2017 Legislative Wrap Up

April 18, 2017

 

Thank you for the opportunity to represent the 11th  district in the Maryland General Assembly. The 2017 legislative session, that included the introduction of more than 2,800 bills, came to an end at midnight on April 10th. I appreciate that so many of you shared your thoughts and concerns with my office over these past 90 days. I’ve responded to more than 2,626 constituent emails this session and met with many of you who visited in person! I am honored to represent the 11th district and it is my hope that this letter will highlight many of the issues the General Assembly discussed and debated this session. Please let me know if you would like any additional information or if you would like to sign up to receive our email updates.

 

Operating Budget

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I spend a lot of time considering the state’s $43.5 billion budget.  Under the Maryland Constitution, the General Assembly must pass a balanced budget. The FY’18 budget achieves structural balance and preserves nearly $1 billion in cash resources in the Rainy Day Fund and general fund without raising any new taxes or fees. The general fund balance exceeds the Spending Affordability Committee goal of $100 million. The 2018 budget will:

  • Maintain the state’s commitment to public schools by providing over $6.4 billion. Our local school system will get a 3.2% increase in funding to $841 million.  The budget fully funds the school formulas and addresses the challenges of school systems facing declining enrollment.  Aid to Maryland public colleges and universities will grow by $32 million and cap tuition growth at 2%. Community colleges that limit tuition growth to 2% will share $4 million in incentive funds.
  • Continue Vital Health Care Services by providing $10 billion in Medicaid funding to almost 1.4 million residents. Expenditures grow by $151 million to support enrollment and provider rate increases. A $6.6 million increase in dedicated funding in response to the opioid epidemic.
  • Fund Rate Increases for Providers Serving Children and Vulnerable Adults with a 3.5% rate increase for providers serving the developmentally disabled. Rate increases are 2% for most other health and human service providers.

 

Capital Budget

 

The capital budget provides funding for the construction, planning, renovation and building for state facilities, such as hospitals, school construction, higher education institutions, and parks. The capital budget stayed within the Spending Affordability Committee’s limit of $1.1 billion. The capital budget is a good job creation tool, creating and maintaining thousands of direct and indirect jobs, leveraging roughly $1.5 billion of local and private funds. In addition to the $280 million in school construction, it will also provide an additional $60 million for school construction to districts with growing enrollments, of which over $12 million will go to Baltimore County. This is in addition to over $30 million in school construction funds for Baltimore County in the capital improvement program.

 

Del. Hettleman, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Del. Dan Morhaim & Del. Dana Stein’s Local Initiatives

District 11 is a diverse community that has a variety of capital needs. Although the Governor did not include funds for local projects in his budget, the General Assembly recognizes their importance and we fought for and obtained funding for the following projects that must match state funding:

  • Site development of Rosewood, which will receive $5 million, as long as Stevenson University matches it, for environmental abatement and infrastructure improvements. There is also preauthorization of $5 million in each of the next two fiscal years.
  • Jewish Teen Advancement Program (JTAP) will receive $100,000 for improvements to a home they purchased for a mentoring program for at-risk teen girls in the community.
  • Ner Israel Rabbinical College will receive $190,000 for renovations to emergency generators.
  • Bais Yaakov will receive $100,000 for capital improvements to the middle school

 

Shelly’s Legislative Initiatives

Expanding Access to Contraception (HB 613) – This bill expands access to contraception by enabling pharmacists to prescribe certain forms of self-administered contraception (i.e. the pill, patch, and ring). Annually in Maryland, 58% of pregnancies are unplanned. This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Protecting Vulnerable Older Adults (HB 498– Health Care Decisions Act -- This bill will prevent abusers from acting as health care agents or surrogate health care decision makers for a patient. The bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Sexual Assault Kit Preservation (HB 255– This bill mandates that law enforcement agencies retain sexual assault examination kits (SAEKs) and other evidence for 20 years and requires they notify a sexual assault survivor before their kit will be destroyed. The bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Maryland Farms and Families (HB 586) – Approximately 760,300 Maryland residents are food insecure – nearly 1 in 8 households. This bill will increase the purchasing power of residents who use public food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC while increasing revenues for farmers. It will help leverage federal benefits for both Maryland families and Maryland farmers. The bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Student Loan Notification bill (HB 509) – The bill will require Maryland colleges and universities to provide students with an annual notice of how much they have accrued in federal student loans. This transparency will keep students aware of their debt and enable them to make smart financial decisions regarding their education. The bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Testing Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (SAEKs) (HB 1076) – Maryland currently has 3,700 untested rape kits. This bill would have required law enforcement agencies to submit SAEKs to a forensic laboratory and for an analysis to be conducted within 150 days. Unfortunately, this bill did not make it out of the Judiciary Committee, but it has been covered widely in the news. I plan to introduce it again next session.

Pay Equity for Forensic Scientists (HB776) – There are times when bills do not need to be enacted to spur action. We deeply appreciate that the Department of Budget and Management agreed to correct an anomaly in the pay of a certain class of forensic scientists in the Maryland State Police Laboratory.

 

Protecting Maryland from Harmful Federal Policies

HB 1083 - MD is the first state in the nation to protect access to cancer screenings, contraceptives and sexually transmitted infection testing in the face of federal cuts to Planned Parenthood. This bill became law without the Governor's signature.
HJ 9 - Expressed our opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which enabled 430,000 Marylanders to have access to health insurance.
HJ 3 - Enabled Attorney General Brian Frosh to join 41 other state attorneys general in exercising his power to act independently from the Governor to defend Maryland's interests.
HJ 2 - Rescinded all four of MD's calls for a constitutional convention, for fears that a convention could run amok. It takes 34 states to call a convention and 38 to ratify any changes to the Constitution. With MD's withdrawal, 28 are on record as having called for a convention.
HJ 10 - Expresses our opposition to drastic cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program and requires monitoring/recommendations regarding federal budget changes to the Bay.
HB 1134 - Establishes a commission to assess the impact of potential changes to federal financial industry laws and regulations.
SB 1034 - Establishes a minimum level of funding for Maryland Public Television and requires the Governor to appropriate additional funding should there be cuts.
SB 1200 - Internet Consumer Privacy Rights Act - would have prohibited Internet Service Providers from selling consumer information. Unfortunately, the bill died in committee.

 

Environment 

  • Fracking (HB 1325– We passed a permanent ban on hydraulic fracking. The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin. I am very pleased the Governor signed into law this new protection for our environment.
  • Cownose Ray Fishing Tournaments – HB 211 prevents catching or killing the rays for entertainment purposes. This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.  
  • Forest Conservation Act (FCA) (HB 599) – The FCA, which minimized the forested land that can be cleared and increased the acreage that must be planted, was enacted in 1991. HB 599, examining how best to protect our trees, was not enacted but will be studied over the summer.
  • Sewage Management – We passed HB 1045 which encourages the use of newer technology in nonresidential sewage disposal systems that will help reduce pollution to our waterways. This bill passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.
  • Oyster Sanctuaries (HB 924) – Promotes the health of the Bay by preventing the Department of Natural Resources from reducing or altering existing oyster sanctuaries until they develop a management plan for the oyster stockThe bill became law without the Governor’s signature.
  • Energy Efficiency Programs – I co-sponsored HB 514, which requires electric companies to make energy efficiency and conservation programs available to their customers. This bill passed both chambers and became law without the Governor’s signature.


 Education

  • BOOST – The Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program (included in the Operating Budget) provides $5.5 million of scholarships to help low-income students attend non-public schools, helping many District 11 families afford the education that best fits their needs.
  • Protect Our Schools Act (HB 978) – Sets guidelines for Maryland’s implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Shifts the focus away from standardized test performance, and measures other factors like class size, curricular design, teacher qualifications, etc. This bill was vetoed by the Governor but was later overridden by the General Assembly.
  • Less Testing, More Learning Act (HB 461) – Requires the State Board of Education to adopt regulations to limit the amount of time that is spent on mandated testing. It also requires the Board to develop a middle school social studies assessment, and to redesign the high school assessment. This bill has been sent to the Governor.
  • Ban the Box (HB 694)  – Prevents colleges from requiring applicants’ criminal history on admissions applications or using it as a factor in the admission process. The bill has been sent to the Governor.
  • Scholarship Displacement College Financial Aid – HB 266, introduced by Del. Dana Stein, impacts the ability of public universities to alter students’ institutional financial aid awards as a result of private scholarships. Institutional aid may be reduced only until the student’s total financial aid no longer exceeds their demonstrated need or their cost of attendance. This bill passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.
  • Expanding School Breakfast – Over 45,000 low income students will benefit from this expansion and schools with more than 40% of low income students will be able to access federal funds to provide free meals.

 

Public Safety/Criminal Justice 

  • Protecting Facilities at Risk of Hate Crimes (HB 1661) – Authorizes the Maryland Center for School Safety to make grants for certain security-related projects to schools and child care centers at risk for hate crimes.
  • Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones (HB 159) – Would help keep college students safe by creating a uniform policy that no individual, other than a police officer or security officer, may possess a gun on a public college, university, or community college campus. This bill died in conference committee.
  • Sexual Offense – Physical Resistance (HB 429) – Ensures that evidence of physical resistance is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed. This bill passed and was sent to the Governor.
  • Parole Reform (HB 723) – Eliminates the requirement for the Governor to personally approve parole for those serving parole-eligible life sentences. This bill passed the House but died in the Senate.
  • Funding Rape Crisis Centers (HB 1209/SB 734) – Expands funding to rape crisis centers and creates a rape kit policy and oversight system.
  • Bail/Pretrial Reform – I was one of five legislators who wrote to the Attorney General asking whether our current bail system was constitutional. The AG opined that it likely was not, which resulted in the Court of Appeals creating a new court rule requiring judges to use the least restrictive means of ensuring that someone would appear at trial. There were a number of bills regarding bail and I supported enabling the rule to take effect this July, which will take place.
  • Family Law- Child Conceived Without consent - Termination of Parental Rights (Rape Survivor Family Protection Act) (HB 428– Authorizes courts to terminate the parental rights of individuals who are found to have committed nonconsensual sexual conduct against another person, resulting in conception of a child. Unfortunately, this bill died in conference committee.

 

Other Important Issues

  • Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HB 1) – Workers who are sick shouldn’t have to choose between taking care of themselves or a loved one and keeping their job. This bill requires employers with 15 or more employees to permit workers to earn paid sick or safe leave. I am pleased that we were able to address some specialized concerns of businesses in the district. I am a proud cosponsor of this bill and has been sent to the Governor.
  • Public Integrity Act of 2017 (HB 879–  Revises ethics rules for State elected officials, public officials, and lobbyists by expanding conflict of interest rules, disclosure and reporting rules. This bill passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.
  • Redistricting Reform (SB 1023) – Establishes the Mid-Atlantic Regional Compact with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina to create bi-partisan redistricting commissions. This bill passed both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.
  • Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017 (HB 1329) – Delegate Dan Morhaim was appointed to the House Opioid Work Group which developed a comprehensive and innovative public health approach to the substance abuse and overdose death crisis. HB 1329 will provide additional resources, like crisis treatment centers, to combat the opioid crisis. This bill has been sent to the Governor.
  • Foreclosure Protection – We passed a number of bills to help communities with high foreclosure rates recover from the housing crisis.
  • Richard E Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act (HB 370) – Would have provided terminally ill individuals with an option to end one’s life after multiple consultations with a physician. I was a cosponsor of this bill, but it died in committee.
  • More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017 (HB 394/SB317) – This bill establishes tax incentives for businesses that employ apprentices and/or offer job skills enhancement training. It also makes scholarships available for students enrolled in job skills programs and promotes manufacturing jobs. This bill passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by the Governor.
  • The Home Act of 2017 (HB 172) – Prohibits landlords from discriminating on the basis of source of income by enabling Maryland veterans, the disabled and those of limited means to use public subsidies to choose neighborhoods that fit their means and family needs. The bill passed the House but did not make it out of the Senate.
  • Maryland Breweries (HB 1283– Increases the amount of beer that all of Maryland’s breweries can serve and allows Guinness to open their only brewery in the United States in Baltimore County. The bill also provides existing breweries with flexibility to grow.
  • BDS Legislation (HB 949– The legislation would have prevented companies that participate in the movement to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel from securing procurement contracts with the State of Maryland. It would have also prevented the state’s pension fund from holding investments in companies that participate in BDS. I was a cosponsor of this bill, but unfortunately, it did not make it out of committee. 
  • MD Law Enforcement/Governmental Trust (HB 1362) – The Trust Act clarifies the roles of local, state, and federal law enforcement in immigration enforcement. It also prohibits the creation of a Muslim registry, makes clear that someone cannot be stopped solely on the basis of inquiring about their immigration status and enables law enforcement to detain someone if a warrant has been issued by immigration authorities. This bill passed in the House but it did not make it out of the Senate.
  • Hometown Heroes (HB 100) – This bill provides a $15,000 income tax deduction on the retirement income of law enforcement, fire, rescue and EMS personnel who are 55 and above. This bill passed in both chambers and has been sent to the Governor.
  • MTA Farebox Recovery Rate – Repeal (HB 271) – This bill repeals the requirement that the MTA must recover at least 35% of its total operating costs from fares and other operating revenues. The farebox recovery mandate is an impediment to MTA’s success.
  • Medical Cannabis Commission Reform Act (HB 1443) – Would require the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission to conduct wide-ranging outreach to small, minority, and women business owners and entrepreneurs that may have an interest in applying for medical cannabis-related licenses. This bill died on the House floor shortly before we adjourned.Manufacturing Tax Credit (SB 317) – Provides $10 million of income, sales, and property tax credits to manufacturers who move into Maryland and create new jobs in areas with high unemployment. Existing manufacturers can claim the credit for new jobs as well as depreciation benefits for new equipment.
  • Preventing Price Gouging of Prescription Drugs (HB 631) – Authorizes the Attorney General to prevent the prescription drug price gouging of off-patent drugs and requires pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases.
  • Addressing the Opioid Crisis – Two comprehensive bills will address opioid addiction and prevention policy in K-12 schools, provide higher education facilities with overdose-reversing drugs and increase funding for behavioral health community providers. It also requires hospitals to establish a protocol for overdose patients.
  • Same Day Voter Registration (SB 423) – Asks voters to amend the Constitution to allow Election Day registration and voting, similar to what is currently permitted during Early Vote. Different versions of the bill were passed in the House and Senate and were not reconciled.

In the coming months, I hope to see many of you at community events throughout the 11th District and beyond.  As we transition from working in Annapolis back to Baltimore County for the interim, please let me and/or my Legislative Director, Maureen Evans Arthurs, know how we can help by calling 410-841-3833 or by emailing shelly.hettleman@house.state.md.us. I look forward to hearing from you and to continuing working hard for the 11th District! Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 


Shelly Hettleman
Delegate