Maryland State House

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Authority:Friends of Pam Beidle, Leonard W. Beidle, treasurer.
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Sen. Ed DeGrange
Del. Ted Sophocleus
Del. Mark Chang
Del. Pam Beidle
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Sine Die - End of Session

The Maryland General Assembly ended on April 9th at midnight.  It was a productive session with many bipartisan votes taking place.  Over 3,100 bills were filed this year; 1,269 Senate Bills and 1,832 House Bills. 

We addressed a wide range of important issues, from school construction and school safety, to transportation funding, health care, and combating the opioid  epidemic.  As we noted in a previous newsletter, Anne Arundel County received almost every bond bill requested.

The Environment and Transportation Committee, where I serve, heard more bills than any other committee, I chair the Sub-Committee on Transportation, and we reviewed over 90 bills prior to the Senate Bills crossing over.  The Committee process is where the majority of the work is done, hearing testimony, creating amendments and studying the bills.  Bills are heard in full Committee and then discussed in sub-committee, the sub-committee makes its recommendation to the full committee where the bill is then voted “Favorable or Unfavorable”.  It is important that you contact your representatives early in the process to let them know your position on a bill.

The Governor will schedule several bill signings over the next few weeks.  (See his website for the schedule.)

Below you will find information on several bills that we received correspondence about.  You can find information and actually view the Committee hearing on any bill at the General Assembly website here

 

My Legislation

I was very pleased with my legislative success this year.  I will share several with you:

HB130 Video Lottery Terminal Proceeds – Local Impact Grants – Distribution to Communities Near Laurel Race Course.  This bill provides for the $500,000 distribution of local impact grants from video lottery terminals (VLTs) to help pay for facilities and services in communities within three miles of the Laurel Race Course be continued until Fiscal Year 2032.  Passed.

HB309 Anne Arundel County – Practice of Massage – Regulation.  HB309 was put in at the request of a County Council member and the County Police.  It authorizes Anne Arundel County to, after consultation with the State Board of Massage Therapy Examiners, adopt ordinances and regulations regarding the practice of massage within the county.  The goal of these regulations will ultimately be to combat the existence of human trafficking through massage parlors in Anne Arundel County.  Passed.

HB807, Transportation – Highway User Revenues – Distribution.  HB807 provides reliable formula funding for multiple years, allowing counties to program their capital projects.  Highway user revenue restoration will supply desperately needed funding to repair and maintain local roads and bridges. This bill addresses counties’ long-standing top fiscal priority.  Passed.

HB1076 Maryland Transit Administration – Station Safety Pilot Program.  HB 1076, as amended would require the Maryland Transit Administration Station to:

  • provide law enforcement officers at transit stations to enhance public safety;
  •  requiring a law enforcement officer to be on duty during certain hours;
  • requiring the Administration to implement the pilot program at certain transit stations under its jurisdiction, specifically the Linthicum Walk-up Station on Camp Meade Road and the Cromwell Station;
  • requiring the Governor to provide funds for the Program in the State budget;
  • requiring by December 1, 2019, the Administration to submit a certain report to the Governor and the General Assembly; etc.

HB1076 passed the House 137 to 0, however it failed in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

HB1468 Transit – Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program.  Dependable transportation to jobs is important to both workers and our employers.  The bill develops a State Grant program, defines targeted employment as companies that are experiencing employee growth and it defines targeted populations.  The bill also requests that the administration conduct a study in this program on or before December 31, 2021 and report back on it effectiveness.  Who would this affect?  BWI airport needs workers early in the morning, the kiosks need to be opened at 5:30 and the light rail and buses are not running that early.  Live! Casino has shifts that end at midnight, some employees spend the night and take transportation home in the morning.  Employers would apply for the grants to provide shuttles or buses to get their employees to work timely.  Passed.

HB548 Privately Owned Transportation Projects - Construction and Authorization to Use State-Owned Rights-of-Way and Property – Requirements.  I was a cosponsor on this bill, to require that private projects, like the Hyperloop, will need to complete an environmental assessment and gain approval like any other construction project.  Just receiving approval from the Public Service Commission is not enough.  And like the Maglev, the Hyperloop will be covered by this budget language:

Private –Sector Transportation Projects - Maryland Department of Transportation Ombudsman:  It is the intent of the committees that the Maryland Department of Transportation establish an ombudsman within the department to respond to concerns or complaints from Maryland residents and local government officials with respect to private-sector transportation projects being developed or tested within the State.

 

Education

SB1122- Education- Commercial Gaming Revenues-Constitutional Amendment.  This bill allows the voters to decide whether all of the State’s casino money should be spent on K-12 public education.  If this is approved by referendum, House Bill 1697 would require the State to gradually increase education funding until fiscal year 2023, when 100 percent of casino funds would be used for supplemental education spending.  Passed.

SB1265 Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018.  In response to the recent school shootings in Great Mills and Parkland, Florida, the General Assembly passed comprehensive legislation to improve safety at Maryland schools.  SB 1265 includes the following:

  • School Safety Grants: Through the School Safety Fund, Senate Bill 1265 provides $12.5 million in school safety grants to local school systems for de-escalation and threat reporting training for school personnel and students, school resource officer (SRO) training, conducting school safety evaluations, establishing reporting mechanisms, funding wraparound services for individuals exhibiting concerning behavior, and more.
  • Organizational Changes: The bill establishes the School Safety Subcabinet as the governing board of the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS). MCSS will be responsible for overseeing the State’s school safety improvements.
  • Active Shooter Training: The State Department of Education is authorized to incorporate components of active shooter training into the required drills for Maryland schools.
  • Assessment Teams: The State Department of Education and the Maryland Center for School Safety is required to create a model policy for the creation and training of assessment teams in each school system. The assessment teams will ensure school systems have mechanisms for identifying individuals who pose a threat to school safety, formal and anonymous reporting systems, and an efficient communications system to provide a timely and coordinated response to a school threat.
  • School Resource Officers: The Maryland Center for School Safety will collect data on the number of school resource officers in each school system and develop specialized training curriculum for school resource officers. MCSS will develop a policy to assist school systems in determining how many school resource officers are needed at each school.
  • School Safety Evaluations: Each school system is required to conduct safety evaluations by the end of the 2018–2019 school year and regularly thereafter. School systems are required to consult with the Maryland Center for School Safety and update their School Emergency Plans following completion of their safety evaluations.
  • Mental Health Services: Each school system is required to appoint a mental health services coordinator to coordinate existing services and referrals for services, ensure access to services, and to maximize external funding for mental health and other services. The Maryland Center for School Safety is required to study and report on gaps in-school and community–based mental and behavioral health services. MCSS’ report is due on December 1st of 2018.

This bipartisan legislation was passed unanimously out of both the House and the Senate

 

The Kirwan Commission

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, better known as the Kirwan Commission, has continued its work throughout the 2018 Legislative Session.  It offered a draft preliminary report on January 8, 2018, and some of its recommendations are included in HB1415, Education - Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.  It includes a wide variety of measures including grant programs, outreach and recruitment to bring top quality teachers to Maryland, and early literacy initiatives.  HB 1415 passed.

HB1783, 21st Century School Facilities Act.  The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto to provide $400 million in school construction and an additional $10 million in school safety funding.  The Knott Commission’s recommendations are the results of a bipartisan group of construction experts, business leaders, and local officials.

This legislation also transfers the responsibility of making school construction decisions to the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC), which will be expanded to include four appointees from the Speaker and Senate President and five appointees from the Governor.

The politicization of the Board of Public Works has led to damaging consequences for schools around the State.  House Bill 1783 improves Maryland’s school construction decision-making process by transferring responsibility for those decisions from the politically-driven Board of Public Works, to the non-partisan IAC.  Under the IAC, school construction hearings will have the same accountability and transparency standards as the Board of Public Works.

 

Environment

HB1456 Offshore Drilling Liability Act.  The federal administration has announced plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling everywhere except off the coast of Florida. To protect Maryland’s waters and coastline businesses, the House passed legislation establishing that a person that causes an oil or gas spill while engaged in offshore drilling activity is strictly liable for damages.  Passed

SB610, Task Force on the Forest Conservation Act Offset Policy, is a bill which would establish a task force to deliberate and research the effects of changes to Forest Conservation policies in the state of Maryland.  The task force would work with a number of other state and federal entities to do this, and would present its findings and recommendations once done.  The House and Senate could not come to an agreement, the bill failed.

 

Taxes

HB365, Income Tax - Personal Exemptions – Alteration.  (Restoring Personal Exemptions).  As part of the federal tax bill, Congress eliminated federal personal exemptions – which jeopardized Maryland’s long-standing state-level exemptions that were tied to federal law.  House Bill 365, passed the House and Senate unanimously and ensured that Marylanders will be able to continue claiming their personal exemptions on their State tax returns. 

Without this legislative fix, 92% of all Marylanders who claim personal exemptions would have paid $1.2 billion more in State and local taxes this year – and nearly $800 million more in taxes per year starting next year.  House Bill 365 will save 92% of Marylanders roughly $400, on average.

The consequences of the tax plan are still unknown and the federal government is still making revisions to the federal regulations and guidelines. Before we make dramatic changes to Maryland’s tax structure, it is critical that we continue to monitor this legislation so that we can effectively respond and protect Marylanders from damaging tax increases.  HB 365 requires the Bureau of Revenue Estimates to continuously monitor and report back to the General Assembly on the constantly changing state revenue projections as a result of the federal tax changes.

HB 570/SB318 Income Tax - Standard Deduction - Alteration and Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

This bill increases our standard deduction by $250 for single taxpayers and $500 for joint filers -- the first increases in three decades.  To account for inflation, these bills will increase the standard deduction every single year moving forward like the federal government’s annual increases for social security benefits.  These bills will save almost 60% of Maryland taxpayers close to $90 million every year.  Passed.

HB327 Income Tax - Subtraction Modification - Military Retirement Income.  House Bill 327 provides an additional $6 million per year of tax relief to our Military retirees.  The bill expands our existing pension exclusion from $10,000 per year to $15,000 per year and lowers the age for claiming the pension exclusion to age 55, down from 65 years old.  Passed.

HB 296 Income Tax - Subtraction Modification - Retirement Income of Correctional Officers.  This bill expands the existing $15,000 income tax deduction for retired law enforcement, fire, rescue, and EMS workers who are 55 and older by including correctional officers as well moving forward.  This bill will provide these “hometown heroes” an additional $1.5 million of tax relief per year.  Passed.

SB134  Small Business Relief Tax Credit.  This bill 134 provides up to $5 million of tax credits per year as an incentive for Maryland’s small businesses to provide their low-income workers with paid sick leave.  This bipartisan legislation creates a new tax credit that allows a small business to receive up to $500 for each worker making roughly $30,000 per year who receives paid sick leave.  Passed

 

Transportation

HB372 Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act.  Metro has seen decreased ridership in recent years due to safety and reliability issues.  Metro has struggled to maintain the system’s aging infrastructure due to funding issues; the transit agency is the only major subway system does not have dedicated funding.  Metro has said the long-term commitment is critical, because it allows the revenue to be bondable.  Metro has estimated that it needs an additional $500 million per year to ensure the safety and reliability of Metro.

In February of 2018, the Baltimore Metro Subway was forced to shut down for a month to repair deteriorated tracks that posed a threat of derailment.  The closure brought attention to the Maryland Transit Administration’s operating budget, which the Hogan administration was not increasing annually to keep up with inflation.  The Baltimore Metro Subway moves an average of 17,000 daily weekday riders, and roughly 7,500 per day on the weekends.

The bill includes:

  • Metro Funding: The General Assembly passed legislation to provide additional funding of $167 million a year on condition that Virginia and the District contribute the same or more. The annual amount of funding will increase by 3% annually to account for inflation.
  • Metro Board Changes: The bill also requires that the State transportation secretary or another official from the Department serve as one of Maryland’s two voting members on the Metro board. The legislation also would strengthen the agency’s Inspector General.
  • Baltimore Metro Subway/MTA Funding: House Bill 372 allocates $178 million to the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) over the next three years. The legislation requires funding to the MTA to increase each year to account for inflation. The funding can be used for the Baltimore Metro Subway system or other MTA systems, such as the MARC commuter trains or commuter buses.
  • MTA Capital Assets Assessment: The MTA is required to conduct a comprehensive assessment of all of its capital assets, such as Baltimore buses, MARC locomotives, and the tracks and cars of its Metro and light rail systems.

 

SB38 Motor Vehicle Administration – Birth Certificates – Issuance of Copies:  This bill is a departmental bill.  It allows the MVA to work with the Health Department for a process that will allow the MVA to order your birth certificate for you when you go to renew your license.

 

Public Safety

HB888/SB707 Criminal Law – Firearm Crimes – Rapid Fire Trigger Activator (Bump Stock Ban).  This legislation bans “rapid fire trigger activators”; any kind of device or part that accelerates the rate of fire of a gun. This includes bump stocks and any similar devices. The bill applies to all firearms, regulated and unregulated.

  • This bill takes effect on October 1st.
  • This bill is amended so that if the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) moves to regulate rapid fire trigger activators, an individual already owning one would be able to apply to the ATF’s rigorous tracking and background check process.
  • In order to protect competitive shooting, the bill was amended so the definition of a rapid trigger activator does not include a replacement trigger that slightly increases the rate of fire of a firearm.
  • The penalty for violating the ban is a maximum of three years in jail and a fine of $5,000. This is the same penalty as the penalty for violating the assault weapons ban.

HB1302 Public Safety - Extreme Risk Prevention Orders (Red Flag Law).  This legislation allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms from a person who a judge considers to be a serious danger to themselves or others.  The process would be held to the same standard as an extreme risk protective order hearing and the individuals who can make a report are restricted to doctors, law enforcement, or family members.

  • Mental health professionals, law enforcement, and “any other interested parties” (includes family and neighbors) can petition for an ex parte or interim order to require a “red-flagged” individual to surrender their guns.
  • Within 14 days of the petition being filed (regardless of whether an ex parte order was issued), the court must set a hearing date to determine whether that individual should receive a one year lethal violence protective order. That order can be extended or appealed.

Five states already have “red flag laws,” and studies from those states show a connection between seizing troubled individuals’ weapons and a decrease in gun deaths and suicides.

HB 1646 Criminal Procedure - Firearms – Transfer.  This legislation allows law enforcement to execute a search warrant to remove any guns from a domestic violence offender’s home if a court believes they failed to turn in their guns upon conviction.  This is an important step towards preventing guns from falling through the cracks and ensuring that violent ex-convicts are not armed.  Passed.

Once convicted of a domestically related crime, an individual must turn in their firearms to law enforcement or a federally licensed firearm dealer within two days. That individual would be given written proof of the weapons transfer, which they would have to file within five days of their conviction.

If the court finds probable cause that that individual did not surrender all of their firearms, a search warrant can be ordered to retrieve the missing weapons.

 

Bullying & Sexual Harassment

HB301 Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act of 2018.  The bill authorizes a court in prosecution for specified sexual offenses to admit evidence of “sexually assaultive behavior” by the defendant that occurred before or after the offense for which the defendant is on trial.  Passed.

 

SB725 Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, and Intimidation – School Response.  This bill authorizes a victim of cyberbullying or the victim’s parent or guardian to bring a private cause of action for injunctive relief against an adult alleged to have committed an act of cyberbullying against the victim or against the parent or guardian of a child alleged to have committed an act of cyberbullying against the victim.  The bill also modifies school policies on and mandatory reporting of incidents of bullying, harassment, and intimidation.  Passed.

HB1342/SB1138 State Government – Discrimination and Harassment.  This bill makes several changes related to antiharassment procedures, policies, and training applicable to the Legislative Branch.  Among other things, the bill:

  1. requires the Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) to update its antiharassment policy and procedures governing members and employees of the Maryland General Assembly (MGA);
  2. requires the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics (JCLE) to review complaints involving MGA members that allege violations of the policy and procedures adopted by LPC;
  3. requires a survey of MGA members and employees related to discrimination and harassment issues to be conducted;
  4. establishes antiharassment duties and procedures for the State Ethics Commission (SEC) relating to regulated lobbyists;
  5. establishes specific prohibitions relating to sexual harassment for lobbyists; and
  6. establishes a related workgroup within SEC.

Passed.

 

Health Care

HB 736 Pharmacy Benefits Managers – Pharmacies and Pharmacists – Information on and Sales of Prescription Drugs.  This bill allows a pharmacy or pharmacist to (1) provide a customer with information regarding the retail price for a prescription drug or the amount of the beneficiary’s cost share for the drug; (2) discuss the retail price or cost share with the beneficiary; or (3) if the requirements for a therapeutic interchange are met, sell the more affordable alternative to the beneficiary.  Passed..

This year, the General Assembly has passed two pieces of legislation to curb the rising cost of care in the short-term and offer a long-term solution to stabilize the market:

HB1795 Maryland Health Benefit Exchange - Establishment of a Reinsurance Program.  This emergency bill requires the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE), in consultation with the Insurance Commissioner and as approved by the MHBE Board, to submit a State Innovation Waiver application for a federal Section 1332 waiver to establish a program for reinsurance and seek specified federal pass-through funding.  The application must be submitted as soon as practicable but not later than July 1, 2018. MHBE, in consultation with the Commissioner and as approved by the MHBE Board, must establish and implement a specified State Reinsurance Program. Implementation of the program must be contingent on approval of the waiver application. By January 1, 2019, MHBE must adopt regulations implementing the program. Passed. 

HB1782 Health Insurance - Individual Market Stabilization (Maryland Health Care Access Act of 2018).  This legislation will authorize the State to collect the 2.75% ($380 million) in suspended federal fees from insurance companies to pay for a state reinsurance pool.  It also requires a study to explore further long-term solutions for the insurance industry and stabilize individual market rates.  Passed.

 

THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

HB 1092 Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program – Establishment.  Establishes a competitive grant program that awards funding to local behavioral health organizations to expand capabilities of crisis response programs and services. Services and programs include: mobile crisis teams, 24/7 walk-in services, crisis residential beds, and other crisis response programs.  Total funding for annual grants begins in 2020 at $3 million, $4 million in 2021, and $5 million in 2022. Passed.

HB 1480 Controlled Dangerous Substances - Distributors - Reporting Suspicious Orders. This legislation requires pharmaceutical drug companies to file reports of suspicious orders to the Attorney General’s office. Drug distributors are already required to file these reports with the federal government, this law simply requires the distributors to file the same report to the state.  Reasons to file a suspicious order report include: shipments of abnormal size, frequency or deviate from the normal shipment pattern.  Passed.

Anne Arundel County has been very aggressive in their approach to the Opioid Crisis.  The programs such as “Not My Child” and “Safe Stations” are models that are being copied in other jurisdiction around the State and Country.

 

Miscellaneous

HB 152 Secure and Accessible Registration Act.  This bill automatically registers Marylanders to vote while they are renewing a driver’s license, signing up for health coverage with the state Health Benefit Exchange, or receiving help from a social service agency. If the individual does not wish to register, they may opt out during the process.  Passed.

HB 430 Education - Child Care Subsidies - Mandatory Funding Levels.  House Bill 430 requires the Governor to increase funding for the Child Care Subsidy Program in fiscal year 2020, fiscal year 2021, and fiscal year 2022 so that subsidy rates in those years are raised to at least the 30th, 45th, and 60th market percentiles, respectively.  Passed.

Maryland’s child care subsidy rates are among the very lowest in the country. While the federal government suggests that states set subsidy rates so that they provide access to 75% of the state’s child care programs, Maryland’s current rates give Maryland parents access to only 10% of the State’s child care programs. Increasing subsidy rates will provide higher-quality and lower cost child care to low-income families.

HB 532 Elective Franchise - Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Place.  This bill is a Constitutional amendment to allow voters to register to vote and vote on Election Day.  This measure can be confirmed by the voters on the ballot in 2018 and if confirmed will come back to the General Assembly for final confirmation.  The earliest this constitutional amendment could take effect would be the 2020 election.  Passed.

HB1090 Caller ID Spoofing Ban of 2018.  The bill prohibits an individual from performing “caller ID spoofing” when contacting another individual in the state with the intent to defraud, harass, cause harm to, or obtain anything of value.  The bill applies to those who use an application or other technology for a telephone to block the callers true location and instead show a false location that appears to be located close to the individual receiving the call.  Passed.

HB1662 Business Regulation – Retail Pet Stores (No More Puppy– and Kitten–Mills Act of 2018).  This bill prohibits a retail pet store from offering for sale, transferring, or otherwise disposing of cats or dogs.  The bill may not be construed to prohibit a retail pet store from collaborating with an animal welfare organization or animal control unit to offer space for or showcase cats or dogs for adoption.  Passed.

SB 1028 Health Occupations - Conversion Therapy for Minors - Prohibition (Youth Mental Health Protection Act).  Conversion therapy has been proven to cause depression and even result in suicide. Senate Bill 1028 bans state-licensed mental health, health care and child care practitioners from practicing conversion therapy to change the gender identification or sexual orientation of a minor.  Passed.

Religious freedom is left untouched in this bill and it faced no opposition by any religious groups. A church counselor or minister, who also holds a license, can continue to act as long as they are operating solely in the scope of their church.

SB675, Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research Act of 2018, is also known as the Beagle Bill, requires that facilities utilizing dogs and cats for animal testing set up programs for their adoption after retiring them.  The bill, which has drawn widespread support in both the House and Senate, was also supported by Johns Hopkins University, a major utilizer of animal testing in the state.  Passed.  

SB875 Online Electioneering Transparency and Accountability Act.  This legislation requires social media and websites to track and disclose political ads. These online companies must keep data that can be used to investigate foreign interference or illegal spending in State races.  Passed.

Maryland was the first state in the nation to pass this type of legislation.

 

In Closing

As the session ends, my office will return to part-time status.  My office will usually be open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm.  My contact information remains the same, pamela.beidle@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3370. 

Thank you for granting me the honor and opportunity to serve as your representative in the Maryland House of Delegates.  I truly appreciate your support and I look forward to seeing you in the community.

 



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Authority: Friends of Pam Beidle, Leonard W. Beidle, Treasurer