With the 2019 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly recently drawn to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for entrusting me with representing District 33 and to share with you an overview of some of our legislative successes as well as the status of some of the legislative priorities that we will continue to work on. Hearing from my constituents is a vital part of serving as your Delegate and I truly appreciate engaging in the legislative process with you.
I want to thank you for the privilege of serving as one of your District 33 Delegates in Annapolis. This letter is a final status report on both my legislation and the work of the General Assembly as a whole.
This year, there were 1,430 House bills, 1,051 Senate bills, 11 House Joint Resolutions, and 5 Senate Joint resolutions, and I heard from many of you on a diverse range of issues important to you and your communities.
I served on the Health and Government Operations Committee (HGO), working with my colleagues to tackle healthcare issues facing Marylanders across the state. I served on two HGO subcommittees: the Public Health and Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee and the Long Term Care Subcommittee.
Below is a summary of the major legislation from the 2019 legislative session:
Budget Bill (HB 100) and Budget Reconciliation Act (HB 1407): Maryland is required under the State Constitution to pass a balanced budget. We successfully passed a bipartisan balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2020 while making it a priority to not raise taxes.
$120.1 million left in cash plus more than $1.2 billion are preserved in cash resources are preserved, including:
$1.1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund
Additional $500 million for school construction
New school construction plan that will result in $2.2 B in additional school construction for counties with high need, on top of existing school construction funding
Additional $320 million for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, funding 98.4% of this year’s Kirwan Commission recommendations.
This is the largest budget for Maryland children ever.
Record funding $7 B for public schools, including funding for initial Kirwan recommendations:
$133 M additional funding for special education
$75 M to increase teachers’ salaries
$54 M for schools in areas of concentrated poverty
$29 M full-day pre-k for low-income families
$23 M to help children who are falling behind in elementary school
Direct aid to schools increases by $501M
Caps in-state tuition increases at higher educational institutions at 2%
Funding for colleges and universities increases by 7%
$11.3 B in the state’s Medicaid Program
Over 1.4 million Marylanders served
$80 M of additional funding to fight the opioid crisis
3% rate increase for behavioral and mental health providers
3.5% rate increase for providers serving the developmentally disabled
State Employees & Public Safety
3% general salary increase
5% salary increase to law enforcement officers
10% salary increase for correctional officers between December 2018 and July 2019
$700-$1,000 one-time bonus for lowest paid State workers
$4 M for a new rape kit testing fund
$8 M for Baltimore City crime initiatives
My Primary Legislation
I introduced three bills this session, and all have successfully passed both chambers of the General Assembly with unanimous support. They now go to the Governor for his consideration.
Medical Examinations on Unconscious Patients (HB 364): HB 364 prohibits healthcare practitioners from performing a pelvic exam on an unconscious patient without the patient’s consent unless medically necessary. This bill is designed to give Marylanders peace of mind when they undergo medical procedures.
Reimbursements of Nonprofit Indirect Costs (HB 365): Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation giving nonprofits a small level of support for their basic operating costs. HB 365 includes nonprofits that were accidentally excluded from the 2018 legislation and ensures that all of Maryland’s nonprofits can continue to serve Maryland’s communities without worrying about how to pay for baseline needs like electricity.
Interstate Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (HB 648): This bill brought Maryland into the Interstate Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, which allows for out-of-state licensed physical therapists to practice in multiple states (including Maryland). The compact streamlines the process for licensing so that physical therapists who work or relocate to Maryland can resume working more quickly after their move. This is especially important for military spouses, who move frequently and often with little notice.
In addition to my legislative priorities, I worked with many of my Anne Arundel County colleagues in both the House and the Senate to secure key funding for projects and organizations in our community and county. The funding bills I sponsored are listed below. (Other Anne Arundel County funding initiatives are listed in the Anne Arundel County Section.)
Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank ($165,000): The Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank has been in need of significant roof repair so it can continue its operations serving the citizens of Anne Arundel County. We were also able to work with the Department of Health to secure a fifteen-year lease to ensure the Food Bank is able to stay where they currently are.
Cape St. Claire Beach Replenishment ($25,000): This project helps fix Cape St. Claire’s rapidly eroding shoreline and provide other erosion prevention and environmental protective measures.
Langton Green Community Farm: Langton Green is a residential community farm that supports adults with intellectual disabilities. While funds were not available this year to renovate their facilities, I am working to find alternative funding options for them.
Chrysalis House ($280,000): Chrysalis House provides addiction treatment services for women and their children.
Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center ($100,000): The Pascal Center is a non-profit agency that provides mental health support services to Anne Arundel County.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board (HB 768): This bill would make Maryland the first in the country to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board explicitly designed to protect Marylanders from rising prescription costs. The board would review prescription drugs that dramatically increase in price and set upper price limits on by health plans that serve employees of state and county governments. I was a co-sponsor and voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed enrolled.
Retiree Prescription Drug Benefits (HB 98 & HB 1120): HB 98, which I co-sponsored, would have extended the prescription drug benefit plan to retirees. The hearing for this bill was canceled. HB 1120 reimburses patients for out-of-pocket prescription costs that exceed certain limits. I voted in favor of this bill. It was passed enrolled.
End-of-Life Option Act (HB 399): This bill was designed to give terminally ill patients who met very specific criteria the ability to request aid in dying that would have allowed them to end their life with dignity. After extensive debate and analysis of the safeguards and protections in the legislation for patients, I voted in support of this bill. This bill, however, was defeated in the Senate.
Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program (HB 814): This bill makes it easier for those without health insurance to apply for programs that meet their needs. Marylanders without insurance will be able to indicate on their tax return that they would like to see if they qualify for insurance affordability programs. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will then work with that person to find the best healthcare plan for them. I co-sponsored this bill and voted in favor of the bill.
Oyster Sanctuaries (HB 298): Oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay are at an all-time low; the population is just 2% of historic levels. Their ability to filter the Bay and their commercial value make them a unique resource that we must protect. HB 298 would establish 5 oyster sanctuaries in several tributaries feeding into the Bay. This bill was sponsored by Speaker Busch and Chairman Barve. I co-sponsored this bill and voted in favor of the bill. The Governor vetoed this bill and the legislature overrode his veto to pass this bill.
Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516): This bill is a much needed investment in both renewable energy sources and career development in our state. It increases the amount of energy that Maryland must derive from clean energy by 2030 from 25% to 50%. The bill also requires the Maryland Energy Administration to invest $7 million in small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses in the clean energy industry and $6.5 million in youth and apprenticeship job training programs in the clean energy industry. I co-sponsored the House version of this bill and voted in favor of it. This bill was passed enrolled.
Use of Chlorpyrifos (HB 275): This bill bans the use of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide found to be unsafe for human consumption. I was a co-sponsor and voted in favor of this bill. This bill did not make it out of the Senate Committee.
Styrofoam Ban (HB 109): Polystyrene (styrofoam) cannot be recycled and does not ever break down, resulting in small particles dissolving into water and food supplies and putting the public at risk. This bill bans, beginning July 1, 2020,the distribution of single use polystyrene. Businesses and schools can apply for a hardship waiver for up to one year if transitioning away from styrofoam would present an undue hardship. I was a co-sponsor and voted in favor of this bill. This bill was passed enrolled.
Anne Arundel County
Developer Campaign Contributions (HB 993): This bill was brought before the Anne Arundel County Delegation by request of Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. This bill would give permission to the Anne Arundel County Council to enact local law to prohibit real estate developers from donating to County Council or County Executive campaigns if they have pending business before the County. I was chair of the work group and this bill was adopted by the Anne Arundel County Delegation and I voted in favor of this bill. This bill was returned passed through both legislative chambers.
Other funding initiatives in Anne Arundel County include:
Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds: $75,000
Maryland Hall: $1,000,000
Annapolis Maritime Museum: $175,000
Anne Arundel Community College Health Sciences & Biology Building: $27,500,000
Anne Arundel Detention Center: $1,715,000
AAC Public School Construction: $2,576,913
AAC Workforce Development Youth Works Program: $500,000
Summit School: $100,000
Brooklyn Park Athletic Complex: $1,000,000
Ralph Bunche Community Center: $37,000
Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (SB 1030): This bill establishes policy priorities that will make Maryland’s schools a world-class system, based on the recommendations of the two years of excellent research done by the Kirwan Commission. The bill includes record funding for education programs like teacher salary increases, mental and behavioral health funding, special education funding, career counseling, and tech education expansion. I voted in favor of this bill; it was passed enrolled.
Build to Learn Act of 2019 (HB 727): This bill would have enacted the largest one-time investment in school construction across the state to ensure that every child has a safe learning environment. I voted in favor of this bill. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee did not vote on this legislation.
Community Control of School Calendars (SB 128): This bill reinstates local authority to decide what schedule is most productive for their students. Despite early bipartisan support of the Governor’s executive order that mandated a post-Labor Day start, the longer summers caused several unforeseen negative consequences for working families across the state, including a lack of sufficient child care. Schools districts can still enact a post-Labor Day start should they choose to do so. After reviewing the the totality of facts related to this issue, I voted in favor of this bill. Though the Governor vetoed this bill, the legislature overrode his veto.
Minimum Wage Increase (HB 166): Rising rent costs and stagnant wages that have not kept in line with inflation have forced Maryland’s working families into difficult financial situations. The legislature voted to gradually increase the State’s minimum wage.The schedule for the minimum wage increase is as follows:
$11.00 per hour as of January 1, 2020;
$11.75 per hour as of January 1, 2021;
$12.50 per hour as of January 1, 2022;
$13.25 per hour as of January 1, 2023;
$14.00 per hour as of January 1, 2024; and
$15.00 per hour as of January 1, 2025.
The bill includes several protections for small businesses, giving those that employ fewer than 14 employees a longer time frame to implement the increase. This bill also I voted in favor of this bill. Though the Governor vetoed the bill, the legislature overrode his veto.
Summer SNAP For Children (HB 338): This bill would increase the amount of SNAP benefits awarded to eligible families by $30 per child in June, July, and August, and $10 in December. This legislation is designed to help alleviate the additional burden placed on families when school is not in session. I co-sponsored this bill and voted in favor of it. This bill was return passed.
Cyberbullying - Grace’s Law 2.0 (HB 181): This bill enhances maximum penalties for cyberbullying. The maximum fine increases from $500 to $10,000 and the maximum jail time increases from one to three years. If a child commits suicide due to cyberbullying, the bully can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. I voted in favor of this bill and it was return passed.
Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (HB 1096): This bill protects victims of sexual assault by requiring rape kits to be counted and tested. Law enforcement must submit a rape kit to a forensic laboratory within 30 days and the kit must be processed at the laboratory within the next five months. It also establishes an independent review process for any rejected evidence kit. I voted in support of this bill. This bill was passed enrolled.
Gerrymandering (HB 463): This bill would have proposed a constitutional amendment requiring that each congressional district in the State consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and be substantially equal in population. I co-sponsored this legislation, but it received an unfavorable report from the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.
Unattended Dogs in Extreme Temperatures (HB 501): This bill would have prohibited a person from leaving a restrained dog unattended outside for more than 30 minutes if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The punishment for doing so would be either 90-day imprisonment or a $1,000 fine. I co-sponsored this bill. Unfortunately, however, it received an unfavorable report from the Environment and Transportation Committee.
For a complete list of all the bills and how I voted, please go to the Maryland General Assembly Home Page - http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/
It was with a heavy heart that we remember our friend, colleague, and mentor here in Anne Arundel County—Speaker Michael E. Busch, who sadly passed the day before the end of the legislative session. He was a true advocate for everyone in Maryland and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of all Marylanders. He will be missed dearly and his legacy will continue to shape the work we do here in the Maryland General Assembly.
I am proud of all that my colleagues and I accomplished this session in the General Assembly. Together, we achieved many bipartisan solutions that will ensure Marylanders have a clean environment, strong education, and access to affordable health care.
I am so thankful to all of my constituents for the honor to serve as one of your representatives in District 33. Your feedback and comments are important to me, and I value your input. When I prepare to cast a vote, the impact on my constituents is the first thing I consider. Should you need anything please do not hesitate to email me or call 800-207-9428. You can also find my contact information HERE and more information about me at Votesmart.org.
State Delegate, District 33