A Baltimore Sun article (2018-01-03) reported on the 2018 legislative initiatives for state legislators who represent the Towson area in Baltimore County. Highlights include legislation on sexual offenders, use of best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) septic systems, curtailing predatory loans, and lowering business taxes.
Senator Jim Brochin
The article noted that Brochin is not running for Senate again and instead run for Baltimore County Executive.
Sexual Predators – Admissibility of Prior Acts: The article stated that Brochin’s top priority will be the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act. The bill would allow evidence of prior sexual misconduct to be admitted as evidence in cases showing a pattern of sexual assault or child molestation. Previous versions of the bill have passed the Senate three times but have never passed in the House.
“There have been horror stories of the same perpetrators getting away with stuff like this for years, and I think it’s time to balance the scales of justice,” Brochin said. “We have put safeguards in the legislation to protect the accused, and we think we can get it through the Senate again, but the tricky part will be getting it past the House.”
Delegate Steve Lafferty
Use of BAT Septic Systems: The article indicated that Lafferty would introducing legislation concerning the use of BAT septic systems. One potential proposal would require BAT septics for new construction within 1,000 feet of an impaired stream or waterway. Current law requires BAT septics within the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Areas.
Funding for Community Development Groups (CDCs): Lafferty is also working on creating a funding mechanism for CDCs for housing and park revitalization.
“The idea is to set up a fund in a state agency that would make funds available to community development groups,” he said. “Money would not go to individuals but to established organizations.” The money could be used for such community-based efforts as housing repair and renovation, improving parks, or providing job training or child care.
Delegate Susan Aumann
The article noted that Aumann will not be running for re-election.
Predatory Lending Practices: Aumann plans on introducing legislation to lower the maximum interest rate an in-state institution may charge on a loan from 34 percent to 28 percent.
The Republican lawmaker, who is a member of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission, said she will work with the attorney general to rein in out-of-state lenders’ rates as well, which, she said, can sometimes reach triple figures.
“People need to know what they’re getting into,” she said, adding that some lenders “take rates to astronomical levels.”
Delegate Chris West
The article stated that West is running for Brochin’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.
Juvenile Sentencing: West will be cross-filing the same bill that is being introduced by Brochin.
Homeowner Association Covenants: West also plans to introduce legislation that would eliminate racially exclusive covenants for homeowner associations. This would require existing covenants to be amended.
Lower Corporate Taxes: West will have legislation incrementally lowering the corporate tax rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent over 9 years.
“I’m trying to close the gap between Virginia and Maryland,” said West, who lives in Towson. “Too many times corporations moving into the area relocate to Virginia because it has a lower corporate rate. We want to take that part out of the decision-making process so that Maryland will be on an equal footing with Virginia.”
Physician Certification: Finally, West will be introducing a bill prohibiting hospitals from denying privileges to physicians that are not certified by a national organization so long as they were certified by the Maryland Medical Association