MD Legislative Update – February 22, 2020

Legislative Update – February 22, 2020

 

          As we get closer to ‘cross-over’ date more bills are passing through one of the chambers of the MD Legislature.  Crossover date is the date that almost all the bills pass either the Senate or House of Delegates by March 16th so they can be heard in a timely fashion in the other legislative body.  We also know now some bills that definitely will not pass this year because they received an unfavorable vote in their committee.  I am also listing those later in the report.

 

 I am listing the list of some of the bills that passed one of the legislative bodies this week and then other bills that I am tracking.  All bills have to be passed by the State Senate and the House of Delegates and then signed into law.

Bills That Have Made Progress

 

  • 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 of Delegates / Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws: HB 81 Repeals the crimes of sodomy and unnatural or perverted sexual practice; Passed the House of Delegates

 

  • Motor Vehicle and Homeowner’s Insurance – Use of Claim History in Rating Policies – HB 431 / 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. Passed House of Delegates – Senate Hearing Held

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits 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 Held

 

 

  • 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. – Hearing Held

 

 

  • 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. House Hearing Health and Govt Operations Feb 28

 

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. Hearings Held

 

  • Pre-release Unit for Women – HB 608/ SB 682– MD has four pre-release facilities for men but none for women. House Hearing Held – Senate Hearing Feb 26

 

  • 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.  House Hearing Judiciary March 3 / Senate Hearing Judiciary Proceedings March 5

 

  • 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. House Hearing Held

 

 

Education

  • 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 raise revenue.  These bills have also have to be passed to fully implement the recommendations outlined in HB 1300/SB 111. Hearings Held

 

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 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. Passed House of Delegates

 

  • Funding for HBCU Colleges HB 1260 / SB 1043 – Requires the Governor, in each of fiscal years 2022 through 2031, to include in the annual State operating budget $57,700,000 to be allocated to certain historically black colleges and universities.  House Hearing Feb 25

 

Environment

  • 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 Hearings Held

 

  • Prohibition on Use of ChlropyrifosHB 229/SB 300 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 Held

 

  • Banning Single Use Plastic Straws HB 296 – Prohibiting a food service business from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer Hearing Hearing Held

 

  • 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

 

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

 

  • Coal Transition Bill – HB 1545/SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/5

 

  • Carbon Tax HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.  House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/12

 

  • Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – SB 926/HB 1426- 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

 

  • Taking Incineration out of the Renewable Portfolio Standard – HB 438 / SB 560 House Hearing Held – Senate Hearing Feb 25

 

  • Prohibition From Intentionally Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere – SB 28Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem. Passed the Senate

 

 

Gambling

  • Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearings Held

 

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 of Delegates   Senate Hearing Held

 

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

 

  • 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

 

  • Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis – HB 1400

Housing

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. House Hearing Held

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 advertising. Senate 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. House Hearing Held

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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 and House Hearings Held

 

  • 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. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 – House Hearing Held

 

  • 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. House Hearing Feb 25

 

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.
  • 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 intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Passed State Senate  (now both bills have to pass the other chamber and if there are differences between the two bills they have to be reconciled)

 

Transportation

  • 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.  House Hearing Held

 

  • 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

 

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839/SB 539 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. House Hearing Feb 24

 

Voting Rights/Democracy Initiatives

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/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

 

  • 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/SB91This 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

 

  • 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/SB 206Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearings Held

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 Hearing Held

 

 

  • Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494 Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly – Hearing Ways and Means Committtee – March 5

 

  • 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. House Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 24

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/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

 

Local Bills                                                                      

  • 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 – Hearing Held

 

  • 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) Hearing House Ways and Means Committee Feb 27

 

  • Tax credits for small businesses Impacted by the Purple Lane – HB 540 /SB 645 – Creates a tax credit for a business that is impacted by the construction of the Purple Line light rail project. The credit is equal to the amount of business income lost during the taxable year as a result of the Purple Line construction House Hearing Hold / Senate Hearing Budget and Taxation Feb 26

 

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

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

MD Legislative Update – Feb 16, 2020

Legislative Update – February 15, 2020

 

          Most all the bills have introduced.  Now progress is being made on some of the bills that have to be passed by the House of Delegates and State Senate and then signed into law.  Almost all the bills that are going to become law have to pass either the Senate or House of Delegates by March 16th so they can be heard in a timely fashion in the other legislative body. 

 I am listing the list of some of the bills that passed one of the legislative bodies this week and then other bills that I am tracking.  All bills have to be passed by the State Senate and the House of Delegates and then signed into law.

Bills That Have Made Progress

 

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 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. Passed House of Delegates

 

  • 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 of Delegates   Senate Hearing Held

 

  • Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in the General Assembly – SB  10/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

 

  • 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 intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Passed State Senate  (now both bills have to pass the other chamber and if there are differences between the two bills they have to be reconciled)

 

  • Prohibition From Intentionally Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere – SB 28Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem. Passed the Senate

 

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits 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

 

 

  • 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 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

 

  • 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.

 

 

Education

  • 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 raise revenue.  These bills have also have to be passed to fully implement the recommendations outlined in HB 1300/SB 111. – Hearing Feb 17

 

Environment

  • 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 ChlropyrifosHB 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

 

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

 

  • Coal Transition Bill – HB 1545/SB 887 Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/5

 

  • Carbon Tax HB 1543/SB 912- Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.  House Hearing Economic Matters – 3/12

 

  • Climate Solutions Act of 2020 – SB 926/HB 1426- 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

 

  • Taking Incineration out of the Renewable Portfolio Standard – HB 438 / SB 560

 

Gambling

  • 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

 

  • 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

 

  • Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis – HB 1400

Housing

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals. House Hearing Held

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 223 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 advertising. Senate 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. House Hearing Held

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 Held

 

  • 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 and House Hearings Held

 

  • 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. House Hearing Held

 

  • 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 – House Hearing Held

 

  • 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.

 

Transportation

  • 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.  House Hearing Held

 

  • 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

 

  • Family Medical Leave Act – HB 839/SB 539 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. House Hearing Feb 24

 

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/SB91This 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

 

  • 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/SB 206Stops senior members of the executive branch from immediately getting jobs as lobbyists after their leave their job. Hearings Held

 

  • Authorizing Counties to Allow Public Financing of Local School Board Elections HB 337/SB 298 Hearing Held

 

 

  • Small Donor Incentive Act for State Legislators – HB 1494 Expands public finding to members of the General Assembly – Hearing Ways and Means Committtee – March 5

 

  • 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. House Hearing Environment and Transportation – Feb 24

 

 

 

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 – Hearing Economic and Transportation Committee Feb 20

 

  • 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) Hearing House Ways and Means Committee Feb 27

 

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

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

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.

 

 

Education

 

  • 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 also have to be passed for these recommendations to be fully implemented.

 

Environment

 

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.

 

Health

 

          Legalization and Taxation of Cannabis –  HB 1400

 

Revenue

 

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 431– Prohibits 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

 

Education

  • 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

Environment

  • 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

 

Gambling

  • 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

  • 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
  •  

Revenue

  • 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 advertising. Senate 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 295– Requires 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 507– Apply 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 216– Apply 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 256– Reverses 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

Transportation

  • 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:  http://mdlegislative.com

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

Legislative Update – February 2, 2020

          The General Assembly is in the fourth week of its 2020 Session.  The big news this week was the over-ride of five of Governor Hogan’s vetoes (listed below).  These bills have become Maryland law. 

Bills continue to be introduced.  The number is now over 1,500.  After reviewing the bill over-rides, I have listed few of the newly introduced bills and the status of other bills I am following.

 

General Assembly Overrides Five Bills Passed in 2019

 

Dream Act alterations

This measure removes the requirement that someone must go to community college before going to a four-year college.   Students and their parents must still show a record of paying taxes to be eligible for in-state tuition.

“Ban the Box” criminal record screening,

This measure prohibits private employers from including a checkbox about criminal history on job applications and would prohibit companies with 15 or more employees from asking an applicant about their criminal history at any time before the first in-person interview.

Oyster management plans

This measure establishes a consensus-based process to create a new oyster fishery management plan for the state involving environmentalists, watermen and seafood sellers.  Environmental advocates say the measure maintains sustainable oyster fisheries by taking a scientific approach to harvests, while watermen are worried about restrictions on their haul.

Repeal of the Handgun Review Board,

This bill repeals the board and direct appeals through the Office of Administrative Hearings instead.  Advocates said that repealing the board would take politics out of handgun permit decisions by putting them in the hands of judges.   Right now the Board has five people appointed by the Governor.

 

State personnel grievance procedures

This bill allows state employees to expand their ability to file  grievances related to collective bargaining agreements instead of having to go to the State Labor Relations Board

 

No Override on Two Person Crew

One bill that the legislature did not override was the bill passed in 2019 that mandated there be at least two people on all freight trains.   CSX had threatened to stop the contribution of  $113 million toward the Howard Street Tunnel project in Baltimore, which state leaders have said will greatly help the Port of Baltimore because the enlarged tunnel will be able accommodate double-stack trains and the State Senate could not come up with the 29 votes needed to override the veto.  I was disappointed by not having a vote on this bill.

 

New Bills Introduced

 

Consumer Rights         

 

  • Lifeline Low-Cost Auto Insurance Pilot for Prince George’s and Baltimore – HB 660 This bill lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers. MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US.

 

Criminal Justice

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

 

Immigration Justice

  • 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

 

Environment

                  

  • 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.

Revenue

  • 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

 

  • End of Life Option – HB 643 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.

 

Transportation

 

  • 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

 

  • Heat Stress Standards HB 732 / 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

 

 

           

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies SB 17/HB 431– Prohibits 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

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

Education

  • Build to Learn Act of 2020 HB 1/SB 1Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds. House Hearing Held

Environment

  • 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

 

 

Gambling

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

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231 – 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 – Feb 4 at 1 PM

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

Revenue

  • 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 13

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 222 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 13

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2 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 advertising. Senate 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 473Requires 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 B&T 1/29 1 PM 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 7

 

  • 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

 

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 intimidatePassed the House of Delegates  – Senate Hearing Held

 

Transportation

  • 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 Appropriations Feb 4

 

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. Hearing Economic Matters Feb 4
  • 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

 

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/SB91This 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:  http://mdlegislative.com

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

Legislative Update – January 27, 2020

            The Legislative Session has completed 20 days of its 90 day session.  Over 1,000 bills have been  introduced.  Here are the bills I am tracking.  I am adding the new bills in the front and giving a status of other bills I am following after that.

 

New Bills Introduced

 

 

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. Hearing House Economic Matters Feb 12

 

Criminal Justice

 

  • Maryland Second Look Act – HB 323 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

 

Democracy Initiatives

 

  • 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

 

Environment

  • 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.
  • 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.

 

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

           

 

 

Revenue

 

Finding revenue to fund the Kirwan Commission Recommendations is a necessity for our children and our state.  And there is money to fund these recommendations.  A package of bills has been introduced by legislators to close some corporate loopholes, special interest tax breaks, and other ways to raise money.  Here are some of the bills:

           

  • 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 13

 

  • Throwback Rule HB 473Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland.

 

  • Close the pass-through/LLC loophole HB 507- Apply a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs. LLCs are limited partnerships which do not pay a corporate business tax.

 

  • Corporate Tax Fairness Act (Combined Reporting & Throwback) – SB 311 B&T 1/29 1 PM A combination of Combined Reporting and the Throwback rule in the same bill. Hearing Senate Budget and Taxation – Jan 29

 

  • Carried Interest HB 439/SB 216- Apply 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 B&T Comm Jan 29 / House Ways and Means – Feb 7

 

  • Estate Tax Giveaway Reversal HB 256- Reverses 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

 

Transportation

 

  • Transit Safety and Investment Act – HB368 – 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.

 

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

  • SB 17/ HB 431 – Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies – Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Hearing Jan 29 Finance Committee – 2:45 PM

Education

  • HB001/SB001 – Build to Learn Act of 2020 – Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds. House Hearing Held

Environment

  • 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

 

Gambling

Referendum on Sports Betting – HB 169 / SB 325 –Hearing Ways and Means Feb 4 1 PM / Senate Budget and Taxation – Feb 5 1 PM

 

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.

 

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

 

  • 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

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231 – 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 – Feb 4 at 1 PM

Revenue

  • 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 13 a

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 222 – Ends ineffective business tax credits. Hearing Ways and Means – Feb 13

 

  • Digital Advertising Gross Revenues SB 2 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 advertising. Hearing  Budget and Taxation – Jan 29

 

  • Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices – SB 3 This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted) Hearing Budget and Taxation – Jan 29

 

 

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 intimidateHOUSE HEARING HELD – Senate Hearing Judicial proceedings Jan 29 1 PM

 

Transportation

  • 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

 

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. Hearing Economic Matters Feb 4
  • 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; Hearing Appropriations Committee Jan 28 2 PM

 

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. HEARING Held

 

  • Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – HB0051/SB0091This 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. House Hearing Ways and Means January 29 1 PM

 

  • 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 Ways and Means – January 28 1 PM

 

Local Prince George’s County Bills

(Local bills originally have different bill numbers and  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 are approved by the whole General Assembly.)

  • 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

 

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

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative Update – January 20, 2020

 

            The Legislative Session has completed its second week.  Close to 500 bills have introduced.  Here are the bills I am tracking.  I am adding the new bills in the front and giving a status of other bills I am following after that.

 

New Bills Introduced

Environment

  • Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act – HB 209 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

 

  • Prohibition on Use of Chlropyrifos – HB 229 Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State

 

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.

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

 

  • 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

Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act – HB 231 – 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 – Feb 4 at 1 PM

Revenue

  • Capital Gains Tax Increase – HB 222 Providing for an additional State individual income tax rate of 1% on net capital gains of individuals

 

  • End Ineffective Business Subsidies – HB 222          Ends ineffective business tax credits.

Transportation

  • County Consent for Expansion of Toll Roads – SB 229 –  Prohibits the  State construction of new toll roads without the consent of a majority of the affected counties.

 

Workers Rights

 

  • Secure Maryland Wage Act – SB 2 Hearing Feb 6 1 PM Senate Finance Committee Imposes a tax on annual gross revenues derived from digital advertising

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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; Hearing Appropriations Committee Jan 28 2 PM

 

Status of Other Important Bills

Consumer Rights

SB 17 – – Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies  – Prohibits an insurer, from pricing insurance based  on the credit history of an applicant; Hearing Jan 29 Finance Committee – 2:45 PM

Education

HB001/SB001 – Build to Learn Act of 2020 – Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds.

SB002 – Digital Advertising Gross Revenues 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 advertising.

SB003 – Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted)

Social Justice

HB005 – Crimes – Hate Crimes – Use of an Item or Symbol to Threaten or Intimidate  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 HOUSE HEARING HELD – Senate Hearing Judicial proceedings Jan 29 1 PM

 

Voting Rights

HB0037 – Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting –  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. HEARING Held

HB0051/SB0091 – Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – 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

SB0010/HB 103 – General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office 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. House Hearing Ways and Means January 29 1 PM

HB34/SB87 Prohibition on Foreign Contributions to Campaigns Prohibits a foreign-based corporation from making a political contribution to a campaign or making an independent expenditure to the campaign. House Hearing Ways and Means – January 28 1 PM

 

Local Prince George’s County Bills

(Local bills originally have different bill numbers and  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 are approved by the whole General Assembly.)

Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags (401-20)

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 (402-20)

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 (PG 407-20)

 

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

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:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov    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.

Previously, only the audio portion of the floor sessions was available online.  That meant that the only way for the public to watch floor debates was to come to Annapolis and watch in person from the floor viewing gallery.

Archives of video from prior legislative days are available on the General Assembly web-site. In addition, meetings of most committees are available online, as in past years.  To view and listen to proceedings go to the General Assembly web-site:  www.mgaleg.maryland.gov

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 (47B)   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.

You can read all my past newsletters at my Peoples Lobbying Group web-site:  www.plg.solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland Legislative Update – January 13, 2020

 

The Maryland General Assembly convened on Wednesday January 8.  The legislative session lasts for 90 days.  In the first few days 300 bills were introduced.

These are some of the bills I am following.  When more bills are introduced, I will add them to the list along with the Bill number and the status of the bill (i.e. Hearing Date and/or Passage in the House or Senate). 

 

Consumer Rights

            SB 17 – – Bans the Use of Credit History in Rating Policies

Education

HB001/SB001 – Build to Learn Act of 2020 – Appropriates more money for school construction through the issuance of construction bonds.

Revenue

SB002 – Digital Advertising Gross Revenues 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 advertising.

SB003 – Taxing Electronic Smoking Devices This bill will make e-cigarettes taxable (they are currently exempted)
Social Justice

HB005 – Crimes – Hate Crimes – Use of an Item or Symbol to Threaten or Intimidate  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 HEARING – January 16th, 1:00 pm Judiciary Committee

Voting Rights

HB0037 – Election Law – References to Absentee Voting in Communications – Mail-In-Voting –  This bill requires changing the reference to Absentee Ballots to ‘Mail-In’ Ballots. HEARING – January 16th, 1:30 pm Ways and Means Committee

HB0051/SB0091 – Election Law – Individuals Released from Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration – 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 – January 16th, 1:30 pm Ways and Means Committee

SB0010 – General Assembly – Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office 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.

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

 

 

Local Prince George’s County Bills

(Local bills originally have different bill numbers and  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 are approved by the whole General Assembly.)

Allowing the County to Charge A Fee for Use of Disposable Bags (401-20)

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 (402-20)

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 (PG 407-20)

 

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

Please remember, the reason I let people know 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.

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 (47B)   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.

New Laws Effective January 1 2020

Minimum wage goes from $10.15 an hour to $11 an hour (MD State Law)

In  2019 Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that gradually increases the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $15 over a period of five years for companies with more than 15 employees (smaller businesses have six years to get there). The first required increase, which boosts the rate to $11 for all companies, takes effect Jan. 1.

New Overtime Rule (National Regulation)

Hourly workers receive time and a half pay after 40 hours of work.  Professionals, technical employees and managers had previously been exempted from overtime rules unless they made less than $12.27/hour ($445 a week or $23,600 annually).  Starting in January the threshold for professionals, technical employees and managers who have to be paid overtime increases to $17.78/hour ($684 weekly or $35,568 annually).  This means a lot of low paid managers (e.g. at fast food restaurants), professional (e.g. reporters at small newspapers), and technical workers (e.g. at internet companies) will have to be paid premium pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.  This does not apply to people who are paid as ‘independent contractors’.  But there are state and national laws that prohibit employers from paying people as independent contractors if they should be really classified as employees.  (Email me if you are in that situation and want some guidance about whether you’re being incorrectly classified.)

New Law Affecting Retirement Income (Federal Law)

A part of the huge budget deal recently passed by Congress and signed into law last month was the Secure Act.    This bill makes a number of changes affecting retirees.  A few of the significant provisions of the law are

Increases the age that a required minimum distribution (RMD) must start from 70½ to 72. Currently, people reaching 70½ must begin taking RMDs from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans. The new rule applies to people who turn 70 1/2 after Dec. 31.

Repeals the maximum age for making traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70½. Workers will now be able to contribute to their IRAs past this age as long as they have earned income.

Another provision allows parents to withdraw up to $5,000 from their individual 401(k) or similar workplace plans for each new child without incurring a 10 percent additional tax for early retirement plan distributions. However, you still have to pay ordinary income taxes on the withdrawal, which has to be done within a year of the birth or adoption of a child. Parents can later put the money back into their retirement accounts.

Mandatory rape kit testing (MD State Law)

This bill requires that law enforcement agencies submit sexual assault evidence collection kits to forensic laboratories for testing within 30 days of receipt and calls for kit tests to be processed in a timely manner.

 

Beer franchise agreements (MD State Law)

Previously, a Maryland brewery that produced 20,000 or fewer barrels of beer per year had to provide distributors with 180 days’ notice before moving to terminate or renew a franchise agreement. Further, breweries were obligated to show good cause and provide distributors with 180 days to rectify deficiencies. This bill cuts the notice to 45 days and relieves sellers from having to show good cause or give a franchisee an opportunity to fix any problems.

 

Insurers banned from penalizing organ donors (MD State Law)

Insurers of life, disability and long-term care can no longer hike premiums, enforce surcharges, cancel policies or flat-out reject someone from coverage based on their status as an organ donor.

 

Reduction on Fees on Food Trucks (Prince George’s County Law)

Eliminates fees for businesses apply for food truck licenses.  Previously food truck owners had to pay $500 if they operated for few than two months and $3,400 if they operated for more than two months.  There is still a fee (reduced from $75 to $35) for inspections performed for the fire department.

 

Happy New Year Everyone and email me if you have any questions about any of these new laws!

Big Changes and Big Challenges Ahead for the 2020 MD Legislative Session

            The 2020 Session of the Maryland General Assembly starts on Wednesday January 8. There will be more changes than usual in the upcoming session, and plenty of challenges.

The former Speaker of the House of Delegates, Mike Busch, passed away last April, and the President of the Senate, Mike Miller, is stepping down.  The new Speaker of the House of Delegates will be Adrienne Jones, from Baltimore County, and the new President of the Maryland Senate will be Bill Ferguson, from Baltimore City.  Both Jones and Ferguson have made some impressive new appointments to the legislative leadership, and I am optimistic that more progressive legislation may now be passed by the General Assembly and become Maryland law.

As we get close to the opening of the session, the top legislative issues are coming into focus.  Last weekend I attended two different conferences that discussed legislative priorities. Here are some of the issues that will be discussed at the upcoming session, and some of the legislation that is being proposed.  I will discuss more in my upcoming newsletters, and  once the proposed legislation is introduced, I will let you know the numbers of the bills.

For more information on these bills, or to find out about a bill or topic that is not listed below, please send me an email.

 

Education

Kirwan Committee Recommendations and New School Construction      Everyone agrees that the top issue in the upcoming legislative session will be education. 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.  Implementation of the plan requires increased spending of up to $4 billion per year. New school construction will also be a top priority.  In fact, the Speaker of the House has said that the first two bills, HB1 and HB2, will be for school construction and implementing the Kirwan recommendations.

Raising Revenue to Pay for Education            Unfortunately, even if the bills pass, little can be done without a realistic plan to raise revenue.  A group of legislators have put together a package of revenue proposals that would raise close to $3 billion a year by taxing corporations and the super-wealthy in Maryland, not working people.  Some of these proposals are:

Combined reporting         Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated from subsidiaries in Maryland.

Throwback rule      Requires large, multistate corporations to pay their fair share in corporate taxes for profits generated related to sales in Maryland.

Close the pass-through/LLC loophole Applies a 4% entity-level tax on profits over $1 million for LLCs (limited partnerships that do not pay a corporate business tax).

Decouple 529 Tax Benefit           Prohibits an individual from claiming the State income subtraction modification for contributions made to the Maryland College Investment Plan if the contributed funds are used for private elementary or secondary education expenses.

Means testing for individual tax credits        Disallows tax credits (such as for solar panels and accessibility ramps) for high-income tax filers.

Restructure of personal income tax brackets and rates  Lowers income tax rates on income earners below median, raises rates on income earners above, and restores millionaire tax at 7%.

Capital gains surtax         Applies a 1% surtax on capital gains income, to partially offset special treatment in federal tax code.

Carried interest     Applies 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.

Estate tax giveaway reversal    Reverses handout to wealthy given in 2014, by resetting the estate tax exemption limit at $1 million instead of $5 million.

Carbon tax   Establishes a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution charge on all GHG-producing substances distributed or used in the State.

 

Immigration issues

The Trust Act  This bill would prohibit the police from contacting ICE if an individual has been stopped because of a civil (not criminal) infraction.

Overturning the Governor’s veto of the Dream Act Expansion      The bill allows all students (including undocumented students) to go directly to a state four-year institution and pay in-state tuition.  The bill was vetoed by Governor Hogan; the veto has to be overturned by the legislature in the first week of session.

Prohibiting MVA from sharing information with ICE

 

Environmental Issues

Statewide ban of plastic bag, with a 10-cent charge for paper bags.

Greenhouse gas reduction reform:   Raising the 2030 reduction target from 40% to 63%, and requiring that 40% of state resources dedicated to emission reduction be spent in frontline communities (those that experience the “first and worst” consequences of climate change) and economically disadvantaged communities. Includes planting of 1 million trees each year.

Shutting down the six existing coal plants in MD while compensating employees who will lose their jobs because of the plant shutdowns.

Public Service Commission climate-based decision making requiring the PSC to factor climate change into all its regulations, including the approval of new generating plants.

Retrofitting of existing buildings      When buildings undergo renovations, they will have to meet new energy efficiency standards.

New building standards        Net-zero standards for new government buildings and new commercial buildings by 2025.

Healthy Green Amendment: Amends the state’s constitution to include a right to a clean, safe and healthful

Consumer Rights

Pilot low-cost auto insurance program for Prince George’s and Baltimore City    Lowers the minimum liability coverage for good drivers.  MD has the highest minimum liability coverage in the US.

Increasing the amount of money low-wage workers can protect from garnishment  The bill would increase this amount from the current $11,000 a year to $26,000.

Medical Debtors Protection Act        Two bills would increase protections, including ensuring that no one can lose their home because of medical debt.

Ending Drivers license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees

Tenant Protection: This bill protects tenants from eviction, abuse, and health risks. It is an omnibus renter’s rights bill that will make it easier for tenants to void their leases when necessary, confront harassment, defend themselves in court, recover their security deposits, and organize with their neighbors into tenants’ associations.

 

Criminal Justice

2nd Chance bill  Allows incarcerated citizens with over 20 years of imprisoned time to go to court to reduce their sentence.

Removing the Governor from the parole process    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.

Women’s pre-release facility            MD has four pre-release facilities for men, but none for women.

Death with Dignity legislation Last year this bill passed the House of Delegates and lost in the Senate by one vote.  There will be another attempt to pass the legislation in 2020.

Health Issues

            Banning of Flavored Vaping Products

Funding for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board  – The Board was created in 2018 but it needs to be funded so it can do its job.

Transit

Opposition to I-270 and Beltway expansion There will be numerous bills to try and block the expansion of the two highways.

Two Person Crew Legislation – The Governor vetoed this important train safety bill which would prohibit CSX from moving to long freight trains with only one worker directing the whole train.

Voting rights issues/Democracy issues

            Small-Donor Incentive Act to encourage campaign fundraising from small donors for state legislative campaigns

            Ranked-choice voting

            Allowing independent voters to join a party during early voting  

Allowing prisoners who have not been convicted of a crime (waiting for a court date) to vote

Stopping the Revolving Door In Annapolis – Prevent heads of state agencies from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving state government

Gun Control

            Background checks for long guns

            Restrictions of firearms sales near schools

            Ban on 3D printer guns and guns with no serial number

Worker Rights

Maryland Worker Protection Act     Bill to (1) make sure that pay stubs have all the information on hours and wages so people know they have been correctly compensated; (2) prevent workers from being misclassified as independent contractors when they are in fact employees of a business; (3) prevent retaliation against workers who file complaints about receiving their correct pay.

Salary History Bill       Employers would not be able to ask job seekers about their previous salary.

Family and Medical leave Insurance Program         Bill establishing 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.

Local (Prince George’s County) Legislation

            Allowing the County to charge a fee for use of disposable bags

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.

Repealing statutes that prohibit developers with pending projects from making contributions to the County Executive of Prince George’s County or a slate that includes the County Executive. (Not something I support.)

If you live in District 47 you may want to contact one of your State Representatives about one of the proposed pieces of legislation.  Here is their contact information:

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 (47B)    Wanika.fisher@house.state.md.us 410-841-3340

 

If you do not know who are your representatives, you can find them at www.mdelect.net.   There is also a very good smartphone app, Verizon MD GOV,  that lists all the Delegates and Senators, with their committees and their contact numbers.

 

There are a lot of good bills that are will be introduced in the next session.  This is only some of them.  It’s easy to introduce a bill, it is hard to get it passed and it needs people to call their legislators to get it done!

New Maryland Laws Effective October 1

[This List was Prepared by the Capital News Service]

Hundreds of Maryland laws are going into effect Tuesday, spanning subjects from criminal justice reform to election law to the state’s medical cannabis commission.

A generous number of the bills fall under the subjects of criminal justice and health. Senate Bill 707, which passed in the 2018 legislative session but is going into effect Tuesday, bans the sale of bump stocks in Maryland. Penalties for offenses such as hate crime threats and solicitation for murder are becoming more severe, while gambling is being decriminalized.

House Bill 116 will require jails to screen all inmates for opioid use disorder, while Senate Bill 909 will require health care practitioners to obtain consent before performing certain bodily exams on patients who are unconscious or under anesthesia.

Age limits are also being changed in a variety of ways. The minimum age for purchasing tobacco products will be raised from 18 to 21, while the minimum age of detention within the Department of Juvenile Services is being raised from 7 to 12, with exceptions for violent crimes. Minors are also now prohibited from using tanning facilities.

Here is a roundup of some of the bills going into effect Oct. 1, broken down by subject.

Alcohol, cannabis and tobacco

Tobacco age: HB 1169 — The minimum age for purchasing or being sold tobacco products, which includes cigarettes, cigars, electronic smoking devices or “vapes,” and any related paraphernalia, will be raised from 18 to 21, exempting active duty military members 18 or older with a military ID. Retailers must display signs announcing the law and are subject to inspection and civil fines if the prohibitions are violated.

Alcohol consumption: HB 88 — Drinking and holding an alcoholic beverage in public under certain circumstances or having one in an open container will now be considered a civil rather than a criminal offense.

Animals

Cruelty to animals — payment for care: HB 135 — In current animal abuse cases, animal shelters shoulder the costs of care and treatment for the animal, without the option of adopting the animal out, until the case and custody are decided. This law, which covers dogfighting and cockfighting, would put the onus of animal care costs on the defendant, until the court case is heard and custody is decided.

Farm animal antibiotics: SB 471 — Administration of antibiotics to farm animals in Maryland will be further limited under this bill. Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) said during a hearing that the bill will close loopholes that allow antibiotics to be given preventatively by clarifying definitions related to risk and administration patterns. Veterinarians will also have more oversight, according to the Legislative Services department.

Nuisance insects: HB 1353 — The secretary of Agriculture is given authority to execute the program to control and remove insects that “pester or annoy only humans.” The new law establishes a Nuisance Insect Fund, requiring counties and municipalities to pay for 50% of the cost of treatment, and it receives $400,000 in funding from the annual state budget. —Emily Top

Business

Online sales tax: HB 1301 —Online sellers and facilitators will now be required to collect sales and use taxes on Maryland buyers.  Under the new law, some sales tax revenues will also be redirected from the general fund to the education-focused Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.

Mover registration: HB 671 — Moving companies in Maryland will now be required to register with and pay fees to the Department of Labor.  Movers were previously not required to register, according to Legislative Services.

Ticket resales — consumer protection: SB 891 — This bill protects consumers from buying event tickets on the resale market that have not yet been secured by the seller. Under the new law, sellers will have to disclose the status of any “speculative” tickets they list online and are required to refund buyers within 10 days of the event if the ticket is not secured.

Citizenship and immigration

Immigrant status and law enforcement: HB 214 — Unauthorized immigrants who are victims of crimes and are willing to help law enforcement may apply for a certain type of legal status. Victims must submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services a certification from local law enforcement agencies, which are not currently required to complete the forms if the victim satisfies the criteria. This bill requires them to.

Officer citizenship: SB 853 — This bill relaxes the citizenship eligibility requirements for police officers. Previously, officers had to be U.S. citizens, but now they can either be citizens or permanent legal residents who have applied for citizenship and been honorably discharged by the military. If officers fail to obtain citizenship, they must be terminated by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.

 

Criminal justice

Stacey’s Law/murder for hire: HB 493 — If a person solicits or conspires with another to commit murder and someone dies, it will now be considered first-degree murder in Maryland with no statute of limitations. Previously, solicitation to commit murder was a misdemeanor with a statute of limitations of three years.

Electronic harassment: SB 103 — This bill broadens what constitutes electronic harassment in Maryland and toughens the penalties against it. A person who uses electronic harassment with the intent of inducing a minor to commit suicide can now be imprisoned for up to 10 years and/or fined up to $10,000. It builds off the original Grace’s Law, named after Grace McComas, a teenager who committed suicide in 2012 after “repeated and vicious harassment online by a neighbor,” according to a legislative analysis.

Laura and Reid’s Law: SB 561 — Named after a woman who was killed while she was 14 weeks pregnant, this new law will impose stricter penalties, including additional imprisonment of up to 10 years, on someone who has committed a crime of violence against a woman with the knowledge that she is pregnant. Laura Wallen, a Howard County teacher, had chosen the boy’s name of Reid for her child.

Post-conviction review: HB 874 — This bill authorizes courts to vacate a conviction if there is new information that calls into question the original ruling. The bill is rooted in the actions of the Baltimore City Gun Trace Task Force, where eight police officers were charged with crimes like filing false paperwork in 2017. Approximately 1,300 cases may have been affected, according to Legislative Services.

Decriminalizing gambling: SB 842 — Betting, wagering and gambling will be decriminalized in Maryland. The penalty for such offenses was previously imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to $1,000. Now, gambling is a civil offense with no possible jail time. Running illegal gambling operations will remain a misdemeanor with possible jail time under the new law. E

Hate crimes: HB 240 —It will be illegal to threaten hate crimes — not just to commit them. Threats will be assessed the same misdemeanor penalty of a maximum of three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Hate crimes rose nationwide by 17%, and in Maryland by 35%, from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI.

Child pornography: SB 736 — Computer-generated images that are indistinguishable from identifiable children younger than 16, and engaged in sexual conduct, will now qualify as child pornography. Film, photo, video and “other visual representation(s)” currently qualify. Drawings, cartoons, sculptures and paintings do not. Penalties are up to 10 years in prison and $10,000.

Jury duty: SB 236 — More people will be eligible for jury duty. A jail sentence (or potential sentence) of longer than six months currently disqualifies citizens from service; citizens will now be disqualified for sentences of a year or longer. —Ian Round

Pedestrian safety: SB 460 — Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians will face a maximum fine of $1,000, up from $500. The fines will contribute to a Pedestrian Safety Fund, which will be used for traffic calming, enforcement and education.

Sale of children: HB 481 — The sale of a minor will be reclassified to a felony offense. Under current Maryland criminal code, the trade, barter or sale of a child for money or something of monetary value is a misdemeanor offense with penalties not to exceed a fine of up to $10,000 and/or five years’ incarceration.

Bump stocks: SB 707 –– The transportation, possession, sale, manufacture, receipt or purchase of “rapid fire trigger activators” that were not owned prior to Oct. 1, 2018, is prohibited. Otherwise known as “bump stocks,” these devices increase the rate at which ammunition is discharged from a firearm. Penalties include a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or three years imprisonment.

Juvenile detention: HB 659 –– State law currently permits the Department of Juvenile Services to house children as young as 7 in detention facilities with juveniles up to age 21. Maryland will raise the minimum age of detention to 12, allowing for the exception of those who commit violent crimes or who are at risk of fleeing the court’s jurisdiction.

Loaning weapons: SB 346 –– Owners of handguns and other regulated firearms may be prosecuted for loaning weapons to individuals who they have cause to believe are legally barred from possessing them. This also extends to situations when there is cause to believe that someone may use the weapon to cause harm to themselves or others. Maximum penalties may include a $10,000 fine and prison time.

Attempted suicide: HB 77 –– Maryland will no longer prosecute attempted suicide as a crime. The state previously recognized the act as a crime under English common law. There has been one conviction in the last five years. That defendant is serving a three-year suspended sentence and two years of probation.

Driving under the influence: HB 707 — The penalties for drunk and drugged driving offenses are becoming more severe. If you have prior convictions for operating either a vehicle or vessel under the influence, or if you commit a homicide in the process, there are now longer sentences and more costly fines.

Sex trafficking: HB 871 — Human trafficking offenses will now be termed sex trafficking; forced marriage will be a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine. Between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, 22 people were sentenced to 39 counts of felony and misdemeanor human trafficking in state circuit court.

Education

Black History Month: SB 879 — Schools are required to incorporate interactive educational activities involving Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass into their Black History Month curriculum.

Student loans: HB 594 — Student loan servicer companies are now prohibited from engaging in any kind of unfair, deceptive or abusive trade practices. Using schemes to mislead student loan borrowers, misrepresenting or not including certain information, misapplying or refusing to correct payments and providing or refusing to correct inaccurate information are all prohibited.

Elections

Election Day pages: SB 364 — After completing training and an oath, kids in grades 6 through 12 can assist election judges on Election Day at polling places through the Page Program. Local boards of elections can choose to participate in the program, which can be executed with no additional cost.

Election law: SB 449 — Individuals may register to vote on Election Day at their local polling place with proof of residency.

Employment

University employee rights: HB 822 — The University System of Maryland now cannot fire exempt employees — those who are not eligible for overtime pay — without cause. Previously, these employees were hired on an at-will basis and could be terminated with or without cause. As of last fall, the University System of Maryland had 11,600 exempt employees, according to Legislative Services.

Criminal history — employment: HB 22 — This bill prohibits executive agencies such as the Health Department from denying applications for occupational licenses or certificates based solely on an applicant’s criminal history, as long as it has been at least seven years since the conviction and no crime other than a minor traffic violation has occurred since. The bill does not apply to convictions for violent crimes.

Organ donation — unpaid leave, insurance: SB 742 — All employees will be eligible for unpaid organ donation leave for 12 weeks in any year and up to 30 business days for bone marrow transplants. It also prohibits insurance agencies from refusing to renew insurance policies to a donor based solely on their donation, but this provision will not go into effect until January 2020.

Workplace harassment: HB 679 — Independent contractors and the staff of elected officials will be able to file complaints of employment discrimination. The bill broadens the definition of both “employer” and “employee” in employment discrimination, and is expected to cost at least $54,000 annually.

Environment

Composting: HB 510 — Landfills will be prohibited from accepting separated, compostable material — both yard waste and food — unless they can compost it themselves. As of January, the state had 18 composting facilities with five more planned. This is part of Maryland’s effort to divert waste from landfills. Maryland produces more waste per capita than the national average, and its landfills are near capacity.

Reusing water: HB 539 — Potable water and water from ice makers can now be diverted from residential septic systems and reused for beneficial practices such as gardening or composting. The water cannot be reused if it contains “constituents” that are harmful to the public health or environment, according to Legislative Services.

Noxious weeds: HB 808 — The Secretary of Agriculture is now required to create a list of the state’s noxious weeds. Violators of noxious weed regulations will face penalties that increase for multiple infractions.

Health

Rape kit testing: SB 569 — This bill establishes a five-year, $3.5 million annual fund to reduce the state’s backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits. The state expects the backlog to be significantly reduced after five years, reducing the need for additional funding

Consent before medical exams: SB 909 — Health care practitioners will be required to obtain informed consent before performing prostate, rectal or pelvic exams on patients who are unconscious or under anesthesia. Citing Forbes, the state’s Department of Legislative Services notes some “troubling cases” in which medical students and trainees have performed pelvic exams without the patient’s consent. Maryland becomes the sixth state to enact such a requirement. —Ian Round

Preventative HIV treatment for minors: HB 1183 — Minors will be granted the ability consent to preventative HIV treatment, such as PrEP, a daily pre-exposure pill for those at high risk of HIV, without the permission of an adult. Minors currently have that ability when it comes to many other health conditions, such as pregnancy, substance use disorder and venereal disease. —

Nursing home care: HB 592 — Residents at comprehensive and extended care facilities will now have additional rights, including receiving written notice before being discharged and at least a three-day supply of medications at the time of discharge. —

Opioid treatment in correctional facilities: HB 116 — Jails will be required to screen all inmates for opioid use disorder and provide methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine. Treatment is currently required if a doctor determines the inmate is an addict, but medical assessments are not mandatory.

Prescription drug monitoring: HB 25 — The state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will be required, rather than permitted, to analyze data in search of misuse or abuse of certain drugs, or violations of law or ethics by drug providers or dispensers. If it finds any of these, it must inform those providers and dispensers.

Tanning age: SB 299 — This law prohibits minors (younger than 18) from using a tanning facility, repealing a former provision that minors could do so with the written consent from a legal guardian.

Energy bill assistance: HB 1189 — This bill establishes a program within the Department of Human Services that helps medically vulnerable people get financial assistance with their energy bills so their services do not get halted. Qualified individuals have a severe health condition that will be aggravated if utility services are turned off due to nonpayment of bills.

Elevated blood lead levels: HB 1233 — Maryland lowers its elevated blood lead level standard to match those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More regulations go into place in July.

Corpse custody: SB 147 — A grandchild is added to the list of people who have a right to determine the disposition of a relative’s body.

Parental support for hearing impaired: HB 1384 — It will allow individuals 21 and younger to borrow hearing aids for up to a year. Parents of a deaf child can take a free college course that teaches language or communication

Vaccination reporting requirements: HB 316 — All doctors will be required to use ImmuNet, a database that tracks vaccines given to patients. Under current law, for most practitioners it is optional; parents will be allowed to opt out

Transportation

Electric low-speed scooters: HB 748 — Electric low-speed scooters, like those used in popular scooter sharing services, will now be categorized under the same classification as bicycles, giving the user the same rights and responsibilities as bicyclists on roadways. Accordingly, operators will have the same rights and restrictions as pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

Electric bicycles: SB 935 — Electric bicycles will now be categorized in three classes, dependent on motor functionality and speed, that determine where they can be used. A person younger than 16 is not permitted to operate a Class 3 bicycle — which has a motor that stops providing assistance at 28 miles per hour as the operator pedals — on a public highway.

Applicant’s gender on licenses, permits or IDs: SB 196 — Applicants will now be able to leave the gender designation on licenses, identification cards or a moped operator’s permit as unspecified. In those circumstances, the Motor Vehicle Administration will use an “X” in that location of the license, card or permit.

Photos for ignition interlock systems: HB 55 — All new ignition interlock systems will include cameras to capture still images to use as proof of violations during the process of the breath analysis to determine the blood alcohol level before the vehicle starts. Current participants will not need to update existing devices unless it fails, they get a new vehicle, or they are removed and re-enter the system.

Driver’s licenses: SB 237 — Those convicted of possessing revoked, suspended or canceled driver’s licenses will no longer face incarceration and will be assessed fewer points. These penalties currently carry a potential two-month sentence, although the state assumes the number of people imprisoned is “negligible.” The state currently assesses 12 points for these violations; it will now be required to assess three.

Other

Spousal inheritance: SB 317 — After fewer than five years of marriage, if a person with no living offspring but living parents dies without a will, the surviving spouse will inherit the first $40,000 of the estate. The rest is split between the spouse and the parents. After five years of marriage, that spouse would inherit all of the estate.

PIA and 9-1-1 records: SB 5 — If someone requests to see a 9-1-1 record for a victim of domestic violence, abuse or sexual crime through the Maryland Public Information Act, the employee accessing the record must contact the victim or their representative within 30 days of receiving the request and wait 10 days for their response on granting or denying public inspection. The employee may also redact portions of the record.

Diaper-changing stations: SB 330 — This bill requires public buildings constructed or having bathrooms renovated on or after Oct. 1 to install a diaper-changing facility in at least one public restroom. While there are currently no requirements for diaper-changing stations in public buildings, the Maryland Department of Transportation has indicated that only a small number of facilities do not already comply with the new law.