2016 HoCo District 13 Legislative Summary

Just want to share this email from our district state senate Guy Guzzone.

Below is a legislative update from District 13 which will give you more details about what occurred during this past legislative session. If you have already received this from one of the other legislators, please forgive the duplication.
All the best,
Guy
Guy Guzzone
Maryland State Senate, District 13
__________________________________________________________________________
Your District 13 Legislators, Senator Guy Guzzone, Delegates Vanessa AtterbearyShane Pendergrass and Frank S. Turner, are pleased to report to Howard County citizens some of our 2016 session highlights in Annapolis. Our efforts have resulted in increased resources that will benefit our community. A more detailed summary of the session can be found on the legislative website in the 90 Day Report.
All bills are assigned to a Committee, and legislators can only vote on bills that are heard in their Committee or pass out of other Committees and come to the floor of the Legislature. If you received this wrap-up electronically, underlined bill numbers will link you to online information for those bills. You can read a .pdf text of any bill in its entirety by clicking on the bill number in the upper left of the individual bill. You can view the public hearing for any House or Senate bill by clicking on the camera under the individual bill. There is also a fiscal note/analysis of the bill listed to the right of “analysis.”
HOWARD COUNTY LOCAL ISSUES
CAPITAL BUDGET
The Capital Budget includes money to fund the following projects in Howard County: $300,000 for the Community Action Council Food Bank, $250,000 for the Howard County Conservancy, $150,000 for Huntington Park, $100,000 for South Branch Park, $69,000 for Vantage House, and $20,000 for Solomon’s Lodge #121. In addition there is $10.3 million for the Howard Community College new Science, Engineering, and Technology Building Project, $2,000,000 for Merriweather Post Pavilion, and $2,500,000 for a new Sheppard Pratt Health Facility in Elkridge.
SUCCESSFUL HOWARD COUNTY LOCAL LEGISLATION
HB631 – Workers’ Compensation – Permanent Partial Disability – Howard County Deputy Sheriffs Ho. Co. 11-16
HB632 – Howard County – Alcoholic Beverages – Luxury Restaurants and Farm Breweries – Licenses Ho. Co. 14-16
HB654 – Howard County – Alcoholic Beverages – Class D Beer, Wine, and Liquor Licenses Ho. Co. 10-16
HB655 – Howard County – Alcoholic Beverages – Class D Licenses Ho. Co. 7-16
HB671 – Howard County – Practice of Massage – Regulation Ho. Co. 13-16
HB1105 – Howard County Public School System – Access to Public Information Ho. Co. 9-16

STATEWIDE ISSUES

EDUCATION

This year’s operating budget SB190/HB150 contains over $6.3 billion for K-12 education so that Maryland can retain its ranking as one of the best educational systems in the nation.  The budget also includes $1.5 billion for public colleges and universities to hold tuition increases to no more than 2 percent.

The Capital Budget, SB 191/HB151, provided over $330.8 million for K-12 school construction.  The administration provided $280 million for education.  The legislature added $51 million, including $4.7 million for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, $6.1 million for aging schools, and $40 million for school construction for schools with growing enrollment.  The administration included $420 million for higher education in this budget, including $75.4 million for Historically Black Colleges. The legislature added an additional $5 million for the Universities at Shady Grove for a total of $36.5 million, $4.7 million for Morgan State Student Services, $60 million for community colleges, and $80 million in future years.

In response to concerns about the amount of testing that students are required to take, HB1233 requires each county Board of Education to notify parents about standardized testing. HB633/SB794 ensures that the PARCC test is not part of teacher and principal evaluations.  HB657 turns the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment into a sampling test rather than a test given to every student.  HB412/SB533 increases transparency by requiring districts to annually report the amount of mandated testing in their schools.

ENVIRONMENT

HB1106/SB921 increases Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement to 25% by 2020.   This bill will reduce climate pollutants, clean up our air, and create jobs in the solar and wind industries. HB610/SB323 requires the reduction of greenhouse gasses by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030.  HB1328 restricts the sale of aftermarket wheel weights containing lead and mercury which are proven neurotoxins. HB211/SB198 was amended to regulate the use of neonicotinoid pesticides by the general public in an attempt to limit the exposure of bees to these possibly harmful insecticides.   HB1603/SB937 requires the Department of Natural Resources and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to study and identify a science-based, sustainable harvest level for the state’s public oyster fishery.  HB462/SB383 increases the funding for Program Open Space, promising full funding by 2019.

HEALTH

HB1005/SB848 removes a co-payment requirement for contraceptives from most insurance company plans. HB1318/SB929 will help ensure that health insurance carriers have sufficient provider networks, including geographic accessibility, guaranteed average wait times for appointments, and provider-to-enrollee ratios for primary and specialty care providers, as well as accurate provider directories.  In response to the opioid overdose epidemic in Maryland, HB437/SB537 requires certain prescribers and all pharmacists to consult the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing certain frequently abused prescription drugs.  This allows pharmacists to monitor the order history of a patient when dispensing opioids.
LEGAL ISSUES
Noah’s Law, HB1342/SB945, was named after the Montgomery County police officer, Noah Leotta, who died after being hit by a drunk driver on Rockville Pike.  This bill requires all first-time DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device before they can start their cars and increases penalties for anyone who refuses to participate in a breath test.  Criminal Justice Reform, HB1312/SB1005, is a comprehensive reform package that will focus prison beds on serious and violent offenders by: eliminating mandatory minimum sentences,  reducing penalties for drug possession offenses, diverting offenders with substance abuse disorders into treatment programs, and focusing harsh mandatory minimum penalties on high level drug dealers and kingpins.  HB155/SB278 amends the stalking definition to include conduct causing emotional distress.  HB409/SB564 increases the penalties for adults who supply alcohol to a minor to include up to 1 year in jail.  HB314/SB346 adds abuses for which an individual can seek a Peace Order, including misuse of social media, use of revenge porn, visual surveillance, and misuse of the telephone.
OTHER 

HB1113/SB663 prohibits the sale of any dog or cat in a public place except under certain circumstances which will help eliminate the sale of “puppy mill” animals. HB563/SB283 makes the possession of dog fighting equipment illegal.

HB1013/SB908, passed over the Governor’s veto, provides transparency in transportation funding. It requires the administration to create a scoring system that rates each proposed road, bridge, or transit project that costs more than $5 million.  This law spells out nine criteria on which each project would have to be judged.  If the administration does not pick the top project, it would have to explain why not. The bill does not spell out which projects can be approved, nor does it address how to eliminate projects. Although it establishes 9 measures, it is left to the administration to create how the scoring system would work, and how much weight to grant each of those nine categories.  In summary, the law only requires the governor to issue public justification for not picking a top ranking project.  This bill does not require that he pick it.

HB1003/SB481 mirrors federal law and prohibits discrimination by an employer based on gender identity and mandates equal pay for equal work.   The ABLE Program,HB431/SB355, creates a secure mechanism for funding expenses on behalf of beneficiaries with disabilities.  HB1378/SB1007 establishes a retirement saving program for the 1 million Marylanders who have no retirement savings.  It will ensure that businesses with payroll systems offer their employees payroll deductions or other retirement plans, and ends the $300 annual filing fee for businesses which offer such plans.

BUDGET

The operating budget SB190/HB150 is balanced and fiscally responsible.  The State has fully funded its pension obligation and is paying, at a minimum, an additional $75 million beyond what is mandated.  The $42.3 billion state budget includes no new taxes.  The budget leaves a $415 million unspent surplus for next year, and it stashes another $1 billion in a rainy-day fund.

All three major rating agencies once again affirmed the State’s “AAA” bond rating. Maryland has the distinction of being 1 of 11 states in the country to maintain a “AAA” bond rating. The rating agencies consistently cite the relative strength of Maryland’s economy, tradition of sound financial management, and adherence to our debt affordability guidelines.

The capital budget, SB191/HB151, funds building, construction, demolition, planning, renovation, conversion, replacement, and capital equipment for State facilities such as parks, hospitals, and public higher education institutions. Additionally, the budget funds local projects in every Maryland county, ranging from public schools to community health centers. This capital budget comes in under $995 million, the limit set by the governor for new general obligation debt.  In addition to the education funding, it includes $442 million for environmental initiatives, and $68 million for health and human services, including $27.5 million for the new Prince George’s Hospital

We appreciate your participation in the legislative process and look forward to continuing our service to you and our community.

Maryland State Senator Guy J. Guzzone – Howard County District 13
Senator Guy Guzzone
James Senate Office Building, Room 121
11 Bladen Street
Annapolis MD 21401 United States

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