It has been a successful 90-day Legislative Session. I want to share with you some of the legislation that will positively affect our communities. Please read on for an update on certain bills that are awaiting the Governor’s approval.
The Maryland General Assembly passed a $42 billion balanced budget that will continue to protect our families, public safety, the environment, and public education. The budget includes the following:
1. Maintains the state’s commitment to our public schools by investing over $6.3 billion in K-12 education, the largest commitment in state history. Local schools gained an increase of almost 3% in funding.
2. Funding for the Medicaid program approaches $10 billion, including $346 million for rate increases for health care providers. The expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Federal Affordable Care Act has resulted in about 1.2 million of our residents having access to health care through the program, and funding for the developmentally disabled grew by over $63 million.
3. The capital budget allocates over $4.3 billion for road repairs, library and hospital construction, school construction, and other projects that improve our quality of life and create jobs in our communities.
SB 1005: Justice Reinvestment Act
The Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) will reduce prison populations, increase treatment for addiction, and take a smarter approach to criminal justice. JRA includes revising drug possession penalties to maximize recidivism reduction and focuses parole hearings on violent offenders.
HB 1016: Public Safety and Policing Workgroup – Recommendations
This bill is based on the recommendations from the workgroup that I was a member of this past year. It makes broad changes to the process of hiring, training, and disciplining police officers.
SB 945: Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah's Law)
SB 945 expands the use of ignition interlock devices, preventing drunk drivers from starting their cars, to all drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence at or above the state’s legal blood alcohol limit of .08 percent.
SB 346: Peace Orders - Grounds for Relief
This bill, which I authored, expands the specified offenses for which an individual is allowed to seek relief using peace orders. This bill would add offenses of misuse of telephone facilities and equipment, misuse of electronic communications, and video surveillance.
SB 575: County Boards of Education – Liability Coverage
I sponsored SB 575 to increase the liability coverage per claim from $100,000 to $400,000 to protect persons who are injured due to a negligent act by a school employee or on school property.
SB 924/HB 534: Family Law - Protective Orders - Notification of Service - Sunset Repeal
This legislation will repeal the termination date for a program which notifies the victim when the protective order has been served on the alleged abuser.
Prince George's County
SB 324: Prince George's County Regional Medical Center Act of 2016
SB 324 ensures that Maryland keeps its promise to Prince George’s County by requiring $15M in the operating budget from 2017-2019. Additionally, $27,5000,000 was included in the capital budget for the acquisition and construction of the new Prince George’s Regional Medical Center.
Education Funding for Prince George’s County
Prince George’s County will receive $1,094,052,411 from the State to be used for education. This is an increase of 4.9 percent from last year.
SB 676: Education Affordability Act of 2016
To help working families pay for their children’s higher education, the State will provide a matching fund as an incentive to begin a savings plan.
SB 794: Education - Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessments – Administration
This bill would require statewide kindergarten assessments to be limited to a representative sample of students from within the local school system.
SB 421: Special Education - Translations of Individualized Education Programs or Individualized Family Service Plans - Native Language
This legislation aims to help families navigate through the language barrier and meet the needs of their special education children by allowing them to request documents translated into the parent's native language, as long as that language is spoken by at least 1% of students in the local school system.
HB 1402: Education - Public School Opportunities Enhancement Act
To support educational programs, the State will provide $7.5 million annually in grants to local school systems, community schools, and nonprofit organizations with the purpose of creating extended and summer programs.
SB 481: Labor and Employment - Equal Pay for Equal Work
Currently, women make an average of 78 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men. SB 481 strengthens and expands equal pay for equal work laws in Maryland to all employers by ensuring that businesses do not penalize employees for discussing salaries.
SB 323: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Act – Reauthorization
With the rapid onslaught of climate change, it is imperative that our State act and continue to lead the country in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. SB 323 increases our State’s current greenhouse gas reduction goals to 40 percent by 2030.
SB 758: Food Stamp Program - Minimum Benefit - State Supplement
SB 758 requires Maryland to supplement the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), by ensuring households, with an individual who is at least 62 years old and receiving benefits under the food stamp program, receive a minimum benefit of $30 per month.
HB 340: Property Tax - Renters' Property Tax Relief Program
This bill provides relief for elderly and disabled renters from State and local real property taxes that are included in their rent.
SB 1007: Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program and Trust
This bill mandates that private sector employers offer a retirement savings plan or join the Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program and Trust.
HB 1013: Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016
HB 1013 brings greater transparency to the State's transportation funding process by creating a new system to objectively screen and rank the priority of transportation projects based on their anticipated benefits.
Purple Line Light Rail Project The Board of Public Works has approved the $5.6 billion and 16.2 mile project that stretches from New Carrollton to Bethesda. This project will attract more businesses in the area, boost property values, and offer about 40 thousand permanent and temporary jobs.
APPLY FOR SENATE SCHOLARSHIPS!
Do you know a high school senior or a college student from our community that is enrolled full time in a Maryland institute of higher education?
Let them know they may be eligible for a Maryland State Senatorial Scholarship. The student must be a District 47 resident and attend or expect to attend a college or university in Maryland in the fall of 2016. Scholarships can be used for either undergraduate or graduate study.
The application and all supporting documents are due on April 28, 2016. So let’s get those applications completed! Follow the link at the top to access the application.
Stay Connected with me!
As always, feel free to contact me by
Phone: (301) 858-3745 or
for any assistance or to voice your opinion on any matter before the Senate. I look forward to hearing from you as we advance the priorities of our community.
To learn more visit the Maryland Redistricting website.