We are now in week two of the 90 day legislation and I am finalizing the bills I will be the primary sponsor of this year. I currently plan to sponsor nine pieces of legislation. That said, there are some significant issues the General Assembly will address that I may not be the sponsor of, but will take up significant time. This includes the annual budget which goes through the committee I serve on (Appropriations) and all of the major bills, which as the Majority Leader of the House I will have some involvement in.
The legislation I currently plan to sponsor includes:
-State and Federal Transportation Funding Act (HB 51): The bill allows the state to use Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Bonds to finance certain transportation projects.
-Maryland State Agency Transparency Act of 2023 (HB 58): The legislation expands various open meeting and transparency requirements--including web streaming meetings--to the Maryland State Ethics Commission.
-Net Metering Flexibility Act (HB 68): Thanks to a constituent, I learned that our state policy for net metering credits--the credits earned for generating energy from solar panels--is not as consumer-friendly as it could be and this legislation seeks to improve that.
-Maryland Rail Investment Act of 2023 (HB 74): This is a repeat of last year and would use road, tunnel, and bridge tolls to fund a new rail authority to invest in needed transit rail projects around the state.
-Young Readers Program Expansion Act: Last year we passed a bill to create a state match program for Imagination Library-type programs (every kid under five gets a book a month from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library). This year's bill would move the program from the Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention and put it in the Maryland State Library Agency and add further funding.
-Arbitration Reform for State Employees Act: Another repeat from a prior session, this would allow our state workers to engage in binding arbitration as part of the existing collective bargaining process.
-Special Needs Teacher Pay Parity Act: The state's "non-public placement" program is for students with special needs who the local school district decides to send to a school outside of the traditional public program. This bill would rename the program and alter the funding to increase special needs teacher pay.
-The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority Sunset Act: I previously served on Governor Hogan's State Transparency and Reform (STAR) Commission that looked at several quasi-governmental state agencies. This bill takes a close look at one of those agencies to determine if it should continue.
-Board of Public Works Public Comment Act: This legislation would set up a more formal process for the state Board of Public Works--which approves all state contracts--to accept and consider public comments.
The Maryland General Assembly website has many great resources if you are interested in following our work over the next 90 days. I will highlight just a few:
The general schedule is available here:
You can look up legislation and track its progress here. Every bill introduced by the bill introduction deadline is guaranteed a hearing and before the hearing, a fiscal and policy note about the bill will be published.
You can view the Committee Schedule, which will be regularly updated, here.
I also recommend a few different news resources for those of you interested in the legislature. In addition to the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, there are three websites that specialize in coverage of Annapolis:
Maryland Reporter: http://marylandreporter.com/
Maryland Matters: https://marylandmatters.org/
Center Maryland: http://www.centermaryland.org/
The Daily Record is a paid site, but the Twitter feed of their ace reporter, Bryan Sears (@bpsears) is a good one to follow. There are also a few good podcasts that cover the legislative session including the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Conduit Street Podcast. For more local coverage, Bethesda Beat.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.