DELEGATE HOLMES IN THE NEWS

2018 Legilsative Accomplishments

on April 17, 2018
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2018 Legislative Accomplishments

 

2017 VETO OVERRIDES

EARNED SICK LEAVE - HB 1 (2017)

We overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which requires companies with 15 or more employees to provide up to five days of earned sick leave annually. Companies with less than 15 employees will simply have to provide unpaid leave under the same conditions. Companies with an existing policy that exceeds the requirements may maintain their current policy.

Over 700,000 Marylanders will benefit from this common-sense legislation that gives working families peace of mind by not forcing them to make the impossible decision of missing out on a paycheck, or taking care of a sick child or relative.

BAN THE BOX - HB 694 (2017)

We overrode Governor Hogan’s veto on legislation that bans the criminal history box on the initial college application for colleges and universities in Maryland that receive state funding.

This legislation provides equal opportunity for college applicants. When filling out an application, no one should be judged immediately based on criminal history. Colleges and universities reserve the right to do a complete background check on all new students, but common mistakes should not disqualify an applicant immediately.

 

2018 SESSION

PUBLIC SAFETY & GUNS

RAPE SURVIVOR PROTECTION ACT - HB 1

This legislation protects victims of sexual assault by allowing the court to remove the parental rights of their attacker. Maryland joins 30 other states by enacting this legislation.

This bipartisan legislation was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.

 

BUMP STOCK BAN - HB 888

On October 1st, 2017, a gunman in Las Vegas used a “bump stock” on his semi-automatic rifle to shoot and kill 58 people and injured more than 500 others. It was the worst mass shooting in US history. “Bump stocks” are currently legal in most states and are not regulated by the federal government. The intent of these devices is to make a firearm function like an automatic weapon. Despite the strong assault weapons ban Maryland passed in 2013, bump stocks and other “rapid fire trigger activators” circumvent our laws and regulations.

Our 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.

Bill Details:

  • 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.

RED FLAG LAW - HB 1302

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.

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.

This bipartisan bill passed the House with a vote of 116 to 17.

Bill Details:

  • 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.

TAKING GUNS FROM DOMESTIC ABUSERS - HB 1646

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.

This bipartisan legislation passed the House with a vote of 129 to 5.

Bill Details:

  • 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.

GUN-FREE HIGHER EDUCATION ZONES - HB 904

This legislation prohibits the possession of firearms on public, higher education campuses. The legislation exempts law enforcement, security guards, and educational shooting events approved by the school. This legislation passed the House of Delegates.

 

PROTECTING MARYLAND TAXPAYERS

RESTORING PERSONAL EXEMPTIONS - HB 365

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, sponsored by Delegate Walker, 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 the federal tax changes.

INCREASING OUR STANDARD DEDUCTION - SB 318 AND HB 570

The General Assembly unanimously increased 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.

MILITARY PENSION EXCLUSIONS - HB 327

House Bill 327, introduced by Delegates Lisanti and Pat Young, 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.

HOMETOWN HEROES ACT - HB 296

House Bill 296, introduced by Delegate Hixson, 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.

EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT - HB 296

House Bill 296 expands eligibility of Maryland’s Earned Income Tax Credit to include childless, working Marylanders between the ages of 18 and 24.  This much needed bill will provide nearly $7.5 million of additional tax relief to almost 100,000 Maryland households.

EARNED SICK LEAVE TAX CREDIT - SB 134

According to DLS, only 43% of low-income workers have access to paid sick leave, while nearly 70% of all private-sector workers receive the same benefit.  Senate 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.

MAKING THE TOP 0.1% PAY MORE ESTATE TAXES - HB 308

The Republican-led #GOPTaxScam doubled the amount of money that the ultra-wealthy can pass on to their heirs completely tax free – from $11.2 million jointly to $22.4 million.  Without legislative changes, Maryland’s estate tax would have been tied to the federal exclusion increase -- and allowed roughly 100 of the wealthiest Maryland families to avoid paying almost $60 million per year in Maryland taxes.  House Bill 308, originally introduced by Delegate Tarlau, will keep Maryland’s estate tax consistent with 2014 State law – and prevents the doubling of a tax giveaway to the ultra-wealthy.

 

HEALTH CARE

Despite the Trump Administration’s sabotage of Obamacare, Marylanders have been signing up for coverage in record numbers. Maryland’s uninsured rate has dropped to  6% this year, after being as high as 14% prior to 2010. Maryland ranks among the top of all states in new-enrollees, young people signing up for coverage, and lowest number of uninsured.

The cost of care is rising due to insurance market uncertainty and the individual mandate repeal by Republicans in Congress. 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.

 

REINSURANCE PROGRAM + 1332 WAIVER - HB 1795

The ACA Workgroup is working to lower premiums in the individual market by seeking a federal waiver for flexibility to use federal funds to help create a state-run reinsurance program. Reinsurance will allow insurance companies to subsidize the cost of care for high-risk individual market enrollees and curb the premium increase from having substantial effects on the rest of the insurance market. Last year, under the Hogan Administration, insurance premiums increased by 50%. This year, the legislature has stepped in to prevent another 50% increase.

This legislation was passed by the General Assembly and passed unanimously out of the House of Delegates.

HEALTH CARE ACCESS PROGRAM - HB 1782

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.

 

EDUCATION

COMMISSION ON INNOVATION AND EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION - HB 1415

This session, the General Assembly passed legislation that begins to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, starting in the fall of 2018. House Bill 1415 modernizes Maryland’s educational system by improving teacher recruitment, getting more resources to students in low-income schools, and expanding career technical education programs.

This legislation encourages the top 25% of high school graduates from each county to pursue a career in education and increases awareness of financial aid programs for teaching candidates. 

It also implements an Early Literacy Program in low-income areas to help students build a strong reading foundation and expand pre-k to give children the head start they need.

The bill creates a competitive grant program for local boards of education to partner with community colleges and businesses to put students on a track for careers in technical education. It’s important we encourage more young men and women to get involved in the hands-on technical careers of tomorrow.

 

21ST CENTURY SCHOOLS FACILITIES ACT - HB 1783

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.

CASINO LOCKBOX - SB 1122

The General Assembly passed legislation allowing 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.

SCHOOL SAFETY - SB 1265

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:

Bill Details:

  • 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 a 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.

 

FACILITIES RENEWAL GRANT PROGRAM - HB 403

House Bill 403 establishes the Facilities Renewal Grant Program, which will provide funding for improvements, repairs, and deferred maintenance projects at Maryland community colleges. House Bill 403 will provide $15 million in school maintenance funding between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2023.

 

BUDGET FISCAL YEAR 2019

OPERATING BUDGET - SB 185

The General Assembly passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan, fiscally responsible budget which leaves a fund balance of $201.4 million and produce a structural surplus of $158 million, including $879 million in Maryland’s Rainy Day Fund.

Bill Details:

  • K-12 EDUCATION: The budget maintains our commitment to public schools by providing record funding (over $6.5 billion) for K-12 education. This is a 2.9% increase on last year’s K-12 education funding. Direct aid to local schools increases by over $160 million and school safety programs will receive an additional $41 million.
  • HIGHER EDUCATION: The budget provides a 4.1% increase in funding to public colleges and universities, allowing our public higher education institutions to cap tuition increases at 2%.
  • HEALTH CARE: The budget provides healthcare to over 1.4 million Marylanders through $11.4 billion in Medicaid funding.
  • SALARY INCREASES: The budget provides a 3.5% increase in pay for workers who take care of the developmentally disabled. The bill also gives State employees a 2% pay increase.

 

ENVIRONMENT

US CLIMATE ALLIANCE - HB 3

The General Assembly passed legislation requiring the Governor to join the U.S. Climate Alliance. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a group of states that have committed to greenhouse gas reduction goals.

REGIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE - HB 230

House Bill 320 prohibits the Governor from withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without legislative approval. The RGGI is a cap-and-trade program established in conjunction with a number of other northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

OFFSHORE DRILLING LIABILITY - HB 1456

The Trump 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.

 

TRANSPORTATION

MARYLAND METRO FUNDING ACT - HB 372

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.

 

Bill Details:

  • 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.

 

HIGHWAY USER - HB 807

The General Assembly passed legislation to increase the amount of highway user funds distributed to Baltimore City, the counties, and municipalities. These increases in funding will start in fiscal year 2020 and scale up through fiscal year 2024. At full phase in, this legislation will provide $60 million per year to Maryland’s counties and $37 million per year to Maryland’s municipalities.

This bipartisan legislation passed both the House and the Senate unanimously.

 

COMBATING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CRISIS RESPONSE GRANT PROGRAM - HB 1092

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.

CDS - DISTRIBUTORS REPORTING SUSPICIOUS ORDERS - HB 1480

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.

IMMIGRATION (DREAMER BILLS)

DREAMers IN-STATE TUITION RATES - HB 1536 (HOUSE ONLY)

This legislation allows undocumented immigrants who have graduated from a public or non-public school in the state to be eligible for in-state tuition at Maryland’s public universities up to 6 years after high school graduation.

Undocumented immigrants are eligible as long as they can provide parents, guardians, or themselves have filed Maryland income tax returns.

THE JILL WRIGLEY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP EXPANSION ACT - HB 420

This bill expands financial aid and part-time grant programs to include undocumented students who are eligible for in-state tuition. Students who are here under DACA are protected under a temporary legal status and deserve to be considered for these financial aid packages to further contribute to the state.

MISCELLANEOUS

CONVERSION THERAPY BAN - SB 1028

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.

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.

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION - HB 152

The General Assembly passed legislation that 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.

ELECTION DAY VOTER REGISTRATION - HB 532

The General Assembly passed 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.

ONLINE ELECTIONEERING (FACEBOOK BILL) - SB 875

The General Assembly passed legislation requiring 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.

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

 

CHILD CARE SUBSIDY PROGRAM - HB 430

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.

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.

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2018 Legilsative Accomplishments
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