• New Laws Effective October 1 – Look Over Your Property Tax Bill

    New Laws Effective October 1

     

    PUBLIC HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT:

    Ban on Fracking: After a two-year moratorium, the state will prohibit the hydraulic fracturing of a well for the production of oil or natural gas. (HB1325)

    Antibiotics for livestock: In response to worries about antibiotic effectiveness, Maryland has become the second state to ban the routine administration of antibiotics to cattle, swine and poultry. (SB422/HB602)

    AIDS/HIV: Requires state health department to establish requirements for prenatal HIV testing. (HB518)

    Mercury: Prohibits a marketer from knowingly selling electric switches, relays and gas valve switches that contain mercury. (SB0713/HB0504)

    Drug price-gouging: Manufacturers and wholesale distributors are prohibited from “price gouging” in the sale of an “essential generic drug,” and the state attorney general may sue companies that do not comply. Drug companies sued the state over the summer and a decision is pending. (SB0415/HB0631)

    ADDICTION:

    Parental consent:  Authorizes parents or guardians to apply, on behalf of minors, for certified inpatient or intensive outpatient alcohol or drug abuse treatment programs. (SB0433/HB1093)

    Support during recovery: Repeals previous law that subjected those convicted of felonies involving controlled dangerous substances, who apply for food stamps and temporary cash assistance, to testing, treatment and sanction requirements. (SB0853/HB0860)

    ETHICS:

    Public Integrity Act: The state’s first ethics bill passed in over a decade mandates that lawmakers disclose any conflicts of interest and limits their advocacy for private businesses. (HB879)

    CRIME:

    Homicides while impaired: Imprisonment increases from three to five years for people who kill others while operating a car or boat under the influence of a controlled substance. (SB229/HB635)

    Police and human trafficking: Requires specific police training about victims of human trafficking, including services, support and appropriate treatment. (HB1279)

    Amber’s Law: Permits victims of domestic abuse to request that the offender use electronic monitoring devices to track their location and provide alerts. Allows victims to request protections. (HB1163/SB0976)

    Home invasion: Classifies home invasion as a crime of violence. (HB906)

    SEXUAL ASSAULT:

    Rape kits: Requires a hospital or child advocacy center to give rape kits to police within 30 days of the victim’s exam. Prohibits police from destroying or disposing of sexual assault evidence within 20 years of collection. (SB349/HB255)

    Physical resistance: Evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove a sexual crime happened. (SB217/HB429)

    Reclassifying sex offenses: Sexual offenses in the first and second degree are reclassified as rape in the first and second degree. (SB944/HB647)

    CHILD ABUSE:

    Extending deadline for abuse lawsuits: Sponsored by Del. C. T. Wilson, an abuse survivor, the new law extends the deadline for victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against alleged attackers from age 25 to age 38. (HB642/SB505).

    Broadening definition of abuse: Alters the definition of “abuse” as the intended physical or mental injury of a child by a person who exercises circumstantial authority over the child. (HB1263/SB996)

    ANIMALS:

    Reporting animal cruelty: Requires veterinarians who have reason to believe that an animal has been subjected to cruelty or violence report the activity to police. (HB1463)

    Kennel licensing: Owners of six or more unspayed female dogs over the age of 6 months or who sell dogs from six or more litters in a year must obtain a kennel license. (HB334/SB573)

    BUSINESS:

    Food desert loans:
     Authorizes the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide small loans ($50,000 or less) for food desert projects, which aim to increase access to affordable, fresh food in low-income neighborhoods. (HB 1492)

    Accidental personal injury compensation: The maximum fine for an employer who fails to report an accidental personal injury within the required time increases from $50 to $500; the penalty will only apply in cases when the employer knowingly fails to report an injury. (SB 867/HB 1476)

    VEHICLE LAWS:

    Coal rolling’ emissions: Prohibits diesel-powered vehicles from releasing visible clouds of smoke, or exhaust emissions, onto another person or vehicle with a $500 maximum fine. “Coal rolling” is the practice of removing emission-controlling parts of the engine to emit extra smoke, oftentimes for entertainment or anti-environmental purposes. (HB11)

    Lane use: Allows tow trucks to drive in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, regardless of the number of passengers, to respond to a service call. (HB889)

    EDUCATION:

    School whistleblower: Prohibits an employer from either taking or refusing to take retaliatory action against a public school employee because the employee discloses or threatens to disclose a policy that might violate a certain law, rule or regulation. (HB1145)  Bill I introduced!!

    Anonymous tips: Authorizes a county board of education to create an anonymous two-way electronic tip program for a student, parent, guardian, close adult relative of a student, or a school staff member to report acts of bullying, harassment or intimidation.  (HB669)

    Addiction recovery programs: Requires the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland to establish standards and guidelines for addiction recovery programs to be implemented at collegiate institutions. (HB950)

    School safety for hate crimes: Authorizes the Maryland Center for School Safety to make grants for security-related projects to schools and childcare centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks. (SB1191)

    (A thank you to marylandreporter.com for compiling this list.  You can obtain more information on all these bills by going to the General Assembly web-site: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frm1st.aspx?tab=home )

    LOOK OVER YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL

    When I am visiting people in their homes, I am finding a good percentage of folks who are not receiving the Homestead Tax Rebate.  You could be losing a lot of money if you are not getting the rebate.  The Homestead Credit is for every owner-occupied residence in Maryland, no matter the household income.

    What is the Homestead Credit?  (from the state Web-site)

    To help homeowners deal with large assessment increases on their principal residence, state law has established the Homestead Property Tax Credit. The Homestead Credit limits the increase in taxable assessments each year to a fixed percentage.  Every county and municipality in Maryland is required to limit taxable assessment increases to 10% or less each year. You can view a listing of homestead caps for each local government here http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Documents/Homestead_Percent_Caps.pdf

    The Homestead Credit does not limit the market value of the property as determined by the Department of Assessments and Taxation. Instead, it is actually a credit calculated on any assessment increase exceeding 10% (or the lower cap enacted by the local governments) from one year to the next.  The credit is calculated based on the 10% limit for purposes of the State property tax, and 10% or less (as determined by local governments) for purposes of local taxation.  In other words, the homeowner pays no property tax on the market value increase which is above the limit.

    Example:

    Assume that your old assessment was $100,000 and that your new phased-in assessment for the 1st year is $120,000.  An increase of 10% would result in an assessment of $110,000.  The difference between $120,000 and $110,000 is $10,000. The tax credit would apply to the taxes due on the $10,000.  If the tax rate was $1.04 per $100 of assessed value, the tax credit would be $104 ($10,000 ÷ 100 x $1.04).

    The problem is that in 2009 the government  found that some properties that were not owner-occupied were getting the credit, so they made everybody fill out a one-time application for the credit.  Some people did not apply and they have not been receiving the tax credit.

    By looking at the bottom of your tax bill and seeing if you are receiving the tax credit you can figure out if you’re getting the tax credit .  You can also look on-line at http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx  Type in your address and you can see at the bottom of the page whether you are getting the Homestead Tax Credit and the Homeowners Tax Credit (for households with income under $60,000).        If you need some help to figure this out, send me an email with your address or call me at 301-335-6099.

    Important Meetings on MAGLEV Project

    Have you heard of MAGLEV?  Some people have but many people have not.

    MAGLEV is a proposed superconducting magnetic levitation high speed (311 miles per hour) rail system in the Baltimore-Washington Corridor.  It is the MAGLEV train and it is funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration, the Maryland Economic Development Corporation and the Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail LLC.  It is estimated that the price is over $82 billion dollars, with a maintenance cost of $25 million per kilometer.  The train will begin its journey at Union Station.  It will stop at Thurgood Marshall Airport and Baltimore.  The time frame for this trip is 15 minutes. The train will proceed to New York, arriving in 45 minutes and eventually going on to Boston..  What we all need to know is if the proposed path of this train will run through Prince George’s County and likely through District 47. This could mean that many of our homes are in this train’s path.  There are concerns about relocation and safety.  People need to find out more about this before it is too late!!

    The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) will be holding Open House meetings on the project.

    At the meetings, you can review and comment on the:
    • Preliminary alternatives screening analysis results
    • Overview of alternatives recommended for detailed study
    • Technology and engineering features
    • Preliminary station information

    A short presentation and video will begin approximately 30 minutes into the open-house style meeting and continue playing throughout.  The Project Team will also be available to answer questions as you review maps and other project materials.

    October 14 (10:00 am – 1:00 pm)
    Bowie State University, Student Center
    14000 Jericho Park Rd, Bowie, MD 20715

    October 18 (5:00 pm – 8:00 pm)
    Catholic University of America, Pryzbyla Center
    620 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC 20064

    You can find out more information on the MAGLEV project by going to the web-site:
    baltimorewashingtonscmaglevproject.com

    47th Delegation Receives a 100% Grade On

    Environmental Issues

    The 47th District Delegation (Senator Victor Ramirez, Delegate Diana Fennel, Delegate Carlo Sanchez and myself) received a 100% and A+ grades from two important environmental organizations:   Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Food and Water Watch.  You can see what bills we were graded on at:

    http://www.mdlcv.org/sites/mdlcv/files/2017-scorecard.pdf   and

    https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/org_1707_mdstatelegscorecard-web.pdf .

    We will continue to do whatever we need to do to protect our environment.

    Delegate Fennell Fundraiser – Tuesday, Oct 10th

    Diana Fennell and I are running as a team for re-election as Delegates in District 47A.  She is having a fundraiser on

    Tuesday, October 10 from 6 PM to 9 PM
              Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant
              5820 Landover Road 
              (right off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway)
              Landover, MD
              Cost for District 47 Residents is $25

              Come and support my team-mate!

    Jobs Available at Pepco

    Pepco Job Seeker Information Session:

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 6:30 p.m. at Prince George’s Community College, Rennie Forum, 301 Largo Road, Largo, MD 20774.

    There is an IMMEDIATE need for skilled workers in the utility industry.  The session will provide information to  job seekers on the FREE training that will help them land a high paying job making $20+/hour with Pepco!

  • $5,000 Tax Credit for Student Debt Now Available

    Have you (or do you know someone who has) incurred at least $20,000 in undergraduate student loan debt and have at least $5,000 in outstanding undergraduate student loan debt remaining?  If so, you are eligible for a tax credit of up to $5,000 on your 2017 personal income tax!

    As a result of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly, there is a new tax credit available for Maryland residents.

    You must

    • currently be a Maryland resident
    • have incurred at least $20,000 in total undergraduate student loan debt;
    • have at least $5,000 in outstanding student loan debt during the tax year for which you are applying.

    The deadline is September 15th to be eligible to receive a credit on this year’s taxes.  The tax credit will also be available in future years.

    There are $5 million of tax credits available.  Priority will be given to those with the highest ratio of student debt to gross income; then to those who graduated from an institution of higher education in the state of Maryland.

    You can find out more about the tax credit and get an application form by going to:  http://mhec.maryland.gov/preparing/Pages/StudentLoanDebtReliefTaxCredit.aspx .  If you do not yourself have student debt, pass the word to your friends and relatives.

     

    Lifetime Senior Pass to All National Parks to Increase from $10 to $80

    This is a great bargain. If you plan to travel to any of the national parks and you’re 62 or over, for $10 you can buy a Senior Pass, which enables you to visit any or all the national parks for no charge.   But the Lifetime Pass will increase to $80 on August 28th.  You can still get a pass for $10 by going on-line https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass, or you can get one in person at the Fort Washington National Park.  It’s a good deal…especially at $10.

    5th Annual District 47 – Family and Friends Cookout

    Saturday, Sept. 9, 12:00 PM to 3 :00 PM

                4300 39th Place, Brentwood

    Join us for free food, games, music and more!

    RSVP to ngrecco@house.state.md.us or leave a message at 301-858-3340

  • New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

    New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

    PLANNED PARENTHOOD

    Maryland’s legislature is the first in the country to pass legislation this year to back-fill potential federal cuts to Planned Parenthood.  It will help protect access to preventive care services for nearly 25,000 Planned Parenthood patients at nine health centers in the state if the federal government cuts funding.  It directs $2 million from Maryland’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 from the state’s general fund to family planning services.

    GOING AFTER TAXPAYER FRAUD

    Safeguards aimed at protecting Maryland taxpayers from tax fraud and identity theft take effect. The law strengthens the ability of the Comptroller’s Office to stop tax fraud, protect taxpayer information and hold fraudulent filers and tax preparers accountable.  The law gives added responsibilities to the Field Enforcement Division of the Comptroller’s Office to investigate potential tax fraud.  It also allows the agency to seek injunctions against tax preparers suspected of fraudulent and criminal practices.

    MINIMUM WAGE

    Maryland’s minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25, part of incremental increases approved in 2014 to take place over several years.

    OPIOID EDUCATION

    The Start Talking Maryland Act requires Maryland schools to have specific education programs on opioid addiction.  It requires public schools to include the dangers of heroin and opioids in drug education starting as early as third grade and into college.  It also requires public schools to have naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.  Schools also are required to have staff trained to use naloxone.

    HOMETOWN HEROES

    A new state tax credit is going into effect on retirement income of law enforcement, fire, rescue and emergency services personnel who are 55 or older.  The law exempts the first $15,000 of retirement income from state taxes.

    CRAFT BREWERIES

    Breweries will be able to sell up to 2,000 barrels of beer annually, up from 500 barrels.  In addition to being able to sell 2,000 barrels of beer a year, Maryland breweries throughout the state can ask for permission to buy another 1,000 barrels from distributors for sale in their taprooms.  Breweries now open will be able to keep their hours, but new breweries will have to close at 10 p.m.

    POLLINATOR PROTECTION

    In another step to help bees, pesticides known to harm them will be prohibited on state land designated as pollinator habitat.  Last year, Maryland approved a law to designate pollinator habitat on state agency lands, but it did not prohibit the use of harmful pesticides.  The new law allows exceptions for public health emergencies.  It also gives state agencies freedom to designate which of their lands are protected and which are not.  Last year’s Pollinator Protection Act made Maryland’s legislature the first in the country to restrict consumer use of neonics, pesticides known to harm bees.

    PROHIBITING SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS FOR KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS

    A new law prohibits school districts from suspending and expelling 4-year-olds and limits the expulsion and suspension of students in kindergarten through second grade.  According to state figures, more than 2,200 students in that age group were suspended or expelled last year, many because they were disruptive or disrespectful.

    LIMITING BAIL REQUIREMENTS

    New court rules that overhaul the state’s bail policies also become effective on July 1.  Hoping to reduce the number of poor people stuck in jail until their trials, the state Court of Appeals in February changed its rules on issuing bail. Judges will be required to consider a person’s ability to make bail when deciding on conditions for pretrial release.

    HEALTH DEPARTMENT

    The state health department is changing its name from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to the Maryland Health Department.