Thursday, March 19, 2020

Maryland Legislative Update - March 20, 2020

Legislative Update – March 20, 2020

Our world has all changed in the last two weeks and it has changed in Annapolis. 
For the first time since the Civil War, the Legislature adjourned early.
The General Assembly is expected to come back in the last week of May to possibly override vetoes by Governor Hogan and pass some extra legislation.
Over the last few days over 650 bills were passed by the General Assembly.
Here is a list of the bills I am following and are now waiting for the Governor’s signature.
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.

Bills Passed by the General Assembly
Giving the Legislature the Power to Add to the Budget Voters will vote on a constitutional amendment this November.  Right now only the Governor can add to the proposed budget. The measure, which has been  introduced for more than 25 years, would allow the General Assembly to increase or decrease line items in the state’s budget, but not exceed the overall spending level set by Maryland’s governor. It would also diminish the power the governor has over the budget process, the strongest gubernatorial budget control in the nation.
·         Emergency Funds for Coronavirus – SB 1079: Allows the Governor to transfer by budget amendment up to $50 million from the Revenue Stabilization Account to fund costs associated with COVID-19. Passed House of Delegates
·         Emergency Bill – This bill gives the governor authority to declare a ‘catastrophic health emergency’.  It would also extended unemployment benefits
Consumer Rights
·         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.
·         Motor Vehicle and Homeowner's Insurance - Use of Claim History in Rating Policies –SB 470 Prohibits an insurer, with respect to private passenger motor vehicle insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a homeowner's insurance claim; and prohibiting an insurer, with respect to homeowner's insurance, from increasing the premium for an insured based on a private passenger motor vehicle insurance claim
·         Repeals the authority of the MVA to suspend a driver’s license for nonpayment of a traffic ticket. HB 280
Criminal Justice
·         Requires the creation of a pre-release facility for female inmates. Requires the creation of a pre-release facility for female inmates. Maryland does not have any such facilities for women. SB 604. 
·         Jailhouse informants – The bill passed tougher restrictions on prosecutors’ use of jailhouse informants after false testimony from such witnesses led to convictions of four men who have since been cleared.
·       Aid to Historically Black Colleges and Universities HB 1260: Requires the Governor in each fiscal year 2022-2031 to include in the annual state budget $57.7 million to be allocated to historically black colleges and universities in Maryland.
·        Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan Commission Recommendations) HB 1300/SB 1000
o   The bill will
·         Expand pre-kindergarten programs;
·         Increase funding to schools with a high percentage of poor, special education or limited-English students;
·         Add more programs to ensure that students are prepared for college and careers.
·         Raise teacher pay;
·         Hire thousands more educators to increase individual attention for students
·         Expand teacher planning and individualized instruction time;
·         Expand career technical education and community schools
·         Providing more support and staffing for special education and mental health services
·         Create an independent, seven-member “Accountability and Implementation Board” to oversee the overhaul.
·         The bill was amended to provide relief from some of the financial obligations facing local governments. The amendment will result in the state absorbing a greater proportion of the increased education funding in 17 jurisdictions including Prince George’s County. Prince George’s will have to pay $183 million more by 2030, down from $386 million. Prince George’s schools will receive the most new state funding: $724 million more annually by 2030.
o   Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1 This bill provides more money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $2.2 billion in school construction bonds, beginning in fiscal 2022, giving priority to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and the most students from poor families. The bonds would be paid off using casino revenues
  • Advertising of Free Digital Materials for College Students HB 318: Requires each public college in Maryland to disclose to students which courses use free digital materials and may provide access to certain low-cost print materials. Passed House of Delegates
·         Prohibits a public library from charging minors a fine for overdue library materials. HB 1000:
·         Prohibition on Use of Chlorpyrifos The pesticide Chlorpyrifos has been proven to cause brain damage in children, harm our environment, and kill wildlife. HB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of Chlorpyrifos in the State  -
o    Stopping the Revolving Door – HB 350/SB 202 A former secretary of a principal department of the Executive Branch cannot lobby 1 calendar year from the date the secretary leaves State office. 
·         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
·         Horse Racing:   A $389 million plan to renovate the Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course tracks and keep the Preakness Stakes race in Baltimore. Bonds will be issued for the projects. Those bonds would be paid back over 30 years using $17 million per year from the Maryland Lottery.  SB 987
·         Sports Betting – Maryland voters will decide in November whether to legalize sports betting.  After that, lawmakers will decide who many licenses would be issued and who would get to bid on them.
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.

·         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 
·        •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.
·         Enshrines parts of the Affordable Care Act into state code HB 959   In case it is repealed by Congress or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
·         Hospitals - Financial Assistance Policies and Bill Collections – HB 1420/ SB 875 Increasing the family income threshold to between 200% and 500% of the federal poverty level at which a hospital's financial assistance policy must provide free medically necessary care to patients; requiring that a certain financial assistance policy include a certain payment plan and a certain mechanism for a patient to request a certain reconsideration. 
·         Requires health care professionals to receive implicit bias training to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. HB 837
·         Tobacco and nicotine taxes – Per pack tax on cigarettes would increase by $1.75 while vaping products would be taxed for the first time.
·         Digital Advertising - Maryland will be the first step to tax digital advertising.
·         21st–Century Economy Sales Tax Act – The sales tax would be extended to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. HB 932
Social Justice
·         Repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws:  HB 81 Repeals the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice;
·         Hairstyles – A ban on discrimination because of hair texture and hairstyles in order to stop employers from discriminating against employees based on how they wear their hair.
 Voting Rights
·         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. 
·         Requires authority line to be used in campaign robocalls (i.e. who is paying for the robocall).  HB 216

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.
·        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.
·         Prohibiting an employer from taking adverse employment action against an employee for inquiring about the employee's wages.