Friday, February 7, 2020

Legislative Update - Feb 8

Legislative Update – February 8, 2020

          The legislative bill deadline was this week.  This means that (with some exceptions) only bills that were introduced by the deadline will be guaranteed a bill hearing and have some chance of passing.   In order to meet the deadline legislators introduced over 1,000 bills this week.  The total number of bills that were introduced is now 2,600.  Here are some of the important bills that were introduced this week and the status of other bills that I am following.

New Bills Introduced

Consumer Rights

·         Medical Debt Protection Act – HB 1081  This would increase protections including ensuring that a person couldn’t lose his/her home because of medical debt.

Criminal Rights

·         Taking the Governor Out of the Parole System - HB 1219/SB 817  The independent Parole Board recommends whether long term prisoners should be released but for the last twenty years Maryland’s Governors have not followed up on the recommendations of the Parole Board because of politics.

·         Possession of small Amounts of of Marijuana – HB 550 Increases from 10 grams to 1 ounce, the amount of marijuana below which possession is a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense and provides that a person may not be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana based solely on the possession of less than 1 ounce.

Democracy Initiatives

o   Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494  Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly

o   Prohibition on Developers Making Contributions to County Execs – HB 1544 -  There are complaints that Prince George’s County is the only County that forbids developers from making contributions to the County Executive.  This bill would make that prohibition state wide.


·        Blueprint for Maryland's Future HB 1300/SB 1100 – In 2016, the Maryland Legislature formed the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the Kirwan Commission. The commission issued a report earlier this year with an aggressive plan to improve Maryland’s schools.  This is the bill Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year.  The big question this year is how are we going to raise the money to fund this bill.  There are a lot of good bills that have been introduced to fund the Kirwan Commission's Recommendations.  They have to be passed in order that this be full implemented.


o   Clean Jobs Building Act - HB 1490 – Net zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025

o   Coal Transition Bill – SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns

o   Carbon Tax  HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.

o   Climate Solutions Act of 2020  - SB 926- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Increases the greenhouse gas reductions that the State must achieve by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and establishes a Climate Jobs Workgroup.


          Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis -  HB 1400


o   Enabling Counties to Enact Progressive Taxes – HB 1494 – Counties are going to have to pay more money to support education.  This bill enables Counties to change their income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax.  Counties would still have to enact legislation to implement this.
Social Justice
·         Sex, Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation – HB 488 -Establishes that the discovery or perception of, or belief about, another person's sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, does not constitute legally adequate provocation to mitigate a killing  or an assault from the crime of assault.

Workers Rights
·         Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839 Bill establishes a private sector family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take unpaid leave to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition

Status of Other Important Bills
Consumer Rights
·         Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies  SB 17/HB 431Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Senate Hearing Held

·         Debt Collection – HB 365  This bill  increases the amount of money a person can keep in his/her pay check protected from a judgment. Too many people can’t buy food and clothes for their family because of the money that is taken out of their check because of debt obligations. Hearing House Economic Matters Feb 12

·         Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660/SB 934 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers.  MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US. – House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 20th

Criminal Justice

·         Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323/SB 591 This bill authorizes inmates serving a lengthy term of incarceration to file a petition for modification of sentence after serving greater than 25 years in prison.  The judge may modify the sentence if he/she determines that retention is not necessary for the protection of the public. Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 4

·         Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608 HB 828– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. House Hearing Judiciary Committee – Feb 18th

·         Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 1- Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds. House Hearing Held
·         Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209/SB 313 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 Hearing Senate Finance Comm Feb 13 1 PM

·         Prohibition on Use of Chlropyrifos – HB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State Hearing Environment and Transportation Feb 12

·         Community Choice Energy – SB 315/HB 561 Allows local jurisdiction to aggregate the residents in their community to negotiate with energy providers for lower rates and a greater percentage of energy from renewable sources.  purchase energy at a lower rate. House Hearing Economic Matters Feb 13

·         Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer  Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 19

·         MTA Conversion to Electric Buses HB 432 – Mandates that new buses purchased by the state be electric powered. House Hearing Environment and Transporation – Feb 18

·         Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Right – HB 517 Enable voters to choose to amend the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful environment as a way to protect individuals and communities against the worst possible cases of environmental degradation. House Hearing Environment and Transportation  Feb 19th

·         Consideration of Environmental and Labor Concerns in Public Service Commission Rate Decisions HB 531  Requires the Public Service Commission to incorporate the evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on the environment in their decision making process.  Also, when they are considering regulating and servicing public service companies that they consider maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers. House Hearing Economic Matters – Feb 27

·         Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearing Ways and Means Feb 4  / Senate Budget and Taxation – Feb 5
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. Passed House Judiciary Committee / Senate Hearing Feb 5

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  Senate Hearing Finance Committee Feb 19th

·         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

·        End of Life Option -  HB 643/SB 701 Allows terminally ill patients (specifically patients who have been certified as having six months or less to live) to request medication to end their lives.  There are many safeguards in this bill, such as ensuring that only the terminally ill patient can make the request; that they have to make it three separate times and then have it notarized; that a separate doctor has to certify that they qualify as terminally ill; and that the medication be self administered.  This is an option only.  It will allow those who are suffering to end their suffering. Senate Hearing Judicial Proceedings – Feb 28
·         Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231/SB 530 – 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 – House and Senate Hearings Held

Immigrant Justice

·         Restricting Cooperation with ICE in Civil Matters -  HB 388  Prohibits law enforcement agents from making inquiries about an individual's immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth or transferring an individual to federal immigration authorities, without a warrant.  Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 11

·         Safe Areas For Immigration Enforcement – HB 403  To allow public schools, hospitals, and courthouses to draft policies that limit civil immigration enforcement activities on their premises in order to ensure these facilities remain safe and accessible to all;  Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 11

·         Dignity not Detention – HB 677  Phases out and eliminates existing ICE detention facilities and prevent new ones from coming to Maryland. House Hearing Judiciary Committee Feb 25th
·         Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

      End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 - Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

      Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2/HB 695 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 advertisingSenate Hearing  Held  

      Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3/HB 695 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Senate Hearing Held

·         Combined Reporting HB 295Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12

·         Throwback Rule HB 473 -Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12

·         Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs.  LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax. House Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

·         Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill.  Senate Hearing Held

·         Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216Apply a 19% state income surtax on the distributive or pro-rata share of a pass-through entity’s taxable income that is attributable to investment management services provided in the State. Senate Hearing Held / House Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 12

·         Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014 by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million. Hearing Ways and Means Feb 13

·         Sunsets All Business Tax Credits – HB 565 – This bill sets dates for certain business tax credits to end (they can always be renewed).  Many of these credits are not effective and they need to be reviewed before they are automatically renewed – Hearing Ways and Means Feb 12

Social Justice
·         Hate Crimes Act HB 5- 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 Passed the House of Delegates  – Senate Hearing Held
·         County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 HB 292  - Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties. Hearing House Environment and Transportation Comm.  Feb 13 at 1 PM

·         Transit Safety and Investment Act -  HB 368 - Governor Hogan has been removing money from the Maryland Transit Administration for the past 5 years and they are in such dire straights that they can't afford maintenance of buses and light rail.  This bill will allow them to receive funding for all of their outstanding maintenance items. House Hearing  Held

·         Prohibition of State Funds for MAGLEV – HB 715 Prohibits the State from using any appropriation for a magnetic levitation transportation system in the State; House Hearing Appropriations Committee – Feb. 25

Workers Rights
·         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. House Hearing Held
·         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;  House Hearing Held
·        Heat Stress Standards HB 722 / SB 434  Establishes a health and safety standard  for  heat stress levels and requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees   Senate Hearing Finance – Feb 20

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives
·         Election Law - References to Absentee Voting in Communications - Mail-In-Voting - HB0037 -  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to 'Mail-In' Ballots. Hearing Held

·         Election Law - Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities - Voter Registration - HB0051 – HB 568/SB91 - 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

·         Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly SB0010/HB 103 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. Passed the Senate! House Hearing Held

·         Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns HB34/SB87 Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Held

·         Shut the Revolving Door Act of 2020 – HB 315 – Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 12

·         Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 House Hearing Ways and Means Feb 6th

Local Prince George’s County Bills
(Local bills 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, they are normally approved by the whole House of Delegates.)
·         Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags  HB 321
·         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  HB 258

·         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 HB 282 (This is not a bill that I support)

There is a good website that tracks bills.  You might want to look at the Maryland Legislative Coalition:
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:    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.