Sunday, April 3, 2022

MD General Assembly Passes Key Pieces of Legislation that Now Go to Governor Hogan

 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.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.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Maryland Legislative Report - March 24, 2022

Crossover Day has passed and now we know which bills are ‘in play’ and which bills are ‘dead’ for this General Assembly Session.  In the next three weeks bills now have to pass the other house of the legislature, signed by the Governor (or overridden by the General Assembly if vetoed by the Governor.

Some of the big issues that will be decided in the next three weeks are:  climate change legislation, juvenile justice reform, paid family sick leave, abortion rights, and legalization of the recreational cannabis industry. There will also be legislation to provide tax relief for Maryland residents but exactly the nature of the tax relief is to be determined.  It will probably be close to $350 million. 

In addition, the General Assembly signed, and the Governor signed a 30 day suspension of the 36 cents Maryland gas tax.  Make sure you fill your tank before the end of the 30-day period

 

Some of the other bills that passed one of the two houses in the last few days were:


COVID Related Legislation:

  • SB 956 Would provide extra protections to local public health officers, who have been targeted by citizens who resisted masking and vaccine mandates during COVID-19;

Tenant protection legislation

  • SB 384 would require a judge to pause tenant eviction proceedings for up to 30 days if a tenant shows that they have a pending rental assistance application.
  • HB 86, The Tenant Protection Act of 2022. would require landlords to give tenants pro-rated utility bills, based on factors such as unit square footage or the number of bedrooms. It would also require landlords to provide written notice of costs if a landlord withholds a security deposit and allow tenants to use community spaces for organizing tenant unions. The bill passed the Senate in a unanimous vote on Monday and is headed to the House.
  • HB 521  would let tenants petition courts to shield records in some eviction cases where the failure to pay rent was due to an income loss caused by the pandemic.  Even when such filings don’t result in an eviction and a tenant pays everything owed, court records can make it difficult for them to find housing in the future.

Family Leave Act

  • SB 275 legislates 12 weeks of partially paid leave, and up to 24 weeks for certain new parents. The House has settled on a measure that would create a commission to study the issue, but not implement legislation.  It will be argued out in a conference committee between the Senate and the House.  Hopefully the Senate version will be signed into law.

 

Disclosure of corporate contributions to advocacy organizations

  • HB 1343 would require companies with contracts of $1 million or more to disclose donations to so-called “501(c)(4)” organizations that run advertising campaigns on behalf of a particular project.

Clean cars

  • HB 1391 (Clean Cars Act of 2022) would extend an expired tax credit for electric vehicles. The bill was amended to limit the tax credit to exclude hybrid vehicles and apply only to zero-emission vehicles. The tax credit is also limited to vehicles that cost $50,000.

Gun store security

  • HB 1021 would require heightened security measures at gun stores, including alarm systems and security barriers including bars, security screens or grates on the windows and doors. The bill would also set rules for storing firearms when a store is closed and allow the state to suspend a dealer’s license if they don’t comply with the security requirements.

Water pollution enforcement expansion

  • SB 221 would allow the Maryland Department of the Environment to impose stricter penalties on those who violate state water laws

Here is a list of some of the other bills that passed one of the Houses in the General Assembly and have a chance of passage:

·  HB 740 - requires the state’s pension managers to consider climate as part of their fiduciary duty.

·  HB 275 - prohibits PFAS chemicals in fire-fighting foam, carpeting, and food packaging.

·  HB 111 - expands consumer protections for individuals with private student loan debt.

·  HB 52 - prohibits the sale of body parts of endangered animals.

·  HB 22 - bans declawing cats.

·  HB 436 - limits the ability of insurance companies to underwrite risk based on a customer’s credit history.

·  HB 384 - expands access to bronchodilators in schools for students who have asthma

·  HB 154 would require each public school district to adopt and implement guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to food allergens.

·  HB 459 - Juvenile Justice Reform: Makes reforms to the juvenile court and intake process based on the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council.

·  HB 16 - Unattended Dogs - Extreme Weather Conditions and Heat: Prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended without access to suitable shelter or suitable shade during extreme weather conditions and temperatures.

·  HB 19 - Safe Walk to School Act: Requires school boards to develop pedestrian safety plans.

·  HB 43 - Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2022: Requires the State government to establish standards for State-owned buildings to conserve energy.

·  HB 157 - Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles - Reserved Parking Spaces: Prohibits parking a vehicle in plug-in electric vehicle charging space unless the vehicle is plugged into charging equipment

·  SB0029 - Marriage Law - Minimum Age Requirement

·  SB0073 - General Assembly - Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office

·  HB0153 - Repeal of the Spousal Defense

·  HB0472 - Juvenile Justice Reform

·  HB0001 - Constitutional Amendment – Cannabis

  • HB 254 Requires the State Highway Administration to publish online the safety deficiencies they identify at each site of a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a state roadway.
  • HB 1482 - directing the state’s pension managers to divest from Russian-owned companies.
  • HB 172 - allows a taxpayer to deduct up to $300 in union dues.
  • HB 850 - prohibits schools that receive state funds from discrimination against students on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.
  • HB 1080 - expands Medicaid to cover prenatal and postpartum expenses of pregnant immigrant women and their children up to age 1.
  • HB 323 – Ensures the right of tenants to summon law enforcement or emergency services without fear of reprisal by landlords.
  • HB 707 - proposes a constitutional amendment to allow a gubernatorial candidate to select his or her Lieutenant Governor candidate after the primary election. 
  • HB 696 - sets up a pilot program to help school districts purchase electric school buses.
  • HB 404 - allows local governments more autonomy to lower speed limits on local roads.
  • HB 83 - raises the age a person who can get married from 15 to 17.
  • HB 920 - repeals the Governor's veto power over medical parole decisions.
  • Tax Relief package

o    House Bill 1151 cuts the tax on diabetic care products like testing strips, insulin pumps and glucose monitors.

o    House Bill 288 cuts the sales tax on baby products including car seats, baby bottles and bottle nipples. 

o    House Bill 282 cuts the sales tax on diapers.

o    House Bill 492 cuts the tax on dental hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash. 

o    House Bill 364 cuts the sales tax on thermometers, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors. 

o    House Bill 2 provides a tax credit to businesses that hire and retain workers from underrepresented communities who are chronically unemployed. 

 

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.

 

 

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.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.

 

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

MD Legislative Report - March 8 2022

   The 2022 General Assembly is two weeks away from ‘cross-over’ day when 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 two weeks we will have a clear understanding of which of the bills that I have listed have some chance of passing.  I am first listing some bills that have passed one of the two houses and then some bills that have not moved out of Committee and could use some help.

·  HB 154 would require each public school district to adopt and implement guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to food allergens.

·  HB 459 - Juvenile Justice Reform: Makes reforms to the juvenile court and intake process based on the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council.

·  HB 16 - Unattended Dogs - Extreme Weather Conditions and Heat: Prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended without access to suitable shelter or suitable shade during extreme weather conditions and temperatures.

·  HB 19 - Safe Walk to School Act: Requires school boards to develop pedestrian safety plans.

·  HB 43 - Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2022: Requires the State government to establish standards for State-owned buildings to conserve energy.

·  HB 157 - Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles - Reserved Parking Spaces: Prohibits parking a vehicle in plug-in electric vehicle charging space unless the vehicle is plugged into charging equipment

·  SB0029 - Marriage Law - Minimum Age Requirement2

·  SB0073 - General Assembly - Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office

·  HB0153 - Repeal of the Spousal Defense

·  HB0472 - Juvenile Justice Reform

·  HB0001 - Constitutional Amendment – Cannabis

·  Tax Relief package

o    House Bill 1151 cuts the tax on diabetic care products like testing strips, insulin pumps and glucose monitors.

o    House Bill 288 cuts the sales tax on baby products including car seats, baby bottles and bottle nipples. 

o    House Bill 282 cuts the sales tax on diapers.

o    House Bill 492 cuts the tax on dental hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash. 

o    House Bill 364 cuts the sales tax on thermometers, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors. 

o    House Bill 2 provides a tax credit to businesses that hire and retain workers from underrepresented communities who are chronically unemployed. 

 

 

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.

 

Action Needed


Listed below are several very important bills that need to be voted out of their committee and voted on in the next two weeks. 

Please ask your legislators (if they are on the relevant committee) to push to get the bills on a voting list and try to ensure that they pass in the strongest possible posture, without any weakening amendments.  If your legislators are not on the relevant committee, ask them to make sure that they vote for the bills and do not allow any weakening amendments.


ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS -
HB0141/SB0023 Equity in Transportation Sector - Delegate Ruth/Senator Carter
HB0171/SB0135 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act - Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo/Senator Kramer
HB0596/SB0783 Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights - Delegate W. Fisher/Senator Smith

GUN CONTROL BILLS - 
HB0425/SB0387 Public Safety - Untraceable Firearms - Speaker/President

HEALTH CARE BILLS -
HB0610/SB0493 Public Health - Commission on Universal Health Care - Delegate Ruth/Senator Pinsky
HB0008/SB0275 Labor and Employment - Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (Time to Care Act of 2202) - Delegate Valderrama/Senator Hayes
HB0694 Hospitals - Financial Assistance - Medical Bill Reimbursement - Delegate Charkoudian

SOCIAL JUSTICE BILLS -
HB0086/SB0006 Landlord and Tenant - Residential Leases - Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) - Delegate Stewart/Senator Waldstreicher
HB0083/SB0029 Family Law - Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry - Delegate Atterbeary/Senator Elfreth
HB0114/SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program - Delegate Williams/Senator Hettleman
HB0559/SB0265 Probation before Judgement - Probation Agreements - Probation Not Deportation - Delegate W. Fisher/Senator Lee
 


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.  With this sheet, you can filter by committee, County and District and see all of their contact information.  


For your Delegates:
 My name is _________, my address is ______________, and my phone number is __________.  I am writing to let you know that I am strongly supporting the following bill(s) and would like your help in getting them on a voting list this week.  I would also like to ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments. 

If you are not on the relevant committee for these bills, I would appreciate your voting for them on the House floor and ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments. 


Economic Matters Committee

·  HB0008 Labor and Employment - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Establishment (Time to Care Act) - Delegate Valderrama

·  HB0171 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act - Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo

Environment and Transportation Committee

·  HB0086 Landlord and Tenant - Residential Leases - Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) - Delegate Stewart

·  HB0141Equity in Transportation Sector - Delegate Ruth

·  HB0596 Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights - Delegate W. Fisher

Health and Government Operations Committee

·  HB0610 Public Health - Commission on Universal Health Care - Delegate Ruth

·  HB0694 Hospitals - Financial Assistance - Medical Bill Reimbursement - Delegate Charkoudian

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

·  HB0425 Public Safety - Untraceable Firearms - Speaker

·  HB0559Probation before Judgement - Probation Agreements - Probation Not Deportation - Delegate W. Fisher


For your Senator:
My name is _________, my address is ______________, and my phone number is __________.  I am writing to let you know that I am strongly supporting the following bill(s) and would like your help in getting them on a voting list this week.  I would also like to ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments. 

If you are not on the relevant committee for these bills, I would appreciate your voting for them on the Senate floor and ask that you do not vote for any weakening amendments. 

Finance Committee

·  SB0023 Equity in Transportation Sector - Senator Carter

·  SB0275 Labor and Employment - Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (Time to Care Act of 2202) - Senator Hayes

·  SB0493 Public Health - Commission on Universal Health Care - Senator Pinsky

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

·  SB0135 Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act - Senator Kramer

Judicial Proceedings Committee

·  SB0006 Landlord and Tenant - Residential Leases - Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) - Senator Waldstreicher

·  SB0029 Family Law - Emancipation of a Minor and Authorization to Marry - Delegate Senator Elfreth

·  SB0129 Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program - Senator Hettleman

·  SB0265 Probation before Judgement - Probation Agreements - Probation Not Deportation - Senator Lee

·  SB0387 Public Safety - Untraceable Firearms - President

·  SB0783 Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights - Senator Smith



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.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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