2016 Sine Die Newsletter
Sine Die, the last day of 436th Legislative Session for 2016 was Monday, April 11. We had an excellent legislative year, we considered over 2800 bills submitted, and we passed 834. I was pleased to be Vice Chair the Delegation and Chair of the Sub-committee for Motor Vehicle and Transportation Policy. Here is a brief summary of our final days, and highlights of some of the major legislation that came before the General Assembly this session.
The Governor vetoed several bills prior to the end of session. This provided the opportunity for the General Assembly to consider overriding the vetoes prior to the closing of session instead of waiting until next year. The bills vetoed and overridden are:
HB 172, Anne Arundel County Board of Education and School Board Nominating Commission
The Governor vetoed this bill saying the membership of the Commissions will be skewed toward special interest groups instead of those who answer to the broader education community.
House Bill 172 was amended to make the membership of the Nominating Commission more diverse and reflective of the make-up of student body, including increasing the Commission to 13. It does not take away the Governors authority to appoint the members of the Anne Arundel County School Board.
HB 1013, Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016
The Governor vetoed this bill saying the bill's language is vague and would require the administration to equally weigh safety concerns with whether a project increases access to mass transit.
In actuality this bill provides a fair and transparent, data driven approach to these decisions. HB 1013 creates specific criteria and an objective process, to judge and score each project and determine its priority based on its anticipated benefits. It is not a partisan process, it takes the politics out of funding decisions, and offers an unprejudiced ranking system. This proposed process is used in four other states including Virginia.
Nothing in the bill limits — or prescribes — funding for specific transportation projects. The bill merely asks that projects be scored and ranked so that all Marylanders can see, in the interest of transparency, how effectively the billions of dollars in the transportation budget are being spent. That scoring system and the subsequent evaluations will be done by the Governor’s own Department of Transportation.
The final decision on funding of transportation projects remain with the Governor and the Secretary of Transportation. The bill simply requires the Governor to explain to the public a decision to fund a lower scoring project ahead of a higher scoring one
With a fair and transparent process to evaluate how we spend billions of your tax dollars, I am confident that Anne Arundel County will get its fair share.
Other Bills of Interest
HB 211, Pollinator Protection Act
This bill removes pesticides from the marked that harm bees. The States beekeepers lost approximately 60% of their hives last year. The bill limits the use of neonicotinoid pesticide on or after January 1, 2018, unless the person is a certified applicator, residential use will be prohibited after the effective date.
HB 274, Family Law - Divorce - Corroboration of Testimony
This bill removes the outdated requirement that a person seeking an uncontested divorce bring a corroborating witness to court to confirm that the couple hasn't lived under the same roof for a year.
HB 525, Vehicle Laws—Manufacturers and Dealers
This bill is a Consumer Protection Bill that addresses the notifications for Vehicle Recalls and Technical Service Bulletins and how dealers may notify a vehicle owner. It also allows the dealer to take a vehicle that is under a “stop sale” notification as trade-in, but the manufacturer is directed to reimburse the dealer in some method until the parts for the recall are available. Some air bag recalls are taking 8 to 10 months for the parts to be available. I was the lead sponsor on this bill, crossed filed with Senator Wayne Norman.
HB 1003/SB481; Labor and Employment - Equal Pay for Equal Work
This bill prohibits an employer from discriminating between employees in any occupation by providing less favorable employment opportunities based on sex or gender identity. There was a significant difference between the House Bill and the Senate Bill. The House bill allowed a more extended statute of limitations, while the Senate Bill limited the opportunity to file a complaint or law suit to three years after employment is terminated. The Senate version of the bill passed the House 104 to 31, no longer a party-line vote.
HB 1010, Maryland Transit Administration Oversight and Planning Board
The Maryland Transit Administration is the only MDOT department without an oversight board.
House Bill 1010 increases oversight to ensure strategic transit planning and accountability and to create a transparent process for local government and citizen involvement. HB 1010 reviews the MTA’s spending, performance, policies, and progress towards strategic goals every year.
HB 1014/SB 676, College Affordability Act
This bill establishes a matching State contribution for eligible college savings accounts; creates a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for undergraduate student loan debt; alters authorized uses of, and clarifies eligibility criteria for, specified student financial aid; and establishes conditions under which students with unpaid balances may continue to attend public institutions of higher education. It will take effect July 1, 2016.
HB 1342/SB 945, Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah's Law)
In December of 2015, Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta was critically injured after he was struck by a drunk driver. After Officer Leotta was taken off life support, news surfaced that the driver of the vehicle had previously been arrested twice for driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), approximately 1/3 of all drivers convicted or arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. 25 states have worked to reduce this statistic by requiring all DUI offenders to use ignition interlock technology before starting their vehicles. In 2015, the State of Maryland’s district courts saw 2,659 DUI violations, 2,902 DWI violations and 4 homicides by motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol. According to a 2015 study conducted by college professors from around the country, Maryland was ranked as the 2nd most lenient state on DUI penalty laws, and the 19th most lenient for DUI Prevention Laws.
This bill forces anyone convicted of the following offenses to get an Ignition Interlock System:
· Suspended license for refusing to take, or failing, a blood or breath test
· Revoked license for a conviction of homicide by a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
· Convicted of reckless or negligent driving and who was originally charged with an alcohol motor vehicle offense
· Anyone who does not participate in or complete the IISP program will have their license indefinitely suspended.
· It also increases the length of license suspensions for alcohol-related offenses, and the penalties for drivers who refuse to participate in a breath test.
HB 1410/SB 493, Teacher Induction, Retention, and Advancement Act of 2016
This bill establishes a Teacher Induction, Retention, and Advancement Program for first-year teachers who participate in the program to be afforded at least 20% more time than other teachers to be spent on mentoring, peer observation, assistance with planning, or other preparation activities. Any costs incurred must be borne 80% by the State and 20% by the local board of education. The bill mandates an appropriation of $7.0 million annually for the program. The bill also increases the maximum State matching stipend for teachers who hold National Board Certification (NBC) from $2,000 to $4,000. If Anne Arundel County chooses, they can be part of a pilot program for teachers that teach in economically disadvantaged schools. The county would need to match the $1500 stipend to teachers in these schools. This stipend will be helpful to North County, Glen Burnie, Meade and Annapolis schools. Anne Arundel County must choose to participate and match the funds. This bill will take effect July 1, 2016.
HB 1603/SB 937, Sustainable Oyster Harvest Act of 2016
This amended bill requires that the Department of Natural Resources in consultation with the University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science to conduct a specified study related to the public oyster fishery and provide a report to the Governor, the Department of Natural Resources, the Oyster Advisory Commission, and the General Assembly on or before October 1, 2017. It also prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from taking specified actions until after the Center has made its report. The oysterman came by the hundreds to object to this bill, they are afraid that stricter limits will be place on the number of oysters they can harvest. As you know, the purpose of the bill is to protect our oyster population so that they will proliferate. We anxiously await the result of this study. And it is only a study!
HB 1312/SB 1005, Justice Reinvestment Act
This bill generally implements the recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (JRCC) by altering criminal penalties and provisions relating to sentencing, corrections, parole, and the supervision of offenders. In addition, the bill (1) alters provisions relating to criminal gangs; (2) increases maximum penalties for first-degree child abuse resulting in death; and (3) requires specified studies, analyses, and reports.
Several of the bill’s provisions take effect October 1, 2017
HB 1313/ SB 1016, Justice Reinvestment Act - Criminal Penalties
This bill increases the maximum incarceration penalty for second-degree murder from 30 years to 40 years. The bill also eliminates mandatory minimum sentences and reduces criminal penalties for specified offenses relating to the distribution of controlled dangerous substances (CDS).
SB 1112, Income Tax - Aerospace, Electronics, or Defense Contract Tax Credit Program
This bill is supported by the Hogan administration. It provides $37.5 million in tax credits for Northrop Grumman Corporation, over 5 years. It is intend to award the aerospace company for staying in Maryland. The proposal would provide $250 a year for every job it retains or creates in Maryland, provided that it has at least 10,000 workers in the state who earn at least $85,000, including benefits. The annual cost to taxpayers: up to $7.5 million. Northrop Grumman employs 10,000 workers and indirectly creates jobs for 15,000 more.
Also in the Governor’s budget is $20 million dollars for Northrop Grumman to be used to purchase two buildings that they lease on West Nursery Road. The cost of the buildings is $80 million.
Most bills passed by the General Assembly will become law on October 1, 2016 unless they have another date prescribed. For additional information on these bills please visit the Maryland General Assembly website at: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov. Also the Fiscal Note attached to the bill explain in detail the cost attached to each bill as well as additional information in lay terms.
Bills of Interest that did not pass:
HB 102, Anne Arundel County - Solicitation of Money or Donations From Occupants of Vehicles - Prohibitions and Permit Program
This bill would have allowed organizations with proper training and permits to collect donations from vehicles on our roads. It received an “Unfavorable Report” and will not become law.
HB 646/SB 593, Rape Survivor Family Protection Act
The purpose of the bill is to terminate parental rights of an individual found to have committed an act of nonconsensual sexual conduct against the other parent that resulted in the conception of a child. Unfortunately the bills died in conference committee over an issue of publishing notifications.
HB 452/SB 384, Earned Income Tax Credit - Expansion
This bill will reduce taxes income taxes in all income levels, the Senate version gives more back to high income earners. The Conference Committee could not come to agreement. It is my hope that the Senate and House will work together over the interim for a bill that does reduce income taxes, especially for our struggling families in the lower income brackets.
HB 458/SB 380, General Assembly and Congressional Legislative Redistricting and Apportionment Commission
Bills requiring a Constitutional Amendment for legislative redistricting did not pass this session. The Maryland Constitution gives that responsibility to the Legislature; however I do believe we need to do a better job.
HB 563, Vehicle Laws - Obstruction Hanging From Rearview Mirror - Enforcement
Currently it is a primary offence to have any item hanging from the rear view mirror of a vehicle. This bill sought to change this to a secondary enforcement. Under secondary enforcement, a police officer may not issue a citation to a driver for violating this provision unless the police officer has first detained the driver for another suspected violation of State law. This bill received an “Unfavorable Report” and will not become law. With all of our students graduating and hanging their tassels from the rearview mirror, I wanted to bring this violation status to your attention.
You can find the Anne Arundel County Delegation Report here.
2016 Primary Election
Early Voting for the Primary Election
Thursday, April 14, 2016 through Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 10 am until 8 pm.
The location are:
· Anne Arundel County Odenton Regional Library 1325 Annapolis Road Odenton
· Glen Burnie Regional Library 1010 Eastway Glen Burnie
· Severna Park Community Library 45 West McKinsey Road Severna Park
April 26, 2016
The polls will be open 7 am until 8 pm
Route 175 Improvements
Governor Hogan announced he has added new state funding to the ongoing Rt. 175 projects. He has added $81.2 million to replace the MD 175/MD 295 interchange.
We can also expect to see progress on:
· the widening of MD 175 from two to six lanes between Disney Road and Reece Road and near Ft. Meade. This is a $ 43.7 million project with funding previously announced in October of 2014. ($10M TIGER, $24.1 M Federal Formula, $9M State.)
· the improvement of two intersections along MD 175 at Reece Road and Mapes Road, which lead to Gates 2 and 3 into Fort Meade. This is a $ 14.2 million project with funding originally announced in October 2014.
· A study on designing improvements to the MD 198 and the MD 295 Interchange. This is a $5.5 million project.
Fort Meade is in the process of implementing new security measures. They are well aware that the new procedures are causing backups off post as well as for those trying to get onto Fort Meade. While we all recognize it is inconvenient, in this day and age it is the cost of having a military installation, in this case our state's largest employer providing $27 billion in economic impact annually and employing 53,000 people, mostly Maryland residents, in our community. If they were to close, every business in this community would feel the impact.
If you can avoid the area around Fort Meade during peak hours, please do so. We recognize this is not possible for those who have businesses in the area.
If you have reason to be on Fort Meade regularly, or have employees who do, please be sure to get them badged in advance. Businesses can sponsor employees - you do not need someone from Fort Meade to sign off (though they do need to pass a background check). Information on Fort Meade access and badging procedures are found at the link below.
Fort Meade Access Instructions
Scholarships are closed, the deadline was March 31st. We received 108 applications, currently my Scholarship Committee is busy reviewing the applications so the awards can be made in time for the High School Award ceremonies.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-841-3370. I look forward to seeing you out and about in the Community. A special thanks to my Chief of Staff, Nancy Lipin Crawford and my Legislative Assistant, Aidan DeLisle for your help and support during the 2015 Session.
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 in the community.