Sunday, January 19, 2020

Maryland Legislative Update - January 20, 2020


The Legislative Session has completed its second week.  Close to 500 bills have introduced.  Here are the bills I am tracking.  I am adding the new bills in the front and giving a status of other bills I am following after that.

New Bills Introduced
Environment
·         Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209 Prohibits a store from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; requiring a store to charge and collect at least 10 cents for each durable carryout bag the store provides to a customer

·         Prohibition on Use of Chlropyrifos – HB 229 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State

Gun Control
·         Rifles and Shotguns: Secondary Transactions – HB 4 /SB 208 Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns,  Under the bill, a third-party licensed gun dealer would be involved, and the transfer must be done under three conditions: The sale must be from the owner; there must be a background  and the transfer must comply with all federal and state law that would apply to the transfer.
Health Care
·         Study on Universal Health Care – SB 228 Establishes a Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to establish, a universal health care program to provide health benefits to all residents of the State through a single-payer system

·         Ban on Flavored Electronic Smoking Devices – SB  54 Prohibits a person from shipping, importing, or selling electronic smoking device to which an artificial or natural flavoring  - Hearing Finance Committee Feb 13
Housing
·         Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231 – Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of source of income;. Hearing Environment and Transportation Committee – Feb 4 at 1 PM
Revenue
·         Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals

      End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 222           Ends ineffective business tax credits.
Transportation
·         County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229  -  Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties.

Workers Rights

·         Secure Maryland Wage Act – SB 2 Hearing Feb 6 1 PM Senate Finance Committee Imposes a tax on annual gross revenues derived from digital advertising 

·         Wage History Act - HB 123/SB 217    Requires an employer to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied; prohibits an employer from taking negative actions against an applicant for employment because the applicant did not provide wage history or a wage range; prohibiting an employer from relying on wage history and from seeking an applicant's wage history from former employers or their agents.

·         Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act – HB 214 Grants collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants within the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary's College of Maryland;  Hearing Appropriations Committee Jan 28 2 PM

Status of Other Important Bills
Consumer Rights
SB 17 - - Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies  - Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Hearing Jan 29 Finance Committee – 2:45 PM
Education
HB001/SB001 - Build to Learn Act of 2020 - Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds.
SB002 - Digital Advertising Gross Revenues This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission.  This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising.
SB003 – Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted)
Social Justice
HB005 - Crimes - Hate Crimes - Use of an Item or Symbol to Threaten or Intimidate  This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidate HOUSE HEARING HELD – Senate Hearing Judicial proceedings Jan 29 1 PM

Voting Rights

HB0037 - Election Law - References to Absentee Voting in Communications - Mail-In-Voting -  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to 'Mail-In' Ballots. HEARING Held

HB0051/SB0091 - Election Law - Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities - Voter Registration - This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  Hearing Held

SB0010/HB 103 - General Assembly - Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money. House Hearing Ways and Means January 29 1 PM
HB34/SB87 Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Ways and Means – January 28 1 PM

Local Prince George’s County Bills
(Local bills originally have different bill numbers and  go through a different process than other bills.  They are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from the local County and normally if passed by the County Delegation are approved by the whole General Assembly.)
            Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags (401-20)
Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County (402-20)
Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive (PG 407-20)

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com
Please remember, the reason I inform about these bills is so they can contact their state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.

General Information
If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    and type in the bill number.
For the first time ever, you are now able to watch video live-streaming of the House floor proceedings.  The 2020 session is a pilot, with only one in three days being live cast.
Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.
Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 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 numbers.
You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Legislative Update – January 13, 2020



The Maryland General Assembly convened on Wednesday January 8.  The legislative session lasts for 90 days.  In the first few days 300 bills were introduced.
These are some of the bills I am following.  When more bills are introduced, I will add them to the list along with the Bill number and the status of the bill (i.e. Hearing Date and/or Passage in the House or Senate). 

Consumer Rights
            SB 17 - - Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies
Education
HB001/SB001 - Build to Learn Act of 2020 - Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds.
Revenue
SB002 - Digital Advertising Gross Revenues This is the first proposal introduced that produces revenue to fund the new educational initiatives proposed by the Kirwan Commission.  This bill adds a tax on digital advertising, The tax, would apply a 2.5% to 10% tax (depending on size) to businesses that make money from digital advertising.
SB003 – Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted)
Social Justice

HB005 - Crimes - Hate Crimes - Use of an Item or Symbol to Threaten or Intimidate  This bill prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidate HEARING - January 16th, 1:00 pm Judiciary Committee

Voting Rights

HB0037 - Election Law - References to Absentee Voting in Communications - Mail-In-Voting -  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to 'Mail-In' Ballots. HEARING - January 16th, 1:30 pm Ways and Means Committee

HB0051/SB0091 - Election Law - Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities - Voter Registration - This bill requires correctional facilities to provide inmates who have completed their sentence with a voter registration form before releasing them and informing them that they will have the right to vote but must register to do so.  HEARING - January 16th, 1:30 pm Ways and Means Committee

SB0010 - General Assembly - Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office This bill requires a special election if there is a vacancy in the first year of the term.  The special election would occur on the dates of the Presidential Primary and General Election and would not cost any extra money.
HB34/SB87 Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign.


Local Prince George’s County Bills
(Local bills originally have different bill numbers and  go through a different process than other bills.  They are voted on by the Delegates and Senators from the local County and normally if passed by the County Delegation are approved by the whole General Assembly.)
            Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags (401-20)
Prohibiting a State agency from acquiring or constructing any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Prince George’s County unless authorized by Prince George’s County (402-20)
Repealing a prohibition on a develop from making a contribution to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive (PG 407-20)

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com
Please remember, the reason I let people know about these bills is so they can contact their state legislators and let them know how you feel about legislation they’re going to vote on.
If you want to know any more about any of the bills go to the Maryland General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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       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 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 numbers.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions 








Friday, January 3, 2020

New Laws Effective January 1 2020

Minimum wage goes from $10.15 an hour to $11 an hour (MD State Law)
In  2019 Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that gradually increases the state's minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $15 over a period of five years for companies with more than 15 employees (smaller businesses have six years to get there). The first required increase, which boosts the rate to $11 for all companies, takes effect Jan. 1.

New Overtime Rule (National Regulation)
Hourly workers receive time and a half pay after 40 hours of work.  Professionals, technical employees and managers had previously been exempted from overtime rules unless they made less than $12.27/hour ($445 a week or $23,600 annually).  Starting in January the threshold for professionals, technical employees and managers who have to be paid overtime increases to $17.78/hour ($684 weekly or $35,568 annually).  This means a lot of low paid managers (e.g. at fast food restaurants), professional (e.g. reporters at small newspapers), and technical workers (e.g. at internet companies) will have to be paid premium pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.  This does not apply to people who are paid as ‘independent contractors’.  But there are state and national laws that prohibit employers from paying people as independent contractors if they should be really classified as employees.  (Email me if you are in that situation and want some guidance about whether you’re being incorrectly classified.)

New Law Affecting Retirement Income (Federal Law)
A part of the huge budget deal recently passed by Congress and signed into law last month was the Secure Act.    This bill makes a number of changes affecting retirees.  A few of the significant provisions of the law are
Increases the age that a required minimum distribution (RMD) must start from 70½ to 72. Currently, people reaching 70½ must begin taking RMDs from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans. The new rule applies to people who turn 70 1/2 after Dec. 31.
Repeals the maximum age for making traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70½. Workers will now be able to contribute to their IRAs past this age as long as they have earned income.
Another provision allows parents to withdraw up to $5,000 from their individual 401(k) or similar workplace plans for each new child without incurring a 10 percent additional tax for early retirement plan distributions. However, you still have to pay ordinary income taxes on the withdrawal, which has to be done within a year of the birth or adoption of a child. Parents can later put the money back into their retirement accounts.

Mandatory rape kit testing (MD State Law)
This bill requires that law enforcement agencies submit sexual assault evidence collection kits to forensic laboratories for testing within 30 days of receipt and calls for kit tests to be processed in a timely manner.

Beer franchise agreements (MD State Law)
Previously, a Maryland brewery that produced 20,000 or fewer barrels of beer per year had to provide distributors with 180 days' notice before moving to terminate or renew a franchise agreement. Further, breweries were obligated to show good cause and provide distributors with 180 days to rectify deficiencies. This bill cuts the notice to 45 days and relieves sellers from having to show good cause or give a franchisee an opportunity to fix any problems.

Insurers banned from penalizing organ donors (MD State Law)
Insurers of life, disability and long-term care can no longer hike premiums, enforce surcharges, cancel policies or flat-out reject someone from coverage based on their status as an organ donor.

Reduction on Fees on Food Trucks (Prince George’s County Law)
Eliminates fees for businesses apply for food truck licenses.  Previously food truck owners had to pay $500 if they operated for few than two months and $3,400 if they operated for more than two months.  There is still a fee (reduced from $75 to $35) for inspections performed for the fire department.         

Happy New Year Everyone and email me if you have any questions about any of these new laws!