Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Governor Hogan Vetoes Eight Bills - Other Legislation Becomes Law

Last Friday was the last day that Governor Hogan had to either sign a bill that passed the Maryland General Assembly, let the bill become law without signing it, or veto the bill.

If a bill is vetoed the General Assembly  can over-ride the veto next January.   A veto-over ride needs 60% of the House and Senate.  The Democratic majority is somewhat over 65% in both chambers.

On Friday  Governor Hogan vetoed 8 bills and let 300 bills become law without his signature.  He had previously signed hundreds of other bills.

The eight bills Hogan vetoed were:
 
  • The elimination of the state’s controversial Handgun Permit Review Board, which reviews and makes the final ruling on police decisions over who can carry concealed handguns. Some legislators have been critical of the board and its political appointees and argued that there are better ways to monitor what individuals are allowed to carry concealed weapons, The legislation would have sent appeals to administrative judges, rather than the panel.
 
  • *Ban-the-box” legislation, which would have limited the ability of many employers to make initial inquiries about a job applicant’s criminal record.
 
  • Oyster management: legislation sought to create a new process for developing plans for managing Maryland’s oyster population and regulating the harvest.
 
  • A bill that would have allowed more immigrants who live in Maryland to be eligible for in-state tuition,
 
  • A bill that would have required an annual $3.8 million allocation for the state to expand its bike lane program.
 
  • A bill that expands the ability of state workers to file grievances.
 
  • A bill that expanded transparency over gubernatorial appointments.
 
  • A bill that would have required trains carrying freight to have at least two crew members if the train is being operated “in the same rail corridor as a high-speed passenger or commuter train.”

There were a lot of important bills that the Governor signed or let become law without his signature. Here are some of the bills I was following.

 
Governor Signed Legislation

Expanded Tax Credit for Child Care (SB870)
               The bill would allow those Marylanders to claim more in credits, while expanding the credits to residents who make more than $50,000 but less than $141,000. That expands the number of Marylanders eligible for the tax credits from 23,000 to about 114,200 taxpayers.

Raising the Age of Selling Tobacco to 21 (HB1169/SB 895)

Ignition Interlock System (HB55)
         Requiring that an ignition interlock system be equipped with a camera capable of recording still images of the person.

Patients Bill of Rights (HB145)
             Requiring a hospital to provide patients with a patient's bill of rights and to provide patients with a translator, a  interpreter

Tax Credits for Grocery Stores in Food Deserts:  (HB188)
           This bill authorizes a tax credit in Prince George’s County for new food stores in what are determined to be ‘food deserts’ in the County.

U Visa Legislation (HB214)
             This bill will ensure that victims of crimes or witness of crimes who help the police can get a visa to keep them in the country
 
Governor Did Not Sign Legislation but These Bills Have Become Law

Banning Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse  (HB191)

 Clear Energy Act (SB 516)  
            The bill mandates that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2030.

Education Blueprint for Maryland Future (SB 1030)  
             Legislation mandates over $725  million in state spending for education over the next three years. The funding follows the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission that has been reviewing the education priorities for the State.  The legislation calls for $255 million in increased funding from state taxpayers for public schools for fiscal year 2020 and overall $750 million in fiscal year 2021 to 2023.
Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Prohibition on use of Criminal Records (HB22)  
 
Option for Gender Neutral Drivers License   (SB 196)
           Bill allow residents to apply for licenses with gender identifiers of “M,” “F,” or “X.”

Prohibiting Deceptive Acts by Mortgage Lenders (HB425)

Prohibiting use of Styrofoam  (HB109/SB295)     

Prescription Drug Affordability Board  (HB 768)     
Maryland will become the first state empowered to limit what state and local government employees pay for certain prescription drugs. Policymakers consider the Prescription Drug Affordability Board an initial step to policing rising drug prices statewide and envision it as a national model to curb runaway drug costs.
 
Bills That Were Vetoed But the Legislature Over-rode the Veto and Are Now Law

$15 Minimum Wage 
            HB 166/SB 280   General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.

Flexible School Calendar
             Overturns the Governor.’s Executive Order (that mandates all schools to start after Labor Day) to allow a local school board to set the school calendar.  SB 128 General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.
 
Bills Vetoed by the Governor And Need a Legislative Over-ride (next January) to Become Law        

Movement of Railroad Freight - Required Two Person Crew (HB66)
            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.

Maryland Dream Act (SB 537)
              Expands the people eligible for in-state tuition      

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019 Legislative Recap

The 2019 Legislative Session is over and here is a re-cap of some of the bills that I have been following.  The last day of the session, ‘Sine Die’ (Latin for: without a fixed date for future action) is usually a day of celebration.  Bills have passed and legislators go home after 90 days of hard work.  This year it was tragically different.  Speaker of the House, Michael Busch, suddenly passed away on Sunday.  He had been the longest serving Speaker of the House in Maryland.  I knew him and respected him during my four years as a Delegate.  We did not always agree but he had the highest level of integrity (something that has to be cherished now a days) and tried to build consensus.  He always encouraged me to express my ideas and gather support from my colleagues as a bill needed 71 votes to pass.  He will be missed in the General Assembly.

Below is my list of bills.  There were hundreds of bills passed and many more that failed to pass.  The bills that passed do not become law until the Governor signs them, vetoes them or many times just lets them become law without his signature.   If you feel strongly about a bill that he is considering you might want to email him by going to his web-site contact page:  https://governor.maryland.gov/contact-the-governor or emailing directly: governor.mail@maryland.gov .  You can also find out more about any of the bills listed by going to the General Assembly web-site:  mgaleg.maryland.gov

If you’re interested in a bill that is not listed, send me an email. 


 
Bills Passed and Are Now Law
 
$15 Minimum Wage 
            HB 166/SB 280   General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.
 
Flexible School Calendar
             Overturns the Governor.’s Executive Order (that mandates all schools to start after Labor Day) to allow a local school board to set the school calendar.
              SB 128 General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.

Bills Passed and are Now Waiting for the Governor to Sign or Veto

Banning Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse  (HB191)

 Clear Energy Act (SB 516)  
            The bill mandates that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2030. 

Education Blueprint for Maryland Future (HB1413/SB 1030)  
             Legislation mandates over $725  million in state spending for education over the next three years. The funding follows the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission that has been reviewing the education priorities for the State.  The legislation calls for $255 million in increased funding from state taxpayers for public schools for fiscal year 2020 and overall $750 million in fiscal year 2021 to 2023.

Expanded Tax Credit for Child Care (SB870/HB810)
               The bill would allow those Marylanders to claim more in credits, while expanding the credits to residents who make more than $50,000 but less than $141,000. That expands the number of Marylanders eligible for the tax credits from 23,000 to about 114,200 taxpayers.

Johns Hopkins Private Police Force (SB 793)

Maryland Dream Act (HB 537)
              Expands the people eligible for in-state tuition      

Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Prohibition on use of Criminal Records (HB22)
               
Option for Gender Neutral Drivers License   (SB 196)
           Bill allow residents to apply for licenses with gender identifiers of “M,” “F,” or “X.”

 Prohibiting Deceptive Acts by Mortgage Lenders (HB425)

Prohibiting use of Styrofoam  (HB109/SB295)      

Prescription Drug Affordability Board  (HB 768)     
          Bill was weakened to make this a study with recommendations. Originally this Board had the power to create “upper payment limits” on drugs that cost more than $30,000 for a single course and those whose costs spike dramatically. It was amended  to adopt a more research-oriented approach in which a panel of experts spends a year looking at what other states are doing to reduce drug prices. The panel would then make recommendations to the legsialture.

Raising the Age of Selling Tobacco to 21 (HB1169/SB 895)
                      
Ignition Interlock System (HB55)
         Requiring that an ignition interlock system be equipped with a camera capable of recording still images of the person.

Movement of Railroad Freight - Required Two Person Crew (HB66)
            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.

Patients Bill of Rights (HB145)
             Requiring a hospital to provide patients with a patient's bill of rights andto provide  patients with a translator, a  interpreter
 
Tax Credits for Grocery Stores in Food Deserts:  (HB188)
           This bill authorizes a tax credit in Prince George’s County for new food stores in what are determined to be ‘food deserts’ in the County. 

U Visa Legislation (HB214)
             This bill will ensure that victims of crimes or witness of crimes who help the police can get a visa to keep them in the country


Some of the Many Bills that Did not Pass This Year
 
Ban of Chlorpyrifos (HB 275)
           This bill would  have banned chlorpyrifos, a brain damage-causing pesticide. The chemical has been linked to Parkinson's disease, lung cancer, and lower IQs in children      

Banning of Computer–Aided Fabrication and Serial Number (3–D Printed Firearms and Ghost Guns (HB740)

Collective Bargaining Rights for Graduate Students at UMD, St. Mary's and Morgan State University (HB270)
 
End of Life Option  (HB 399)

Independent Environmental Study for Transportation Projects (HB1091)
            This legislation is seen as a way of slowing  Gov. Hogan Jr.’s proposals to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270. 

Making  the Use of a Noose or Swastika a Hate Crime (HB 4)

Partial Expungement (HB13)
          This bill repeals the prohibition on expungement of a charge or conviction within a “unit” of charges unless all of the charges or convictions in the unit  are eligible for expungement. 

Prohibiting  a school district from spending money to arm a teacher with a gun.(HB 367)
 
Prohibiting non-public schools that receive public funding from discriminating against students who are disabled, LGBTQ+, and other protected classes  (HB 295)        
 
Prohibiting Use of Occupation or Education in Determination of car insurance rates- (HB 329)

Property Tax Credits for Teachers (HB223)
           This bill authorizes Prince George’s County to issue a Property tax credit of up to $2,500 for teachers who decide to move into the County.

Repealing a Limitation of Campaign Contributions from Developers to County Executive  (HB277)

Safe Harbor Legislation (HB1273)
           Bill Requiring to require schools and hospitals  to establish a policy that limits immigration enforcement on the premises to the fullest extent possible consistent

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Coming Down to the Wire In Annapolis

There are only 8 days to go in the 2019 Legislative Session and we’re getting down to the wire.  Bills will be passing and dying quickly over the next week.

The big news this week was the veto and over-ride of the $15 Minimum Wage bill.  This is now law.  The minimum wage will go to $15 per hour by 2025.  The next increase will be January 1, 2020 when the minimum wage goes to $11 an hour from the current $10.10. 

Another bill that went into law after a veto and an over-ride was the flexible school year calendar which will allow local school districts to decide the beginning and end of the school year.  (The Governor had previously passed an executive order mandating that all schools start after Labor Day.

The General Assembly also passed a state budget that includes $255 million more for education this year and are still debating mandating more money to be used for the following year.

Governor Hogan also signed into law that would provide interest-free loans to feds working without pay because of the Government shutdown. The bill arose from this winter’s prolonged federal government shutdown, when thousands of Maryland residents were required to work without pay — and were therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits because they weren’t available to look for another job

One controversial bill that failed was the End of Life Option.  The Senate had a tie-vote 23 to 23 and it needed a majority to pass.

I have listed the bills that I am tracking and have put them into four categories: 1) signed (or veto over-ridden) and are now law; 2) bills before the Governor; 3) bills that are still ‘in play’ and have to pass this week and 4) bills that will definitely not pass this year.  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 Hweb-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov   and type in the bill number. 

Since there is only one week to go you may want to contact your representatives in District 47 and tell them how you feel about a bill of interest to you. 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              Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

If you do not know who are your representatives, 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 number.

 
1 - Bills Passed and Are Now Law
 
$15 Minimum Wage 
            HB 166/SB 280   General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.
 
Flexible School Calendar
Overturns the Governor.’s Executive Order (that mandates all schools to start after Labor Day) to allow a local school board to set the school calendar.
              SB 128 General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.

2 - Bills Waiting for the Governor to Sign or Veto

Banning Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse 
         HB 191 – Passed the House and the Senate
 
Maryland Dream Act
              Expands the people eligible for in-state tuition      
                SB 537 – Passed the Senate and House – Waiting for Governor to sign/veto

Option for Gender Neutral Drivers License   
           Bill allow residents to apply for licenses with gender identifiers of “M,” “F,” or “X.”
           SB 196 The House of Delegates and the Senate passed this bill.   It now goes to the Governor for signature or veto.
 
3 - Bills Still Moving Forward in the General Assembly
 
Consumer Rights

Prohibiting Deceptive Acts by Mortgage Lenders
        HB 425 – Passed the House – Senate hearing held

Criminal Justice
 
Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Prohibition on use of Criminal Records 
           HB 22 – Passed the House – Senate Hearing held
 
Johns Hopkins Private Police Force 
            SB 793 Passed the Senate  and the House – two bills have to be reconciled
 
Making  the Use of a Noose or Swastika a Hate Crime
          
  HB 4 Passed the House – Senate hearing held

Partial Expungement 
          This bill repeals the prohibition on expungement of a charge or conviction within a “unit” of charges unless all of the charges or convictions in the unit  are eligible for expungement. 
            HB 13 - Passed the House – Senate hearing held

Education

Legislation mandates over $1 billion in state spending for education over the next two years. The funding follows the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission that has been reviewing the education priorities for the State.  The legislation calls for $325 million in increased funding from state taxpayers for public schools for fiscal year 2020 and $750 million in fiscal year 2021.
Some of the spending over two years are:

            HB 1413 – Hearing Held
            SB 1030 – Hearing Held
 
(While these bills have not been passed by either house.  They are a priority of leadership and are still being discussed even though the deadline for other bills has passed.)
 

Prohibiting  a school district from spending money to arm a teacher with a gun.
            HB 367 – Passed the House

Prohibiting non-public schools that receive public funding from discriminating against students who are disabled, LGBTQ+, and other protected classes.
            HB 295 - Passed the House

Environmental Issues
 
Prohibiting use of styrofoam       
      
        HB 109                          Passed the House – Two bills have to be reconciled
              SB 285                          Passed the Senate

Ban of Chlorpyrifos
           This bill would ban chlorpyrifos, a brain damage-causing pesticide. The chemical has been linked to Parkinson's disease, lung cancer, and lower IQs in children
           House Bill 275             Passed the House

Clear Energy Act       
                SB 516                       Senate passed the bill – Held up in House Rules Committee
 
Gun Control

Banning of Computer–Aided Fabrication and Serial Number (3–D Printed Firearms and Ghost Guns)
            HB 740 –Passed the House
 
Requiring background checks for all purchases of long guns, including shotguns and rifles
          HB 786 – Passed the House
 
 Health Care
       

 Prescription Drug Affordability Board       
                      HB 768          Passed the House – Waiting for a Senate Hearing
                
Raising the Age of Selling Tobacco to 21
                        SB 895            Passed the Senate - Two bills have to be reconciled
                        HB 1169          Passed the House
                       
Patients Bill of Rights 
                Requiring a hospital to provide patients with a patient's bill of rights andto provide  patients with a translator, a  interpreter
                HB 145 - Passed the House
 
Tanning Beds - Prohibition of Use by Minors (under 18)
              HB 124 - Passed the House
              SB 299 - Passed the Senate - Two bills have to be reconciled after one of them was amended
 
Immigration Rights
 
U Visa Legislation
             This bill 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 – Passed the House     

Safe Harbor Legislation
           Bill Requiring to require schools and hospitals  to establish a policy that limits immigration enforcement on the premises to the fullest extent possible consistent
             HB 1273 – Passed the House     
  
Other Topics
 
Ignition Interlock System
             Requiring that an Ignition Interlock System be equipped with a camera capable of recording still images of the person  
             HB55 Passed the House
 
Expanded Tax Credit for Child Care 
               The bill would allow those Marylanders to claim more in credits, while expanding the credits to residents who make more than $50,000 but less than $141,000. That expands the number of Marylanders eligible for the tax credits from 23,000 to about 114,200 taxpayers.
                SB 870  - Passed the Senate
                HB 810 - Passed the House

Elimination of Statute of Limitations for sex abuse against minors and create a two-year window to file suit for victims where a previous statute of limitations has expired.
               House Bill 687  Passed the House – Senate hearing 3/28

Prince George’s County Local Bills

Tax Credits for Grocery Stores in Food Deserts:   
           This bill authorizes a tax credit in Prince George’s County for new food stores in what are determined to be ‘food deserts’ in the County. 
           HB188 – Passed the House – Hearing held in the Senate

Property Tax Credits for Teachers
           This bill authorizes Prince George’s County to issue a Property tax credit of up to $2,500 for teachers who decide to move into the County.
           HB 223 - Passed the House  - Being voted on by the Senate

Repealing a Limitation of Campaign Contributions from Developers to County Executive (I am in opposition to this bill)
             HB 227   Passed the House – Senate hearing held
 
Transportation
 
Movement of Railroad Freight - Required Two Person 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 – Passed the General Assembly – Being voted on this week
     
Independent Environmental Study for Transportation Projects
            This legislation is seen as a way of slowing  Gov. Hogan Jr.’s proposals to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270. 
             HB 1091 - Passed the House 
  
Workers Rights
 
Collective Bargaining Rights for Graduate Students at UMD, St. Mary's and Morgan State University
           HB 270 - Passed the House – Senate hearing held
  
4 - Bills Not Moving This Year
 
Prohibiting Use of Occupation or Education in Determination of car insurance rates
      HB 329 – Voted down by the Senate Finance Committee
 
End of Life Option
       HB 399           Voted down by the Senate (it did not receive of majority of 24 Senators needed to pass)