We are now more than halfway through the 90 day legislative session which means floor sessions are getting longer and we are reaching key decision points on many significant issues. Last week, for example, the House of Delegates passed two bills related to the issue of cannabis legalization (and accompanying regulation).
HB 1 puts on the ballot the following question: Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis in the State of Maryland?
HB 837 addresses immediate issues if the voter answer "yes," to that question. Those issues are in the three buckets of criminal law, health, and regulatory structure. The bill does leave many issues for a future General Assembly, such as taxes and licensing but here is, broadly, what it would do:
Effective January 1, 2023
Josiah Henson was a slave in Montgomery County who wrote a slave narrative that helped inspire Uncle Tom's Cabin. The County Planning Board recently voted to rename Montrose Parkway after him. In addition to being a tribute to Josiah Henson, it will also reduce confusion with the nearby Montrose Road.
There have been significant problems with EZ Pass on Maryland's toll roads, bridges, and tunnels lately. As a result, the Maryland Transportation Authority has announced a few efforts to try and ameliorate the challenges, including a civil penalty waiver for late tolls and increasing the customer service agent workforce to reduce wait times. You can read more about this here: https://mdta.maryland.gov/blog-category/mdta-news-releases/mdta-board-members-approve-customer-assistance-plan
The Subcommittee I serve on had a hearing a few weeks ago regarding the challenges with EZPass, which you can view here. The issue will come up again when we hear the Authority's budget.
Since my last newsletter, there has been great progress on the legislation I am advancing this session.
The Health and Government Operations Committee unanimously voted to support the Maryland State Agency Transparency Act of 2022, which requires quasi-state agencies to video stream their meetings and post their materials publicly. Senator Cheryl Kagan is the lead in the Senate.
The Appropriations Committee voted in favor of the The Independent Agency Health Insurance Option Act, which would allow a few quasi-governmental agencies to buy into the state's health insurance plan.
The Ways & Means Committee voted unanimously in support of the Young Readers Program Expansion Act (ttps://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/HB0383?ys=2022RS).
All three bills will be on the House floor this week.
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