Monday, February 11, 2019

Status of Important Legislation in Annapolis

Status of Important Legislation in Annapolis

The legislative session is a little more than one month old and over 2,000 bills have been introduced.  All bills have to pass both houses by midnight on Monday April 8th.  Every bill has to have a committee hearing and then if approved by the committee voted by the full chamber.  It then has to go to the other house and has to go through the same procedure (committee vote and vote of the full chamber.)  
I have highlighted  about 30 bills that I personally am tracking.  There are many other good bills but I don't want to overwhelm everybody.    If there are specific bills that you want to know about let me know.
If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly web-site:   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   410-841-3745
Delegate Diana Fennell (47A) 301-858-3478
Delegate Julian Ivey (47A)           410-841-3326
Delegate Wanika Fisher          410-841-3340

If you do not know who are your representatives,  you can go to   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.

Minimum Wage to $15 /Hour

            HB 166 (Sponsored by Delegate Fennell) – Committee Hearing Held
            SB 2221 – Committee Hearing: 2/21/19

Criminal Justice Reform

Increasing pre-release facility services 
          HB 715 Hearing: 2/26/19
Expungement of Nonviolent Convictions 
           HB 19 – Hearing Held
Decriminization of Attempted Suicide 
           HB 77 – Hearing Held
Hate Crimes - Use of a Noose or Swastika to Threaten or Intimidate 
           HB 4 – Hearing Held
Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Prohibition on  Use of Criminal Records  
           HB 22 – Hearing Held

Consumer Rights

Prohibiting Use of Occupation or Education in Determination of car insurance rates
      HB 329 – Hearing Held
      SB 233 – Hearing 2/13
Prohibiting Use of credit factors in the determination of car insurance rates
      HB 351 – Hearing Held
      SB 235 –Hearing 2/13
Banning Discrimination In Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse  
        HB 191 – Hearing Held
        SB 607 – Hearing Not Scheduled


            Money has to be appropriated for at least $325 million in new funding proposals for teacher salary increases, the expansion of community schools and pre-k education, and increased funding for mental health services. The legislature must also  commit to full-funding for all Kirwan Commission recommendations with a requirement that $1.5 billion is put in next year’s budget.

The money for this year is  being discussed in the Appropriations Committee
No bill has introduced yet on future years funding for the recommendations

Environmental Initiatives

Prohibiting use of plastic bags         
              HB 109                          Hearing Held
              SB 285                           Hearing 2/12
Clear Energy Act        
               HB 1158                        Hearing 3/8
                SB 516                         No Hearing set
 Pipeline and Water Protection Act
              HB 669                           Hearing 3/7
               SB 387                          Hearing 2/19

Gun Control Legislation

Banning of ghost guns:  buying the parts needed to assemble a firearm
            HB 740 – Hearing 2/25
Prohibition of computer aided firearm fabrication
             SB 8 – Hearing 2/27
Plugging the Loan Loophole in  the Transfer of Gun Ownership
             HB 96 – Hearing 2/25

Health Care 

 Prescription Drug Affordability Board        
                      HB 768            No Hearing Set      
                      SB 759            No Hearing Set
 Medicare for All Legislation (First Steps)
                        HB 1087         No hearing set
                        SB 871           No Hearing Set
End of Life Option
                        HB 399            Hearing 2/15
                        SB 311             Hearing 2/19

Immigration Justice

Maryland Dream Act 
 This legislation  would protect students that might lose DACA and TPS because of Trump and expand the ability to get in-state tuition.     
            HB 318 – Committee Hearing 2/21/19
U Visa Legislation 
U-Visa Legislation will ensure that victims of crimes or witness of crimes who help the police can get a visa to keep them in the country
            HB 214 – Hearing Held                     
            SB 221 – 2/21/19
Not Keeping Undocumented People in Jail Beyond Their Sentence        
This bill ensures that undocumented immigrants are not held in jails indefinitely without judicial oversight.
            HB 913 – Hearing not yet scheduled                                                
            SB 17 – Hearing not yet scheduled

Legalization of Marijuana 

To put legalization of recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2020.
          HB 632 – Hearing 3/5

Municipal Concerns

New 5G wireless telephone poles cannot be placed without local agreement
     HB 1020       2/21
      SB 713         2/26


Majority of Counties Have to Agree Before New Toll Road Are Built Through Their Counties
            HB 102 – Hearing Held
            SB 442 - 2/27

Railroad Companies - Movement of Freight - Required Crew 
This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers.
            HB 66 – Hearing Held
             SB 252 – Hearing 2/13

Voting Rights 

Small donor public financing                 
            HB  1017         No Hearing Scheduled          
            SB 414             Hearing Feb 28
Constitutional Amendment repealing Citizens United  
              HJ2         No Hearing Scheduled
              SJ1          Hearing Feb 14
Special Election to Fill a Vacancy for State Delegate or Senator
               HB 85       Hearing Held
Repealing a Limitation of Campaign Contributions from Developers to County Executive (I am in opposition to this bill)
                HB 227   Passed the Prince George’s Delegation  - Now has to Pass the full House

Worker Rights

Collective Bargaining for community college workers   
        HB 766                  No Hearing Scheduled
Overtime for Low Paid Salaried Workers 
        HB 1040                3/5

There are a couple of good websites that also track bills.  You might want to look at QED’s web-site:  and the Maryland Legislative Coalition:

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Laws Effective Jan 1

Most bills that passed the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor were effective on July 1 and October 1 of 2018 but here are some new laws in our area that are effective January 1.


Roads near schools, youth facilities, recreation facilities, playgrounds, pools, athletic fields and senior centers in the District will have a 15 mph speed limit from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Drivers who pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian will be hit with a $500 fine and a three-point penalty.

Drivers caught going 26 mph or more above the speed limit will face additional fines.

Drivers caught speeding more than 30 mph above the limit will face criminal charges.

Fines for blocking a bike lane increase from $65 to $150; fines for bicyclists who ride with headphones in both ears will be $50.

Residents must carry health insurance. Those who do not must pay a penalty, unless an exemption is granted.

Businesses are prohibited from providing single-use plastic straws. Unofficial warnings will be issued by the Department of Energy and Environment until July, when official warnings and fines will be issued.


One new law expands coverage for equipment, supplies and self-management training to apply to elevated or impaired glucose levels caused by pre-diabetes. That’s a condition when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The new mandate also will apply to treating impaired glucose levels induced by pregnancy.

Another new law will require health insurers to cover treatment of a chronic swelling, often in an arm or leg, known as lymphedema. That’s an abnormal collection of fluid just beneath the skin. It usually develops when lymph vessels are damaged, or lymph nodes are removed.

The new mandate also will apply to treating impaired glucose levels induced by pregnancy.

Political campaigns will be prohibited from using any money via contributions received illegally.


The newly expanded Medicaid coverage for more than 400,000 residents begins.

In Alexandria, an ordinance changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway went into effect on New Year’s Day. The Alexandria City Council approved the renaming in June, after years of deliberation over whether the Confederate leader’s name should be removed from a portion of U.S. 1.

(Thanks to Kate Ryan from WTOP for putting together this material.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Moving On - My Next Project

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

                I want to wish everybody a happy holiday season.

                At the end of this month I will be ending my four-year term as a Maryland State Delegate.  While I was disappointed that I was not re-elected to another term, I am very proud of what I accomplished in the Maryland Legislature.

                In my four years as a legislator I was able to pass over fifteen pieces of legislation. Because I was on the Ways and Means Committee, I spent a lot of time working on tax policies.  One of the most significant bills saved Maryland over $60 million by making sure that sixty of the richest families did not each receive a $1 million tax break by removing almost all taxes on inherited estates.  I was also able to pass bills to increase tax credits for low-income renters and publicizing existing tax credits—which many people unfortunately do not utilize.

                I also worked with my colleagues to pass a lot of progressive legislation.  Some of the most significant bills we passed were:

  • A ban on fracking in Maryland
  • Restoring the right to vote to former prisoners after they get out of jail
  • Same day voter registration
  • Justice re-investment, which attempts to take people who are not dangerous out of our jails 
                I also spent my time getting to know all of the people in my District.   I knocked on over 15,000 doors  and talked to more than 7,000 people.  I think this might have been the most enjoyable part of my experience as a state delegate.  While it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed learning about all the neighborhoods in District 47 and hearing about everyone’s lives, concerns and hopes.  It was very fulfilling to see how I could help resolve problems that people discussed with me.
              While I will not be in elected office starting in 2019, I truly believe that one’s work in the community does not begin or end because you are elected or not elected to public office.  Many people in our community spend countless hours helping to improve our community.

              I have been thinking of how to make use of what I learned in Annapolis and the relationships I made with other legislators.  I have decided to continue my advocacy work and have started a new organization, the People’s Lobbying Group (, and will continue to advocate for our community in Annapolis on a pro-bono basis.  I have already received some good press for my initiative: 

               I will also continue to send out my newsletter (although maybe not as frequently as before) to let people know what is going on in Annapolis and what bills have become laws and when they are effective.

               I will always be an advocate for my neighbors and my community as long as I am able to do the work.  If you have any issues you feel should be addressed, please feel free to write me; though I will not be your elected representative, I will be happy to brainstorm with you about how to get problems resolved and who we should talk to in order to address your issues.

                As always, I remain an advocate for you as all of us together try to make our community a better place, move Maryland in a more progressive direction, and change the direction of our country from the nightmare that is going on in Washington.
              I hope to see you soon at a community event,  a civic association meeting, or maybe just knocking on your door.

                Wishing the best for all of us,