It’s Crossover Day!
Early in my career advocating/lobbying for nonprofits in Annapolis, I heard a saying that has stuck with me: “There are millions of ways to kill a bill, only one way to pass it.” This refers to the fact that every bill must survive every stage of a defined process in order to become law. There are no shortcuts, and you have to pass every milestone – and do so before the 90-day session runs out.
At this point in the session (3 weeks to go), a lot of people have misconceptions about what has to happen with our priority bills. For example, when the same bill is introduced in both the House and Senate, it is not enough that each house pass its version of the bill. One bill has to be passed by both houses with exactly the same wording in order to be sent to the Governor for signature. However, both bills do not need to pass; one will do (even though our legislators often pass both as a courtesy to give both the House and Senate sponsors credit for passage.
What happens if a bill misses a deadline?
Today is the official “crossover date,” the day by which any bill is supposed to cross over from its house of origin to the other house. Does this mean that any bill that misses the crossover is dead? No, but it makes it more difficult to pass. Any bill received by the other house after today will be referred to the chamber’s Rules Committee instead of its normal standing committee. The Rules Committee would then need to re-refer the bill to the standing committee before it could be considered. While not an insurmountable barrier, it at least causes a delay, and the end of the session is in sight. The receiving chamber’s standing committee would then need to hold a hearing and vote on the bill. For any bill that was cross-filed and the companion bill was already heard by the committee, the hearing will be more of a formality. But any non-cross-filed bill will be heard for the first time, creating further delay. Since the clock is such an important factor in the last three weeks, any delay can scuttle a bill.
Many of our priority bills have passed or are passing from one chamber to the other, so we are optimistic that many will pass before the General Assembly adjourns Sine Die at midnight on April 12. Let’s keep up the great work contacting lawmakers that many UUs have done so far.
Stephen Buckingham, UULM-MD Chair
Bill Passing 101
As our state lawmakers have been scrambling to pass their legislation before Crossover day, let's take a minute and explain the process.
Every bill gets 3 readings on the chamber (House or Senate) floor:
- First reader - when the bill is introduced and is referred to a standing committee that handles its particular subject. The Committee holds a public hearing on the bill, and the Chair schedules a voting session when there appears to be enough support on the committee. During the voting session, amendments may be offered for adoption or rejection. Then they vote on the bill. If the committee gives the bill a “Favorable Report,” it goes back to the Chamber, along with any amendments they have adopted.
- Second reader - Once the bill is reported out of Committee, any committee amendments are adopted, and the chamber adopts the committee's favorable report, then they consider any amendments from the floor. If the bill passes the chamber on Second reader, the bill is ordered reprinted for Third reader (incorporating any approved amendments).
- Third reader (and final passage in the chamber) - no amendments are allowed at this time in the house of origin; just an up or down vote. Amendments are also allowed in the opposite chamber on Third reader.
- First reader in the other chamber – If the opposite chamber changes the bill, it must go back to the original chamber to accept or reject the changes. If the chambers don’t agree, a conference committee must be appointed to work out a solution. In the waning days of a session, having a bill “go to conference” can result in failure for lack of time.
After a bill passes in one of the chambers of the General Assembly, it then goes through the same procedure in the other Chamber. Both chambers have to pass the exact same bill and then the bill goes to the Governor, who has until the end of May to sign the bill into a law, let the bill become a law without his signature or veto the law.
If the Governor vetoes the law, and the General Assembly is still in session, both chambers can override his veto with a 2/3 majority. If they are not in session, they will not be able to override the veto until the beginning of the next Legislative Session.
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 .
Must See TV!!
Due to the pandemic, all of our lobbying 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.
The Climate Solutions Now Act (SB 414) passed the Senate and was sent to the House. This would be a good time to thank your Senator if they voted in the affirmative! The cross-filed House (HB 583) bill has yet to be voted out of Committee. Watch for a targeted action by UULM-MD very early next week.
The Transportation Safety and Investment Act (HB 114 / SB 199) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. The Senate Bill was voted out of the Budget and Tax Committee this morning (Friday March 19th)!
The Utility Regulation - Consideration of Labor and Climate Act (SB 83 / HB 298) has passed both the Senate and the House. They each need to pass the other chamber before they are ready to send to the Governor for his signature. This act requires the Public Service Commission to consider the impact of any decision on either Labor or Climate.
The Plastic Bag Reduction Act (HB 314) passed the House and was sent to the Senate The cross-filed Senate Bill (SB 223) is still in Committee
The Community Choice Energy - Pilot Act (HB 768) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. This bill will allow Montgomery County aggregate electrical requirements county-wide and negotiate with suppliers for low cost clean electricity.
The Sustainable Buildings Act (Bird Safe Building) (HB 236) passed the House on Third Reader.
Police Accountability Bills: So far, the Senate passed 9 measures that made up their Accountability Bills, which will be heard in the Judiciary Commitee on Thursday, March 25th. The House had already passed Speaker Jones' Omnibus Police Accountability Bill and the Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear it soon.
HB 445 / SB 671 - Citations - has passed both chambers! They each need to pass the other chamber before they are ready to send to the Governor for his signature. This bill would enable police officer may use a citation ticket in place of arrest for minor -non-violent offences.
HB 3 / SB 202 - Lifers with Parole -(HB 3) has passed the House and SB 202 and passed the 3rd Reader in the Senate. They each need to pass the other chamber before they are ready to send to the Governor for his signature. - This bill removes the Governor from signing off for those with life sentence to have parole-
(HB 89 /SB 397) Correctional Education - Diminution Credits , Passed House and sent to the Senate. The Senate passed the Second Reader with Amendments and Third reader today. They each need to pass the other chamber before they are ready to send to the Governor for his signature. This Bill recognizes long term educational accomplishments by awarding a block of diminutions credits which help reduce the length of sentence.
HB 131 - Step-Down Program - Prohibits anyone from being released directly from prison to the community until after 6 month transition program is implemented.- 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 support the bill.
It is existing federal law (FLMA 1993) that employers must provide job-protected, unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. However, employees in lower paid jobs cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Ironically, it is most often the best paid workers whose employers provide paid leave as a benefit. 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
Thank you for making a difference by contacting your legislators. As you can see, your actions are getting results in what is a very intense session. Asking your legislators for support is great! UUs know how important it is to have legislators who care and support our principles. Contacting them to say how much you appreciate their actions means a great deal to them and not many people do this.
Maryland Health Equity Resource Act (HERC)—
HB 463/SB 172:
On March 19th, the House voted favorably with amendments on the bill with a vote of 127-3 . It has been referred to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. 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. Funding for SB 172 will be $14 million, but this funding is not permanent.
UULM-MD provided testimony in favor of these bills.
Easy Enrollment Program HB 1002/SB 893:
HB 1002 passed the House 95-40 on 3/18/21.
This legislation would help unemployed Marylanders get connected with health coverage when they fill out their unemployment insurance forms. This proposal is based on the success of legislation we supported in 2018 to have a box on the state income tax form for people to say they do not have health insurance and would like to hear from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. This proposal was incorporated into overall bills SB893 and HB1002, Unemployment Insurance Revisions.
UULM-MD provided testimony for HB 1002 and SB 893.
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.
UULM-MD provided testimony in favor of these bills. The House passed HB 565 on second reader on 3/20/21 with amendments. A hearing was held by the Senate Finance Committee on February 25 but no action has been taken.
There has not been movement in either of our priority bills. They have been introduced in both houses and had had their hearings in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Commitee and the House Judiciary Committee We sent out an email to our members who have a representative on the JPR or the Judicary Committees asking them to email their representatives and ask them to vote our bills out of Committee. If you did not receive this email, please click on the buttons below.
HB 200 / SB 479- Access to Firearms - Storage Requirements bill- Jaelynn’s Law, 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. 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.
HB 638 / SB 624- Public Safety - Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms - attempts to regulate the manufacture of untraceable and undetectable firearms by requiring a serial number and background check.
On Friday, the MD House of Delegates passed HB 16 / SB 478 -- Dignity Not Detention - that 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 / SB 478 Dignity Not Detention passed the House with a veto-proof majority, the Senate bill is still in Committee.
Last week, HB 23 / SB 234 – Data Privacy received a favorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and passed Second reader. Today it passed Third Reader and final passage in the House and is on to the Senate! The bill restricts federal access to state databases and the use of facial recognition software for immigration-related personal information without a judicial warrant.
This puts pressure on HB 304 / SB 88 – The Maryland Trust Act 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. It has been on the docket for the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, but has yet to come to a vote.
SB 317 / HB 750 - Universal Representation - Still in Committee.
Repeal our Shameful State Song!
The Repeal Bill (HB 667 / SB 8) has now passed through the House and the Senate. They each need to pass the other house before they are ready to send to the Governor for signature.
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. Let this be the year for us to topple Maryland’s musical monument to the Confederacy and send a strong message that all are welcome in today’s Maryland.
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.
Upcoming Hearings – Week of March 22nd, 2021
Key (Priority bills in Bold):
Tuesday, March 23
Senate Finance Committee – 1:30 p.m.
HB 768 - Montgomery County Delegation - Montgomery County - Community Choice
Energy - Pilot Program MC 17-21
Wednesday, March 24
House Judiciary Committee – 1:30 p.m.
SB 220 - Senator Hettleman - Criminal Law - Hate Crimes - Protected Groups and Penalties
Thursday, March 25
House Judiciary Committee – 1:30 p.m.
SB 71 - Senator Sydnor - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Body-Worn
SB 74 - Senator Washington - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Employee
Assistance Programs and Early Intervention Programs
SB 178 - Senator Carter- Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Personnel Records -
Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton's Law)
SB 419 - Senator Carter - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Search Warrants
SB 599 - Senator Smith - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Surplus Military
SB 600 - Senator Smith- Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Office of the State
Prosecutor - Investigation and Prosecution of Deaths Caused by Police Officers
SB 626 - Senator Carter - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Law Enforcement
Officers - Use of Force, Reporting, and Whistleblower Protections
SB 627 - Senator Carter - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Law Enforcement
Officer's Bill of Rights - Repeal and Procedures for Discipline
SB 786 - Senator McCray - Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Baltimore City -
Control of the Police Department of Baltimore City
The above bills will be compared to HB 670 passed by the House in order to reconcile the
differences between the House and Senate versions of Police Accountability legislation.