Last night, the 2022 legislative session came to a close. Just before the midnight adjournment, District 16 and Montgomery County got some exciting news when my district-mate, Delegate Ariana Kelly, was appointed Vice Chair of the Health & Government Operations Committee. You can learn about that and more at our District 16 zoom town hall on Wednesday, May 11 at 7pm. You can register for the event here.
During the 2022 session, I continued to chair the Transportation and Environment Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee and served as a member of the Capital Budget Subcommittee and the Oversight Committee on Personnel. I was also proud to continue to chair the 24-member Montgomery County House Delegation, a role which allowed me to advance our County’s statewide priorities while also working on local legislation that only affects Montgomery County.
Below is a synopsis of some key highlights from the legislative session. If an issue you care about is not addressed here, please email me about it at email@example.com.
The one piece of legislation that we are constitutionally required to pass each year is a balanced budget. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I worked throughout the session on fiscal issues and was pleased to see the passage of a robust and bipartisan budget that funds our legislative priorities while maintaining projected surpluses through fiscal year 2027. The budget includes:
A top priority during the 2022 legislative session was continuing to provide much needed economic relief for families, particularly families struggling with costs of living increases. This year, the General Assembly passed the Child Care Scholarship Program - Alterations (HB 995), which grants individuals on the edge of eligibility automatic enrollment for the Child Care Scholarship Program. We also passed bills that support child care providers such as the Bonuses for Child Care Providers and Employees (HB 1100), which provides $16 million for employee retention and new hire bonuses. In addition, after years of advocacy, the General Assembly passed the Time to Care Act (SB 275) which is a paid parental leave program that allows Marylanders to have partially paid leave for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a medical issue and up to 24 weeks after becoming a parent. It is now law after we overrode the Governor’s veto.
The General Assembly voted to permanently eliminate the sales tax on certain medical equipment (HB 364), as well as several basic child care necessities such as diapers, car seats and other essential baby products. The General Assembly also passed the Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2022 (SB 405). The bill provides an income tax credit for those 65 years old and older that make up to $100,000 and couples making up to $150,000.
Expanding Women's Reproductive Health
While women’s reproductive rights have come under fire in other states and may soon be threatened by the Supreme Court, Maryland has made great strides to protect a woman’s right to choose. The General Assembly passed the Abortion Care Access Act (HB 937) which removes unnecessary and outdated barriers to accessing reproductive health care. It also expands training for providers and allows different types of medical professionals to perform abortions. The General Assembly also passed the Healthy Baby Equity Act (HB 1080), requiring the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide medical care to non-citizen pregnant women. Both bills are now law.
The federal infrastructure bill has created significant opportunities to invest in our transportation infrastructure in Maryland, an issue I am involved in heavily as Chair of the Transportation and Environment Subcommittee of Appropriations. Additionally, I am an officer and co-founder of the bipartisan Transit Caucus. The General Assembly has passed HB 1187 to increase local road and bridge funding, known as Highway User Revenue. I was also proud to support the Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act (HB 778), which funds improvements and expansion of the MARC commuter rail system, including the Brunswick Line in Montgomery County. We overrode the Governor’s veto of HB 778 with bipartisan support.
I also supported several bills that will improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. HB 254 requires the State Highway Administration (SHA) to conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a State highway to help improve safety. The Safe Access for All Roads ACT (HB 656) would have required the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to direct more money for pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, but unfortunately did not make it through the legislative process.
Additionally, as Chair of the Montgomery County Delegation, I worked to obtain a $27 million per year continuous funding source for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, in addition to the one year capital infusion of over $63 million referenced above. BRT is a major component of Montgomery County’s transportation network and economic development plan.
Protecting Our Environment
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been a top priority of mine since I took office. I was proud to support the Climate Solutions Now Act (SB 528), a groundbreaking bill that establishes a plan to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by the year 2045. The bill advances our efforts to address climate change by increasing our greenhouse gas reduction goals, and also establishes specific policies around zero-emission school buses, zero-emission government vehicle fleets, healthy soil, and more to actually meet our ambitious goals. It includes a policy I was particularly involved in to increase incentives for local school systems to construct net-zero school buildings.
The Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act Revisions (HB 10), which I sponsored, builds on legislation of mine that was passed last session to transition the state bus fleet to zero emission. This year’s bill provides training and a just transition for workers so that no employee is adversely impacted by the move from diesel buses to zero emission. I was also proud to support other bills that addressed dangerous chemicals and pollutants in our environment. For example, the George “Walter” Taylor Act (HB 275) prohibits manufacturing or distributing certain materials with added per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). PFAS are a family of carcinogenic chemicals found in many common products such as carpets and food packaging. The bill was sponsored by my seatmate, Delegate Sara Love and has been sent to the Governor’s desk.
Gun safety continues to be a top legislative priority for the General Assembly and I was proud to support several bills to address this issue. Among the most pressing issues around gun safety is the manufacture of untraceable firearms, often referred to as “ghost guns.” My District 16 colleague Senator Susan Lee introduced SB 387 to tighten restrictions around ghost guns, requiring that unfinished gun frames and receivers be made traceable through serialization. The bill will decrease the number of untraceable guns in circulation, and further prevent people who should not have a gun from getting a gun. I voted in favor of the bill, which is now law.
I also supported another important bill (HB 1021) which requires licensed firearms dealers to take precautions for securing their inventory, including locking firearms after business hours and equipping the dealership premises with a security system. Such precautions will ensure guns cannot be stolen from firearms dealerships, and fall into the wrong hands. I introduced a version of this bill in a prior session, and am grateful that both the House and Senate have passed this vital bill over the Governor’s veto to improve public safety.
The 2022 session marked a strong step forward for cannabis legalization and criminal justice reform. Bills were introduced to seek justice for those incarcerated by the war on drugs, and to pave a path for equitable legalization. The Legal Cannabis Constitutional Amendment (HB 1) puts a voter referendum on the ballot regarding recreational cannabis legalization. The Cannabis Reform Act (HB 837) also passed both chambers and is now law. In the event that cannabis is legalized for adult use by the voters, HB 837 requires a series of studies and standards regarding cannabis and its usage, lessens civil and criminal penalties for its consumption, and expunges convictions of people charged with simple possession or usage of cannabis. Reforms such as these are necessary in order to equitably implement legal cannabis policies across the State.
Other Legislative Victories
Several other bills that I introduced have passed and been sent to the Governor or incorporated into other legislation:
I strongly value the input of my constituents on the issues before the General Assembly. While the state legislature only meets for 90 days each year in Annapolis, I am working for you 365 days a year. As we progress throughout the year, my office will continue to be a resource to help connect you to state and local officials.
If you have any questions about the material in this email, other questions about the recently concluded legislative session, ideas regarding policy issues, issues with a state agency that require constituent services, or are interested in my office’s legislative scholarship, please contact me any time. I can be reached by phone at 301-858-3649, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can just reply to this email, which will switch to its monthly format until January 2023.
Last week was the so-called "presentment" deadline. Under the Maryland Constitution, the Governor has six days to veto or sign bills passed by the General Assembly during the legislative session, otherwise they become law without his signature. If a bill is presented later than that, the Governor will have 30 days after presentment to act on the bill (long after the legislature adjourns). Moreover, because we are at the end of a four year term, any veto cannot be overridden. Much of our work in Annapolis is bipartisan and collaborative, but we typically expect the majority Democratic legislature to have some disagreements with the Republican Governor. Therefore, some bills were passed and presented last week so the General Assembly can override any vetoes it chooses to. Among the major bills that were passed and presented are:
Cannabis Reform: Voters will decide in November whether cannabis should be legal for recreational use in Maryland, but the companion bill would establish some of the criminal law rules around cannabis should the voters decide to make it legal. Issues around licensing and taxing would be determined next year.
Climate Solutions Now Act: The bill would advance our efforts to address climate change by increasing our greenhouse gas reduction goals, but also establishing policies around zero emission school buses, zero emission government vehicle fleets, healthy soils, and more to actually meet our ambitious goals. It includes a policy I was particularly involved in to increase incentives for local school systems to construct net zero school buildings.
Untraceable Firearms: The bill would address so-called "ghost guns" by banning these weapons, which are growing in use.
Time To Care Act: This is a paid parental leave program that would allow Marylanders to have partially paid leave for up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a medical issue and up to 24 weeks after becoming a parent.
Abortion Care Access Act: Sponsored by my seatmate, Delegate Ariana Kelly, this legislation would support the training of more reproductive service professionals and clarify who can offer the services. The bill is necessary to give a woman's right to choose true meaning in the state of Maryland.
Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act: I was heavily involved in this legislation to require the Maryland Transit Administration to advance many key commuter rail investments, including improvements on the Brunswick Line which runs through Montgomery County.
Even as we await the Governor's final decisions on those bills, the General Assembly is in the final one week sprint before the end of the legislative session. That means multiple floor sessions each day and weekend sessions as we march to midnight on Monday, April 11.
As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
During the final rush to adjournment, bills move through the process quickly.
Three of my bills are heading to the Governor's desk already:
Congressional redistricting has concluded, with the Governor and those who challenged a prior map in court accepting the lines the General Assembly redrew last week. You can view the final map and check your district here. My legislative district is now entirely within the eighth Congressional District, currently represented by Congressman Jamie Raskin.
Still in litigation are the maps for the state legislative districts. Earlier this week, a Special Master assigned by the Court of Appeals issued a report on the state map earlier this week and recommended rejecting challenges to it. The Court of Appeals will consider the report next week.
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