- Listen to hearings. Live hearings
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- Track government spending. . If you’re interested in knowing where your money goes, visit the database at http://spending.dbm.maryland.gov
As Covid led us to have what is viewed as an extensive, historic legislature period, the interim of 2020 has brought on hours on committee meetings, historic live voting sessions and unprecedented floor sessions that brought police reform, recently a governor override of three out of four reforms, voting reforms, environmental reforms and more. On Saturday, April 10, the Maryland Senate took up more of the Governor’s vetoes including not including parole for juveniles (a bill by Baltimore County Republican Senator West, who spoke out on the floor, eloquently.
The Baltimore Sun did a great job of covering the session.
Here’s a look at some of the bill the Maryland General Assembly approved during its 90-day session that ended Monday. Some have already become law, but most now head to Gov. Larry Hogan for his review. He has until June 1 to sign or veto the bills or allow them to become law without his signature.
The Republican governor vetoed several police reform bills, but Democratic majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates quickly overturned those vetoes. The resulting package of legislation sets limits on when police can use force against people, repeals the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, creates a disciplinary process with more civilian involvement for officers accused of wrongdoing, creates a statewide unit to investigate when police kill people, opens more personnel records to public scrutiny, and requires departments to have body camera programs.
Baltimore Police Department
Baltimore voters will get to decide whether the police department — technically a state agency since 1860 — should be returned to full local control under legislation approved by the Assembly. The governor said he would allow it to become law without his signature. City officials can schedule the referendum for 2022 or 2024.
Parole for juvenile offenders
Compensation for wrongly imprisoned
Legislation that would create a framework for a legal industry of gambling on sports was approved Monday. It would include licenses to be granted for in-person gambling, as well as for mobile and online gambling.
Historically Black colleges and universities
Pandemic financial relief
The governor and Assembly worked together on the RELIEF Act, a multipronged aid bill to address some of the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
It sent direct payments to Marylanders with low incomes, created a tax break for people who receive unemployment and breaks for some businesses, authorized direct payments to people whose unemployment claims have been delayed by adjudication, and expanded the state’s portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low- and moderate-income workers.
The Assembly approved legislation allowing noncitizens to become eligible for the state’s portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income workers. The provision covers some workers with legal permission to live in the United States and some without. Hogan said he would let the legislation become law without his signature.
A package of bills would require a study of how to improve the unemployment benefits system, allow recipients to earn more money before their benefits are reduced, connect recipients with low-cost health insurance, require payment plans for businesses for their unemployment taxes, and expand a work-share program that helps companies avoid full layoffs.
Voters would be allowed to opt in to a permanent vote-by-mail list, instead of needing to request a mail ballot in each election. Counties would be required to add more early voting centers and place them in areas close to historically disenfranchised communities and near public transit.
The Assembly overrode Hogan’s veto of an education reform bill passed last year. It sets out an ambitious plan for improving public schools, including programs such as increased teacher pay and training, expanded career and college prep, and additional supports for children who are struggling.
Legislators also overrode his vetoes of taxes to help pay for it, including a new tax on digital advertising, an extension of the sales tax to digital downloads such as books and movies, and an increase in taxes on tobacco and nicotine products.
Local governments would have more flexibility in setting rates for local income taxes, including allowing for graduated rates for different income levels.
Lawmakers acted to tighten the rules for emergency contracts after deals the Hogan administration made during the pandemic were criticized, including a purchase of coronavirus tests from a South Korean company.
Also, government contractors would have to pay a prevailing wage to workers on a wider range of state-funded construction projects.
Maryland Environmental Service
The service’s board of directors would be overhauled and would have to set policies on compensation, travel and benefits.
Voters will decide in 2022 whether to re-christen the top courts in Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals.
The new names, regarded as less confusing, would be the Appellate Court of Maryland and the Supreme Court of Maryland.
Overridden (32-15), (95-41)
SB 494 Juveniles Convicted as Adults – Sentencing – Limitations and Reduction (Juvenile Restoration Act) (2021RS) Overridden (31-16), (88-49)
SB 71 (2021RS) Overridden (31-16), (94-43)
Veto overrides on Women’s Pre-Release (SB 684 2020), Kirwan Education Bill (HB 1300), and the Unit Rule (HB 1336 2020), as well as providing EITC Access for ITIN Filers (SB 218)
- SB 1/HB1: Provide More Funding to HBCUs – Approved by the Governor – Chapter 42
- HB 3: Remove the Governor from the Parole Process
- HB 16: Dignity Not Detention Act
- HB 18: Provide a Right to Counsel in Eviction Hearings
- HB 23 /SB234: Driver Privacy Act
- HB 89: Reduce Prison Sentences for Completing DCS Training Programs
- HB120 Anton’s Law Veto Override
- HB 222: Value My Vote Act
- HB 315: Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act
- HB 316: Eliminate Fees for GPS Monitors for Low-Income Pre-Trial Detainees
- HB 882: Unit Rule – Workgroup to Study Partial Expungement
- HB1027: Return Control of the Baltimore Police Department to Baltimore City – The question will appear on ballots in either 2022 or 2024 after legislation setting up the referendum on the status of the Baltimore Police Department sailed through the Maryland General Assembly.
- Public Health – Maryland Commission on Health Equity (The Shirley Nathan–Pulliam Health Equity Act of 2021)