Maryland General Assembly 2020 | WYPR

Maryland General Assembly 2020

Credit Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Find WYPR stories from the 441st session of the Maryland General Assembly below. The session runs from January 8-April 6, 2020. 

Track bills at mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite

Follow WYPR's State Government and Politics Reporter on Twitter: @RachelBaye 

Rachel Baye

Maryland officials announced on Friday that they are expecting a $2.8-billion drop in revenues for the three months that end June 30. In response, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a state budget and hiring freeze.

Karen Hosler

The Maryland General Assembly’s abrupt departure this week from its annual session obscured the end of another, gentler era.  Mike Miller, who guided the Senate for 33 years before stepping down to join the newcomers in the back benches, was missing.

Miller, who has prostate cancer, had been hospitalized a week earlier complaining of pains.

Now, current and former members are remembering their times with him on the rostrum.

Rachel Baye/WYPR


 The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its annual 90-day legislative session on Wednesday, 19 days early as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time since the Civil War that the legislature cut its time in Annapolis short.

Patrick Semansky / AP


  As state lawmakers hurdle toward an early end to the legislative session, lawmakers passed two bills on Tuesday that aim to help Baltimore with its crime-fighting efforts.

Rachel Baye


The state Senate passed two changes to the sales tax on Tuesday night. One of the bills extends the sales tax to digital products, such as e-books and streaming services. The other raises taxes on tobacco products.

Rachel Baye

A sweeping overhaul of Maryland’s public school system is one step closer to fruition after the state Senate passed it Monday night. The changes came out of what’s known as the Kirwan Commission, a state panel that spent three years developing recommendations for making Maryland’s schools globally competitive.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate voted Monday to pass a bill that aims to provide some relief to residents from some of the effects of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Joel McCord

For the first time since the Civil War, Maryland’s General Assembly is going home early. Legislative leaders announced Sunday they are ending the session March 18 because of increasing threats of the novel coronavirus.

In an afternoon news conference Senate President Bill Ferguson said the threat of the virus has become critical.

Rachel Baye/WYPR

  Gov. Larry Hogan has announced several drastic actions aimed at mitigating what experts say is the inevitable spread of the novel Coronavirus in Maryland. Among these, the state is closing public schools for two weeks, activating the National Guard, and closing the Port of Baltimore to cruise ships.

 

The measures were prompted by the news that Maryland has its first confirmed case of community-transmitted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new Coronavirus. The infected person, a Prince George’s County resident, has no known exposure to the virus through travel or another infected person.

Rachel Baye

A landmark state education reform bill cleared a key hurdle Wednesday night as it passed out of two Senate committees.

The bill reflects the recommendations of what’s known as the Kirwan Commission, a state panel that spent three years studying how to make Maryland’s schools globally competitive.

But on Wednesday, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee added what one member called an “escape hatch” that could reverse the changes after five years.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers are considering applying the state’s 6% sales tax to digital products, such as e-books and streaming services. The House is expected to hold an initial vote on the bill Wednesday.

The bill’s sponsors say it isn’t a new tax. Rather, they say they are attempting to modernize the existing sales tax to be more fair to sellers of tangible and digital goods alike.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The House voted Tuesday to pass a bill barring landlords and anyone selling a home from discriminating against a prospective tenant or buyer based on their source of income.

The Senate already passed the bill last month. The bill passed both chambers mostly along party lines but with veto-proof majorities.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan has created a Coronavirus response team, made up of public health and emergency management experts, he announced at a press conference Monday. The group will meet for the first time Tuesday.

MD GovPics/Jay Baker

Lawmakers couldn’t agree last year on how to keep the Preakness Stakes horse race from leaving Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore. But on Friday, the state Senate approved a new plan nearly unanimously and without debate.

Rachel Baye

The farm in Delmar where April Ferrell grew up and still lives is surrounded by chicken farms. 

Sitting on a golf cart in her yard, Ferrell indicated the lot next door, where she said her parents built two small chicken houses in the 1980s. Then she pointed in the other direction, across the street, where four newer, 600-foot-long chicken houses were visible.

According to data from the Maryland Department of the Environment, that farm across the street — what’s known as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO — has about 47,000 chickens at a time. 

Wikimedia Commons

A 13-year-old boy in the custody of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services was admitted to an inpatient psychiatric hospital in September 2018. About two weeks later, an administrative law judge ruled that there was no medical reason for him to stay there. But Social Services didn’t pick him up for nearly four more months.

A similar thing happened to a 14-year-old boy in the custody of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services in October 2018 and to a 14-year-old girl in the custody of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services in January 2019, according to data provided by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, which represents children in this situation,

And there are dozens more children in Maryland’s foster care system with similar stories. They spend weeks, sometimes months, in psychiatric hospitals after doctors and even judges say they no longer need to be there because local Department of Social Services, or DSS, workers say they have nowhere else for them to go.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File

A plan to redevelop the historic Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore and Laurel Park racetrack in Anne Arundel County is making its way through the General Assembly. One of the main objectives of the plan is to keep the nearly 150-year-old Preakness Stakes horse race in Baltimore.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of this week attacking the Democrat-led General Assembly for not advancing his bills aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore. On Thursday, Democratic leaders fought back.

Hogan’s latest comments came during a press conference Thursday. He accused legislators of ignoring a “crisis” in Baltimore by not voting his crime package out of committee.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers have proposed a new sales tax on professional services as a way to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s recommended school system overhaul.

Under the bill introduced Thursday, services ranging from lawyers to contractors to haircuts would be taxed at 5%. The existing sales tax on tangible goods would be cut from 6% to 5%.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers began work Monday on a highly anticipated package of sweeping education reforms that reflects recommendations by the Kirwan Commission. Hundreds of teachers, activists and local government officials came to Annapolis to testify or show their support for the bill.

John Lee

A highly anticipated effort to boost state spending on school construction and renovation projects passed with an overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates Friday. The bill would add $2.2 billion dollars to the state’s existing school construction funding over five years.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

Editor's Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

Under current law, Maryland generally protects people from being prosecuted for sexual assault or rape if the victim is the attacker’s spouse. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would repeal this so-called “spousal defense.”

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers are considering legislation that is designed to limit local enforcement of federal immigration laws. Members of the House Judiciary Committee heard from supporters and opponents of the bills at a heated hearing Tuesday in Annapolis.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


When Democrat Kweisi Mfume won Tuesday’s special primary election to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, he became the presumptive winner of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings’ seat — even though there’s also a Republican nominee for the seat and less than a fifth of the district’s voters cast a ballot. Political analysts say that’s in part because Maryland’s congressional districts are designed to give Democrats an outsized advantage. 

 

Creating a nonpartisan process for drawing the districts has been a priority for Gov. Larry Hogan since early on in his first term, but his continued calls for action appear likely to be ignored for yet another legislative session.

Rachel Baye


  In his annual State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged the members of the General Assembly to address Baltimore’s soaring crime rates, calling them an “urgent crisis.” 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override five vetoes the governor issued last year. One of these laws prohibits employers with at least 15 workers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after an in-person interview.

Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun


Former state Del. Cheryl Glenn pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal bribery and wire fraud charges. Prosecutors say she accepted more than $33,000 in exchange for political favors. 

Rachel Baye


  Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to release on Wednesday a proposed $47.9-billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Hogan told reporters on Tuesday that the budget includes money for initiatives intended to reduce crime in Baltimore, though he had not yet released the full budget for the public or lawmakers to review.

publicdomainpictures.net

On Wednesday, January 8, the 2020 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis.  For the next 90 days, state lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the Senate will be deliberating over a daunting array of legislative measures, addressing everything from education reform to transportation initiatives, health care, crime reduction, ethics reform, and much, much more. 

On Tuesday, Midday's Tom Hall spoke with the Assembly’s new leadersSenate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones.  Yesterday, we talked about the session’s number one legislative priority, funding major reforms in education, with two former County Executives...

Today, Tom focuses on some other matters that Maryland lawmakers will take up this year.  Later this hour, he's joined by WYPR State House reporter Rachel Baye and Josh Kurtz, co-founder and editor of Maryland Matters.

But he begins with Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., the newly appointed Chief Legislative Officer for Governor Larry Hogan.   Mr. Mitchell, a Baltimore native, served previously as Gov. Hogan’s senior advisor. He is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Baltimore City Council.  Keiffer Mitchell joins Tom on the line from his office in Annapolis. 

Rachel Baye


The General Assembly kicked off its 441st legislative session on Wednesday with new people leading both the Senate and the House of Delegates. That hasn’t happened for 33 years — since outgoing Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. first stepped into the role. 

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