• Hogan Vetoes Two Bills

    Governor Hogan vetoes paid sick leave and ban the box legislation.

    Last week Governor Hogan vetoed two important pieces of legislation that the General Assembly passed during the legislative session.

    The first bill was the Paid Sick Leave Act which  would have covered 700,000 Maryland workers.  It would have given employees in business of more than 15 people five days of paid sick leave a year.  Liz Richards, Director of Working Matters Coalition got it right when she said:  “Make no mistake – the victims of this decision are Maryland parents and children. Instead of being able to take the time they need to care for their families, these Marylanders will continue to be forced to make decisions like taking off work to visit their sick child in the hospital or paying the rent that month.”

    The second bill was the Ban the Box Act.  This bill would have barred colleges in the state from asking about criminal history on admissions applications.  It is important to note that the bill would not stop colleges from doing background checks on prospective students. The legislation would have allowed colleges to reject applicants with criminal records as long as they did not “automatically or unreasonably restrict” admission based on that factor, and schools could have developed policies restricting such students from campus housing or certain academic programs, such as pharmacy studies and law enforcement.

    The General Assembly will attempt to over-ride both vetoes when it goes back into session in January.

    Governor Hogan Signs My Public School Employee Whistle Blower Act

    Governor Hogan signed my Public Employee Whistle Blower Act (HB 1145). It protects public school employees from retaliation if they report abuses in the school system. I meet many school employees who tell me they are scared of making such reports because they feel they will be fired or suspended. Hopefully this legislation will help to improve our schools by exposing more of the problems that exist but aren’t reported. Thanks to my friends at Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) for encouraging me to introduce this legislation.

    Hogan signs hundreds of  other bills and allows others to pass into law without his signature

    One of the most important bills authorizes state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to sue drug companies that dramatically increase the price of drugs. The anti-price-gouging measure, which is the first of its kind in the nation, is limited to generic and off-patent pharmaceuticals that are subject to “unconscionable” price increases. It allows the attorney general to take action if a manufacturer raises the cost of such drugs to a level considered unjustifiable.

    Other important bills that became law without his signature were legislation to

    Allow pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives without a physician’s prescription;

    Make it easier for people convicted of possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana to have their records expunged by cutting the waiting period from 10 years to four;

    Place new restrictions on the use of antibiotics in raising farm animals as part of an effort to maintain their effectiveness in treating human diseases;

    Curb the suspensions and expulsions of children in pre-K through second grade. The legislation would require schools in most cases to offer specialized treatment to young children with behavioral problems rather than to simply send them home.

    Some of the 200 plus bills he signed were:

    Three bills overhauling the state’s dated system for procuring goods and services

    Making it easier for divorced people to resume the use of their former names and

    Requiring schools to grant an excused absence to students who have conflicts due to pregnancy or parenting responsibilities.

    A bill (first of its kind nationally) to protect bees and other pollinators on state land.

    Amber’s Law, a measure sponsored by Del. Aruna Miller, which allows domestic violence victims to ask a judge to require accused abusers to wear a GPS-tracking device to monitor compliance with protective orders.

    Warning:  Road Work on MD 202 (Landover Road)

    The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is providing a new driving surface as part of a $2.8 million safety and resurfacing project on MD 202 (Landover Road) between US 50 and MD 450. The work also includes resurfacing of the ramps to and from MD 202 to US 50. Weather and progress permitting, the 1.6-mile project should be completed by fall.
    In addition to resurfacing, which will be performed at the end of the project, SHA is:

    •         Replacing damaged brick medians;
    •         Constructing new sidewalks and ramps;
    •         Repairing or replacing damaged concrete curb and gutter;
    •         Cleaning and repairing drainage inlets and pipes;
    •         Installing new guardrail; and
    •         Replacing all pavement markings once all final resurfacing is completed.

    Crews may close a single lane Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and two lanes Sundays through Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.  Additional work or lane closure times may be needed throughout the lifetime of the project to expedite work and keep the project on schedule.
    Initial project activity will include daytime sidewalk ramp, curb and gutter work and overnight ramp resurfacing and ramp pavement-marking work. You are Invited to

    My Midsummer Dinner Celebration – Tuesday, July 11th

    Please join me and
    Congressman Anthony Brown
    House Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser
    Senator Victor Ramirez
    Delegates Diana Fennell and Carlo Sanchez

    July 11, 6 to 8 pm
    Three Brothers Italian Restaurant
    4521 Kenilworth Ave.,   Bladensburg, MD

    Hear about my progress in Annapolis
    Tell me about your concerns
    Let me tell you about my plans for next year’s session
    Meet your neighbors

    $100 Supporter – $50 Friend
    $5 for District 47 residents

    Checks can be made out to:
    Friends of Jimmy Tarlau, 4213 34th Street, Mount Rainier, MD 20712

  • End of Session Report

    We have now completed the 2017 Legislative Session and I want to give you a  report on my third  year as your state delegate and some of the accomplishments of this session.  This year I adopted a more collaborative approach.  Over sixty bills which I cosponsored passed the General Assembly, and most of those bills will become law after they are signed by the Governor.

    I was still able to be vocal on other issues that I thought were important, often speaking from the floor and in my committee (even against my own party’s leadership) on matters that I believed were important.  I spoke on the floor against tax breaks for big corporations, in support of rights for workers to collective bargaining, and in support of sick day legislation.   Many people called me the “conscience” of the House as I often spoke up when many others did not have the courage to speak against the House leadership.

    Some of the Major Accomplishments of the Legislative Session

    STANDING UP TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

    In many ways our legislative session was dominated by the new Trump Administration in Washington.  We passed a number of laws to protect funding for Planned Parenthood, to take steps in case of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and to allow the Attorney General to sue the federal government in cases of  Federal actions that might harm Maryland residents.

    • Maryland Defense Act: This law gives Attorney General Frosh the ability and resources to protect Maryland from unconstitutional actions by the Federal government, including: eliminating healthcare for over 430,000 Marylanders; cutting $73 million in funding to protect the Bay; rolling back consumer protections; damaging civil rights and voters’ rights. Maryland joins 41 other states that allow their attorneys general to act independently from their governors to defend their states’ interests. The Baltimore Sun noted, “We elect attorneys general to represent our interests in court. We need to give them the power to do that.”
    • Calling on the Governor and Congress to protect the Bay and Maryland health care: The General Assembly passed two resolutions to voice Maryland’s strong opposition to harmful proposals in Washington, DC. The first resolution expressed our opposition to the elimination of health care coverage for 433,000 Marylanders if the Affordable Care Act was repealed.  The second resolution opposes the potential cut of all $73 million of the EPA’s budget to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
    • Planned Parenthood: Maryland becomes the first state in the nation to guarantee continued funding for vital family planning and women’s health services at Planned Parenthood if the Federal Government defunds their clinics. In Maryland, 25,000 women rely on Planned Parenthood clinics every year for healthcare.  Backfilling the federal government cuts will cost approximately $2.7 million.

    FIGHTING FOR MARYLAND WORKERS AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

    • Earned Sick Leave: House Bill 1, the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, will allow over 693,000 Marylanders to avoid having to make an impossible choice: go to work sick or send an ill child to school, or stay home and sacrifice much needed income – or worse, possibly lose their job.  Under the bill, employees will be able to earn up to 5 days of sick leave.  The bill exempts seasonal businesses, and employers that already offer comparable benefits don’t have to change a thing.
    • Hometown Heroes:  House Bill 100 provides a $15,000 income tax deduction on the retirement income of thousands of law enforcement, fire, rescue, and EMS personnel who are 55 years and older.
    • Manufacturing Tax Credit: The More Jobs for Marylanders Act was one tax credit bill that I supported because it links credits to actual job creation.  The bill provides $10 million of income, sales, and property taxes per year to manufacturers who move into Maryland from out of state and create new manufacturing jobs in counties with high unemployment.  The tax credits are good for 10 years.  The bill also allows existing manufacturers in the State who create new jobs to claim an income tax credit for each new job created, along with depreciation tax benefits for new equipment placed into service.
    • Foreclosure Protection: The House passed a series of bills to help communities with high foreclosure rates recover from the housing crisis. These bills will help bring properties more quickly to the market and ultimately improve Maryland’s property foreclosure registry so counties and neighborhoods are better informed about vacant homes around them.
    • Preventing Prescription Drug Price Gouging: House Bill 631 authorizes the Attorney General to prevent the prescription drug price gouging of off-patent drugs. The legislation would help the Attorney General investigate why the prices for certain drugs skyrocket and would force pharmaceutical companies to the table to justify those increases.

    STRENGTHENING MARYLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

    • Funding: The legislature provided $6.4 billion to fund our public K-12 system. The legislature also budgeted $280 million of school construction funding, plus an additional $60 million in school construction funding for school systems with increasing enrollment and a high number of relocatable classrooms. The legislature also capped tuition increases at public colleges and universities at 2.0% for this upcoming school year.
    • Protect Our Schools:  The General Assembly passed and overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act.  This bill (House Bill 978) establishes parameters about how to implement the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act, while giving the State Board of Education discretion on the implementation of the details. The bill prohibits the State Board from making test results count for 100% of the assessment of school progress. It also blocks the privatization of our public schools, by preventing the transfer of operations to private and for-profit interests who look out for their bottom lines first and our kids second.
    • Capping Public School Testing: The Less Testing, More Learning bill requires the State Board of Education to limit the amount of time for Federal, State and local assessments for each grade to 2.0% of instructional hours, in order to give students the opportunity to learn in new and innovative ways. The bill also requires each school district to set up a committee to monitor the jurisdiction’s assessment programs. The goal is to move away from teaching to the test, and toward using assessments as a true measure of what students learn.
    • Whistle Blower Protection for School Employees  HB 1145 – I was a primary sponsor on this bill.  While thirty-nine states and Washington, DC have whistleblower laws that cover public school employees, Maryland’s state whistleblower law has covered state employees but not public school employees. In other states educators (teachers, administrators, and support staff) have filed whistleblower protection lawsuits after experiencing retaliation. HB 1145 extends whistleblower protection to public school employees.  Whistleblower laws are necessary for good government.  This protection allows public employees to protect the interests of taxpayers and elected officials against waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse of authority. Whistleblower protection for educators in Maryland is necessary to make both the traditional public schools and the less stable charter school sector more accountable.

    ENACTING BIPARTISAN OPIOID PREVENTION & TREATMENT LEGISLATION

    • Start Talking Maryland: This bipartisan bill requires the State school board to enact an opioid addiction and prevention policy, by coordinating with local health departments. $3.0 million in grants are provided for public service announcements and training for school health personnel.  Public colleges and universities are also required to have overdose-reversing drugs available for campus police and implement an education and prevention program for incoming students.
    • Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017: To combat the growing heroin and opioid epidemic in Maryland, the HOPE Act increases funding for behavioral health community providers; expands grants for drug court programs and a statewide toll-free crisis hotline; requires the State Health Department to establish crisis treatment centers across the State; and requires hospitals to establish a protocol for overdose patients.

    PASSED BIPARTISAN ETHICS REFORM

    • Speaker Busch and Governor Hogan each introduced legislation to strengthen our public disclosure laws and tighten conflict of interest provisions governing elected officials. The House merged those bills into The Public Integrity Act of 2017, which increases transparency for elected officials’ disclosure forms; requires lobbyists to provide more information about their clients; prohibits elected officials from lobbying in front of government entities on personal matters; requires a cooling-off period for more categories of elected officials than under current law; and establishes a Citizen Advisory Board to increase input with the Legislative Joint Ethics Committee on existing ethics laws.

    CLEANING UP THE BAY AND PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

    • Banning Fracking: The General Assembly passed and the Governor signed House Bill 1325, an outright ban on fracking in Maryland.   This bipartisan legislation will protect public health and drinking water across the State. We are pleased the Senate and Governor Hogan followed the House’s lead to enact this critical ban.
    • Protected Oyster Sanctuaries: We passed a ban on opening Maryland’s oyster sanctuaries to harvesting. This legislation protects our existing oyster recovery investments, gives these sanctuaries additional time to grow, and makes sure that decisions related to oyster harvesting are guided by science. Oysters are the natural filters of the Chesapeake Bay, helping to clean the water of the excessive nitrogen that enters the bay in polluted runoff and results in dead zones. We need to continue to support efforts to help their population rebound for a cleaner Bay.
    • Clean Energy Act: The General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto in January to increase the state’s renewable energy goals to 25% by 2020 and, in the process, create thousands of jobs across the wind and solar energy sectors. Maryland has more than 170 solar companies and over 4,000 solar jobs paying an average of nearly $21 an hour. These increased renewable energy standards will allow 1,300 more megawatts of renewable energy, which will reduce carbon emissions equal to 563,000 passenger vehicles in the State.

    PROTECTING AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT AND DOMESTIC ABUSERS

    • Testing Sexual Assault Kits: The Attorney General reported in December that Maryland had 3,700 untested rape kits, with many more never recorded at all. House Bill 255 establishes a statewide standard of handling sexual assault evidence to ensure rape kits are properly tested and stored so victims aren’t treated differently depending on their ZIP code.
    • Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse:  House Bill 642, which the Governor has signed into law, expands the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse when the victim was a minor at the time of the abuse. Maryland joins 45 states allowing a victim to seek damages through civil actions well into adulthood.
    • Funding Rape Crisis Centers: Senate Bill 734 allocates $3 million per year of State funding for sexual assault services and crisis programs. The bill establishes the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee, which increase access to help for victims of sexual assault.

    PROTECTING MARYLAND’S CONSUMERS

    • Keeping Payday Lending Out of Maryland – HB 1270/SB 527: limits payday lending in Maryland!  Our state has a proud history of capping these loans at 33% APR. But payday lenders were exploiting a loophole by using hidden fees to mask extra interest and offering consumers 400% APR loans. This bill closes  this loophole.  Ending payday  saves Maryland $141,016,533  in fees each year.
    • Ending the “Widow’s Penalty” in Auto Insurance-HB916/SB534:sponsored prohibits auto insurance companies from increasing a widow’s/widower’s auto insurance rate after her/his spouse dies. This legislation will save widows $435 a year on their auto insurance
    • Notices in Cases of a Postponed or Cancelled Foreclosure Sale-HB26/SB247: Until this session, a bank foreclosing on your home was under no obligation to notify a homeowner if the sale was postponed or cancelled. As you might imagine, this caused plenty of issues. Homeowners going through foreclosure assumed their house had sold on the original date and had no idea that they were still responsible for upkeep, property taxes, and more. This legislation requires banks to provide adequate notice when a foreclosure sale is delayed or cancelled.
    • Mortgage Debt Relief-HB1155/SB367-When struggling homeowners are facing foreclosure, they may end up losing their home in a short-sale or it may be foreclosed upon and sold for less than they paid for the home. When a bank forgives the difference between the mortgage and the sales price the IRS can consider this ‘forgiven debt” as income. People who have already gone through foreclosure may be taxed on this debt and it may bump them to a higher tax category, meaning that they may lose some tax credits they qualify for, and they may pay on the forgiven debt. With this legislation, this debt will not be considered income, saving struggling Marylanders on their taxes.
    • Consumer Financial Protection Commission-HB1134/SB884. In the face of rollbacks of rules and proposals to weaken the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we passed legislation legislation, appoints a state commission to study consumer protections at the federal level and make recommendations to expand and strengthen proposals at the state level.
    • Student Loan Notification -HB509/SB429. Student loans and student loan debt is a huge concern for many young adults as well as their parents. To avert high debt loads, students need to clearly understand the debt they are taking on. This legislation requires an annual disclosure notice to students about their outstanding loan balance, projected monthly payment, and other helpful information.
    • Financial Aid Reduction Restrictions-HB266/SB327. We passed legislation to address the issue of scholarship displacement. Scholarship displacement happens when a student receives a financial award after their financial aid package has already been awarded. When that happens, the institution may reduce the amount of aid given. The legislation limits the circumstances in which this can happen.

    MISCELLANEOUS

    • Bail Reform: Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals instituted a court rule to make the use of cash bail the last resort, based on an opinion of Attorney General Frosh that cash bail cannot be used for punitive purposes under Maryland’s Constitution. This was a heated debate in the Maryland Senate. Ultimately, the House adopted budget language to get more information about the impact of the new court rule for review during the 2018 legislative session.
    • Money for Prince George’s Hospital – The legislature required that for the next ten years the Governor must include in his budget bill $10 million each year, so we do not have to wait to see each year if he puts the necessary money in his budget.
    • Budget – The General Assembly passed a $43.5 billion budget which funds all public school programs at the level required by State formulas.  Notable provisions in the budget include a cap on higher education tuition increases at 2% annually; rejecting the Governor’s proposed cut to the reimbursement rate for those who work with our disabilities community and providing their full, previously agreed-upon rate increase of 3.5%; and fully funding the State pension fund at the actuarially required level.
    • Ban the Box Legislation – The House passed legislation that would make Maryland the first state to prohibit public and private colleges from including questions about criminal history on their applications. Admissions offices would be able to ask accepted students whether they have been convicted of a crime, but the bill would bar them from withdrawing an offer of admission based on the answer.
    • Lower Elementary School SuspensionsHB 425  adds protection to students in kindergarten, first, or second grade who would have previously been suspended or expelled from a public school for various offenses. It would now require that the school provide support or necessary intervention methods to remedy behavioral situations.
    • Pharmacies Dispensing Contraceptives – HB 613 would allow pharmacists to supply women with oral contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription.
    • Right to Try Act – HB 957 allows manufacturers to provide drugs that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to a patient who has a terminal illness, considered all other treatment options currently approved by the FDA, and received a recommendation by the treating physician for the use of an investigational drug.

    Some Disappointments:
    Not everything worked out the way I would have liked.  With big Democratic majorities in the General Assembly I believe we could have gotten more accomplished.  Here are some of the things that disappointed me:

    • Corporate Welfare Legislation:  Not every bill that passed was a good bill.  Unfortunately the General Assembly continues to pass legislation to reward companies tax credits even though there is little or no evidence that the credits result in more jobs.  Twice I spoke up on the House floor to oppose these tax credits.  I was able to get 35 of my colleagues to oppose the bills even though they were sponsored by the Democratic leadership.
    • Trust Act – The Maryland Trust Act passed the House of Delegates. The legislation was supposed to prevent a state government agent from using public resources for civil immigration enforcement; prevent law enforcement officials from stopping, arresting, searching or detaining an individual simply to find out immigration or citizenship status; prevent a state government agency from creating a registry or database for the purpose of immigration enforcement or investigation; prevent state and local law enforcement officers from being deputized as immigration officers.  Unfortunately the bill did not pass the Senate
    • Minimum Wage – Efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 by the year 2020 did not pass this year. (But we were able to stop a “pre-emption” bill that would have prevented local jurisdictions from passing a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage level.)
    • Forcing Trump to Release His Tax Returns – I introduced a bill that would force a Presidential candidate to release his last five years’ tax returns as a condition to be on the ballot in the State of Maryland.  Unfortunately it did not get out of Committee.  The New Jersey legislature passed a similar bill.  It remains to be seen if Governor Christie will sign the bill.

    Even with the disappointments, I feel that this was a very productive legislative session.  I expect with the new Administration in Washington there will be more challenges facing us next year.  Now that the 2017 Legislative Session is over, I will be spending more time going to local meetings and walking through the District in an attempt to find out your concerns.  If you have an issue you would like to discuss with me, please feel free to contact me at 301-335-6099 or email me.  Jimmy

  • Major Legislation Passes Maryland General Assembly

    General Assembly Passes Legislation and Sends

    The Bills to The Governor

    There is only a little more than a week left in the 2017 legislative session.  Last week the General Assembly sent about two dozen bills to Gov. Larry Hogan. He has only six days  to sign, veto or let the bills become law.  The legislature will have to override any veto by the time it adjourns on April 10.  There are other important bills (such as Sick Days and the Trust Act) that are still being debated by the General Assembly.

    Here are some of the more significant bills.

    *Maryland Defense Act of 2017  HB 913 mandates that the administration fund five new attorneys in the Office of the Attorney General to sue the federal government if there are Federal polices that have a negative impact on Maryland residents.  The bill was inspired by President Donald Trump’s promises to deport undocumented citizens, repeal Obamacare, impose travel restrictions from Muslim countries and defund the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan, actions that Attorney General Brian Frosh says could threaten the welfare of Marylanders or violate the constitution.
    *Fracking Ban  HB 1325 will make it illegal to use hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas. Maryland is the third state  to ban the practice.

    *Prohibition on Opening Up  Oyster Sanctuaries to Harvesting HB 924 prohibits the administration from reducing or altering oyster sanctuaries until a thorough assessment of the species is completed in 2018.

    *Law Requiring the State to Make Up for Any Federal Money
    Withheld from Planned Parenthood
    HB 1083  requires Governor Hogan to back fill $2.7M in state funding if President Trump defunds Planned Parenthood.

    *An Extension of the Statute of Limitations for Child Victims of Sex Abuse to File Civil Lawsuits Against Their Abusers. HB 641 allows victims of child abuse to file lawsuits until they’re 38 years old — 13 years later than current law allows.  The bill was championed by Delegate C.T Wilson who himself was a victim of child abuse.

    * Protect Our Schools Act HB 978 creates a system to rate and identify failing schools and protects the state’s public schools from privatization.  The legislation would balance testing and opportunity to learn indicators in our state’s school accountability system, give educators a voice in how their schools are improved, and prevent the privatization of low-performing schools. Under new Federal Legislation (Every Student Succeeds Act), states are required to consider a wide variety of factors  in measuring school success.  This legislation assigns less weight (65%) to achievement measures (i.e. testing) than in the past and more to school quality measures like the availability of AP classes, the presence of highly qualified teachers and the result of school climate surveys.

    Other Legislation That Passed the House of Delegates


    The Home Act  HB 172 bans discrimination in housing based on the renter’s source-of-income, ending practices that keep low-income people from being boxed out of housing options.

    Extra Funds for Public Television SB 103 would fill any funding shortfalls to Maryland Public Television if the Trump administration succeeds in major cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

    You can find out more information about any of these bills by going to:  http://mgaleg.maryland.gov

    Scholarships

    Scholarships are available for constituents living in District 47A who are attending or will be attending a Maryland undergraduate, graduate, or professional school during school year 2017-2018.  If you haven’t requested an application yet, please contact me at jimmy.tarlau@house.state.md.us and request one by email.  Or you may call my office at 301-858-3326 and leave your email address.  This year, my scholarship application is due Friday, April 15th.