It’s a safe bet that the conflict of interest controversy over the University of Maryland Medical System doing business with members of its board of directors will suck up much of the energy in Annapolis as the General Assembly begins its two week sprint to adjournment at midnight April 8.
A House of Delegates committee heard testimony Friday on an emergency bill introduced by Speaker Mike Busch aimed at keeping board members from doing business with the medical system. And a Senate committee heard testimony on a similar bill from Baltimore Democrat Jill Carter two weeks ago. Both bills appear to have solid bi-partisan support.
In addition, the effort to keep the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown, at Pimlico in Baltimore probably will get a lot of attention as well.
Mayor Catherine Pugh and three former Baltimore mayors--Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Martin O’Malley and Kurt Schmoke—have been lobbying members of the Legislative Black Caucus to block a bill that would help the Stronach Group turn its Laurel Park course into a “super track” and move the Preakness there.
But a Gonzales poll paid for by the Maryland Jockey Club and released last week found lukewarm support at best statewide for keeping the race at the track in Park Heights.
And while all that’s going on, committees of both houses will hear testimony on bills that “crossed over” last Monday. Here is a partial listing of those hearings. In some cases, the committees will take testimony only from the sponsors of the bills as the chamber already has passed its version of the bill. Check the General Assembly’s website for details.
No hearings have been scheduled
The Finance Committee is to hear testimony on a House bill that would increase to $8 million the amount of tax credits the Motor Vehicle Administration can award for plug-in electric vehicles.
The Judicial Proceedings Committee has scheduled hearings on a House bill to cede control of the Baltimore City Police Department back to the Mayor and City Council. The state took over control of the department in 1860. The committee also has scheduled a hearing on a House bill to establish the Maryland Lynching Truth and reconciliation Commission.
The Appropriations Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, among them a Senate bill to require legislative audits of the Baltimore City Police Department every six years, starting in 2020. The House passed its version of that bill March 13.
The Health and Government Operations Committee is to take up a Senate bill requiring diaper changing stations in restrooms in public buildings. The House passed its version March 14.
The Ways and Means Committee has scheduled hearings on a Senate bill to prevent Baltimore City from selling properties to enforce liens for unpaid water and sewer bills. The House passed its version in February. The committee also will hear testimony on a Senate bill to allow voter registration at polling places.
The Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of Senate gun bills. One holds that people can’t be denied handgun permits simply because they have authority to use medical cannabis. Others would authorize preliminary approval of handgun permits to people who have not taken a firearms safety course, allow retired law enforcement officers to bypass the requirement for a gun safety training to get a firearms permit and one to tighten controls on firearms dealers.
The Budget and Taxation Committee is to hear testimony on a House bill requiring the state to spend $125 million a year on school construction. The Senate version is still in a Senate committee.
The Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on a House bill to create an opioid restitution fund.
The Judiciary Committee is to take up a Senate bill to rename the State Law Library for former Supreme court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The House version passed on March 18.
The Budget and Taxation Committee is to take up nearly a dozen housekeeping bills that make alterations in state and local pension systems as well as a house bill that would require the governor to appropriate $1.6 million a year for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and create a work group to study the orchestra’s fiscal issues and make recommendations.
The Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of local alcoholic beverage bills.
The Judicial Proceedings Committee is to take up a House bill that increases sentences for various drunken and drugged driving sentences by as much as five and 10 years.
No hearings are scheduled
For more details go to: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmHearingSchedule.aspx?pid=2&View=Day&tab=subject2