One of the major issues being debated on the House floor this week is the budget, the only bill that constitutionally must be passed each annual legislative session. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, a significant amount of my daily work has related to the budget. The Appropriations Committee is organized into four subject matter subcommittees: Education and Economic Development (on which I serve); Environment and Transportation; Health and Human Resources; and Public Safety. Each subcommittee reviews the proposed budget for the state agencies affecting those issue areas and makes recommendations to the full committee. As a reminder, the legislature cannot add funding to a line item of the Governor's proposed budget, it can only reduce funding. However, the budget introduced this year included a Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (known as a BRFA), which contains changes to state funding formulas which the legislature can reject. Some of the major actions taken by the Appropriations Committee in this year's budget include:
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Last week I provided a complete update on my currently pending legislation. The only major update since last week is that the State Board of Elections Transparency Act (HB 169) has been passed out of committee and is now pending on the House floor.
I was invited to make comments about the Jewish celebration of Purim on the House floor last week. You can read my remarks here.
Two significant bills passed the House last week that may be of interest. First, the House of Delegates passed a prohibition on fracking in the state of Maryland which would replace a soon to expire moratorium on the practice. Second, the House passed a bill reforming the state's parole procedure for those sentenced to life with parole, reducing the political aspects of the process to ensure that public safety is the primary concern. Both bills are now pending in the State Senate.
The state's Board of Revenue Estimates has released its latest estimates last week. The projections show a net $33 million write-down to General Fund revenue estimates as well as a $34 million reduction in expected gaming revenue for the Education Trust Fund. These revisions will affect budget decisions over the last few weeks of the legislative session.
Progress has been slow with efforts to improve traffic safety along River Road at Whitman High School. A recent Washington Post article outlines some of the efforts being undertaken.
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Chuck Kaufman has also departed the Commission on Aging after several years of distinguished service.
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