Almost End of Session Report

As of April 5, we have had some wins or near wins and some losses in our legislative priorities.

Under Making Democracy Work, HB 356 for a Redistricting Commission received an unfavorable report as did HB 1022 which would have established standards for Congressional districts. However, HB 532 the Constitutional Amendment to allow registration and voting on Election Day did pass both houses. It will be on the ballot on November 6. The Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA), SB 1048, which provides for automatic voter registration or updating when people apply at certain state agencies, has passed both houses but has not been signed by the Governor.

One success under Protecting the Environment was the unfavorable report for HB 1135 which would have required offshore wind turbines to be at least 24 miles from shore. But other environmental bills we supported did not progress. HB 1453, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, received an unfavorable report. The Forest Conservation act, SB 610, passed the Senate but is in the Environment and Transportation Committee as of April 5. And the Polystyrene Prohibition bills HB 538/SB 651 are stuck in committees.

The Metro Funding bill, HB 372, has passed both Houses and is a major accomplishment under Promoting Social and Economic Justice. Getting commitment for adequate funding from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia gives hope for a well-maintained and successful transit system. HB 1415, incorporating some interim recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, has passed second reading in the Senate. The budget conferees settled on $7 million for BOOST scholarships for nonpublic school students, but it was less than the nearly $9 million recommended by the Senate.

On other social justice issues, Death Penalty Reinstatement, HB 1411, received an unfavorable report. Limits on solitary confinement, HB 786, passed the House, but so far has not been acted on by the Judicial Proceedings Committee. And Ban the Box (HB 541) received an unfavorable report from Economic Matters. HB 856, which would allow single individuals at least 21 years of age to benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), has passed both houses. Unfortunately, HB 664/SB 543, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023, did not get out of committee.

These bills are a fraction of those being followed by our Report from State Circle (RSC) reporters. See RSC #6 in mid-April for final reports on many more.

Lois Hybl,
LWVMD 1st Vice President
lhybl@lwvmd.org