This Week in Annapolis: Feb. 25—March 1, 2019
Maryland’s General Assembly steamed past the halfway point in its 90-day session last week and things are starting to get serious in Annapolis. This week, one committee takes up Maryland’s own version of the Affordable Care Act.
Others will take up bills to tighten some gun control laws and ease others, changes to Maryland’s medical marijuana program, bills to expand voter registration, an effort to get Exelon to help pay for cleaning up when that mess that’s behind the Conowingo Dam comes pouring through the flood gates.
Here is a partial listing of committee hearings and other items of interest in Annapolis this week.
No Senate hearings on Monday
Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee have scheduled hearings on budgets for various state departments and agencies, including the Department of the Environment, the Maryland Insurance Administration, the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration and the University of Maryland campuses at College Park and Baltimore.
The Judiciary Committee takes up a number of gun related bills, including a ban on 3-D guns, a bill to ease requirements for a concealed carry permit, one to allow someone without or without a permit to carry a gun in church with the permission of church officials and one requiring public schools to have armed resource officers.
Rules and Executive Nominations Committee has scheduled hearings to decide whether to allow bills that were filed after the deadline to be considered. They include one on workplace bullying, two that would require both houses of the General Assembly as well as standing committees to make available live video streams of their meetings, one to recognize exposure to pornography as a public health risk and a resolution that says Exelon, which owns Conowingo Dam should pay a portion of clean-up costs after floods.
Budget and Taxation Committee takes up a number of bills, including one to expand minority business opportunities in the state’s slot machines and one to establish an Opportunity Zone Program to encourage business investment in poor neighborhoods.
Finance Committee takes up several bills, including one to expand tax breaks for 911 operators and one to expand the number of groups eligible for tourism grants
Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee takes up several bills, including one authorizing Pharmacists to give shots under certain circumstances and one establishing a fund for the development of public charter schools.
Judicial Proceedings Committee takes up a host of bills involving medical marijuana, including one that would forbid medical marijuana use in jails. Another would prevent someone with a medical marijuana permit from being turned down for a fire arms permit, and several would make changes in the operations of the state’s medical marijuana commission.
Appropriations Committee takes up a number of bills that would alter the state prescription drug benefit program for retirees as well as one establishing a fund for the development of public charter schools.
Economic Matters Committee has scheduled hearings on more than a half dozen bills involving Workers Compensation issues, including two that would expand the number of diseases considered occupational diseases.
Health and Government Operations Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one to create a state commission on African American history, one to prohibit the state with doing business with certain Russians and one to require placing a statue of former President Barack Obama on the State House grounds.
Ways and Means Committee is to take up a number of election related bills, including one that would require online platforms to prevent anonymous political ads from foreign sources, one to expand online voter registration and one that requires candidates for President and Vice President to file their federal income tax returns with the state Board of Elections to get on the ballot in Maryland.
Judiciary Committee studies a number of housekeeping bills as well as one that would require anyone sentenced to a life term to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.
Budget and Taxation Committee has scheduled hearings on several bills that would create income tax breaks for certain people and one to establish a $125 million-a-year school construction fund.
Finance Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one that would forbid the state from building toll roads without the consent of the majority of the counties affected and one to restrict the ability of insurance companies to increase rates for long term care policies.
Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee takes up several oyster related bills, including one to create oyster sanctuaries in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries and two that would require studies of oyster management plans as well as a bill to ban the use of insecticides that contain chlorpyrifos.
Judicial Proceedings Committee takes up a number of gun related bills, including one to allow law enforcement agencies in five Western Maryland counties to sell confiscated guns to a federally licensed firearms dealer and one that bans 3-D guns and ghost gun.
Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee have scheduled hearings on budgets for a number of state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Energy Administration, the Public Defender’s Office, the Maryland Tax Court and the Department of Corrections.
Ways and Means Committee takes up a number of tax related bills, including one that would exempt bottled water and diapers from sales tax.
Environment and Transportation Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one that would make it a crime to leave a dog outside and unattended on a hot day for more than 30 minutes and one that would require Exelon, the owners of Conowingo Dam to clean up some of the debris and sediment trapped behind the dam.
Judiciary Committee takes up a number of drunken driving bills, including one that would increase the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter from 15 to 20 years as well as a bill requiring the state to compensate someone wrongly convicted and jailed at least $50,000 for every year that person spent behind bars.
Finance Committee has scheduled hearings on a number of bills, including one to require hospital administrators to provide translators for patients who need them and to conspicuously post a patient’s bill of rights on the hospital website and around the building, a bill that would prohibit the sale of individual cigarettes in Baltimore City and one that would require the state health department to develop a plan to increase access to programs that would prevent veterans’ suicides.
Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee takes up a number of bills aimed at fixing Maryland’s gerrymandering issues. One creates a Congressional Redistricting Commission, taking the drawing of election districts out of the hands of the legislature. Two others involve state Constitutional Amendments. One would create single member House of Delegates districts rather than the current mix of three, two, and single member districts as well as create the redistricting commission. The other would require that Maryland’s Congressional districts meet certain requirements for respecting natural boundaries and political subdivision boundaries.
Among the bills the Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to take up is one that would require employers to make accommodations for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Appropriations Committee takes up a number of school construction financing bills, including one that creates a $125 million a year fund for school construction and a bill to create a scholarship fund that would award some students up to $10,000 a year toward tuition at state schools.
Economic Matters Committee has scheduled hearings on several bills including one to prohibit auto insurance carriers from discriminating against a customer based on his address .
Health and Government Operations Committee takes up Maryland’s versions 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.
Ways and Means Committee takes up a bill to eliminate the President’s Day and Easter Monday holidays from school calendars.
Environment and Transportation Committee is to take up is one that would prohibit the construction of a Magnetic Levitation transit project without the consent of the governing bodies of a majority of the affected counties.
Subcommittees of the Budget and Taxation Committee have scheduled hearings on various state agency budgets, including the Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Energy Administration.
Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a voting session, though the bills the chairman plans to vote on have not been posted.
Ways and Means Committee will take up a number of bills, including one to allow bingo games with cash prizes at senior centers and one to require schools to provide help for students with limited English skills.
Environment and Transportation Committee takes up a number of bills, including one to establish a hemp farming program and a hemp farming fund in Maryland and other that would prohibit the Motor Vehicle Administration from charging active duty military members a fee for new certificates of title for vehicles.
Judiciary Committee takes up several bills, one of which would allow television cameras in courtrooms during criminal sentencings.
For more details go to: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmHearingSchedule.aspx?pid=2&View=Day&tab=subject2