Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Progress in Annapolis, Scholarship Information and Tax Credit Reminders

Progress in Annapolis

Over 1,700 bills  have been introduced in the House of Delegate.  Each bill has to have a public hearing.  We have been holding hearings every day (often until the evening) to hear all the witnesses who want to testify.  We have already had hearings on  1,000 of these bills and now the bills that have been approved by  their respective committees have to be voted on by the full House of Delegates. After the House approves a bill, it has to be approved by the Senate and then signed into law by the Governor.

Here are three important bills that we voted on last week.

HB 281 - Computer Science in the Schools  - This bill requires public high schools to offer at least one high-quality computer science course beginning in the 2021-2022 school year; establishes the Maryland Center for Computing Education to identify ways to expand access to high-quality computer science education, strengthens the skills of educators, and increases the number of computer science teachers; and requires the Center to work with  institutions of higher education.

HB 230 Restricts the State’s ability to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by requiring statutory approval from the General Assembly prior to withdrawing.

HB 251 - Family Life and Human Sexuality Curriculum - Boundaries and Consent  This bill mandates age appropriate instruction on the meaning of “consent” and respect for personal boundaries as part of the school curriculum.

Gun Bills

Because of the recent horrific events in Parkland Florida, I will review some of the major gun bills that are being discussed in Annapolis

HB 888 / SB 707 Banning Bump Stocks  The bills would ban bump stocks and devices similar to bump stocks. Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic firearm to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic firearm. The shooter in Las Vegas used a bump stock and was able to shoot over 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just a couple of minutes. All of us witnessed the horror and carnage that took place in Las Vegas. Some 58 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured. Bump stocks and similar devices have no place in Maryland and it is vital that we pass this common sense protection.

HB 1646 – MAKING CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS TURN IN GUNS -  This bill would make it mandatory that a judge tell a criminal defendant in a sex abuse case that he/she has to give up their guns the court prior to trial or the acceptance of a plea of guilty or the equivalent of a plea of guilty.

HB 1302 –  Lethal Violence Protective Order - Calls for a protective order that would allow family members or police officers to petition a judge to impose the instant seizure of a firearm or ammunition from a person they believe pose an immediate and present danger to self or others. This type of legislation would prevent incidents like Parkland/Suicides/Domestic Violence Shootings such as just happened in Prince George's County that resulted in the death of a police officer

HB 730 – CLOSING THE GUN LENDING LOOPHOLE - Takes care of  a loophole that allows people to lend guns to others without having to register the transfer.

Progress on My Legislation

There are new developments on three of my bills

HB662 – Presidential Candidate Tax Transparency Act – This bill would require a candidate for President of the United States to release their last five years of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in Maryland.  I introduced it last year but it did not make much progress.  This year the Senate version of the bill, introduced by Senator Paul Pinsky, is likely to pass the Senate next week. That means there will be momentum to get the bill passed in the House of Delegates.  Maryland might become the first state to pass this legislation.  I wonder what Trump will tweet.

HB 308 – De-coupling the Estate Tax From the Federal Estate Tax – This would put the tax exemption for estates at $5 million (all estates under that number would be tax free) and not raise it to the Federal level of $11.2 million.  This will save the state $60 million.  This bill was voted out of the Ways and Means Committee last week and will be voted on by the House of Delegates next week.

HB 951 Higher Education Degree and Job Certification Without Debt Act of 2018  One of the main components of this bill phases in tuition-free community college for students pursuing a AA degree or job certification with family income below $150,000.  The Senate version of this bill is moving to a vote on the Senate floor next week, which means there is a good chance that a version of my bill will move next week.

Two of my other bills have already passed the House of Delegates.  

Both of these bills now have to be heard by Senate Committees, voted by the full Senate, and then signed by the Governor in order to become law.

HB 400          Advance Notice to Municipalities for Mosquito Spraying
This bill simply asks that the state and county notify municipalities twenty-four hours before there is any spraying for mosquito control so residents can be alerted to keep their pets and children inside when spraying is being done

HB 305          Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility Awareness  Campaign
My legislation will require the Department of Assessments and Taxation to put a reminder notice in the assessment notices that go out every three  years to all those homeowners who are eligible and have not applied for the rebate.

Scholarship Available

It’s that time of year again!  When you think FASFA, think of requesting my scholarship application!!!  My scholarship application for students living in District 47A is now available by emailing me at Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us.  The deadline for my scholarship is Friday, April 13th!  Each Delegate and Senator are able to bestow scholarships to students attending a Maryland college, university, or private career school.   You may receive scholarships from all of your delegates, as well as, your senator.

Pay attention to these tax credits        .

The Homestead Credit

The Homestead Property Tax Credit is eligible to every resident homeowner.  The Homestead Credit limits the increase in taxable assessments each year to a fixed percentage.  Every county and municipality in Maryland is required to limit taxable assessment increases to 10% or less each year. You can view a listing of homestead caps for each local government here http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Documents/Homestead_ Percent_Caps.pdf

Over 500,000 people who are eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit have not applied for the credit.  Every week I meet someone who has not filed for the homestead tax credit and has lost thousands of dollars over the last five or six years.  You may be one of these people. You can look on-line at http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx  Type in your address and you can see at the bottom of the page whether you are getting the Homestead Tax Credit and the Homeowners Tax Credit (see below).

If you need some help to figure this out, send me an email with your address or call me at 301-335-6099.

Low-income Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit

Offers property tax break for people regardless of age who make  less than $80,000 per year and have a net worth of less than $200,000  (not including retirement accounts or value of your home.) Amount of tax credit depends on how much property tax exceeds a certain percentage of your income. Call 800-944-7403 for more information.