Maryland State Bills
During the 2019 Maryland State legislative session, WDC submitted testimony on twenty-six bills related to WDC’s priorities. Many of these bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by our Montgomery County Senators or Delegates. Fourteen bills were passed by the State legislature and enacted into law. As of this writing, three bills have been signed by the Governor. One bill was vetoed by the Governor and overridden by the legislature. The Governor must veto a bill passed by the legislature by May 28 or the bill becomes law. WDC also supported the bill priorities of WDC’s partner, the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW). WDC monitored the status of four bills but did not submit testimony. To view the current status of all legislation introduced in the 2019 session, click here for House bills and here for Senate bills.
Affordable Housing (two bills): The Committee submitted testimony on two bills that did not pass. HB0628 would have prohibited a landlord from evicting a tenant from leased premises in Montgomery County in the absence of just cause. HB0451/SB0812 would have prohibited property owners from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling based on a person’s source of income.
The Committee also monitored one bill that passed. HB0672/SB0810 establishes a local housing grant program for homeless veterans and survivors of domestic violence.
Aging (three bills): The Committee submitted testimony on two bills that passed. HB0251/SB0279 authorizes the Department of Aging to make grants to nonprofit organizations and area agencies on aging to expand and establish aging-in-place programs for seniors. This bill was signed by the Governor. HB0768/ SB0759 establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to protect State residents and other stakeholders from the high costs of prescription drug products. This bill also establishes a stakeholder council to assist the Board in establishing regulations, methodologies, and reporting requirements. If warranted, the Board must set an upper payment limit for prescription drug products that are purchased or paid for by and on behalf of a unit of State or local government or paid for through a health benefit plan on behalf of a unit of State or local government.
The Committee submitted testimony on one bill that did not pass. HB0296 would have provided additional transparency and cost-savings for patients at the pharmacy counter.
Children and Youth (three bills): The Committee submitted testimony on two bills that passed. HB0519/SB0697 confirms that a child conceived by means of assisted reproduction during the marriage of the child’s mother with consent of the mother’s spouse is the legitimate child of both spouses, and also establishes an expedited adoption process for an individual who is married to the adoptee’s parent at the time of the adoptee’s birth or consented to the conception of the adoptee by means of assisted reproduction. HB1413/SB1030 establishes the principles of the Kirwan Commission’s Blueprint for Maryland’s’ Future that are intended to transform Maryland’s’ early childhood, primary, and secondary education system to the levels of high-performing systems around the World, establishes a Concentration of Poverty School Program, and imposes a mandated appropriation in the annual State Budget.
The Committee submitted testimony on one bill that did not pass. HB0855/SB0231 would have established that individuals younger than age 18 may not marry. However, an alternative bill HB1147 did pass that repeals current law allowing individuals ages 15 and 16 to marry and provides that an individual who is age 17 may only marry if the individual has been granted an order of emancipation.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety (eight bills): The Committee submitted testimony on five bills that passed. HB0214/SB0144 requires Maryland law enforcement agencies and officials to grant or deny a “petition of helpfulness to law enforcement” (I-918B Certification) to undocumented victims of crime who are applying for U Nonimmigrant Status under federal law, in order to protect vulnerable undocumented women and children crime victims and ensure that law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to investigate and prosecute this criminal activity. HB0659 prohibits law enforcement officials from detaining children under the age of 12 beyond emergency detention, unless the child has committed a crime considered to be a violent crime or has been shown to be a flight risk. HB0774/SB0622 requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to study and report on the origins of guns used in crimes in Maryland with the goal of identifying sources of illegal guns. HB0745/SB0809 prohibits placing pregnant inmates in solitary confinement during pregnancy and 8 weeks post-partum unless the pregnant inmate is a danger to herself and others or could spread a communicable disease, and establishes care requirements if a pregnant female is placed in solitary confinement. HB1096/SB0767 requires that all Sexual Assault Evidence Kits be submitted for forensic analysis except in limited circumstances and requires a forensic laboratory to report annually to the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee regarding the duration necessary to complete testing of sexual assault evidence collection kits. This bill was signed by the Governor.
The Committee submitted testimony on three bills that did not pass. HB0468/SB0441 would have required an external safety lock or locked storage for all loaded guns stored in a home with children under the age of 18, and would have imposed a criminal liability for failure to comply. HB0665/SB0811 would have required the state to set up a $4 million fund for family law (divorce and custody) legal services for victims of domestic violence or child abuse. HB0715/SB0419 would have required the State to create a pre-release center for incarcerated women.
Health Care (six bills): The Committee submitted testimony on four bills that passed. HB0697/SB0868 extends the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission for an additional three years through June 30, 2023, This Commission will determine the most effective manner of ensuring that Maryland consumers can obtain and retain quality health insurance, independent of any action or inaction on the part of the federal government or any changes to federal law or its interpretation. HB0258/SB0239 stabilizes Maryland’s individual insurance market by allowing the State to assess insurance providers whenever the Federal government fails to tax them according to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The collected monies will go into the Maryland Reinsurance fund that will help lower the price of health insurance. HB0814/SB0802 establishes the Maryland Health Insurance Option that must be implemented and available for residents to use when filing their 2019 State income tax return, in order to identify and assist uninsured residents to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan. HB0599/SB0631 requires an insurer, nonprofit health service plan, or health maintenance organization to use the most recent treatment criteria developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine for addictive, substance-related, and co-occurring conditions, and repeals the limitation on a carrier charging a copayment for methadone maintenance treatment that is greater than 50 percent of the daily cost for this treatment. This bill was signed by the Governor.
The Committee submitted testimony on two bills that did not pass. HB1118 would have prohibited the use of State funds to finance, build new, or replace existing playgrounds or athletic fields with a synthetic surface, and require to the maximum extent practicable, State or local governmental agencies to give preference to the use of state-of-the-art natural surface materials. HB1142 would have established restrictions on the disposal and reuse of “synthetic turf” and “turf infill.”
The Committee also monitored three bills. One bill passed. HB1249/SB0657 establishes a pilot program for preventing HIV for alleged rape or sexual offense victims or victims of alleged child sexual abuse by providing the victim with a full course of treatment and follow-up care for postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) for the prevention of HIV, free of charge. Two bills did not pass. HB0086/SB0765 would have extended post-employment COBRA insurance access from 18 to 36 months. HB0378 would have established the Healthcare Maryland Program to provide benefits to State residents who do not receive federal benefits through Medicare, TRICARE, plans that are subject to ERISA, or any other federal medical program; and require employers to pay specified annual payroll tax to cover costs.
Working Families (three bills): The Committee submitted testimony on one bill that passed, over the Governor’s veto. HB0166/SB0280 phases in an increase in the State minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2025, with a longer phase-in for employers with 14 or fewer employees. The Governor’s proposed budget must include specified compensating rate increases for certain types of health care providers The Board of Public Works (BPW) may temporarily suspend a scheduled increase in the State minimum wage for one-year under specified circumstances. The bill will not eliminate the lower wage for tipped workers, which is $3.63, and future changes to the minimum wage are not tied to inflation. The bill also continues to let businesses pay agricultural workers and youth workers less than the minimum wage.
The Committee submitted testimony on two bills that did not pass. HB0341/SB0500 would have established a Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program administered by the Division of Unemployment Insurance (DUI) to provide up to 12 weeks of benefits to an employee who is taking partially paid or unpaid leave from employment due to caring for specified family members, the employee’s own serious health condition, or a qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s military deployment. The weekly benefit, which is based on an employee’s average weekly wage, would range from $50 to a $1,000 cap that is indexed to inflation. HB0634/SB0738 would have prohibited employers from relying on past wage history information to determine an applicant’s or employee’s salary, require employers to provide salary information to applicants upon request, and prohibit an employer from retaliating against or refusing to interview or hire an applicant because the applicant did not provide wage history or requested wage range information.
State Song: The Committee presented oral and written testimony on HB0128 that did not pass. This bill would have repealed the State Song (“Maryland! My Maryland!”) and established a State Song Advisory Panel to review public submissions for a new State song. Maryland’s State song was written to protest Union Troops in Baltimore, adopted as the State Song during the “Jim Crow” era, and glorifies Maryland’s racist and segregationist past.
Montgomery County Bills
WDC presented testimony for two County bills. Montgomery County Bill 2-19 sponsored by Councilmember Tom Hucker would establish a lower County lead limit of 5 ppb in a public school drinking water outlet and require remediation of a drinking water outlet in an occupied public school building with a lead concentration greater than the new County lead limit. County Bill 4-19 “The Montgomery County Pay Equity Act” sponsored by Councilmember Evan Glass would eliminate the County’s ability to request salary information or pay stubs from potential hires. Public hearings were held and action by the full Council is pending on both bills.
WDC also joined local citizen groups in expressing concern about a proposed zoning text amendment ZTA 19-01 sponsored by Councilmember Hans Reimer. This zoning text amendment would establish requirements that must be met in order for County residents to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties. Following a Council public hearing, the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee proposed revisions that advance the overall vision of allowing ADUs, while creating a proportional size standard to ensure that smaller properties will be limited to smaller detached ADUs. Action by the full Council is pending.