2019 End of Session Letter

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2019 End of Session Letter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am honored and humbled by your continued faith in me and I have worked hard this session to continue promoting the interests of District 44B in Annapolis for the betterment of Maryland.

As we continue to make progress on bettering our community, I wanted to share some news about new leadership roles I’ve been appointed to. While I continue to serve on the House Judiciary Committee, under our new chair, subcommittees were reconstituted and I was appointed to serve as the Chair of the Criminal Law and Procedure Subcommittee! This subcommittee addresses issues like pre-trial process, and laws governing various other aspects of criminal trials.  I was also asked to serve as the House Deputy Majority Whip. In this role, I assist the Majority Whip with managing the Democratic Party’s legislative priorities on the House floor and I also ensure that members are present when important bills are voted on.   I was also appointed to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review.  As a member of this committee, I oversee proposed regulatory activities of State agencies for the General Assembly. Additionally, I work with colleagues to determine whether the regulations conform to the legislative intent and authority provided in the statute. Finally, I was also appointed to the Criminal Justice Information Advisory Board which advises the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals about the Criminal Justice Information System. The Board monitors development, operation, and maintenance of the System, and recommends procedures for using criminal history record information in the research, evaluation, and analysis of crime.  The Board also provides advice concerning standards, procedures, and protocols that ensure the compatibility and interoperability of certain systems maintained by the Judiciary and by public safety agencies in the State.

With the conclusion of the 2019 Maryland legislative session, I am eager to share a brief overview of the legislative progress we’ve made this year. In total, I sponsored 17 bills and cosponsored dozens more to serve citizens across the state. A few of these bills were a result of conversations I had with some of you! I will discuss the bills that passed, and those that should have passed.  They fall into three overarching categories: Homeownership, Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform, and Social Inequality. Below is a brief summary.

Homeownership

HB 191: Homeowner's Insurance - Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating - Status as Surviving Spouse. This bill prevents recent widows from paying more for homeowner’s insurance following the sudden death of their spouse. STATUS: This bill passed the House (139-0) and the Senate (47-0).  This bill awaits the Governor’s signature!

HB 425: Civil Actions - Unfair, Abusive, or Deceptive Trade Practices by Mortgage Servicer - Statute of Limitations.  HB 425 extends the statute of limitations for filing a civil action by a homeowner if a mortgage service partook in unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices. It requires an action to be filed either within 5 years after foreclosure of a residential property or within 3 years if the mortgage servicer discloses it’s unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice to the homeowner. STATUS: This bill passed the House (122-9) and passed the Senate (33-13).  This bill awaits the Governor’s signature!

HB 1277: Real Property - Mortgages and Deeds of Trust - Foreclosure Actions.  This bill invalidates a power of sale or assent to decree authorized in a mortgage or deed of trust on owner-occupied residential property. STATUS: This bill was withdrawn and is now scheduled for summer study by the Environment and Transportation Committee.

Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform

HB 11: Juveniles Charged as Adults – Confidentiality of Records.  I introduced this bill to shield children from having the mistakes of their past haunt them throughout adulthood. HB 11 guarantees that photos and videos taken of youth going through the justice system will be kept confidential when arrested and booked. Often times, these photos and videos remain on the internet long after a child has gone through the system, regardless of whether those charges were eventually dropped or the individual was found not guilty. This bill would have prevented photos, videos, or other records from being a constant barrier to rehabilitation. This bill was also recently highlighted in the Baltimore Sun.  STATUS: This bill passed the House (122-19). This bill died on Sine Die before a House – Senate Conference Committee was able to convene.   

HB 30: Public Safety – DNA Analysis – Search of Data Base.  In 2008 Maryland passed legislation that prohibited an individual from searching a state database for information that would identify a relative of a criminal through DNA. At the time, Maryland was the first state in the country to ban this practice due to concerns about racial justice and fourth amendment privacy rights. I introduced HB 30 to ensure that the privacy concerns of an individual extend to commercial databases as well. This bill led to an interview by WTTG Fox 5 and it also gained prominent state and national attention. It was highlighted by many media outlets, including but not limited to, Baltimore SunWired, and Bloomberg Businessweek. STATUS: While this bill did not progress this session, this complex topic will be examined by the House’s Judiciary Committee this summer.

HB 37: Criminal Procedure - Cell Site Simulator Technology.  I continue to seek passage of this bill.  It puts parameters on when law enforcement can legally use a cell site simulator. It authorizes courts to issue an order allowing its use only if certain conditions are met. The bill also regulates the use of information obtained after its use.  For years the Baltimore Sun has written about the use of cell site simulators and it was most recently highlighted in the Howard County Times. STATUS: The bill passed the House unanimously (141-0). Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing but its chair took no action, despite support of the bill from state’s attorneys, law enforcement, and advocacy groups that worked together to produce it.  The 2018 bill also died on Sine Die after having passed in both legislative chambers.

HB 306:  Mental Health - Involuntary Admission - Inmates in Correctional Facilities

This bill allows any individual with a legitimate interest in the welfare of an inmate to submit an application on their behalf to admit the inmate into a mental health facility. The bill alters the circumstances under which the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) must receive an inmate for involuntary admission and authorizes a court to impose sanctions if MDH fails to do so within a specified time period. A State or local correctional facility must allow a psychiatric evaluation and certification for inpatient admission of an inmate to be paid for privately.  STATUS: This complex subject with competing interests is scheduled for summer study by the House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee.

HB 420: Criminal Law – Threat of Mass Violence.  This bill prohibits someone from knowingly making a threat to commit a crime of violence that would place five or more people at substantial risk of death or serious physical injury. The bill was also spotlighted by the Capital News Service. STATUS: This bill passed the House unanimously (136-0) and passed the Senate (45-0).  This bill awaits the Governor’s signature!

Social Inequality (Health, Education, Employment, Development, and Insurance)

HB 15: Health Insurance – Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders – Coverage.  I introduced this bill after conversations with a constituent who told me about her child suffering from a Neuropsychiatric Disorder (widely known as PANDA). Currently, most insurance companies do not cover treatment for this disorder. For many parents in Maryland, upon learning that their child has the condition, they are forced to wait helplessly for months or even years before they can afford the treatment. Unfortunately, the more time that lapses between diagnosis and treatment, the less likely a child is able to successfully recover and the more likely it is that a child relapses and suffers further physical and mental harm. This bill ensures that Medicaid covers treatment for young children suffering from the disorder. STATUS: House Bill 15 was withdrawn and will be introduced again next session after receipt of an Insurance Administration letter.

HB 22: Occupational Licenses or Certificates – Application Determinations – Use of Criminal History. I introduced House Bill 22 to ensure that an individual with a prior conviction can still acquire an occupational license or certificate. This bill assists those who have demonstrated a commitment to being productive, law-abiding members of society. STATUS: This bill passed the House unanimously (99-39) and passed the Senate (46-0).  This bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

HB 329: Motor Vehicle Insurance – Discrimination in Underwriting and Rating – Use of Occupation or Education Level. House Bill 329 requires the Maryland Insurance Administration to study the role of occupation and education in setting policies for motor vehicle insurance. STATUS: This bill passed the House (138-0) and received an unfavorable report in the Senate Finance Committee (9-2) The Senate promised to send a letter to the Maryland Insurance Administration to follow up.

In addition to sponsoring several pieces of legislation, I also co-sponsored or voted for many bills which advance the interests of all Marylanders across the state. Here’s a brief overview of a few which passed:

HB 768: Prescription Drug Affordability Board.  To address the rising costs of healthcare, I joined my colleagues in supporting this bill to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. As the first of its kind in the U.S., this Board would have the authority to set a maximum price for drugs purchased by health plans serving employees of state and county governments.  

HB 55: Ignition Interlock System.  To ensure safety on our roads, I supported this bill requiring ignition interlock systems to be equipped with a camera that can record the driver’s image.

HB 166: Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage. To address economic inequality in the state of Maryland, I was proud to cosponsor this bill, that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024. This bill, as passed, establishes the state minimum wage at $15 by 2025; and an 18-month delayed implementation for employers with 14 or fewer employees – they will reach the $15.00 minimum wage rate on July 1, 2026.  The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations is required to develop a form for restaurants’ tipped employees to calculate their hourly wage rates.  Twenty-two percent of our State’s workforce – more than 573,000 working Marylanders will get a pay raise and nearly 273,000 Maryland children will benefit from increased family income.

HB 428: Comprehensive Flood Management Grant Program – Awards for Flood Damage and Mandatory Funding.  I was proud to support this legislation which passed.  It expands the Maryland Department of Environment’s flood grant program to cover damages to infrastructure repairs, watershed restoration, and emergency protection work.  This bill increases the annual funding for the flood grant program by $5 million and allows areas that have been hit the hardest by flooding since 2009 to still receive a grant for repairs.

SB 516: Clean Energy Jobs Act.  This bill increases the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030 and makes other related changes.  This bill will help to preserve and create jobs in the clean energy sector, while also reducing Maryland’s reliance on fossil fuels.  This is a huge step in the battle against Climate Change.

Education: State support for public schools total a record $7.0 billion; Direct aid to local school systems will increase an estimated $435.2 million, or by 7.5%; At least $255 million for Kirwan; $500 million in the operating budget for school construction; The budget plan also directs the Governor to process a budget amendment adding $150.3 million of special funds earmarked for education to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission; State support for Maryland’s public four year colleges grows by $110.7 million (7.3%) allowing for a tuition increase of only 2%.

Final Kirwan Deal in Budget: $31.7 million for full day pre-K for 4 year-old children; $65.5 million in special education grants; $54.6 million, concentration of poverty grants; $75 million for teacher salary; Incentive Grants; $23 million for Transitional Supplemental Grants; $2 million for mental health coordinators for each local school system; $2.5 million for teacher collaboratives; $300,000 for outreach and training; $500,000 for MSDE IT System; for a total of $255 million.

Healthcare: Medicaid funding totals $11.2 billion, allowing the State provided coverage to 1.4 million residents.

Operating Budget: Financial Responsibility - Fund balance of $118.2 million; $26 million structural surplus for fiscal 2020; and $1.1 billion in the Rainy Day fund.

Funding Local Projects:  District 44B team also successfully advocated for and received $250,000 for the MSBC Five Star Program’s Morning Star Family Life Center and $350,000 for Woodlawn High School to improve its gym and baseball fields, some of which sustained damage after flooding.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.  If I can be of further service, please feel free to contact me or my Chief of Staff Gene Clark.

Very truly yours,

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