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Steve's News from Annapolis

2018-04-01

We are now entering the last full week of the 90 day legislative session.  Not surprisingly, there has been intensified debate about major legislation, voting on a large number of bills and legislators lining up votes to make sure their own bills will pass!

You can find a full description of all of the important bills that we have been addressing as well as all of the bills at the Maryland General Assembly website, www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.

The State Budget

In Maryland, the Governor presents the operating and the capital budgets to the legislature.  We cannot increase the operating budget but can, in a limited way, make adjustments and re-set some priorities. We have more flexibility to alter the capital budget to ensure that legislative priorities are included.  Some of the highlights from this year’s budget are:

  • $6.5 billion for K-12 public education throughout the state
  • Creating a special $200 million fund for the future implementation of some of  the recommendations from the Innovation and Excellence in Education Commission (Kirwin Commission) and setting aside $11.4 million this year to implement initial recommendations which  includes support for summer time and after school programs
  • Providing $41 million for school safety; this includes both capital and operating funds to be used in schools for items such as additional counselors or School Resource Officers, and/or for improvements to make buildings more secure
  • Expanded funding for preventing and treating opioid addiction
  • $20.2 million for rate increases for providers serving vulnerable populations
  •  Providing $167 million, to be matched by Virginia and the District of Columbia, to fund the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
  •  Funding a statewide assessment of the condition of public school facilities
  •  $1.69 million for local initiatives by non-profits in Baltimore County
  •  $3 million for new athletic practice fields at Towson University
  •  $250,000 for a new Equine Education Center at Goucher College

Major Legislation Passed in the Past Couple of Weeks

As the Session comes closer to a finish, the General Assembly has passed major pieces of legislation that will go to the Governor for signature. This includes:

  • HB 888 that bans the use and ownership of “rapid fire trigger devices” which convert a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one
  • HB 1302 is the  “red flag” bill that enables an individual to seek a court order to prohibit a person from accessing a firearm when it is believed that a person poses an immediate and present danger to oneself or another
  • HB 1646 will disqualify a person who is charged with a domestic abuse related crime from owning or possessing a firearm
  • HB 1415 establishes pilot initiatives based on the recommendations of the Kirwin Commission; this first phase of implementation will focus on attracting and retaining  quality teachers, providing support for children in schools with high rates of poverty, fostering literacy programs and bolstering Career and Technology Education (CTE)
  • HB 1783 makes comprehensive changes to public school funding and approval processes based on recommendations from the 21st Century School Facilities Commission (Knott Commission). It streamlines the State approval process for school construction processes, provides at least $400 million annually for school construction, requires periodic public school facilities assessments and changes to role of the Interagency Commission on School Construction.
  • HB 1795 is one of the most important bills to address health care and health care insurance. It requires the state to submit a State Innovation Waiver to the federal government to establish a reinsurance program and to seek specific federal pass-through funding. Reinsurance is “insurance for insurers” to protect against significant losses and to expand the individual market for health insurance.

The Status of My Bills

I have had a successful session so far- at least on the House side! I have been able to advance legislation regarding pollution in the Bay, road and bicycle safety and community development.  To date, my bills that have passed the House are:

  • HB 108 streamlines the application for funds from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative program for community development  groups inside of the Baltimore Beltway
  • HB 109 creates a Community Development Fund in the Department of Housing and Community Development to support non-profit groups involved in community development programs
  • HB 744 directs three agencies in the Department of Transportation to develop “complete streets” policies. These policies will address the need of all users to have access to transportation whether it is as pedestrians, bicycle riders, transit users and motorists.  The design, planning and construction of transportation networks will need to be accommodating to all, environmentally sound and equitable
  • HB 1099 enhances the penalties for motorists who seriously harm or kill a “vulnerable individual” who is on a sidewalk, in a cross-walk, on the shoulder of the road or the side of the road
  • HB 1240 requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to establish a plan for the retention and preservation of affordable housing units throughout the state
  • HB 1381 requires local governments to provide data and reports on complaints and violations of sediment and erosion controls; these controls are required for construction and grading in order to stop pollution of streams and waterways
  • HB 1765 establishes criteria for local governments to meet their pollution reduction goals; it will also provide financial support for individuals to pump out their septic tanks and assist counties in developing stewardship plans to reduce septic pollution

We still have major issues to address before we adjourn on Monday, April 9.  As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and opinions about bills and other matters that are before the General Assembly. I can be reached at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us  or at 410-841-3487.

Best wishes,

Steve

Contact Steve

Contact Delegate Lafferty
By Phone: 410-841-3487
By Email: stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us

Contact the Campaign
By Phone: 410-377-4521
By Email: lafferty@delegatelafferty.com

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