Sunday, October 2, 2016

New State Laws Effective October 2016

Last session we passed a lot of bills.   Here are some of the laws that go in effect on Oct. 1.

Drunk Driving Reduction Act/ Noah’s Law (SB 945): The Motor Vehicle Administration will require people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drivers found to have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher to use the Ignition Interlock System Program for a specified time. This bill was initiated after Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta was struck and killed by a drunk driver. A sticker honoring the officer will be on each interlock device.

Death or Injury by Vehicle (SB0160, HB157): The law increases penalties for offenders who commit vehicular manslaughter who have been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol previously.  Offenders can now face up to 15 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

Motor Vehicle Insurance — Carrying Proof of Coverage (SB544, HB 0720): This law requires drivers to have a current insurance identification card — paper, plastic or electronic — with them or in their vehicle, or face a $50 fine starting July 1.

Testimony by Perjurer (SB150, HB237): People, who have been convicted of perjuring themselves, or lying under oath, will no longer be prohibited from testifying in court.

Providing Alcohol to Underage Drinkers (HB409): This law prohibits a person from allowing an underage individual to consume alcohol if they should have known that individual would drive under the influence.

Justice Reinvestment Act (SB1005): This law will keep more nonviolent offenders and minor drug offenders from going to prison or staying in prison for a long time. It expands drug treatment in the state health department and treatment for substance abuse and mental health through the corrections department, including risk and needs assessments to determine risks of reoffending. The law also calls for plans for more inmate rehabilitation.

Child Abuse and Neglect (SB310, HB245): Anyone involved in an investigation of child abuse or neglect must report suspicions of another individual knowingly failing to report child abuse to the appropriate board, agency, institution or facility.

Criminal Law-Stalking (SB278/HB155): This law expands the definition of stalker from inciting physical fears or threats to include causing emotional distress.

Pretrial Release-Prior Crime of Violence (SB603): A District Court commissioner may not authorize the pretrial release of defendants who have been convicted of a crime of violence or with a weapon.

Equal Pay for Equal Work (SB 481):  This legislation prohibits employers from paying employees of one gender identity at a lesser rate than other employees. The bill does not allow employers to prohibit employees from discussing or disclosing salaries.

Minimum Wage for the Disabled (SB 417): Starting Oct. 1, over four years, this law eventually prohibits any employer from paying subminimum wages to people with disabilities as currently allowed.

Student Journalists (SB 764): Expands the rights of freedom of speech and of the press to student journalists in public elementary or secondary schools or public institutions of higher education.

Consumer Protection Provisions (SB 427): Establishes criminal and civil penalties for private career schools and for-profit institutions that enroll students in programs intended to lead to employment in fields that require a license or certification in Maryland, but that do not meet state requirements for those licenses or certifications.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (SB 323): This bill repeals the termination date of the current requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2006 levels by 2020 and requires the State to reduce GHG emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030.

Pollinator Protection Act — Bees (SB 198/HB 211): Bans the sale of certain pesticides believed to kill bees, unless applied by a certified applicator.

Maryland Income Tax Refunds – Warrant Intercept Program (SB 425/HB 390): If an individual has an outstanding arrest warrant, county officials may request that the comptroller withhold that person’s income tax refund. The state must also study the program to ensure there is no racial bias.

Gaming – Home Games (HB 127): Anyone 21 years or older can bet on home card games or mahjong as long as the games do not occur more than once a week and are played with friends. There is a $1,000 limit per 24-hour period and no fees may be charged.

Open Meetings Act – Agendas (HB 217): Agendas for public body meetings must be made available to the public at the time of the notice of the meeting or at least 24 hours before the meeting.

(MY LEGISLATION) Homeowners Property Tax Credit Program  HB 378 – Requires the State to contact people who are eligible for the homeowners property tax credit. (Right now only 15% of those eligible apply for the credit!)

(MY LEGISLATION)– Dissemination of Voter Information Material – Multifamily Units – HB 1127 Allows material to be distributed in a common area of an apartment building or condominium.

Progress On Double Pole Issue

            For the past two years I have been working on the issue of “double poles.”  Double poles are duplicate utility poles that exist when the electric company puts in a new pole and the old pole is not taken out.  Two years ago when I took office there were thousands of these double poles in our neighborhoods; they are an eyesore and, in some cases, hazardous.  In 2015 I initiated legislation on this issue that resulted in a study by the Public Service Commission on the issue and what should be done about it.  This week the PSC issued an order implementing  a National Joint Utilities Notification System (NJUNS) that would insure that the utilities know when a new pole is in place, when to transfer their wires from the old pole to the new pole, and when to remove the old pole.  Hopefully this will make the removal of duplicate poles done in a more expeditious matter.

Important State Wide Referendum 

HB 260 amends the ‪Maryland constitution this year but it must be approved by voters this November. The Amendment changes the way we fill vacancies for Attorney General and Comptroller.

Under current law, the Governor gets to choose any replacement for these offices without voters ever having an opportunity to weigh in.

Proposed Amendment:  The Governor has to choose a temporary replacement from the same party as the outgoing official. The state central committee of the same party as the outgoing official would submit a list of three names to the Governor for consideration. The appointee could serve a maximum of two years, until the next regularly scheduled election, when there will also be a special election for that position. Since special elections will only be held during regularly scheduled Congressional elections, we won't have to worry about low turnout and added cost to taxpayers.

I think this is a good Amendment.  I believe that all vacancies should be filled by voters at the next regularly scheduled election (so as not to cost more money).  It’s the Democratic way.  This is a good start and then maybe we can have other legislation to fill all elected vacancies the same way.
The Full Text of the bill is available:

Free Health Screenings

Several CVS stores in your district are hosting free health screenings for the public this fall as part of CVS Health’s “Project Health” initiative.

In addition to information about the health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act, participants will receive free screenings, on-site consultations with bilingual (English and Spanish) nurse practitioners or physician assistants, referrals to low- or no-cost medical facilities, and one-on-one medication reviews with CVS pharmacists.

The events will be held at the following CVS stores:
3611 Bladensburg Rd Colmar Manor - Friday, October 14, 2016, 2PM-6PM
7041 Martin Luther King Jr Hwy Hyattsville – Saturday, December 3, 2016, 2PM-6PM

Local Business Is Now Selling
Sweet Potato Deserts at Starbucks

DC Sweet Potato Cake ( ) is a local area business.  The current President, April Richardson, has lived in Cheverly for many years.  They used to have a retail shop in Mount Rainier.  They just recently finalized a contract at Starbucks and will now be selling their cupcakes at Starbucks throughout out area.  If you go to a Starbucks, make sure you try one of their cupcakes.  You’ll be helping a local business prosper.
SAVE THE DATE –  Wed. Nov 30th

My Pre-Session Holiday Celebration

            Three Brothers Restaurant - 4521 Kenilworth Ave. Bladensburg
                6 to 8 PM
                Join       House of Delegates Majority Leader Anne Kaiser
                               Chair of Prince George’s County Senate Delegation – Jim Rosapepe
                               Presumed Congressman Elect – Anthony Brown
                Hear about legislation I will be introducing
                Find about some of the critical issues in the upcoming legislative session
                Meet your neighbors and enjoy the good food at Three Brothers
                $5 for Residents of the 47th District  -
                Additional contributions from supporters are welcome
                (Authorized by Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, Jodi Beder, Treasurer)