Monday, February 6, 2023

Maryland Legislative Report - February 6, 2023

 The big news this week is that Governor Moore introduced his legislative agenda.  It is very likely that all these bills will pass the General Assembly this year.


House Bill 548 - Access to Banking Act,

This bill would create a Maryland Community Venture Investment Fund. The fund would provide an incentive for banks and credit unions to locate physical branches in low- and moderate-income communities, and would provide capital to financial technology companies to develop tech solutions designed to assist financial institutions in providing necessary lines of credit to small businesses in lower-income communities.

HB 546: The SERVE Act (Serving Every Region through Vocational Exploration)

This bill will set up a system to provide a service year option for high school graduates to work for community organizations and nonprofit groups. This program will serve as a springboard for participants to enter into post-service year employment, higher education, or apprenticeships while creating a culture of service in communities across the state.”

HB 547: The Family Prosperity Act

The legislation would permanently extend the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit   The bill would also expand the state’s Child Tax Credit to cover taxpayers with children 5 and under who have a federally adjusted gross income of $15,000 or less.

HB 549: The Fair Wage Act

This legislation would accelerate the state’s $15-an-hour minimum wage, fully implementing that wage for all covered employers as of Oct. 1 (it currently isn’t supposed to take full effect until 2026). The bill would also index the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index beginning on July 1, 2025, capped at 5% per year. (Unfortunately, it does not covered tipped workers.)

HB 550: The Clean Energy and Transportation Act

The bill would bolster incentives for people and businesses that purchase electric medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and charging stations. The bill would allow businesses that switch from fossil fuel-consuming trucks to electric trucks to receive grants that cover 100% of the cost differential.

HB 551: The Broadband Expansion Incentive Act

The measure would create a five-year moratorium on sales and use taxes for broadband infrastructure equipment and would end state taxation of federal broadband grants. 

HB 552: The Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act

The legislation would establish a pilot program: the Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program. It envisions leveraging state dollars for grants to businesses, local governments, non-profits, and academic institutions for infrastructure and technology programs.

HB 553: The Healthcare for Heroes Act

The bill would establish a program within the Maryland Military Department to reimburse members of the Maryland National Guard for health care and dental premiums that they pay for themselves and their families.

HB 554: The Keep Our Heroes Home Act

The bill would expand the state’s existing tax exemption for military retirement income. Maryland currently allows retirees under age 55 to exempt up to $5,000 of military retirement income and retirees over age 55 to exempt up to $15,000. The legislation would eliminate the age distinction and allow for the exemption of up to $25,000 in tax year 2024 and up to $40,000 beginning in tax year 2025.


Here are some other new bills that I am following:


Criminal Justice

County Police Accountability Boards authorizes PABs to exercise investigatory and subpoena powers, concurrently with a law enforcement agency investigating the complaint. (SB0285, Senator Carter, Judicial Proceedings Committee)


Special Election to Fill a Vacancy requires a special election on the same day as the primary and general elections if a vacancy in the office of Delegate or Senator occurs 55 days before the candidate filing deadline. Currently, if there is a vacancy, the person is appointed for the balance of the term. (HB0417, Delegate Foley, Ways and Means Committee)

Affiliating With a Party 

Allows unaffiliated voters to affiliate with a party if the request is received by 5 p.m. on the day before early voting begins.  The new party affiliation will be effective for the upcoming election. Currently, affiliation requests are generally limited to 21 days before an election. (HB0114, Delegate Qi, Ways and Means Committee and SB0039; Senator Kagan, Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee)


Monitoring Particulate and Fine Particulate Matter requires the monitoring of ambient air particulates in environmental justice (think highly polluted) areas of the state, including chicken farms on the Eastern Shore. This bill also requires these data to be taken into account before approving air emissions permits. (HB0473, Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, Economic Matters Committee)

Gun Control

Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2023 prohibits firearm industry members from knowingly or recklessly creating, maintaining, or contributing to harm to the public through the manufacture or sale of a firearm-related product. The Attorney General or an individual may file a public nuisance suit against any industry member who violates this statute. (SB0113, Senator Waldstreicher, Judicial Proceedings Committee and HB0259, Delegates Atterbeary and Rosenberg, Judiciary Committee)

Health Care

Access to Care Act addresses critical health disparities faced by the immigrant community in Maryland by expanding the Affordable Care Act to all Marylanders who meet the regular eligibility criteria, regardless of their immigration status. This bill also begins to establish a state subsidy program to ensure that newly covered individuals have the funding to receive care. (SB0365, Senator Lam, Finance Committee)


Collective Bargaining for Faculty, Part-Time Faculty, and Graduate Assistants grants collective bargaining rights to these workers at state universities and colleges. (HB0275, Delegate Foley, Appropriations Committee and SB0247, Senator Kramer, Finance Committee)


Maryland Estate Tax – Unified Credit lowers the exemption from $5 million to $1 millions thus reducing the overall tax burden on others. (HB0268, Delegate Wilkins, Ways and Means Committee)


The Two Person Crew Bill requires at least 2 crew members to operate a train or light engine used in the movement of freight that uses the same rail corridor as high-speed passenger or commuter trains. This means that if one of the crew members was to become unable to perform their duties, the train would still have an operator. (HB0352, Delegate Stein, Environment and Transportation Committee)


You can find out who your legislators are here. Call or send an email to your legislators using the contact information found here.  While an email is preferred, the following template provides some idea of the material you can use for a phone call or social media posting - excluding any personal information, of course! If you would like to include a brief description of the bills, you can include the descriptions above. You are also encouraged to include any details of why you think this bill is important and that you are a member of the Maryland Legislative Coalition and, if applicable, one of our affiliated organizations.

Dear (legislator),

My name is _________ and my address is ______________.  I am writing to let you know that the following bill(s) is(are) important to me and to all Marylanders.  I would like to request that you be a champion for these bills and help them get passed quickly.  

 Each of these bills is important for Maryland, and I support them and would like your help in getting them passed.  If you are not on the relevant committee, I would appreciate your voting for them during session.  If you are on the relevant committee, I hope you will fight for them and support the sponsors as much as possible.

Thank you for your consideration,

(name, organization)

 An email, phone call, or social media posting is even more powerful if your legislator is on one of these committees. When you are writing to legislators, it is best to write to your Senator or Delegate about bills on the committee that he or she serves on.  The committee assignments can also be found here.

Below, you will see the bills divided by committee to make it easier for you to advocate.

Appropriations (House)

·         HB0275 Collective Bargaining - Faculty, Part-Time Faculty, and Graduate Assistants, Delegate Foley

Economic Matters (House)

·  HB0473 Environment - Ambient Air Monitoring - Particulate and Fine Particulate Matter, Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo

Education, Energy, and the Environment (Senate)

·  SB0039 Affiliating With a Party - Unaffiliated Voters, Senator Kagan

Environment and Transportation (House)

·  HB0352 Two Person Crew - Required Crew, Delegate Stein

Finance (Senate)

·  SB0247 Collective Bargaining – Faculty, Part-Time Faculty, and Graduate Assistants, Senator Kramer

·  SB0365 Health Insurance - Qualified Resident Enrollment Program (Access to Care Act), Senator Lam

Judicial Proceedings (Senate)

·  SB0113 Firearm Industry Members (Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2023), Senator Waldstreicher

·  SB0285 County Police Accountability Boards - Investigation of Complaints of Police Misconduct, Senator Carter

Judiciary (House)

·  HB0259 Firearm Industry Members (Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2023), Delegates Atterbeary and Rosenberg

Ways and Means (House)

·  HB0114 Ballot Access - Affiliating with a Party - Unaffiliated Voters, Delegate Qi

·  HB0268 Maryland Estate Tax Delegate Wilkins

·  HB0417 General Assembly - Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office, Delegate Foley