bond legislation that eliminates the need for cash bail using a Pretrial Services assessment, when the defendant is not a flight risk, is not accused of a violent crime, and is not a danger to the community (There are two different bills that propose similar measures, HB 1390 and HB 1218)
    • Hearings on these two bills were held on March 7 in the House Judiciary Committee.


  1. Legislation putting the issue of the legalization of marijuana on the ballot (HB 665)  Allows an individual in the State who is at least 21 years old to use marijuana, possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants.
    • Hearing was held in the House Judiciary Committee on March 7.
  
  1. Paid sick leave. The bill introduced covers employers with 15 or more employees. (HB 1)  
    • It was passed by the House of Delegates 88-51 and was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee and is waiting for a full vote in the Senate.
  
  1. Legislation requiring that all members of the Prince George’s School Board be elected (currently, 9 out of 14 members are elected, and the remaining are appointed). 
    • The Education Committee of the Prince George’s Delegation is discussing a number of bills relating to reform of the PG Board of Education.
  
  1. The Maryland Trust Act (HB 1362) Prevents a state government agent from using public resources to enforce civil immigration enforcement; prevents law enforcement officials from stopping, arresting, searching or detaining an individual simply to find out immigration or citizenship status; prevents a state government agency from creating a registry or database for the purpose of immigration enforcement or investigation; prevents state and local law enforcement officers from being deputized as immigration officers.
    • It was heard by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.  There is a task force working on the details.
    •  
Congressman Brown is hosting a town hall meeting at Prince George’s Community College, Saturday March 18th.
This is a good time to tell our Congressman about what you think about what is going on in Washington.  Please click on the link below for details and to rsvp.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prince-georges-town-hall-with-congressman-brown-tickets-32591628438https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prince-georges-town-hall-with-congressman-brown-tickets-32591628438

Prince George’s Schools Letter on U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) has issued a letter in response to the actions by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE). This letter was sent by the school district to ease the concerns of parents about the safety of their children at school, and whether they would be subject to immigration enforcement. PGCPS does not track the immigration status of students or families; nor would the school system share information about students' or families' immigration status. The safety of our children is the number one priority. To read the letter sent by PGCPS click:    http://files.constantcontact.com/658591ae001/bc33ac70-cb4f-45d8-8efd-5108172a8d71.pdf

Scholarships

Scholarship are available for constituents living in District 47A, who are attending or will be attending a Maryland undergraduate, graduate, or professional school during school year 2017-2018.  If you haven’t requested an application yet, please contact me at jimmy.tarlau@house.state.md.us  and request one by email.  Or you may call my office at 301-858-3326 and leave your email address.  This year, my scholarship application is due Friday, April 15th.

Prince George's Community College Online Scholarship Application is now available!

This is also an excellent opportunity for alternative funding for education made possible by the generous contributions of individuals, organizations, and corporations.  www.pgcc.edu/go/scholarship . The scholarship booklet will also be available in the Prince George's Community College Financial Aid Office in Bladen Hall, Room 121.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Survey Results
         
         Over 420 responded to last week’s survey.  Thank you to all who responded.  If you have not completed the survey, you can fill it out by clicking on the link 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B639YZ3 .  I will still be collecting the results.
  1. Should we ban fracking in Maryland or just extend the existing moratorium for two more years?  (HB 1325)
    1. Yes – 66%
    2. No  - 27%
    3. Other – 7%
  2. Do you support increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2021? (HB 1416)
    1. Yes – 75%
    2. No – 15%
    3. Other – 10%
  3. Do you support legislation that would prevent local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage above the state minimum wage? (HB 317)
    1. Yes – 15%
    2. No –   85%
  4. Do you support “Death with Dignity” legislation?  (This would allow terminally ill patients above the age of 18 to request medication to end their life. The patients must have six months or less to live, and must provide oral and written consent from at least two doctors.) (HB 370)
    1. Yes – 74%
    2. No –  22%
    3. Other – 4%
  5. Do you support bail bond legislation that eliminates the need for cash bail using a Pretrial Services assessment, when the defendant is not a flight risk, is not accused of a violent crime, and is not a danger to the community? (There are two different bills that propose similar measures, HB 1390 and HB 1218)
    1. Yes – 87%
    2. No – 8%
    3. Other – 5%
  6. Do you support putting the issue of the legalization of marijuana on the ballot?  (Allows an individual in the State who is at least 21 years old to use marijuana, possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and cultivate up to 6 marijuana plant) (HB 665)
    1. Yes – 66%
    2. No – 25%
    3. Other – 9%
  7. Should employers be required to provide paid sick days for employees?
    1. Yes – 79%
    2. No – 9%
    3. Other – 12%
  8. There are actually two bills on the issue of paid sick days.  The Administration has a bill which would only cover employers with 50 or more people. (HB 382)   Another bill introduced by Delegate Clippinger would cover employers with 15 or more employees. (HB 1) Which one is preferable?
    1. 15 People – 50%
    2. 50 People – 31%
    3. Other – 19%
  9. Do you support the expansion of vouchers from $5 million to $7 million to send disadvantaged students to private and parochial schools? [Included in the Governor’s budget.]
    1. Yes –   39%
    2. No –     44%
    3. Other – 17%
  10. Should all the members of the Prince George’s School Board be elected (currently, 9 out of 14 members are elected, and the remaining are appointed)? PG 402-17 [This is a local bill and does not have a state number yet – you can look it up on this link:www.princegeorgeshousedelegation.com ]
    1. Yes –   64%
    2. No –     19%
    3. Other – 17%
  11. Do you support the Maryland Trust Act? (HB 1362) [You can read more about it below]
    1. Yes –   74%
    2. No –     16%
    3. Other – 10%

General Assembly approves Resolution Giving the Attorney General More Power to Sue the Federal  Government

             The Maryland General Assembly approved a resolution that gives the Attorney General authority to take legal action against the federal government without having to first get permission from the governor.  The joint resolution allows the Attorney General to initiate a lawsuit against the federal government for a long list of action or inaction that the attorney general deems an infringement of Marylanders' rights to health care, civil liberties, economic security, environment, immigration or international travel  Attorney Generals in 41 other states already have the right to sue the federal government.  Because it is a Joint Resolution the action is not subject to a veto by the governor.

             Other states have mounted legal challenges to Trump's executive orders, including the ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Washington state successfully halted that ban with a lawsuit this month.  Attorney General Frosh had sought Hogan's permission to challenge the constitutionality of Trump's travel ban but the  governor had not responded to the request.


House of Delegates Approves A Bill that Would Prohibit Firearms on Maryland’s Public College Campuses

          The House of Delegates passed legislation which would prohibit firearms on Maryland’s public college campuses.  I voted for this bill.  It still has to be voted on by the Senate and signed by the Governor to become law.

        Across the county, 95% of college presidents support a gun ban on college campuses, 79% of college students would not feel safe with concealed guns on campus and 89% of campus police chiefs believe preventing guns from being on campus is the best practice.

       Overwhelming evidence shows that guns on campus do not deter sexual assault. 89% of campus sexual assaults involve drugs and alcohol—33.9% perpetrated by intimate partners. 11.4% of college students seriously consider committing suicide, and in Texas, a study found that concealed carry permit holders are 181% more likely to be arrested for weapon-related crimes.
 

District 47 Night in Annapolis
Monday March 13th from 6 PM -8 PM


       What's better than a night out in Annapolis? Join our District 47 Legislators in Annapolis on Monday March 13th; we've got your dinner plans and civic duty covered!

       Feel free to ask your elected officials about the local and state issues that you care about. Best of all, enjoy good food and great conversation with us.

RSVP at (301) 858-3745
or victor.ramirez@senate.state.md.us