Much of the action in Annapolis this week moves to the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis. Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day--March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration.
In addition, legislative leaders are trying to get some of the more controversial bills, like the minimum wage increase, to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk in time for a potential veto override vote before March 29. That’s the date Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat and Naval Reserve officer, leaves to deploy to Afghanistan.
With that in mind, here is a partial listing of committee hearings and other items of interest in Annapolis this week.
Executive Nominations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the governor’s nomination of Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio to be Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, as well as his appointments to the District Court bench in several counties and to positions in other state agencies.
Rules and Executive Nominations Committee has scheduled hearings on several bills to take Congressional redistricting out of the hands of the General Assembly redistricting and give it to an independent commission.
Budget and Taxation Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one that would require the governor to budget a certain amount of money annually for school maintenance.
Finance Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills that would expand Maryland’s renewable energy efforts
Appropriations Committee has scheduled hearings on several bills, including the House version of one that would require the governor to budget a certain amount of money annually for school maintenance.
Economic Matters Committee takes up a bill that would allow individual counties to set minimum hourly wage rates.
Health and Government Operations Committee takes up the House version of the bill that would require diaper changing facilities in public restrooms in certain public buildings and places of public accommodation.
Finance Committee takes up Maryland’s version of the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” to buy health insurance. It allows taxpayers to treat the fine as a down payment on a health insurance plan.
Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one that would require public schools to teach lessons on Harriett Tubman and Fredeerick Douglass during Black History Month.
Judiciary Committee takes up several bills aimed at legalizing marijuana, including an amendment to the state constitution that would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and older.
Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee has scheduled hearings on bills to designate the long-tailed salamander the state amphibian and the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company as the state’ classical theater as well as several creating commemorative days, including Caribbean Day, Post Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day, Pongal Day in honor of the harvest in southern India as well as Sri Lanka and Freedom of the Press Day in honor of the five journalists murdered at the Annapolis Capital last June.
Judicial Proceedings Committee takes up a bill aimed at restoring some control of the Baltimore City Police Department to the city.
Health and Government Operations Committee takes up the House version of a bill that would prohibit health insurance companies from changing the formulary on prescription plans in the middle of a plan year.
Health and Government Operations Committee takes up a number of bills aimed at restricting abortion in Maryland, including one that requires a 24-hour waiting period, one that criminalizes abortion after eight weeks and one that requires doctors, hospitals or other institutions performing abortions to file reports on each one, including information on the age, race, marital status of the patient and the reason for seeking the abortion.