• Big Changes and Big Challenges Ahead for the MD 2020 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.

  • Governor Hogan Vetoes Eight Bills – Other Legislation Becomes Law

    Last Friday was the last day that Governor Hogan had to either sign a bill that passed the Maryland General Assembly, let the bill become law without signing it, or veto the bill.

    If a bill is vetoed the General Assembly  can over-ride the veto next January.   A veto-over ride needs 60% of the House and Senate.  The Democratic majority is somewhat over 65% in both chambers.

    On Friday  Governor Hogan vetoed 8 bills and let 300 bills become law without his signature.  He had previously signed hundreds of other bills.

    The eight bills Hogan vetoed were:

    • The elimination of the state’s controversial Handgun Permit Review Board, which reviews and makes the final ruling on police decisions over who can carry concealed handguns. Some legislators have been critical of the board and its political appointees and argued that there are better ways to monitor what individuals are allowed to carry concealed weapons, The legislation would have sent appeals to administrative judges, rather than the panel.
    • *Ban-the-box” legislation, which would have limited the ability of many employers to make initial inquiries about a job applicant’s criminal record.
    • Oyster management: legislation sought to create a new process for developing plans for managing Maryland’s oyster population and regulating the harvest.
    • A bill that would have allowed more immigrants who live in Maryland to be eligible for in-state tuition,
    • A bill that would have required an annual $3.8 million allocation for the state to expand its bike lane program.
    • A bill that expands the ability of state workers to file grievances.
    • A bill that expanded transparency over gubernatorial appointments.
    • A bill that would have required trains carrying freight to have at least two crew members if the train is being operated “in the same rail corridor as a high-speed passenger or commuter train.”
    There were a lot of important bills that the Governor signed or let become law without his signature. Here are some of the bills I was following.

    Governor Signed Legislation
    Expanded Tax Credit for Child Care (SB870)
    The bill would allow those Marylanders to claim more in credits, while expanding the credits to residents who make more than $50,000 but less than $141,000. That expands the number of Marylanders eligible for the tax credits from 23,000 to about 114,200 taxpayers.

    Raising the Age of Selling Tobacco to 21 (HB1169/SB 895)

    Ignition Interlock System (HB55)
    Requiring that an ignition interlock system be equipped with a camera capable of recording still images of the person.

    Patients Bill of Rights (HB145)
    Requiring a hospital to provide patients with a patient’s bill of rights and to provide patients with a translator, a  interpreter

    Tax Credits for Grocery Stores in Food Deserts:  (HB188)
    This bill authorizes a tax credit in Prince George’s County for new food stores in what are determined to be ‘food deserts’ in the County.

    U Visa Legislation (HB214)
    This bill will ensure that victims of crimes or witness of crimes who help the police can get a visa to keep them in the country

    Governor Did Not Sign Legislation but These Bills Have Become Law
    Banning Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating Because of Status As A Surviving Spouse  (HB191)

    Clear Energy Act (SB 516)  
    The bill mandates that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2030.

    Education Blueprint for Maryland Future (SB 1030)  
    Legislation mandates over $725  million in state spending for education over the next three years. The funding follows the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission that has been reviewing the education priorities for the State.  The legislation calls for $255 million in increased funding from state taxpayers for public schools for fiscal year 2020 and overall $750 million in fiscal year 2021 to 2023.
    Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Prohibition on use of Criminal Records (HB22)

    Option for Gender Neutral Drivers License   (SB 196)
    Bill allow residents to apply for licenses with gender identifiers of “M,” “F,” or “X.”

    Prohibiting Deceptive Acts by Mortgage Lenders (HB425)

    Prohibiting use of Styrofoam  (HB109/SB295) 

    Prescription Drug Affordability Board  (HB 768)     
    Maryland will become the first state empowered to limit what state and local government employees pay for certain prescription drugs. Policymakers consider the Prescription Drug Affordability Board an initial step to policing rising drug prices statewide and envision it as a national model to curb runaway drug costs.

    Bills That Were Vetoed But the Legislature Over-rode the Veto and Are Now Law
    $15 Minimum Wage 
    HB 166/SB 280   General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.

    Flexible School Calendar
    Overturns the Governor.’s Executive Order (that mandates all schools to start after Labor Day) to allow a local school board to set the school calendar.  SB 128 General Assembly over-rode Governor’s veto and is now law.

    Bills Vetoed by the Governor And Need a Legislative Over-ride (next January) to Become Law
    Movement of Railroad Freight – Required Two Person Crew (HB66)
    This bill would prohibit the movement of freight in the same rail corridor as a high speed commuter or passenger train unless the freight train has at least two workers.

    Maryland Dream Act (SB 537)
    Expands the people eligible for in-state tuition