The Major Issues
I often get caught up in these emails discussing the legislation I introduce or the work of my committee (Appropriations) and subcommittee (Transportation & Environment). This week I want to step back and discuss some of the broader agenda items the House of Delegates will be taking up during the legislative session.
In no particular order, some of the issues are:
Climate Solutions: We have made a lot of incremental progress on climate policy in the state of Maryland but this year we are poised for major legislative gains with an increased greenhouse gas reduction goal, regulation of methane emissions from landfills, promotion of just transition for workers in the fossil fuel economy, and much more.
Expanding Family and Medical Leave: The House of Delegates is poised to pass this expanded leave program for workers this year. I want to give particular credit to my seatmate, Delegate Ariana Kelly, for leading the way on this issue.
Helping Families Afford Basic Needs: The House Ways & Means Committee will promote legislation to expand the categories of goods that are not subject to the sales tax, such as diapers.
Banning Ghost Guns: Under the leadership of Attorney General Brian Frosh and District 16's own Senator Susan Lee, the legislature will take on the growing threat of self-assembling and untraceable ghost guns.
Greater Judicial Transparency: There will be a robust discussion over what visibility there is into the judicial system and judicial decision-making, as the General Assembly seeks to strike the right balance between judicial independence and adequate oversight by the legislature and the public of the judicial system.
Legalizing Cannabis: The General Assembly plans to send to the voters a ballot question regarding whether or not the state should legalize recreational cannabis. It will likely be up for a vote this November.
Expanding Women's Reproductive Health: Regardless of Supreme Court politics or decisions, Maryland has codified the right for a woman to choose an abortion into law. Legislation this year will work to ensure that right has practical meaning by clarifying who can perform procedures and their costs.
Expanding Childcare: Even prior to the pandemic there was a shortage of childcare providers and the costs were too high, challenges only heightened by COVID-19. A legislative package this year will work to expand the provider base and cost assistance.
Improving Infrastructure: The federal infrastructure bill has created a once in a generation opportunity to invest in our infrastructure and the House of Delegates will provide necessary oversight of this process.
Of course, there will be over 3000 bills introduced during the legislative session and many other issues to tackle. But these represent some significant priorities.
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.
Sticking with my theme, a few people wrote back last week to note that my discussion of the Governor's budget did not include his tax proposals. As I serve on the Appropriations Committee, and not the Ways & Means Committee that deals with taxes, I sometimes gloss over that side of the ledger but it is important.
The Governor has proposed three basic tax changes: (1) Phase out of income taxes on all retiree income; (2) Elimination of the business filing fee for online filers; and (3) Extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit the General Assembly passed--and the Governor signed--last year. There are a few things to keep in mind about these proposals, which will be considered as part of budget negotiations. Regarding retiree income, the annual cost of the Governor's proposal rises to $730 million a year by 2027 and there are no restrictions based on the amount of income or tax bracket of the beneficiary. As to the Earned Income Tax Credit, it does not need to be extended until next year and the Governor excluded certain taxpayers the General Assembly previously included. Finally, tax reductions are not "free" but represent foregone revenue. Unlike the federal government, the state has to have a balanced budget each year. We are in a moment of budget surplus, but a lot of it represents "one time" money which will be spent over time and we will end up with projected deficits again.
I have introduced several more bills since my last newsletter that will soon be assigned for hearings:
The General Assembly has adopted the constitutionally required maps for state legislative district redistricting, something we must do every decade in response to the new census. For District 16, the only change is shifting precinct 04-32--the neighborhoods around Cabin John Mall and the Ivymount School--to District 15, which was their district before the 2010 census redistricting. You can browse the new map--which is subject to litigation--here.
District 16's Lily Freeman was front-and-center last week as Moms Demand Action came to Annapolis to advocate against ghost guns. You can watch her speak here. Lily was one of my high school interns last year!
Congratulations to another student in District 16, Zayn Bandukwalia, on being appointed to the Montgomery County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Advisory Advisory Council.
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