News from Annapolis
2016 Session:  Week 10                             Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
March 14 to March 120
The Last Three Weeks
  • "Making Sausages & Laws
  • Bill Updates
          • The Budget Bill
          • The Governor's Bills
          • Some GOOD Bills
        • Good News for District 9A
          • Howard County
          • Carroll County
        • Scholarship Application

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Making Sausages & Laws

 "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made" 
                                                                                 --Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

Last Chance for Bills to Pass the House
          Today (Monday, March 21) is the last day we can vote to pass bills that have been introduced in the House. By the end of today, all of the HOUSE bills must go to the Senate and all of the bills the Senate has passed must come to the HOUSE.
          No bill can be sent to the Governor for his signature until the IDENTICAL bill  has been passed by both the Senate and the House.  So from now until  the Legislature adjourns (
midnight on Monday, April 11 ),    we will be hearing and voting on the Senate bills and the Senate will be doing the same with the House bills.  

The silly situation  with "Cross-Filed" bills
          Every bill introduced in the House is completely separate from every bill introduced in the Senate.  Some bills are originally introduced in both chambers ("Cross-filed").  However, even if each of these cross-filed bills is approved by each chamber in an identical form, it is not sufficient -- HB 1002 can never be the same as SB 1002, even if worded identically.  Both bills must be sent to the other chamber and approved.  And, yes, this means that frequently, the Legislature sends two identical bills to the Governor for his signature, so that the Governor will have to sign one and "veto" one.

"Conforming" the Bills
          Bills that are introduced in just one chamber  will come to the other chamber as a new bill.  The appropriate Committee will hold a hearing, but only the bill's sponsor can testify. The Committee then votes. Committees kill many bills  at this point.
          If the bill is passed, it then goes to the floor for a vote of the whole House.  If passed exactly as it came from the Senate, the bill goes to the Governor for his signature.
          The challenge comes when a bill is approved in both chambers, but has been amended so that it is no longer identical.  
          In that case a "conference committee", usually three members from each chamber, will be appointed to  work out the differences - after which, their version must again be passed by both chambers.  As you might expect, a bill can bounce back and forth from conference committee after conference committee -- often until time runs out and the bill dies.

Making the Sausages
          During these last three weeks, legislators are voting on bill after bill after bill.  The most difficult thing for most of us is not having the time to understand what changes the conference committees have made to the bill, and how those changes affect the bill.  
          Everything is done at warp speed, on the floor of the House (or Senate). Fortunately, the "floor system" on our laptop computers is excellent and keeps us on track with the bills.  Amendments are immediately available online, and are "explained" by the legislator who is the floor leader for the bill (always the majority party).  Nonetheless, there are times when a 2-page bill returns with a 15-page amendment.  Mandates may be taken out -- or put in.  It can get very tricky.
          This is when our minority party leaders (Nick Kipke and Kathy Szeliga) are so very critical, as well as the excellent staff.  They continue to send us information and help keep us up to date on anything problematic.  
          We all do our best for our constituents, trying to follow, comment and vote correctly on every bill, but please -- wish us good luck as we approach this most challenging part of our job. 
Bill Updates

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Budget Bill
Perhaps the most important bill we vote on all session is the Budget Bill.  

To date, we have not seen the Budget Bill, but it is scheduled to come to the floor this week.  
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Bill Updates -- the Governor's Bills
Of the Governor's 14 bills:
  • Five have been voted on and passed by the House.  
  • One received an "Unfavorable" vote in committee. 
  • One was voted out of committee after being drastically changed
  • The other seven have not yet been voted on in their respective committees
          The bills that passed are HB 451 (funding for the Arts Council), HB 452 (expediting refunds for the Earned Income Tax Credit), HB 454 (modifying last year's bill regarding State employee merit increases), HB 460 (allowing people to have their student loans folded into their mortgage payments), and HB 462 (reimbursing Program Open Space all of the funds that Governor O'Malley transferred out of the program to use for other purposes).  
          HB 457 Corporations and associations filing fees reductions received an unfavorable report in committee.

          The most frustrating action on the Governor's bills thus far is what the Ways & Means and Appropriations Committees did to  HB 459 --  "The Fee, Surcharge and Tax Reduction Act of 2016."  They made a joke out of this bill.
          Originally, the bill provided for over 27 fee reductions , in business regulation, transportation, public safety, courts and judicial proceedings, and agriculture, in addition to redirecting funds into the Environmental Trust Fund.  
          The bill that passed out of committee has been renamed the "Birth and Death Certificates -- Fee Reduction."  The total effect of the bill, now, is to reduce 1 fee: the $24 birth certificate fee is reduced to $12.
          The most embarrassing action on the governor's bills taken by the Legislature thus far is what the Ways & Means and Appropriations Committees did to  HB 459 --  "The Fee, Surcharge and Tax Reduction Act of 2016."  
          They made a joke out of this bill.
          Originally, the bill provided for over 27 fee reductions, in business regulation, transportation, public safety, courts and judicial proceedings, and agriculture, in addition to redirecting funds into the Environmental Trust Fund.             The bill that passed out of committee has been renamed the "Birth and Death Certificates -- Fee Reduction."  The total effect of the bill, now, is to reduce 1 fee: the $24 birth certificate fee is reduced to $12.
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Bill Updates -- A few GOOD Bills passed
HB 365  Public Schools - Bullying, Harassment, and Intimidation Policies - Update  Requiring the State Board of Education by September 1, 2016, to update its model policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, or intimidation to include provisions that relate to prohibiting an electronic communication of a photograph, an audio recording, or a video recording of specified acts; requiring specified county boards of education by January 1, 2017, to update specified policies based on the State Board's update of the model policy and to submit the updated policies to the State Superintendent of Schools

HB 551  Education - Children With Disabilities - Individualized Education Program Mediation.  Requiring specified individualized education program teams to provide specified parents of a child with a disability with a specified oral and written explanation of the parent's right to request mediation, specified contact information, including a telephone number, and specified information regarding pro bono representation; and requiring the State Department of Education to make a staff member available to assist specified parents in understanding specified mediation processes

HB 657  Education - Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Assessments - Administration  Requiring a specified statewide kindergarten assessment to be limited to a random sample of specified kindergarten students from within specified local school systems in the State; authorizing a specified kindergarten assessment to evaluate specified skills; prohibiting specified standardized tests from being administered to specified prekindergarten students; and requiring the State Department of Education to adopt specified regulations

HB 1297   Education - Public High Schools - Agriculture Science
       Encouraging each county board of education, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, to implement a specified agriculture science curriculum in at least one public high school or at least one career and technology education center in each county; and requiring that the agriculture science curriculum be selected from existing curricula developed by the State Department of Education or be developed by a county board and approved by the Department

Good news for District 9A.

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Howard County
HB 1105, the Howard County Access to Public Information, passed in the Ways & Means Committee and on the floor of the House, unanimously.   

As reported in Newsletter #7, this is a bill requiring the  State Public Access Ombudsman to investigate, evaluate, and issue a report concerning the Howard County Public School System's response to all Public Information Requests (PIA) made to the Howard County Public School System during the period from July 1, 2012, through December 31, 2015.  The report will cover:

(i) the integrity and propriety of any refusal by the custodian of a public record for the Howard County Public School System, on the request of an applicant, to disclose the public record; 

(ii) the validity of any declaration by the custodian of a public record for the Howard County Public School System that a public record requested by an applicant does not exist and cannot be produced; and 

(iii) the reasonableness of any complaint by an applicant for a public record from the Howard County Public School System as to: 

1. any delay by a custodian in furnishing the public record that was requested; and 

2. any other matter involving compliance by a custodian with the requirements of Title 4 of the General Provisions Article of the Code (the Public 30 Information 
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Carroll County
           HB 1147  Carroll County - Board of Education Members - Term Limitation and Referendum.
          This  important bill for Carroll County passed, unanimously, both in Committee and on the floor of the House.  The bill does three things:
            1.  Most significantly, it limits each Board Member to no more than two consecutive terms;
          1.  It staggers the election of the School Board Members, so that new members come aboard at different times; and
          3.  It provides for an automatic referendum on this bill so that the citizens of Carroll county will have input into this important change.
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Scholarship Information .

District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship. Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
  
For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with   Chelsea Leigh Murphy  at   410-841-3556.  

Please be sure to have your completed application   postmarked by April 10, 2016.

  Click here  to download the scholarship application for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *   trentkittleman@verizon.net
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy