The last 86 days have flown by and it’s hard to believe it’s already spring! Despite the fact that it still feels like winter, we only have 4 days until the end of session. By next Friday, my End of Session letter will be mailed to every constituent who contacted me this session (more than 1,100 so far) highlighting the outcome of important legislation. Since there are so many bills, we’re not able to update you on all of them. If there are any bills you have questions or comments about, please feel free to reach out to my office: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Annapolis (events are happening so quickly that committees may be acting on these bills before you read this)
Below are just a few of the topics we’ve received the most emails on this session:
Expanding Access to Voting
HB 532, Election Day Voter Registration, passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. This issue requires a Constitutional Amendment and will be on the ballot in November to enable election-day voter registration. SB 1048 will greatly expand access to voter registration and will enable citizens to opt out of registration at a variety of state service access points. I am a strong supporter of increasing access and security of voter registration.
Knott Commission & School Construction
HB 1783 This bill will increase funding and make more efficient how we spend capital dollars on school construction. It has a goal of increasing to $400 million per year what we spend on school construction. The Governor vetoed this bill because it creates a new commission on school funding, taking away the power of the Board of Public Works to have any control over school construction funding. This morning I voted to overturn the Governor’s veto. I am confident that the new Interagency Commission on School Construction will de-politicize how school construction decisions are made, will be open and transparent and hold school districts accountable.
Restricting Puppy Mills
HB 1662, No More Puppy-Mills Act of 2018, passed the House (123-11) and will be heard in the Senate this week. HB 1662 would regulate animals available to purchase in stores by prohibiting the sale or transfer of dogs and cats unless in collaboration with an animal welfare group or animal control.
The Crime Bill
SB 122 This proposal is aimed at reducing violent crime statewide. I am concerned that it expands penalty enhancements for violent crime without having evidence-based research demonstrating that it will have the desired effect of reducing crime. I want to make sure the policies we adopt are effective strategies to reduce crime, not just tough. It does include some very good programs including the Gun Violence Prevention Fund and Safe Streets that should be funded. This bill was jointly assigned to Judiciary and the committee I serve on, Appropriations. I participated in a workgroup that proposed amendments to the bill, and the Judiciary Committee voted it out. Appropriations will likely have an opportunity to consider it very soon.
HB 732, the Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research Act of 2018, requires research facilities that use dogs or cats for scientific research purposes to take additional steps to provide companion animals with a home after they are no longer needed for research. The bill is being considered on the House floor.
Forest Conservation Act
HB 766 The Forest Conservation Act was enacted in 1991 in order to minimize the loss of Maryland's forest resources during land development. This bill would alter the reforestation ratio necessary in order to clear trees in an area of priority retention. Unfortunately, HB 766 died in the Environment and Transportation Committee, but the Senate cross-file, SB 610, is moving through the Senate. I am not optimistic that it will pass the House, because the companion bill died.
Youth Mental Health Protection Act
HB 902 would prevent state-licensed medical health care providers from engaging in ‘conversion therapy’ with an individual under the age of 18. The practice of conversion therapy has been harmful to individuals in the LGBTQ community and has been discredited by the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and many other mental health organizations.
Of my seven bills that crossed over into the Senate, HB 17 has passed through both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. This bill will expand on a bill I introduced last year requiring institutions of higher education - private career schools and for-profit institutions - to provide student loan notification letters so students will better understand their annual loan debt. HB 593 will expand a tax credit for student loan debt to graduate school students who carry substantial debt. HB 1124 requires the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee to apply for funding from the federal government to track rape kits and make that information accessible to both survivors and law enforcement. I am hopeful that a number of my other bills will be making their way through the Senate. Click here to learn more about the rest of my bills.
In the District
Hitting the Ground Running
After session, I’ll be in full campaign mode and will have more time to knock on doors, attend events, and interact with community members. I hope you’ll join me by volunteering on my campaign! The primaries are less than 85 days away and I’ll need your help! Please contact me or Matt Peterson at email@example.com if you’re interested in being part of my campaign. There are lots of opportunities to help, and we can find something that works for you!
Community Transportation Meeting
Pikesville Communities Corporation is sponsoring a meeting with representatives from State Highway Administration to receive public input regarding safety needs and suggestions for remedies along Reisterstown Road (MD 140) from Old Court Road to Sherwood Avenue. SHA will make a presentation and would like to obtain public feedback before giving input to the SHA. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 10th at 7pm at Temple Oheb Shalom; 7310 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21208
Baltimore Neighborhood Institute
Hosted by Strong Cities Baltimore, this all day workshop series on April 14th will focus on skill building and skill sharing with community leaders, non-profit professionals and government officials. There will be more than 40 workshops focused on a variety of topics like grant writing, environmental preservation, empowering youth and more. Click here for more information.
Job Fair for Nurses
The Baltimore Nursing and Healthcare Hiring Expo will host a free and public Job Fair on April 24th from 11am-2pm at the Towson University Marriott Conference Hotel, 10 Burke Ave, Towson, MD 21204. For more information about employer listing and what to bring, please visit HCH Hiring Expos.