Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Important Legislation Starts Moving in Annapolis - March 5 2019

There are now five weeks to go in the Legislative session and more bills are now being voted out of Committee and moving to a vote on the House and Senate floors.

          The big news this was the passage of the $15 minimum wage bill (HB 166) out of the House of Delegates and the censuring of a House Delegate for using a racial slur.

          HB 166 ($15 minimum wage) was passed by the House of Delegates on Friday and now goes to the State Senate.  Unfortunately it was weakened by the Economic Matters Committee.  The implementation was pushed back 18 months (to Jan 2025),  automatic cost of living increases was removed, tipped workers were excluded, and a sub-minimum wage( (85% of the minim wage) or those people under 18 years of old was created.  Hopefully some of these amendments will be taken out of the bill in the Senate.

          Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti from Hartford County was censured by the House of Delegates for using a racial slur when describing one of the legislative districts in Prince George’s County.  While there were many calls for her to resign she has stated that she will stay as a Delegate.  She was stripped of all Leadership and committee positions.

Here is a  report on a few other bills that made progress this week:
  • A Senate Bill (SB 285) that bans Styrofoam containers made progress in the State Senate.  The legislation would ban the use of foam products by restaurants and grocery stores starting in July 2020.   County governments would be responsible for enforcing the ban and could impose fines of up to $250 per violation, after first giving a written warning.  The Senate Bill is expected to pass on Monday. 
  • Making  the Use of a Noose or Swastika a Hate Crime (HB 4)  passed the House of Delegates.
  • A bill (HB55) Requiring that an Ignition Interlock System be equipped with a camera capable of recording still images of the person taking the test of the person's blood alcohol level passed the House of Delegates by a unanimous vote.
  • The End of Life Option (also known as Death with Dignity), HB 399, passed out of Committee on Friday and is scheduled for a full vote by the full House of Delegates next week.  The vote will be very close.
  • HB 708 passed the House.  It would study the under-identification of traumatic brain injuries among school-aged children and would make recommendations on how to identify such injuries.
  • HB 251 would provide grants to help seniors age in place. It also passed the House of Delegates.  
  • HB 110 sets a goal of 150 minutes per week of physical activity for school students, including 90 minutes of physical education. It will be voted on by the full House this week.
  • HB 295 prohibits non-public schools that receive public funding from discriminating against students who are disabled, LGBTQ+, and other protected classes.  It will also be voted on by the House of Delegates  this week.

Here is the status of the other 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:  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                   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.

Criminal Justice Reform

 Increasing pre-release facility services
          HB 715 Hearing held
Expungement of Nonviolent Convictions
           HB 19 – 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 held
Prohibiting Use of credit factors in the determination of car insurance rates
      HB 351 – Hearing Held
       SB 235 –Hearing held
Banning Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse
         SB 607 – Hearing Not Scheduled
Prohibiting Deceptive Acts by Mortgage Lenders
         HB 425 - Hearing held


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.

No bill has introduced yet on funding for the recommendations

Environmental Initiatives

Prohibiting use of styrofoam       
              HB 109                          Hearing Held
              SB 285                           Being voted on by the Senate Monday
Clear Energy Act      
               HB 1158                       Hearing 3/8
                SB 516                        Hearing 3/5
 Pipeline and Water Protection Act
              HB 669                           Hearing 3/7
               SB 387                          Hearing held

Gun Control Legislation

Banning of ghost guns:  buying the parts needed to assemble a firearm
            HB 740 – Hearing held
Prohibition of computer aided firearm fabrication
             SB 8 – Hearing held
Plugging the Loan Loophole in  the transfer of gun ownership
             HB 96 – Hearing held

Health Care 

 Prescription Drug Affordability Board      
                      HB 768           Hearing 3/6    
                      SB 759            Hearing 3/6
 Medicare for All Legislation (First Steps)
                        HB 1087         Hearing 3/14
                        SB 871           No Hearing Set
End of Life Option
                        HB 399           Being voted by the full House this week
                        SB 311            Hearing held
Raising the Age of Selling Tobacco to 21
                        SB 378            No hearing set

Immigration Justice

Maryland Dream Act
              This legislation  would protect students that might lose DACA and TPS because of President Trump and expand the ability to get in-state tuition.    
                HB 318 –  Hearing  held
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 – Hearing Held                     
              SB 221 – Hearing held
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 3/5                                              
             SB 17 –   Hearing held
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 – Hearing  3/5
              SB 599 – Hearing held

Other Topics

New 5G wireless telephone poles placement has to follow local zoning laws
          HB 1020       Hearing held
           SB 713         Hearing held
Allowing the Legislature to Add Items to the Governor’s Budget
           HB 1108 Hearing 3/12


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

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 held

Voting Rights 

Small donor public financing               
            HB  1017        Hearing 3/5     
            SB 414            Hearing held
Constitutional Amendment repealing Citizens United 
             HJ2         Hearing 3/4
             SJ1          Hearing held
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
Presidential Tax Transparency Act –
            Candidate Has to release tax returns to be on the Maryland ballot
            HB 925 – Hearing held

Worker Rights

Collective Bargaining for community college workers 
             HB 766      Hearing 3/1         
Minimum Wage to $15 /Hour
             SB 2221     Hearing Held
              HB 166      Voted on by the full House
Overtime for Low Paid Salaried Workers
             HB 1040     Hearing 3/5
Expanding Prohibition Against Discrimination in Employment to Small Employers
              HB 661      Hearing held

There are a couple of good websites that also track bills.  You might want to look at QED’s web-site:  https://qedinc.us/legislative-bulletin  and the Maryland Legislative Coalition:  http://mdlegislative.com