Priority Bills Passing With Just One Week Left
With only a week before the session ends, several bills that UULM-MD considers to be priorities have already passed, and more are on their way to final passage. The successful measures include these bills headed to the Governor for signature:
State Song - SB 8 - Repeal of the musical monument to the Confederate cause Climate Change - HB 298 and SB 83 – Utility regulation - consideration of climate and labor impact Criminal Justice - HB 445 and SB 671 – Citations in lieu of arrest Healthcare - HB 1002 and SB 893 – Easy enrollment through unemployment applications LGBTQ+ - SB 220 - Hate Crimes – protected groups expanded to include gender identity
Close to Passage - The following bills are close to passage and need only a step or two:
HB 89 – Diminution credits for educational achievements by inmates – on 3rd reading in Senate, but floor amendments offered to delay effective date; if the amendments are rejected, final passage will occur today
HB 565 – Medical Debt Protection – Senate Committee to offer favorable report (no amendments) on 2nd reading today and could get final approval Tuesday
Need to Reconcile - In addition, the two chambers have decided on different versions of the following bills, and the two chambers will need to reconcile their differences before final passage:
SB 414 – Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 – House Committee has significant amendments to be offered on 2nd Reading soon – we oppose these amendments
HB 114 – Transit Safety and Investment Act – Senate Committee has amendments to be offered on 2nd Reading today
HB 768 – Community Choice Energy Pilot Program – Senate Committee has amendments to be offered on 2nd Reading today
Police Accountability – 9 Senate Bills - Passed Senate; HB 670 - Passed House and amended in Senate – Conference Committee appointed
Parole Reform – HB 3 - Passed House; SB 202 - Passed Senate and amended in House – Conference Committee appointed
HB 463 - Maryland Health Equity Resource Act - House has to accept or reject the Senate amendments
Awaiting Committee Vote - Finally, the following bills crossed over but are still awaiting action by the opposite chamber committee. We are asking these committees to call a vote and report them favorably without amendment:
Climate Change -
- HB 314 – Plastic Bag Reduction Act – in Senate Finance
Immigration - both in Senate Judicial Proceedings
Unfortunately, none of our priority bills for Economic Justice or Gun Violence Prevention have passed or are likely to pass in the coming week. At least the Gun Violence Task Force can claim one victory from the veto override early in the session of the Long Gun background check bill from 2020.
The General Assembly is also passing several election bills that will significantly expand access to voting. Maryland continues to go in the opposite direction than voter suppression. We will recap all of the important legislation once the dust settles after the session ends at midnight on April 12.
Last week, the Climate Solutions Now Act (SB 414) which passed the Senate was heard in the Environment and Transportation Committee in the House. Numerous amendments were added that "almost gutted the bill" according to Senator Pinsky, the Senate sponsor in this Maryland Matters report. The bill has yet to clear the Economic Matters Committee. Assuming that the bill makes it to the House floor and passes, the House and Senate Conference Committee will meet and reconcile to a single bill that will have to be passed by both Chambers.
In an opinion piece in last week's Maryland Matters by the co-leads Maryland Legislative Coalition, Climate Justice Wing, strongly support the Senate version of the Climate Solutions Now Act. We will be sending out a request to email your Delegates soon.
The Transportation Safety and Investment Act (HB 114) has passed both Chambers, in slightly different versions. The House and Senate are expected to reconcile the differences and each Chamber must approve that version.
The Utility Regulation - Consideration of Labor and Climate Act (SB 83 / HB 298) has passed both Chambers and is on the Governor's desk. This act requires the Public Service Commission to consider the impact of any decision on either Labor or Climate.
The Community Choice Energy - Pilot Act (HB 768) passed in the House and received a Favorable report with amendments by Finance last Friday. It is on 2nd reader in the Senate today. This bill will allow Montgomery County aggregate electrical requirements county-wide and negotiate with suppliers for low cost clean electricity.
The Plastic Bag Reduction Act (HB 314) has passed the House. The cross-filed Senate Bill (SB 223) is still in Committee. There has been no action.
The Sustainable Buildings Act (Bird Safe Building) (HB 236) passed in the House and was heard in the Senate committee this week.
Police Accountability Bills: The Senate passed nine (9) measures that made up their policing bills, and they were heard in the Judiciary Commitee on March 25th. The House has passed Speaker Jones' HB 670 incorporating provisions in all of the Senate bills. Both bills have been heard in the opposite chambers' committees and they are working to reconcile their differences in order for anything to pass. HB 670 is now in conference committee to work out the differences.
HB 445 / SB 671 - Citations - This bill would enable police officers to use a citation ticket in place of arrest for minor, non-violent offences. This bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
HB 3 / SB 202 - Lifers with Parole - This bill removes the Governor from signing off for those with life sentences to be paroled. HB 3 has passed the House and SB 202 and passed the the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee has now amended SB 202 to look like HB 3 and sent it to the House floor. Currently in Conference Committee. Each bill needs to pass the other chamber before it is ready to send to the Governor for his signature.
(HB 89 /SB 397) Correctional Education - Diminution Credits - This Bill recognizes long term educational accomplishments by awarding a block of diminutions credits which help reduce the length of sentence. The House and Senate have eached passed their bill, and the House bill is on 3rd reading in Senate, but floor amendments were offered to delay effective date; if the amendments are rejected, final passage will occur today.
HB 131 - Step-Down Program - Prohibits anyone from being released directly from prison to the community until after 6 month transition program is implemented. The bill is still in Committee.
Still no movement on HB 375 / SB 211 The Time to Care Act (Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Program Act. The bills have had hearings in both the Senate Finance and House of Delegates Economic Matters Committees. Neither committee has yet voted on the bill. Please use the links provided to contact your Senator and Delegate(s) to bring the bill to a vote.
This bill will provide the economic basis for all Marylanders to tend to their individual and family health needs through paid leave from work. In short, it provides time to care.
The bill provides for:
Up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family and medical reasons
Payments are 90% of pay for most workers and 50% for top 1/3 of earners.
Employers and employees jointly contribute to the insurance program
With the recent events in Colorado, Georgia, and California , attention is back on Gun Violenceg Prevention. Last weekend, we sent out email requests to our members who have representatives on the Judiciary and Judicial Proceedings Committee. But it looks like we won't have time to pass this bill.
HB 200 / SB 479 - Access to Firearms - Storage Requirements bill (Jaelynn’s Law), named in memory of a young grl who was killed at her high school by her ex-boyfriend who took the gun from his parents’ home.
However, the bill would also help prevent suicides and accidental shootings by children. According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, in 82% of youth suicides, the victim gained access to the firearm from a family member. It’s important to note suicide rates among children of color are skyrocketing. Research shows that the suicide rate is two times higher for black elementary school aged children compared with white children of the same age group. This bill would address this frightening trend.
Maryland Health Equity Resource Act (HERC)—
HB 463 / SB 172:
This program will address the poor health outcomes that contribute to racial, ethnic, disability, and geographic health inequities which are even more evident to Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation creates and funds services to underserved areas. The House passed HB 463 and the Senate passed SB 172 with amendments. The two versions have significant differences which must be reconciled before final passage.
Easy Enrollment Program - HB 1002 / SB 893:
This legislation would help unemployed Marylanders get connected with health coverage once they fill out their unemployment insurance forms. This provision was incorporated into overall bills SB 893 and HB 1002, Unemployment Insurance Revisions. Passed both chambers and sent to the Governor for signature.
The Medical Debt Protection Act - HB 565 / SB 514
This bill will require hospitals to demonstrate a good-faith effort to work with patients to develop realistic payment plans that reimburse hospitals without causing unnecessary stress for patients. Both chambers passed identical bills, except for a minor technical correction made in SB 514 that should be accepted by the House. The Senate Committee to offer favorable report (no amendments) on 2nd reading today and it could get final approval Tuesday.
Thank you for your continued commitment and perseverance during this legislative session. While HB 16, Dignity Not Detention and HB 23 MVA Data Privacy have passed the House and are now in the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee. SB 88, The Trust Act, has not been voted out of committee and we believe that efforts will be made to amend it into HB 16- Dignity Not Detention.
HB 16 / SB 478 -- Dignity Not Detention - prohibits state and local jurisdictions from contracting with U.S. ICE and private contractors for immigrant detention centers and terminates existing intergovernmental service agreements between ICE and Frederick, Howard and Worcester Counties. HB 16 Dignity Not Detention passed the House by a margin sufficient to override if the Governor vetoes.
HB 304 / SB 88 – The Maryland Trust Act a bill that limits state and local participation with federal immigration enforcement authorities and prohibits local law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status, notifying ICE, detaining immigrants and transferring them to ICE custody. The bill also requires the MD Attorney General to establish guidelines to protect immigrants at “sensitive locations” such as schools, courthouses and hospitals, the latter particularly important during the pandemic. We believe that an effort will be made to add the language from this bill into HB 16 and passed out of the Senate committee.
HB 23 / SB 234 – Data Privacy - The bill restricts federal access to state databases and the use of facial recognition software for immigration-related personal information without a judicial warrant.-House passed HB 23 and it is now in JPR.
Repealing our Shameful State Song!
The Repeal Bill (SB 8) has passed both chambers and is now on it's way to the Governor! Maryland is the only state in the country with a Confederate symbol for its State song. Its lyrics glorify Maryland’s shameful slave-holding history. This is the year that we will topple Maryland’s musical monument to the Confederacy and send a strong message that all are welcome in today’s Maryland.
Must See TV!!
Due to the pandemic, all of our advocacy will be of the virtual variety. However, you can still watch the committee hearings, which will be broadcast on YouTube. If you would like to watch the livestream you need to subscribe to the Committee You Tube Channel on the Committee Home Page on https://mgaleg.maryland.gov.
If you don't know who your Representatives are, you can use the Legislator Look Up from the Maryland General Assembly below to find out who they are and what Committees they are serving on.
Task Force Calendars
Each Task Force has it's own task force calendar, which will show when bills are up for committee or votes, lobby days, and our partner's events.
Please email your task force leader if you know of an event that we should add.