Hi Friend,

There are only two weeks left until the Maryland legislative session ends on April 8th. We are striving to get our high priority bills listed below passed by both the Senate and the House of Delegates before then. We need your help to keep pressure on our representatives by either calling their offices or emailing them ASAP this week.   Below is information that you can use.

GENERAL INFORMATION

ENVIRONMENT

Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516) passed the Senate, with a few amendments, by a veto-proof majority! The bill will double Maryland’s Renewal Portfolio Standard to 50% renewable electricity by 2030, and by 2023 will determine the best plan to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2040. Trash incineration would no longer be considered a renewable source. The Senate bill has gone on to the House of Delegates, where it must first be approved by the House Rules Committee and then by the House Economic Matters Committee, where Sen. Brian Feldman (D15), sponsor of the Senate bill, will present the bill as passed by the Senate.  

ACTION: Contact the MoCo Delegates on these two committees to express your support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act and ask them to encourage other members to support the bill:

RULES Committee:

Economic Matters Committee:

Talking/writing points

  • A 2018 MD Public Service Commission study found that the Clean Energy Jobs Act solar-based benefits to MD's economy would be over $4 billion in the next decade.

  • To meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals, Maryland must move away from burning fossil fuels and trash to using solar, wind and hydro-produced energy.

  • Energy produced through trash incineration is not clean renewable energy.

  • Maryland has lost hundreds of solar and wind jobs to neighboring states with more aggressive solar and wind energy requirements.

  • Maryland will lose out on approximately $247 million in federal tax credits between 2019 and 2022 if passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act is delayed by one year.

  • Maryland has the opportunity to regain leadership on clean energy by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act this year.

  • Maryland’s huge shoreline is extremely vulnerable to climate change, economically and socially.

  • Use of clean energy is an obligation we should undertake for our descendants.

Chlorpyrifos Ban (HB 275) would ban use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos after December 31, 2020. The bill passed the House of Delegates on March 15, and has moved on to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

ACTION: Contact MoCo Senators

  • Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D17) is a member of this committee. Contact her at Cheryl.Kagan@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3134 to express your support for the bill and ask her to encourage other committee members to support it.

  • Sen. Susan Lee (D16), susan.lee@senate.state.mdus, 410-841-3124, while not a member of this committee, is the Senate Majority Whip, so a contact can be made to emphasize the importance for our state of enacting this legislation.

Talking/writing points

  • Chlorpyrifos devastates bees we need to pollinate crops, as well as fish and insect populations many birds rely on for food.

  • People can be exposed to toxic chlorpyrifos residues in foods that have been sprayed, through contaminated drinking water, and toxic drift.

  • Young children exposed to chlorpyrifos may show learning and behavior problems.

  • The Federal EPA has determined that no level of chlorpyrifos can be considered safe and has recommended that the pesticide be banned for all uses. But the Trump Administration does not support a ban, so Maryland must act to ban this toxic chemical.


HEALTH CARE

Health - Prescription Drug Affordability Board (HB 0768) was approved by the House Health and Government Operations Committee. The bill would create the first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board and give the Board the authority to collect information on drug prices from other states and to use this and other information to set upper payment limits on what state and local governments would pay for high cost drugs.  

Although we preferred the original language in the bill, which gave the Board the authority to set upper payment limits for all insurance plans offered in Maryland, the bill as amended to allow these limits only for plans that insure state and government employees is an important step forward in our effort to make prescription drugs more affordable for Marylanders. The House bill will get a floor vote March 26.

But, our work is not done. The drug corporations and PhRMA made clear at hearings before the House that they strongly oppose the House-passed measure and suggested changes such as such as removing all upper payment limits authority from the Board, which would have substantially weakened it, . We must do all we can to block their efforts to weaken HB 768 in the Senate.

ACTION: Contact MoCo Senators on the committee to thank them for their support of this bill and urge them to work hard for its passage:

Talking/writing points

  • Skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs adversely affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Marylanders. It is imperative that prescription prices be lowered for these higher priced drugs.

  • The inability to pay medical bills is a leading cause of bankruptcies.

  • Many residents do not fill prescriptions because they cannot afford the cost.

  • It is time to stand up to the drug companies; this legislation should not be weakened to placate the drug companies.


ELECTIONS & VOTING

Election Law – Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Places (SB0449) passed the Senate 33-14, as amended, on March 13 and has now moved on to the House where it has a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee on March 26. This bill provides an exception to the voter registration deadline to allow an individual to appear at a precinct polling place in their county of residence, apply to register to vote and, assuming they meet the requirements, vote that same day. This legislation is needed to implement the Constitutional Amendment adopted by voters in November 2018, which allows same day voter registration.”

ACTION: Contact MoCo Delegates on the House Ways and Means Committee and ask them to support the Senate bill as amended and encourage their colleagues to do so as well:


Immigration

Victims and Witnesses - U Nonimmigrant Status - Certification of Victim Helpfulness (SB0144) passed the Senate 45-1 last week. The bill is now in the House and has a hearing scheduled for March 28 in the House Judiciary Committee. For purposes of filing a petition with the US Customs and Immigration Service for U Nonimmigrant Status, this bill enables a victim or the victim’s family member or friend to request a specific official to certify victim helpfulness if the victim (1) was a victim of a qualifying criminal activity and (2) has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to law enforcement.

ACTION: Contact these MoCo members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to support SB0144 and move it to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible:


Transportation oversight

Public-Private Partnerships – Reforms (HB 1091) would reform the public-private-partnership (P3) process and rein in Maryland’s Department of Transportation’s P3 project to add toll lanes to I-270 and the beltway in Maryland. The bill creates strong protections for the State’s financial interests in P3 transportation projects over $500 million and requires an independent auditor to assess the creditworthiness of a proposed agreement, and it also requires a completed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to contract solicitation. The bill passed the House of Delegates with a veto-proof majority, and is now before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. A hearing is scheduled for April 3, but It would be very helpful if the Budget and Taxation Committee approved this bill by March 29 so the Senate can pass the bill this session. MDOT’s plans for the I-270/I-495 P3 project are moving quickly.

ACTION: Contact the following MoCo Senators on the Budget and Taxation Committee to support passage of this bill by March 29 to ensure the legislation will reach the Governor's desk this legislative session.

You can also contact Del. Kumar Barve (D17), Chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, kumar.barve@house.state.md.us, 410-841-3990, and ask him to press his colleagues in the Senate to pass the bill.

Talking/writing points  

  • HB 1091 will ensure that good business principles and additional oversight are applied to all P3 projects, including Gov. Hogan's $11 billion project to expand I-495 and I-270 for privatized, for-profit toll lanes.

  • A 2016 study by the US Department of Transportation identified many risks to taxpayers of for-profit toll lane projects and contradicted promises by Gov. Hogan that there will be no net costs to taxpayers for the I-270/I-495 P3 project as proposed by MD DOT.

  • Both studies and real-world experiences show that adding more lanes attracts more traffic instead of reducing it, leading to even more carbon pollution when we should be reducing it.  

  • Adding 4 toll lanes to I-495 and I-270 will increase air and water pollution, and could destroy homes, parkland, and much of the property public use facilities including a YMCA, Blair High School and Holy Cross Hospital. There are many better alternatives, including MARC, the Purple Line, Bus Rapid Transit, carpools, telecommuting, etc.


EDUCATION

The Blueprint for Maryland's Future (HB1413 and SB 1030) would provide additional funding to begin implementation of  recommendations of The Kirwan Commission to substantially increase spending for Maryland’s public schools. The legislation calls for an additional $325 million to be appropriated this year and more than $700 million next year, as recommended by the Kirwan Commission, to begin implementation of its policy recommendations, which are also incorporated into these bills.  

On March 14 the House of Delegates passed legislation appropriating $320 million in additional funds for the first year. On that same date, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee reported out legislation appropriating $225 million, saying more would be added if the legislature passed legislation to impose a sales tax on all internet purchases. In the Senate version, some of these additional funds could also be used to provide additional funding to private schools.

ACTION: It is imperative to keep up the fight for full funding of the Kirwan recommendations for SY2019-2020 and SY 2020-2021. Contact MoCO Senators on the Budget and Taxation Committee to emphasis the importance of supporting full additional funding for public education:

Talking/writing points  

  • Education is the State’s most important function; the full potential of its citizens as well as economic growth is dependent on this.
  • Maryland’s national ranking on education has slipped considerably and must be addressed now.
  • Kirwan Commission recommendations are well thought out and deserve full funding of $325 million this year. All of these funds should go to public schools; none to private schools.
Check the DTMG website for updates and actions.