Thank you for the opportunity to represent the 11th District in the Maryland General Assembly. In the 2019 legislative session, I was proud to continue serving as a member of the Appropriations Committee and was elected to be Vice Chair of the Baltimore County Delegation. This term, I was appointed Chair of the Joint Audit Committee. In addition, I was appointed to the Study Group on Economic Stability, tasked with addressing poverty in Maryland.
I appreciate that so many of you shared your thoughts and concerns with my office over the past 90 days. I have responded to more than 2,000 constituent inquiries this session and met with many of you in Annapolis or in the district. When constituents have problems with state agencies, we have worked tirelessly to resolve them. Every day, I feel privileged to be a strong voice for the 11th District.
We just lost a legendary voice for all of Maryland as our beloved Speaker, Michael Busch, passed away on the eve of adjournment. While I only served with the Speaker for 5 years, I quickly realized what a gifted leader he was. Speaker Busch was our coach who worked hard to form a unified House of “One Maryland” out of the many different characters and colleagues who represent the amazing diversity of our great state. He was interested in everyone, incredibly kind, and dedicated to doing what was right for the people of Maryland. It is fitting that we passed his legislation addressing institutional ethics just before we adjourned Sine Die.
Featured below are highlights from the 2019 legislative session.
The House Appropriations Committee presented a bipartisan, balanced budget for FY 2020. Despite a $269 million write down in revenue estimates partially due to the federal government shutdown, the Appropriations Committee was able to reorganize the state budget to fund our priorities without raising any taxes. The fiscally responsible budget includes a $1.1 billion Rainy Day Fund, a “fund balance” of $118 million in the event revenue estimates are inaccurate, and funds the required contribution to the state pension system. It includes $7 billion of record funding for our public education system and an initial “down payment” of $255 million for reforms based on the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, a group that has been meeting over the past 2 years to suggest ways of making our education system world-class. It directs $65.5 m for special education, increases teacher salaries, and designates funds for children living in poverty. The budget also provides healthcare to over 1.4 million Marylanders through $11.2 billion in Medicaid funding, increases funding to fight the opioid crisis, and increases rates for behavioral, mental health and providers serving the developmentally disabled. State employees will get a 3% cost of living adjustment and there is a 5% increase for law enforcement workers. It also includes a new $500 million program for school construction.
The capital budget is a good job creation tool, creating and maintaining thousands of direct and indirect jobs, and leveraging millions of local and private funds. Capital funding is also used for the construction, planning, renovation and building of state facilities, such as hospitals, schools, higher education institutions, and parks.
District 11 Capital Projects
· Rosewood - $6 million for continued remediation and improvement to the campus
· Chestnut Ridge Fire Station - $50,000 to expand living and study quarters for volunteers
· Pikesville High School - $850,000 for a turf field
· Torah Institute of Baltimore - $125,000 for playground equipment, gym floor resurfacing, and school parking lot improvements
District 11 Teammates’ Priority Bills that passed
Senator Bobby Zirkin: Grace’s Law 2.0 (HB 181): will prevent the online malicious harassment and intimidation of youth and is named in honor of a young Maryland woman who committed suicide after having been attacked online.
Delegate Jon Cardin: Abandoned Property in Possession of a Museum (HB 1302/SB 255): This bill creates a procedure by which museums that have objects with unknown provenance may track their owners or claim legal title.
Delegate Dana Stein: Railroad Company Movement of Freight– Required Crew (HB 66/SB 252): requires that each freight train operating in Maryland that shares tracks with passenger and commuter rail trains has a minimum crew of two people.
Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (HB 1413/SB 1030): Establishes a policy blueprint to transform the state’s early childhood, primary and secondary education system into a world–class system based on the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission.) The two-year plan sends more than $700 million in extra funding to schools for teacher pay, expands pre-kindergarten and creates community schools, which provide additional services for families in high poverty areas. The General Assembly will consider changes to the funding formulas next year, building on this year’s program. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Governor.
Build to Learn Act (HB 727/SB 731): Would have provided a significant boost in school construction funding statewide, including $400 million for Baltimore County, allowing the Schools for Our Future program to be completed on schedule. Unfortunately, the bill passed the House but died in the Senate.
Local School Calendar Choice (SB 128/HB 437): Returns to local county Boards of Education the authority to choose the start and end dates for the school year. I joined my colleagues to override the Governor’s veto, because I believe local jurisdictions should have the autonomy to make local school calendar decisions.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board (HB 768/SB 759): Establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to research best practices to control prescription drug prices. The board would review the cost of prescription drugs and review the ability to impose a payment cap if there are certain price spikes.
Protecting the Affordable Care Act (HB 697/SB 868): Protects Marylanders with pre-existing conditions in the event that the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act. It also renews the Maryland Health Insurance Protection Commission for an additional three years to continue working closely in the evolving healthcare landscape. This bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Maryland Health Insurance Option (HB 814/SB 802): Establishes Maryland’s Easy Enrollment Health Program (MEEHP), a simple, seamless system for enrolling uninsured Marylanders into free or low cost health insurance coverage by adding a checkbox on state income tax returns. The state health exchange will be able to determine automatic eligibility for Medicaid. Maryland will become the first state in the country to implement this program and we expect an additional 50,000 Marylanders will be able to obtain health insurance coverage. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Individual Market Stabilization Act (HB 258/SB 239): Requires insurance companies to contribute a 1% assessment rate through 2023 to the Maryland Reinsurance Program. The state reinsurance program was established last year and requires health insurance companies to expand coverage for the sickest Marylanders. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Title X Family Planning (HB 1272/SB 904): Title X is a long-standing federal family planning program for women that provides free or low cost health care and family planning services. This bill would remove Maryland from the Title X program and ensure continued access to family planning services should new federal rules be enacted that prevent organizations that provide abortion services from receiving grant funds. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Families and Children
Maryland Farms and Families (HB 84/SB 483): Funds a program to match purchases made by low income Marylanders using federal nutrition programs at participating farmers markets. A bill I sponsored a few years ago created the program. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Childcare Tax Expansion (HB 810/SB 870): Helps working parents afford quality care for their children by expanding access to the childcare tax credit. Now, single filers making up to $92,000 per year and married filers making $143,000 per year are eligible. The tax credit is equal to up to 32% of the federal child and dependent care credit. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Summer Snap for Children Act (HB 338/SB 218): Creates a summer SNAP (food supplement) program for children, to help feed hungry kids whether or not school is in session. Kids who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals at summer and winter break are eligible for this program. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Public Safety & Criminal Justice
Reducing Solitary Confinement for Juveniles (HB 1001/SB 774): Prevents a juvenile from being placed in solitary confinement unless there is clear and convincing evidence of an immediate risk of harm to the minor, staff, or other inmates. This bill also significantly increases the information jails are required to report on solitary confinement. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Opioid Use Disorder Examinations and Treatment (HB 116/SB 846): Establishes programs of “opioid use disorder” screening, evaluation, and treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, in four local correctional facilities before expanding statewide. The bill establishes requirements for the screening, examination and treatment of inmates. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Reporting of Hate Crimes (HB 168): Alters and expands the categories of incidents for reporting on incidents of crime committed apparently directed against an individual or group because of color, religious beliefs, gender, disability, national origin, and homelessness. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Expungement & Maryland Judiciary Case Search Record Removal (HB 13/SB 238): Would have allowed partial expungements from the Judiciary Case Search website. Under current law, someone cannot remove an expungable charge from the Case Search website if the charge occurred at the same event as a non-expungable charge. The bill passed the House and Senate, but differences were not worked out by the end of session.
Sexual Assault Survivors Statute of Limitations (HB 687): Would have established that an action for a damage arising out of an alleged incident of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor may be filed at any time. This bill passed the House and was voted down in the Senate.
Ghost Gun Ban (HB 740): Would have banned all untraceable guns, including 3D printed guns and firearms assembled by kits. The bill did not pass.
Handgun Review Board (SB 1000): Repeals the Handgun Permit Review Board. Decisions denying, restricting or revoking a permit to wear, carry, or transport a handgun will be handled by the Office of Administrative Hearings. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
Long Gun Transactions (HB 786): Establishes requirements and prohibitions, similar to regulated firearms, for the transfer, sale, and rental of a rifle or shotgun and establishes penalties for violations. Although the bill passed the House and Senate, and a conference committee was appointed, a final version of the bill did not pass.Families and Children:
State Retirees Medicare Part D (HB 1120/SB 946): Creates three new programs to assist current and future retirees who were hired prior to July 1, 2011 by limiting out–of–pocket prescription drug costs. Program will not take effect until January 2021. Current Medicare eligible retirees, spouses, and dependents will enroll in a new Maryland State Retiree Prescription Drug Coverage Program that will limit out–of–pocket annual prescription drug costs. One-on-one assistance will be provided to assist in the selection of a Medicare Part D plan and the General Assembly will regularly monitor implementation. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Non-Profits for Our Aging Neighbors Act (HB 251/SB 279): Authorizes the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) to create a matching grant program to nonprofit organizations and area agencies on aging to expand and establish aging-in-place programs for seniors. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Other Important Legislation
Fight for $15 - (HB 166/SB 280): Gradually increases Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 by January 1, 2025. It passed the General Assembly, was vetoed by the Governor, and then the House and Senate overrode the Governor’s veto. The new law is an important step in bringing a fair and livable wage to working families and addresses a number of concerns that were brought by small business. It includes a series of staggered wage increases, starting with $11/hr. on Jan 1, 2020. The law will allow businesses with fewer than 14 employees to have until July 2026 to phase in the $15 minimum wage, accommodating the desire of smaller business to have a longer period of implementation. It also continues to permit a training wage of 85% of the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18.
University of Maryland Medical System- Board of Directors (HB1428/SB619): Bars no-bid contracts for board members, forces all members to resign and reapply for their positions, and mandates an audit of all contracting practices. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor.
University Board of Regents- Transparency and Oversight (HB533/SB719): Expands the membership of the board, requires meetings to be streamed live, and mandates open sessions for votes related to the hiring or firing of university presidents or chancellors. The bill passed and has been sent to the Governor
Taxation of Online Sales (SB 728/HB 1301) Requires marketplace facilitators – companies such as Etsy and eBay that connect buyers with third-party sellers – to remit state sales tax. Taxes have always been due to the state for sales on such websites, but in-state buyers were supposed to pay separately and compliance has been low. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
Expanding Voter Access (HB 237/HB 286): HB 237 improves early voting by allowing every county to add an additional early voting center and moves the early vote start time to 8am (currently 10 am) for all general elections. HB 286 allows voters to register on election day. The bills have passed and were sent to the Governor.
Stay in Touch
I hope you’ll agree that we had quite a busy session! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this report or if my Legislative Director, Maura Dunnigan, or I can help you with anything. You can reach us by calling 410-841-3833 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you around the district in the days and weeks ahead.
Thank you for having given me the opportunity to serve.
Paid for by Friends of Shelly Hettleman. Jodi Schwartz, Treasurer Lainy LeBow-Sachs, Chair
P.O. Box 32677, Baltimore, MD 21282
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