This past Monday was the so-called crossover deadline, the date by which bills have to pass one chamber to be guaranteed a chamber in the other.
Back in early February, I shared a graphic of 2022 legislative priorities from the House of Delegates, which I have again pasted below. Each of these has made progress prior to crossover.
Expanding Childcare: The House has passed a package of bills to expand the base of childcare providers while also adding resources to make childcare more accessible for the middle class.
Improving Infrastructure: The federal infrastructure bill has created vast opportunities to invest in our infrastructure. Thus far, the House has passed legislation on local road and bridge funding (known as Highway User Revenue), funding expansion of the MARC commuter rail system, funding our area's Metro system, and investing in road safety programs for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Climate Solutions: Thus far, the House has held hearings on legislation to reduce greenhouse gas reductions. The Senate has passed a broad bill and the House will now be taking up the issue.
Expanding Family and Medical Leave: The House of Delegates passed an implementation task force bill to advance paid family and medical leave. The Senate passed a version of the program and the two chambers will now work together to reconcile differences.
Helping Families Afford Basic Needs: The House has passed legislation related to taxes on gasoline, medical equipment, diapers, and a few other basic necessities. The budget passing through the chambers also reserves several hundred million for further tax changes.
Banning Ghost Guns: The House has passed legislation regarding the appropriate registration of "untraceable firearms," also known as ghost guns.
Greater Judicial Transparency: Although debate of how to strike the right balance between judicial independence and adequacy continues, the budget that is passing through the chambers reserves funds to implement a judicial transparency program.
Legalizing Cannabis: The House of Delegates has passed legislation to let the voters decide if recreational cannabis should be legal, as well as an initial implementation bill.
Expanding Women's Reproductive Health: The House has passed a bill to let the voters decide if reproductive choice should be enshrined in the state Constitution. Other legislation the House passed will expand the base of available providers.
There is more work to do on each of these priorities, as well as thousands of other bills, during the last few weeks of the legislative session.
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.
Crossover is also a good time to provide an update on the legislation I sponsored.
-Zero Emission Bus Revisions: Last year we passed legislation to transition the state bus fleet to zero emission. This bill is for worker training related to that transition and has passed both the House and Senate.
-Green School Construction Act: This bill removes the state match for fossil fuel burning school energy systems. It is still in committee, but net zero school incentives are in another bill.
-MVA Registration Clarification Act: This bill, brought to me by a constituent, closes a loophole whereby the Motor Vehicle Administration has been improperly levying fines for uninsured but turned in license plates. This has passed the House.
-State Agency Transparency Act: A bill to require certain state entities to webstream their meetings has passed both chambers.
-Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund Installment Payment Plans: Legislation to allow Maryland's auto insurer of last resort to provide more flexible installment payment plans for Maryland consumers. It has passed both chambers.
-Independent Agency Health Insurance Option Act: Legislation to allow certain independent state entities to access the state health insurance plan has passed both houses.
-Young Readers Program Expansion Act: The bill to expand free book programs for children under 5 beyond Baltimore City has passed both Houses.
-Employee Stock Ownership Benefits bill: Legislation to create a tax incentive for conversions of businesses to employee ownership has passed the Senate.
-WMATA Dedicated Funding Amendments Act: Legislation contingent on Virginia to move an annual cost escalator from one capital fund to Metro's dedicated funding has passed the House and Senate.
-State Employee Binding Arbitration Bill: This bill, whose name says it all, is still in committee.
-Maryland Rail Investment Act: This bill is still in committee although other legislation that has passed committee and is on the House floor will advance our state rail projects. The bill would create a new state rail authority, funded by tolls.
-Non-Public Placement/Special Needs Teachers: Funding for special needs teachers who teach publicly funded but non-publicly placed students is on the Senate floor on Monday.
The one piece of legislation we must pass each year is a balanced budget. Last week, the State Senate unanimously passed the budget. On Friday, the House Appropriations Committee on which I served passed the budget out of the committee. The budget as it heads to the House floor contains these highlights:
-Balanced budget and projected surpluses for the next few fiscal years.
-$2.1 billion added to the Rainy Day Fund.
-$350 million set aside for tax changes.
-Almost $8 billion for public school support and full funding of the Blueprint for Maryland's future.
-Set aside funding for expanding Medicaid--including dental--and Temporary Cash Assistance to those in need, grants to the arts and tourism community still reeling from COVID-19, implementation of cannabis reform, cutting down the Autism Waiver waiting list, implementing the Climate Solutions Now Act, and more.
-Support for higher education to hold in-state student tuition at 2% increases.
After the census, the General Assembly redrew Congressional and state legislative district lines. Not surprisingly, those lines are now in litigation and the Maryland Court of Appeals has set some new dates for the primary election. Most significantly, the primary election has been moved to Tuesday, July 19.
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