Staff and Wire Reports//April 9, 2019
//April 9, 2019
The legislature removed regulatory authority over alcohol, tobacco and gasoline from the comptroller’s office and placed it with a commission. Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly overrode the veto.
Lawmakers strengthened existing laws and expanded protections against cyberbullying of youngsters.
More than $1 billion in additional education funding would be available in the next three years to begin implementing a state commission’s recommendations to raise teacher pay and help low-income and special education students.
Maryland would become the first state to stop participating in a federal family planning program known as Title X due to a proposed Trump administration rule that would prohibit family planning clinics funded by the program from making abortion referrals. Maryland would fund a family-planning program at the same level as the previous year with state funds.
Maryland would be the first state to ban foam containers for food and drink in an anti-pollution effort.
The state’s Handgun Permit Review Board would be abolished, and decisions on permits would be made by a state administrative judge.
Residents who lack health insurance will be able to check a box on their income tax returns enabling the state’s health exchange to determine an uninsured person’s eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance.
A state health insurance provider fee of 1 percent will be assessed through 2023 to help fund the state’s reinsurance program, which provides a safety net for insurers by helping to pay large claims.
Hopkins campus police
Johns Hopkins could create its own armed police force at its academic campuses and main medical campus in Baltimore.
Labor day school start
Local school boards will be able to decide whether class starts before or after Labor Day. Hogan vetoed the bill, and the legislature overrode the veto.
Medical system reform
The board of directors of the University of Maryland Medical System would be overhauled, after about one-third of the system’s board members received compensation through the medical system’s arrangements with their businesses.
Maryland became the sixth state to approve a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. It will go from $10.10 to $11 in January, followed by increases of 75 cents a year to $14 in 2024 before reaching $15 in 2025. Hogan vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly overrode his veto.
Five oyster sanctuaries will be permanently protected in the law to prohibit catching oysters. Hogan vetoed the bill, and General Assembly overrode his veto.
Law enforcement would be required to send rape kits to a crime lap for testing within 30 days of receiving it, and a grant program has been created to help law enforcement pay for more testing.
Reforms to increase transparency at the University of Maryland Board of Regents have been approved in the aftermath of the handling of a University of Maryland football player’s death last year.
The state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard would increase from 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030. The measure continues to allow trash incineration waste-to-energy plants to be eligible for the same subsidies as wind and solar energy.
Sex abuse-schools vetting
To prevent teachers with records of sexual misconduct from moving from school to school, nondisclosure agreements involving sexual misconduct would be banned for school employees who have direct contact with children.
Maryland’s age for buying tobacco will rise from 18 to 21, including for tobacco-related products such as electronic smoking devices.
Federal employees in Maryland who must work without pay during a federal government shutdown will be able to get unemployment assistance via interest-free loans from a state fund. Hogan has signed the bill.
The state would be able to gather more information about agricultural practices, manure transport and water quality on the Eastern Shore.
An effort by asbestos plaintiffs’ bar to require asbestos claims to be mediated by an executive branch agency drew fierce opposition. Even the fallback plan – a study of ways to reduce a docket of thousands of pending asbestos-exposure lawsuits – fell by the wayside.
Legislation to require background checks for the private sale of long guns failed when the two chambers couldn’t reconcile their differences.
An attempt to repeal the crime of adultery failed to make it out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for the second straight year.
Proposals to change the Maryland Court of Appeals to Maryland Supreme Court and the court’s judges to “justices” with a “chief justice” failed.
A bill to ban state and local law enforcement agencies from entering “equitable sharing” arrangements with the federal government to process civil asset forfeitures did not receive a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Judge names in case search
The bill would requiring the name of a judge or magistrate that presided over a hearing or took judicial action to be included in the Case Search database did not receive a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers did not pass a proposed constitutional amendment to end circuit court elections, leaving to the governor the selection of all judges to those trial courts.
Legislators rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the amount in controversy that entitles litigants to a jury trial from more than $15,000 to more than $30,000.
A bill to require that criminal sentenced to life in prison in Maryland serve at least 25 years before becoming eligible for parole – more than a decade longer than the current 11-and-a-half-year minimum – failed to win support.
Medically assisted suicide
A controversial and emotional bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide failed on a tie vote in the Senate after Sen. Obie Patterson violated Senate rules and refused to vote. A similar measure had passed the House.
Lawmakers rejected a bill that would have stripped Maryland governors of the final say in parole decisions for inmates sentenced to life who have served 30 years in prison.
Preakness and Pimlico
Lawmakers gave up on a compromise plan that would have granted funding to the owner of Laurel Park in exchange for reinvestment in struggling Pimlico Race Course, with an eye to keeping the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.
Lawmakers decided early in the session that this was a matter that needed more study.
Lawmakers gave up early when it became apparent there was no agreement on, among other things, how this should be presented to voters for approval.
Statute of limitations
Legislation to double from 20 to 40 years the statute of limitations on lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse failed in the final hours of the session.
Daily Record staff