• End of Session Report – Major Legislation Passes the General Assembly

    Monday was the last day of the legislative session. It was a busy time and hundreds of bills were passed. I am listing below some of the bills that I introduced that were passed and some of the other significant legislation that passed.

    Some of My Bills That Passed

    Expanding Tax Credit for Student Debt to Graduate Debt – Two years ago we passed legislation to give up to $5,000 in tax credits to former students with undergraduate student debt (priorities for those with the highest debt-to-income ratio). This year we expanded it to those who have graduate student debt.

    Freezing The Tax Exemption For Estates At $5 Million – This legislation will save Maryland over $60 million. If this legislation had not passed, estates worth $11.2 million would be paying no taxes. Forty of the families in Maryland would each be getting a $1 million tax break. We need this money for our schools.

    Making Sure Everybody Receives the Homestead Tax Credit – There are over 500,000 Maryland homeowners who do not receive this valuable credit that keeps real estate taxes down even with rising assessments. This is because they haven’t applied for it or because they don’t know about it or forgot to send in the application. My legislation that passed the will require the state to inform people who have not applied that they are eligible for this tax credit. Just common sense.

    Major First Step Toward Tuition-Free Community College – We appropriated $15 million for scholarships for up to 5,000 students to give them the resources needed to continue their post-high-school education.

    Mosquito Spraying – Requires the state or county to give municipalities 24 hours before any spraying so they can inform the residents who may want to keep their children and pets inside and cover vulnerable plants.

    Some of the Major Accomplishments of the Legislative Session
    .
    Paid Sick Leave for Marylanders – In January we over-rode the Governor’s veto and made this become law. Over 750,000 Marylanders had not been able to earn a single paid sick day. Each time they get sick or need to care for a sick child, Maryland workers were forced to choose between their health or their family’s well being, and a day’s pay. Some may even lose their jobs for missing a shift to see a doctor or care for a loved one. This bill applies to businesses with 15 or more employees and to people who work part-time, who are often under-employed or working multiple jobs to make ends meet. We also passed a tax credit for small business with less than 15 employees to provide up to $500 for each work who is given paid sick time off.

    Ban the Box In January we also over-rode the Governor’s veto on this bill. This new law denies colleges and universities the option of asking an applicant if they have been arrested or charged of a crime in the initial application process. This will provide a second chance to those individuals who have worked hard to turn their life around, and it encourages them to seek higher education. Colleges and universities remain free to ask about arrests and convictions at later stages of the admission process and to deny entry to applicants they believe pose a danger.

    Denying Parental Rights for An Attacker in a Rape This legislation will allow a rape victim to terminate the parental rights of her attacker. It will establish a court process to terminate rapists’ parental rights when a child is conceived through rape.

    Protecting Marylanders from the Federal Tax Package

    The Republican Tax Package that passed through Congress was a $1.5 trillion tax break for corporations and the very wealthy. Unfortunately it also made for tax increases for Marylanders. We worked hard and voted out a package of tax bills to help protect Marylanders from the effect of the Federal Tax Package.

    Saving and Increasing the Maryland Personal Exemption – Under the new Federal tax law that passed Congress in December, Maryland residents would have seen an $800 million tax increase. This is because the new tax bill eliminated the state personal tax exemption. We safeguarded the tax exemption to make sure it is not eliminated and we also increased the personal exemption by 12.5% for a $70 million tax credit for working Marylanders.

    Tax Credit for Retired Veterans – Increased the amount of retirement income that is not subject to taxes to $5,000 for those veterans under 55 and $15,000 for those over 65.

    Tax Credit for Corrections Officers – Allows retired corrections officers and EMS workers from 55 to 64 years of age to deduct up to $15,000 of their retirement income from their Maryland taxable income.

    Earned Income Tax Credit – This bill expands the credit to include childless working Marylanders from age 18 to 24. It will provide nearly $7.5 million of additional tax relief to 100,000 Maryland households.

    Transportation

    Highway User Funds – This bill restores needed highway user funds to municipalities. In the past these funds were cut back by 90%. This legislation restores the money at 95% of the previous level.

    Metro Funding – We allocated $167 million to help fund Metro. Hopefully along with money from Virginia and DC, this will enable Metro to receive some stable funding.

    Two Person Crew – Bill mandates there be two staff persons on all freight trains. Some train companies are trying to reduce the staff to one. It is a critical safety issue as many of these freight trains go through our community

    Voting Rights

    Election Day Voter Registration – This bill puts a referendum on the ballot this year to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. Hopefully it will make it easier for people who haven’t registered but decide they want to get involved to be able to vote.

    Automatic Voter Registration –People who visit state agencies on business will be registered automatically to vote unless the person requests not to be registered or is ineligible to register to vote.

    Education

    Creating a Lock-Box for All the Moneys That Are Supposed to Go to Education
    In the past, money that was supposed to go to education has been used for other priorities. We passed legislation to put a referendum on this year’s ballot to guarantee that all casino money is used to supplement existing education funding – placing the casino money in a constitutional lock box.

    Tax Credit for Teachers Who Buy Supplies for Their Students – This bill enables teachers to reduce their taxable income by $250 if they buy school supplies for their students.

    School Safety – Maryland Safe to Learn Act – We appropriated up to $40 million for increased public safety in our schools including grants for de-escalation and threat reporting training and additional resources for safety personnel. Also each school system is required to appoint a mental health services coordinator to coordinate existing services and referrals for services.

    Some School Calendar Relief – We passed emergency legislation to allow school districts to extend their academic calendar by five days without having to ask for a waiver from the State Board of Education. The bill allows for the extension if districts lose days of instruction because of severe weather. The legislation only gives districts flexibility at the end of the year. Districts are still required by Hogan’s Executive Order to delay the start of the student year until after Labor Day.

    School Construction – We passed legislation to provide $400 million for school construction.

    Gun Violence

    Banning Bump Stocks – The bill wo;; ban bump stocks and devices similar to bump stocks. Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic firearm to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic firearm. The shooter in Las Vegas used a bump stock and was able to shoot over 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just a couple of minutes. All of us witnessed the horror and carnage that took place in Las Vegas. Bump stocks and similar devices have no place in Maryland and it is vital that we pass this commonsense protection.

    Lethal Violence Protective Order – Bill calls for a protective order that will allow family members or police officers to petition a judge to impose the instant seizure of a firearm or ammunition from a person they believe poses an immediate and present danger to self or others. This type of legislation will prevent incidents like Parkland/Suicides/Domestic Violence Shootings such as just happened in Prince George’s County that resulted in the death of a police officer.

    Making Criminal Defendants Turn In Guns – This bill will make it mandatory that a judge tell a criminal defendant in a sex abuse case that he/she has to give up their guns to the court prior to trial or the acceptance of a plea of guilty.

    Protecting the Climate

    Requiring Maryland To Join The US Climate Alliance. This bill requires the Governor to include Maryland as a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance by July 1, 2018, and stipulates that withdrawal from the alliance is conditional on approval from the General Assembly.

    MD Pension Climate Change Risk Act – Requires that the investment policy adopted by the Board of Trustees for the State Retirement and Pension System include the concern about climate risks in the investment of the State Retirement Fund.

    Prohibiting Off-shore Drilling – Establishes that offshore drilling activity is an ultra-hazardous and abnormally dangerous activity and that a person who causes a spill of oil or gas while engaged in an offshore drilling activity is strictly liable for certain damages. This will, in effect, stop companies from drilling off the shores of Maryland.

    Stabilizing Health Insurance Premiums

    Health Insurance – Individual Market Stabilization – This legislation will stabilize skyrocketing individual health insurance premiums by taxing insurance companies and using the money to pay the biggest claims. The legislation would levy a surcharge of $380 million on insurance companies that do business in Maryland, which are paying about that much less in federal taxes this year because of a one-time exemption provided by the recent overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

    Using that money for a “reinsurance fund” will lower premiums for everyone in the individual insurance market and head off a potential crisis stemming from anticipated increases in premiums of between 30 and 50 percent and the possible departure of CareFirst, Maryland’s only statewide insurer for the estimated 154,000 individuals who buy their own plans rather than getting coverage through an employer or government program.

    Dental care coverage for Medicaid recipients Some adults who are insured under Maryland’s Medicaid program could soon be covered for routine dental care for the first time under a pilot program.. For now, Medicaid only covers dental care for children and emergency room dental care for adults.

    Other Important Legislation

    Beagle Freedom Bill – Researchers who use dogs or cats in research will have to “take reasonable steps” to offer the animals for adoption under legislation the Maryland General Assembly passed Friday.

    Prohibition of Selling Dogs from Puppy Mills – Maryland pet stores will no longer be able to sell dogs born in so-called “puppy mills”. The legislation, which also applies to the sale of cats, limits where stores can obtain their animals to three sources: animal welfare organizations, animal control units and licensed breeders. Animal rights advocates believe puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations that value profit above animal welfare.

    Regulating Political Ads on Facebook – Maryland will be the first state in the country tro regulate political ads on facebook and other social media. Legislation will require social media platforms to track all political ads, keep copies of them and record which users are being targeted. State elections officials to use the data to track bad actors and detect foreign interference.

    Banning Conversion Therapy – Licensed medical and mental health professionals will no longer be able to offer therapy to minors advertised a means to change a person’s sexual orientation or dener identity, a practice which is abusive and ineffective.

    Now that the 2018 Legislative Session is over, Delegate Fennell and I will be spending more time going to local meetings and walking through the district in attempt to find out your concerns.

    As you may know Diana Fennell and I are also running for re-election this June 26th (early voting June 14th to June 21st).

    If you would like to help out with our campaign by putting a yard sign in your yard or making some phone calls, please let me know by sending me an email.

    SAVE THE DATE

    DISTRICT 47 TOWN HALL MEETING

    THURSDAY APRIL 26TH

    7 PM – 9 PM

    BUNKER HILL FIRE HOUSE

    3716 RHODE ISLAND AVENUE

    BRENTWOOD

    HEAR ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN ANNAPOLIS

    ASK YOUR QUESTIONS – GET SOME ANSWERS

  • Major Legislation Passes the House of Delegates – Information on Tax Credit for STudent Debt

    Monday is cross-over day in Annapolis. All bills have to be passed in the House of Delegates by the end of the day to be heard in a timely fashion by the Senate. We passed hundreds of bills. There are a lot more bills that passed the Senate that will now be voted on by the House of Delegates. Here are some of the more significant bills. You can read more about any of these bills by clicking on this link: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov If you have any questions about anything going on in Annapolis, send me an email.

    HB 3 – Requires Maryland To Join The US Climate Alliance This bill requires the Governor to include Maryland as a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance by July 1, 2018, and stipulates that withdrawal from the alliance is conditional on approval from the General Assembly.

    HB 296 – Tax Credit for Corrections Officers – Allows retired corrections officers from age 55 to 64 years of age to deduct up to $15,000 of their retirement income from their Maryland taxable income.

    HB 308 – Freezing The Tax Exemption For Estates At $5 Million – This is my legislation and will save Maryland over $60 million. If this legislation does not pass, estates with $11.2 million will be paying no taxes. We need this money for our schools.

    HB 327 – Tax Credit for Retired Veterans – Income for retired veterans will not be taxed in Maryland. It will be phased in starting in 2019.

    HB 365 – Saving The Personal Exemption on Your Maryland Tax Form– Under the new Federal tax law that passed Congress in December, Maryland residents would see an $800 million tax increase. This is because the new tax bill eliminated the state personal tax exemption ($2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a couple). This bill safeguards the tax exemption to make sure it is not eliminated.

    HB 372 – Metro Funding – Allocates $150 million to help fund Metro. Hopefully along with money from Virginia and DC, this will enable Metro to have some stable funding.

    HB 532 – Election Day Voter Registration – This bill puts a referendum on the ballot this year to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. Hopefully it will make it easier for people who haven’t registered but decide they want to get involved to be able to vote.

    HB 593 – Expanding Tax Credit for Student Debt to Graduate Debt – Two years ago we passed legislation to give up to $5,000 in tax credits to former students with undergraduate student debt (priorities for those with the highest debt to income ratio). This year we are trying to expand it to those who have high graduate student debt.

    HB 671 – Tax Credit for Teachers Who Buy Supplies for Their Students – This bill enables teachers to reduce their taxable income by $250 if they buy school supplies for their students.

    HB 807 – Highway User Funds – This bill restores needed highway user funds to municipalities. In the past these funds were cut back by 90%. This legislation restores the money at 95% of the previous level.

    HB 888 – Banning Bump Stocks – This will ban bump stocks and devices similar to bump stocks. Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic firearm to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic firearm. The shooter in Las Vegas used a bump stock and was able to shoot over 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just a couple of minutes. All of us witnessed the horror and carnage that took place in Las Vegas. Bump stocks and similar devices have no place in Maryland and it is vital that we pass this commonsense protection.

    HB 993 – MD Pension Climate Change Risk Act – Requires that the investment policies for the State Retirement and Pension System include concerns about climate risks in the choice of investments.

    HB 1302 – Lethal Violence Protective Order – Calls for a protective order that would allow family members or police officers to petition a judge to impose the instant seizure of a firearm or ammunition from a person they believe pose an immediate and present danger to self or others. This type of legislation would prevent incidents like Parkland/Suicides/Domestic Violence Shootings such as just happened in Prince George’s County that resulted in the death of a police officer

    HB 1412 – HOV Lanes on Route 50 – One of the annoying things for me is that you cannot use the HOV lanes on Route 50 from the Beltway to Route 301 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. This bill would only restrict the use of the HOV lanes from 6 to 9 AM and 4 to 7 PM Monday to Friday.

    HB 1536 – Expansion of the Maryland Dream Act – would allow qualifying Dreamers to pay in-state tuition rates at public four-year universities. (Right now, they pay only in-state tuition if they go first to a community college.)

    HB 1646 – Making Criminal Defendants Turn In Guns – This bill would make it mandatory that a judge tell a criminal defendant in a sex abuse case that he/she has to give up their guns to the court prior to trial or the acceptance of a plea of guilty.

    HR 1695 – Hate Crimes – Use of a Noose or Swastika to Threaten or Intimidate – This bill prohibits a person from affixing, erecting, or placing a noose or swastika on the property of another without authorization, with the intent to threaten or intimidate any person or group of persons. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and/or a $5,000 maximum fine.

    HB 1782 – Health Insurance – Individual Market Stabilization – This legislation will stabilize skyrocketing individual health insurance premiums by taxing insurance companies and using the money to pay the biggest claims. The legislation would levy a surcharge of $380 million on insurance companies that do business in Maryland, which are paying about that much less in federal taxes this year because of a one-time exemption provided by the recent overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

    Using that money for a “reinsurance fund” will lower premiums for everyone in the individual insurance market, officials and advocates said, heading off a potential crisis stemming from anticipated increases in premiums of between 30 and 50 percent and the possible departure of CareFirst, Maryland’s only statewide insurer for the estimated 154,000 individuals who buy their own plans rather than get coverage through an employer or government program.

    There are a lot of other bills that passed and others that will be voted on Monday. We will keep everyone updated on important bills as they move through the legislature.

    Reminder – $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.
    The only requirements are you must:

    o Have incurred at least $20,000 in total undergraduate student loan debt;

    o 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. There are $5 million of tax credits available. Priority will be given to those with the highest ratio of student debt to gross income and then to those who graduated from Maryland institutions.

    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.

    We hope that if HB 593 passes, this tax credit will be extended to graduate school debt. We will keep you updated.

  • Progress in Annapolis, Scholarship Information and Tax Credit Reminders

    Progress in Annapolis

    Over 1,700 bills have been introduced in the House of Delegate. Each bill has to have a public hearing. We have been holding hearings every day (often until the evening) to hear all the witnesses who want to testify. We have already had hearings on 1,000 of these bills and now the bills that have been approved by their respective committees have to be voted on by the full House of Delegates. After the House approves a bill, it has to be approved by the Senate and then signed into law by the Governor.

    Here are three important bills that we voted on last week.

    HB 281 – Computer Science in the Schools – This bill requires public high schools to offer at least one high-quality computer science course beginning in the 2021-2022 school year; establishes the Maryland Center for Computing Education to identify ways to expand access to high-quality computer science education, strengthens the skills of educators, and increases the number of computer science teachers; and requires the Center to work with institutions of higher education.

    HB 230 Restricts the State’s ability to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by requiring statutory approval from the General Assembly prior to withdrawing.

    HB 251 – Family Life and Human Sexuality Curriculum – Boundaries and Consent This bill mandates age appropriate instruction on the meaning of “consent” and respect for personal boundaries as part of the school curriculum.

    Gun Bills

    Because of the recent horrific events in Parkland Florida, I will review some of the major gun bills that are being discussed in Annapolis

    HB 888 / SB 707 Banning Bump Stocks The bills would ban bump stocks and devices similar to bump stocks. Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic firearm to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic firearm. The shooter in Las Vegas used a bump stock and was able to shoot over 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just a couple of minutes. All of us witnessed the horror and carnage that took place in Las Vegas. Some 58 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured. Bump stocks and similar devices have no place in Maryland and it is vital that we pass this common sense protection.

    HB 1646 – MAKING CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS TURN IN GUNS – This bill would make it mandatory that a judge tell a criminal defendant in a sex abuse case that he/she has to give up their guns the court prior to trial or the acceptance of a plea of guilty or the equivalent of a plea of guilty.

    HB 1302 – Lethal Violence Protective Order – Calls for a protective order that would allow family members or police officers to petition a judge to impose the instant seizure of a firearm or ammunition from a person they believe pose an immediate and present danger to self or others. This type of legislation would prevent incidents like Parkland/Suicides/Domestic Violence Shootings such as just happened in Prince George’s County that resulted in the death of a police officer

    HB 730 – CLOSING THE GUN LENDING LOOPHOLE – Takes care of a loophole that allows people to lend guns to others without having to register the transfer.

    Progress on My Legislation

    There are new developments on three of my bills

    HB662 – Presidential Candidate Tax Transparency Act – This bill would require a candidate for President of the United States to release their last five years of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in Maryland. I introduced it last year but it did not make much progress. This year the Senate version of the bill, introduced by Senator Paul Pinsky, is likely to pass the Senate next week. That means there will be momentum to get the bill passed in the House of Delegates. Maryland might become the first state to pass this legislation. I wonder what Trump will tweet.

    HB 308 – De-coupling the Estate Tax From the Federal Estate Tax – This would put the tax exemption for estates at $5 million (all estates under that number would be tax free) and not raise it to the Federal level of $11.2 million. This will save the state $60 million. This bill was voted out of the Ways and Means Committee last week and will be voted on by the House of Delegates next week.

    HB 951 Higher Education Degree and Job Certification Without Debt Act of 2018 – One of the main components of this bill phases in tuition-free community college for students pursuing a AA degree or job certification with family income below $150,000. The Senate version of this bill is moving to a vote on the Senate floor next week, which means there is a good chance that a version of my bill will move next week.

    Two of my other bills have already passed the House of Delegates.

    Both of these bills now have to be heard by Senate Committees, voted by the full Senate, and then signed by the Governor in order to become law.

    HB 400 Advance Notice to Municipalities for Mosquito Spraying
    This bill simply asks that the state and county notify municipalities twenty-four hours before there is any spraying for mosquito control so residents can be alerted to keep their pets and children inside when spraying is being done

    HB 305 Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility Awareness Campaign
    My legislation will require the Department of Assessments and Taxation to put a reminder notice in the assessment notices that go out every three years to all those homeowners who are eligible and have not applied for the rebate.

    Scholarship Available

    It’s that time of year again! When you think FASFA, think of requesting my scholarship application!!! My scholarship application for students living in District 47A is now available by emailing me at Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us. The deadline for my scholarship is Friday, April 13th! Each Delegate and Senator are able to bestow scholarships to students attending a Maryland college, university, or private career school. You may receive scholarships from all of your delegates, as well as, your senator.

    Pay attention to these tax credits. .

    The Homestead Credit

    The Homestead Property Tax Credit is eligible to every resident homeowner. 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

    Over 500,000 people who are eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit have not applied for the credit. Every week I meet someone who has not filed for the homestead tax credit and has lost thousands of dollars over the last five or six years. You may be one of these people. You can 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 (see below).

    If you need some help to figure this out, send me an email with your address or call me at 301-335-6099.

    Low-income Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit

    Offers property tax break for people regardless of age who make less than $80,000 per year and have a net worth of less than $200,000 (not including retirement accounts or value of your home.) Amount of tax credit depends on how much property tax exceeds a certain percentage of your income. Call 800-944-7403 for more information.