It’s been a busy first two weeks in Annapolis! I’m excited to be back with my colleagues for the 438th Legislative Session. This will be my 4th session in the legislature and I’m just as honored to serve today as I was when I was sworn in on January 14, 2015. My 2018 legislative agenda will focus on fighting for working families and students, creating safe workplace and campus environments and ensuring equitable education opportunities for all students.
The General Assembly’s first order of business was to address Governor Hogan’s vetoed legislation from the 2017 session. We successfully overrode the veto (88-52) of the Earned Sick Leave bill (HB1). Additionally, we voted to override the Ban the Box (HB 694) veto (90-50), which prevents colleges from denying admission on the basis of a criminal conviction. I’ve long been a supporter of both of these bills.
Mitigating Federal Tax Changes
We are still learning how the changes in tax law made by Congress will impact state revenues and Maryland families. House leadership has proposed a package that will protect 92% of Maryland residents by restoring the personal tax exemptions that Congress eliminated. The plan also revives an income tax deduction, with exemptions valuing up to $3,200. In response to changes in the inheritance tax, Maryland will continue current policy and decouple from federal policy. Similar to steps taken by other states, the Taxpayer Protection Plan will also create a charitable fund to which Marylanders may contribute for education purposes, offsetting federal limits on state deductions.
Last week, Governor Hogan introduced his FY ‘19 budget, comprised of the operating, capital and Budget Reconciliation Financing Act (changes that enable the budget to balance). For more detailed information about the budget, please take a look at the fiscal briefing we received from the Department of Legislative Services. I am concerned about a number of issues in this year’s budget, which does not differ significantly from last year’s budget.
While I am pleased that tuition for the University System of Maryland, Morgan State, and St. Mary’s College are capped at 2%, mental health and developmental disability providers that were scheduled to receive a 3.5% pay increase this year have now been cut by 43% and 73% respectively. The budget also places the burden of property tax assessments on local governments, costing counties an additional $20 million. The budget removes an additional previously agreed to $50 million payment to the state’s pension system and further eliminates funding for afterschool and summer school programs, college scholarships, and capital investment in neighborhoods. This essentially cuts the previously planned investment for Baltimore City in half. Lastly, the budget removes repayment to Program Open Space.
On a more hopeful note, the budget allocated $300,000 for the Pikesville Armory remediation as well as $5 million in the capital budget for land development at Rosewood. Schools and child care centers will also have a $2 million program available for security upgrades.
Equity in Policy-Making
Along with my colleague Del. Erek Barron, I was proud to sponsor an Associated Black Charities presentation to our colleagues and staff on how to ensure fairness and equity in legislating by viewing policy through a racial equity lens framework. This approach encourages policy-making that considers the disparate impact of proposed legislation. One of the most glaring examples of a failure to take into account these considerations is the wide difference in penalties accorded to the possession of crack cocaine v. powder cocaine. While this policy was well-meaning, it failed to consider the disproportionate impact that more severe penalties for drug use would have on communities of color. As policymakers, it is important to be consciously attuned to these impacts.
Bills are just being finalized now. More to come on the bills I will sponsor and support. If you’re interested in tracking my legislative priorities, please click here. This list will be regularly updated.
I’ve been thrilled to meet with constituents from all over the district advocating on a variety of issues. I’ve met with advocates from the National Federation for the Blind, Moms Demand Action (on gun safety issues), labor unions, developmental disability advocates and more! Even if you are unable to make it to Annapolis, you can still participate by reviewing proposed legislation and watching committee hearings from the comfort of your own home!
The Kirwan Commission had its final meeting on January 8th and they are currently compiling their recommendations. This commission has thoroughly examined the statewide funding levels for our public schools. You can view past meetings and read over past meeting minutes here. The Commission's recommendations will be made public soon but legislative action to advance these proposals will be considered by the 2019 General Assembly.
Pikesville Armory Commission Meeting
I am proud to serve on the Pikesville Armory Commission with several of my colleagues. We held our first meeting last week and heard presentations from the Department of General Services, the Department of the Environment and the MD Historical Trust. Stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead.
Community Crime Meeting
There has been a rash of burglaries along the Falls Rd corridor, prompting a well attended community meeting at the Timonium Fairgrounds on Tuesday night. Police commanders from across the county updated us on safety measure that you can take to keep safe. Please take a look at these suggestions and review your home security. Please call 911 if you see anything suspicious.
I was honored to have had the opportunity to speak at the Women's March downtown last weekend -- see bottom right photo in the collage above. There was a wonderful spirit of optimism as we came together to support continued activism.
You can now livestream the Baltimore County Delegation meetings on Facebook. We discuss important issues directly relevant to Baltimore County residents most Fridays at 9 am. This past week, we were joined by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and the new Department of Health Secretary, Robert Neall.
The Baltimore County Police Department’s Employment Section is pleased to announce a Career Fair to be held on Saturday, February 3, at the Bykota Senior Center, from 10 a.m. to noon. Visit BCnet for further information.
Become an Election Judge
Would you like to serve our community and earn extra money, too? Serve as an Election Judge on Primary Election Day, June 26, 2018, or General Election Day, November 6, 2018–or both! Paid training is provided and you can earn up to eight hours of administrative leave with pay for each day served. Visit BCnet to learn more about becoming an Election Judge and to download the Election Judge Service Application.
Stay in Touch
We'd love to hear from you during session and invite you to stop by our office -- room 311 of the Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street. Please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns:
Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone -- 410-841-3833
Facebook -- facebook.com/shellyhettlemanfordelegate
Twitter -- @shellyhettleman
Instagram -- shellyhettleman