Unfinished Business Over Medical Cannabis, Parental Rights Push Calls for Special Session

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-04-18) reported that the late-Session failure of two bills have prompted calls for the Maryland General Assembly to reconvene in a special session. The two bills dealt with issuing licenses to minority-owned medical cannabis firms and removing the parental rights of alleged rapists. From the article:

In the final hours of this year’s session, lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have let rape victims who become pregnant during the assault terminate parental rights of their alleged attackers. …

The other [failed bill] would have expanded the medical marijuana industry to specifically include minority-owned firms, and the Legislative Black Caucus has demanded the governor and presiding officers recall lawmakers to Annapolis to pass it.

On Tuesday, [Senate President Thomas V. “Mike”] Miller acknowledged that no conversations have taken place to reach a deal on calling a special session. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch remain divided on whether the medical marijuana expansion should automatically award licenses to two specific companies.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Miller told reporters after a bill signing in Annapolis.

But Miller said that if a special session is called, he wants to revisit the proposed law about parental rights of alleged rapists.

 

 

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Emergency Management

MACo works closely with its new Emergency Managers Affiliate and local public safety answering point directors to track policy related to 9-1-1 call centers and was heavily involved in SB 466, described below.

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Push Icons-MORE WORKMACo supported a bill to improve public safety communications in Maryland. MACo worked with bill sponsor, Senator Kagan over the interim on ideas for the legislation and was pleased to have her support on several amendments to the bill. As amended, the legislation expands the uses of a state funding mechanism for 9-1-1 upgrades and creates an advisory board that includes local 9-1-1 Center representation to help implement the next generation technologies throughout the State. Senate Bill 466, “Carl Henn’s Law,” passed the Senate but did not move in the House.  Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

Hogan Reappointment of Two to Cabinet Sets Up Legal Fight With Assembly

Setting up a potential constitutional clash, Governor Larry Hogan reappointed two officials to his Cabinet on Wednesday who failed to make it through the confirmation process during the General Assembly session that ended Monday, April 10.

Hogan named Dennis R. Schrader to head the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene despite withdrawing his name after a dispute with Maryland Senate Democrats.

He also announced he would keep Wendi Peters, whose nomination was turned down by the Senate Executive Nominations Committee but withdrawn before full Senate action, as acting planning secretary.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

The governor’s office contends that Hogan, who had signaled his intention to reappoint the officials, is within his rights under the law. The Democratic leaders of the Senate contend that Hogan is violating the Maryland Constitution.

“The advice-and-consent process is a fundamental tenet of American democracy and the separation of powers,” said Sen. Bill Ferguson, chairman of the Executive Nominations Committee.

But Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer countered by saying that the Senate’s nomination process this year was “very political” and asserted the governor’s power to appoint whom he wants.

“The governor 100 percent has the power to withdraw and reappoint,” Mayer said.

The reppointments came just one day after the Republican governor and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly praised the bipartisan accomplishments of the legislative session. Hogan’s actions raise questions about whether the Senate can block any individual from exercising the powers of a high state office if the governor is determined to appoint that person. If not resolved before January, the dispute could hang over any pending Hogan appointments that require confirmation.

Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said Hogan’s actions put the state and its citizens in jeopardy.

“The validity of the acting secretaries’ power is in question as a result of the governor’s decision because the governor has willfully bypassed the constitution,” Ferguson said. In the case of the health department, he said, citizens could go to court to challenge enforcement decisions on the grounds that the secretary doesn’t hold the office legally.

Seeing a confrontation looming, the legislature adopted budget language this year to bar the use of state funds to pay the salaries of secretaries or acting secretaries who were nominated during the session but who did not win confirmation before their names were withdrawn. That provision takes effect July 1.

“We think that’s unconstitutional, and we think they know it,” Mayer said.

A letter of advice dated March 15 from the state attorney general’s office says that in Peters’ case, “nothing prevents the governor from choosing as his recess appointee the person whose nomination had been submitted but then withdrawn” because she had not been rejected by the full Senate.

However, the letter also says the legislature may use the budget bill to block the payment of the salary of someone appointed after the session whom the committee had rejected and whose name had been withdrawn — as in the case of Peters. Lawmakers are waiting for answers to a request for an opinion on issues concerning Schrader.

Mayer said Hogan is relying on the advice of his own general counsel rather than the opinion of the office headed by Democratic Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.

Read the full article for more information.

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Health and Human Services

MACo advocates actively for policies to help confront the opioid crisis and to support county social services programs. The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s advocacy in the area of health and human services in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Opioid Crisis

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of the “Start Talking Maryland Act, ” a bill to reduce overdose deaths and prevent addiction by focusing on Maryland’s public education system as a means for spreading awareness and providing necessary services. The bill also directs funding to mitigate costs associated with launching these programs. Senate Bill 1060/House Bill 1082 passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-IMPROVEDMACo successfully added amendments to omnibus legislation that offers a comprehensive approach for addressing the continuing opioid overdose and addiction problem confronting communities across the state. MACo’s amendments to help ensure the bill achieves its goals without overburdening local resources. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 967/House Bill 1329, the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017 with amendments, and it awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo successfully supported passage of a bill to provide greater flexibility and increase resources to local governments for substance abuse treatment and related prevention, outreach, and maintenance efforts. Senate Bill 1194 passed the Senate but unfortunately did not advance out of the House committee before the General Assembly session came to an end.  Bill Information | MACo Coverage


Push Icons-WONMACo supported a bill to provide easier access to naloxone, a medication that can counter an overdose, to individuals who are most able to assist someone at risk of dying from an opioid death when emergency medical services or first responders are not readily available
. While Senate Bill 868/House Bill 791 did not advance out of committee, the essence of the bill was amended into Senate Bill 967/House Bill 1329, the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017. Bill Information | MACo Coverage


Push Icons-WONMACo supported a bill that enhances state and local tools to confront the opioid epidemic and helps improve the effectiveness of existing programs that help reduce overdose deaths and address addiction
. While House Bill 1549 did not advance out of committee, provisions of the bill were amended into Senate Bill 967/House Bill 1329, the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017.  Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

Social Services

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo stopped a bill that would shift the critical responsibility of answering calls concerning child abuse and neglect from local departments of social services to the statewide 2-1-1 system. Senate Bill 945/House Bill 697 was well-intentioned but had practical shortcomings and was withdrawn by its sponsors. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

Push Icons-DEFEATED

MACo successfully stopped a bill that would have a significant impact on Local Management Boards’ funding and decision-making authority when it comes to oversight of the Youth Services Bureaus. Senate Bill 784 did not advance out of committee and its crossfile, House Bill 1187 was withdrawn by its sponsor. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

Maryland Matters Calls 2017 Session Winners & Losers

In a Maryland Matters blog post (2017-04-11), Josh Kurtz picks the winners, losers, and draws of the 2017 Session. A small sampling from his extensive list:

WINNERS

Attorney General Brian Frosh (D): Lawmakers gave him unprecedented powers and he’s now poised to join fellow Democratic attorneys general around the country as a major oppositional force to Trump. He may well be the de facto leader of the Maryland Democratic Party at this point as well. …

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh (R): He finally got a bill through to create an elected school board in his county – an issue that has been simmering for decades. And as the election cycle ramps up, can anyone identify a credible Democrat who is even thinking about challenging him in 2018? ….

LOSERS …

Legislative Ethics: The session began and ended with legislators being indicted — and so was a guy connected to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) who was on the verge of being appointed to a House seat. Meanwhile, Del. Dan Morhaim (D) had his wrist slapped by colleagues for his connection to a company that attempted to get a medical marijuana license from the state. And this was just the stuff that was out in the open. We expect there’s worse taking place that isn’t being paid attention to – the medical cannabis process seems like one particularly target-rich environment. Between all this and the Democratic legislature’s resistance to Hogan’s desire to reform the state’s redistricting process, real and perceived corruption in Annapolis is the gift that keeps on giving for Hogan and the GOP. …

Extractive Industries: Maryland ain’t Pennsylvania – or Western states with huge tracts of exploitable land. But we’ve become the first state with proven natural gas reserves to enact legislation banning hydraulic fracturing. Vermont, which has no known gas reserves, voted in 2012 to ban fracking as a preemptive measure, and New York followed suit that year via executive fiat. …

DRAW …

Gov. Larry Hogan (R): It was Hogan’s most productive legislative session, but that’s only relatively speaking. He had a modest agenda, and some of the things he’s touting – like the bill repealing the transportation scoring law and his legislation combating heroin abuse – were changed significantly by the legislature. It was telling that all the drama on Sine Die did not involve the governor but rather tensions between the House and Senate. Some of Hogan’s vetoes were quickly and decisively overridden, and he faces a true dilemma over what to do about the sick leave legislation. What’s more, the Democrats now have a regular foil in Trump – and those drumbeats could accrue to Hogan.

He is in a more precarious place electorally than his high approval ratings suggest. And Republicans cannot be happy with his decision to lurch left on fracking. Hogan continues to show two sides – touting his bipartisanship frequently, except when he’s needling Democrats and their allies on Facebook. His decision to use the rape of a student at Rockville High School to go on an anti-immigrant rant seems ill-advised. But when all is said and done, Hogan is brilliant strategist who is especially talented about declaring victory in any situation, and with the legislature leaving town he will once again have the megaphone to himself. That’s when he’s best able to score points. …

House Speaker Mike Busch (D) and Senate President Mike Miller (D): These veteran lawmakers remain masterful legislative tacticians and still retain a great deal of control and loyalty in their chambers. They also have top-notch staffers who read the temperature of their caucuses as well as the leaders do. Both have tried to impose message discipline in their caucuses, with various degrees of success. And both can claim some individual achievements: Busch helped secure a Certificate of Need to bring a cardiac surgery program to Anne Arundel Medical Center, at the same time Miller helped guarantee an annual $10 million in operating budget funding for the new Prince George’s County Hospital.

Miller drew the ire of progressives for essentially killing the Trust Act – but he may have helped protect some of his most vulnerable Democratic members by putting off a vote. Yet for all their skills, both leaders seemed off their games at times, and both had periodic physical problems. These inevitably lead to discussions about their future plans – if even they know what they are.

 

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Housing and Community Development

MACo advocates for process improvements and innovative tools to help counties support community development throughout Maryland.

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s advocacy in the area of housing and community development in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Foreclosures

Over the interim MACo participated in the workgroup that studied foreclosures as well as vacant and blighted properties with the goal of providing local governments additional tools for addressing problem properties. The following package of bills was a result of the workgroup’s efforts.

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported a bill to enable the state and local governments to receive notification about properties entering the foreclosure process. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 875/House Bill 1048, and it is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

 

 

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported SB 957/HB 1168, a bill that would provide counties with the ability to establish land banks — a tool to help revitalize problem properties and stabilize neighborhoods. The General Assembly passed the legislation and it is awaiting the Governor’s signature.  Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

 

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully amended legislation intended to expedite the foreclosure process to meet county concerns. Senate Bill 1022/House Bill 607 and Senate Bill 1033/House Bill 702 were a pair of bills intended to establish an expedited foreclosure process for homes that are vacant and abandoned. While MACo supported the shared goal of an efficient and effective process to expedite the foreclosure of vacant and abandoned properties, the bills as drafted raised liability and resource concerns. Ultimately, the General Assembly passed an amended version of SB 1033/HB 702. SB 1022/HB 607 did not advance.

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that would require a foreclosure purchaser to update as necessary any information submitted when initially registering the property on the foreclosed property registry. House Bill 954 passed the House of Delegates and made it to Third Reader in the Senate, but unfortunately did not pass before the end of the legislative session. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Homebuyer Education

MACo amended a homebuyer education bill to prevent unintended negative consequences for local programs. House Bill 106 passed the House of Delegates with amendments but did not proceed through the Senate before the end of the legislative session. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Abandoned Cemeteries

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that would have authorized local governments to enact a local law allowing a lien to be set on abandoned private cemeteries for unpaid maintenance, repair, or preservation work performed by the government on the property. Unfortunately, House Bill 235 bill did not advance out of committee this year. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Safety & Corrections

MACo advocates in support of local public safety and corrections agencies. The following segments highlight MACo’s work in this area during the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Pretrial Issues

Push Icons-NOT IDEALPretrial reform is a major concern for Maryland’s counties. MACo supported a bill to establish a Pretrial Resource Center and a Pretrial Release Pilot Program and a bill to codify rule changes adopted by the Court of Appeals to address concerns that bail was being set in a manner that could be determined to violate due process rights and constitutional prohibitions against excessive bail. Unfortunately, neither of these bills advanced out of their committees. For more information, see:

Law Enforcement and Corrections

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill that requires charges against a correctional officer for offenses alleged to have been committed during the course of duty to first be reviewed and determined reasonable and appropriate by a state’s attorney before they can be filed against the officer. Senate Bill 207/House Bill 166 was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo successfully stopped a bill that set explicit parameters limiting state and local agencies and officials from cooperating with federal immigration efforts. MACo was concerned the bill’s stringent limitations on local government autonomy could have had far-reaching and significant consequences. House Bill 1362, the “Trust Act,” passed the House but not the Senate. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Local Laws

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo successfully stopped legislation that would severely restrict a local government’s ability to regulate security system and monitoring companies. Senate Bill 952/House Bill 1271 did not move out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

 

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo also successfully stopped legislation that would have prohibited counties from enacting or enforcing local padlock laws unless the local law provided them with a hearing before a circuit court judge without the owner of the premises being required to request one first. MACo found that this could limit local government’s ability to address public nuisances in a timely and efficient manner. Senate Bill 214 did not advance out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

MACo advocates for school construction funding, and equity in K-12 and community college funding. The following segments describe MACo’s advocacy in this area in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

School Construction

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill that will allow the state to issue $4.8M in federal bonds for programs that fill an important niche in school construction. These programs cover small renovation and repair work in aging schools that do not always qualify for standard funding. Counties, who share funding responsibility for Maryland’s schools, appreciate additional support for their infrastructure goals. Senate Bill 197/House Bill 153 “Qualified Zone Academy Bonds,” passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Income Tax Credit for Intern-Employers

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that allows businesses to receive a credit against the state income tax for employing interns enrolled in public and private nonprofit higher education institutions in the state. Counties appreciate that this bill offers a state-funded tax benefit, without a “spillover” residual effect on county revenues. Senate Bill 522/House Bill 1483 passed out of the Senate and is in the House Rules CommitteeBill InformationMACo Coverage

Grants Give Extra Cover for Pre-K and Declining Enrollments

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill that will provide $28.2 million in additional funding for K-12 public schools. The funding will be provided to: Allegany ($793,000), Calvert ($240,000), Carroll ($1.6 million), Cecil ($190,000), Garrett ($456,000), Harford ($356,000), Kent ($215,000), Queen Anne’s ($22,000), Somerset ($455,000), and Talbot ($133,000) Counties, and Baltimore City ($23.7 million). Senate Bill 1024/House Bill 684 passed, and the Governor signed it and has provided funding for it in a supplemental budget. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Money for Meals All Summer Long

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill that authorizes Summer Meals Program sponsors to apply for supplemental money from a competitive state-county matching grant fund to expand their ability to provide free and nutritious meals to children in need. Senate Bill 1161/House Bill 273 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage.

Counties Seek Greater Support for Community Colleges 

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported a bill to require both the county and the State to split the reimbursement of tuition assistance to ensure that the State is equally invested in the advancement of its students and workforce. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 678/House Bill 848 did not advance out of committees in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported legislation that would have required the State to increase its funding so that by 2021 its aid to community colleges would reach 29% of the per-pupil general fund appropriation to students at 4-year public institutions of higher education. Senate Bill 152/House Bill 1069 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill would have established grants and scholarships for community colleges. In amendments, MACo asked that the legislation specifying how the grants would be funded. Senate Bill 869/House Bill 868 did not move out of committee in either house. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

School Funding Transparency

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo supported with amendments a bill that would have required a county government to establish an independent office to oversee the local school system if the system has received 10 or more repeat findings by the State Office of Legislative Audits. MACo asked that the legislation be amended to make it enabling, rather than mandatory, among other suggestions. House Bill 1341 did not pass out of committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

2017 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s employee benefits advocacy in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Teacher Pension Costs

Push Icons-WONMACo supported successful passage of a bill that addresses the shortfall in funding required to meet the portion of Maryland state teacher pension costs that exceed costs anticipated during the 2012 “pension shift.” MACo joined the Maryland Association of Boards of Education in supporting the State one-time appropriation of $19.7 million to close the gap. House Bill 1109/Senate Bill 1001 was signed into law by the Governor. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Residency Requirements for County Employees

Push Icons-WONMACo successfully supported passage of a bill to provide local governments with greater autonomy and flexibility in implementing local policies designed to serve and react to community needs. House Bill 167 has been passed by both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

Collective Bargaining Mandates


MACo helped stop two collective bargaining mandates that would have increased costs and administration for county governments
.

Push Icons-DEFEATEDHouse Bill 1370 mandated a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all design that would expand collective bargaining rights in a third of Maryland’s counties. “Employment Rights for Local Government Employees” did not advance out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

Push Icons-DEFEATEDSenate Bill 652/House Bill 871 would have mandated certain collective bargaining structures at county-funded community colleges.  Neither bill advanced out of its assigned committees in either chamber. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

 

Sick Leave

MACo opposed three bills that would have created new requirements for county government sick leave policies.

Push Icons-NOT IDEALSenate Bill 230/House Bill 1 The “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act” passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

 

 

Push Icons-DEFEATEDSenate Bill 305/House Bill 382 “Commonsense Paid Leave Act,” which was part of the Governor’s legislative package, did not advance out of committee in either chamber. Bill InformationMACo Coverage

 

Push Icons-DEFEATEDHouse Bill 854, a bill targeting at county governments and the benefits they provide to grant-funded employees, received an unfavorable report from the House Economic Matters Committee. Bill InformationMACo Coverage 

Minimum Wage

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo opposed a bill called the “Fight for Fifteen,” which would have raised the statewide minimum wage to $15 by 2023. Counties had concerns that this increase would place a significant fiscal burden on county governments. Senate Bill 962/House Bill 1416 did not advance out of committee in either chamber.  Bill InformationMACo Coverage.

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas

2017 End of Session Wrap-up: Elections

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of elections policy in the 2017 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database

Voter Registration

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo opposed a constitutional amendment that would enable future legislation to create election day registration in Maryland. MACo raised concerns that the eventual implementation of election day registration could prove costly and difficult – potentially increasing voter wait times. House Bill 345/Senate Bill 423 was not passed by the General Assembly. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Reporting Election Results

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo successfully stopped a bill that would mandate election results provided by local boards of elections, acting in their capacity as boards of canvassers, and the State Board of Elections must include results by precinct for early and absentee voting. SB 960 did not advance out of its committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Click here for a round up of the wrap-ups for all policy areas