News from Annapolis
Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
March 16, 2021
Links to Two good reads:
  • "Biden's Billions" and
  • "Unemployment Mess: The Real Story"
Legislative Updates
  • Landlords Beware!
  • Education Savings Accounts
  • The "Let's Let Felons Vote" bill
  • Police "Reform" Bill
  • Plastic grocery store bags now illegal
Education: More headlines tell the story Legislative Scholarships
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A quick peak at how the local share of the $6.4 Billion of stimulus money will be allocated. READ MORE.
Landlords Beware!
The Original Bill

The original purpose of this bill was to provide some protections for tenants who have suffered a "substantial loss of income" due to (1) job loss, (2) reduction in hours, (3) closure of the place of employment, or (4) the need to miss work to care for a home-bound, school-age child, during and due to a “catastrophic health emergency
The original bill contained provisions that gave landlords some relief, including:
  •  After providing the required notice to tenant, if tenant fails to respond within ten days, landlord can initiate an action for repossession of the rental property.
  • Creation of a "Maryland Rent Relief Fund," so that if a tenant is allowed to remain in place without paying rent, landlords could get some relief in the form of Rent Forgiveness Grants—provided they agreed to forgive 20% of the past due rent owed by the tenant, waive all fees and costs including utility fees, and refrain from filing for eviction against the tenant. 
The Amended Bill

After the hearing, the Judiciary Committee revised the bill significantly eliminating virtually all of landlords rights and protections. In the amended version, tenants who meet the above criteria can continue to remain in place for a maximum of a full year, depending upon the length of the catastrophic emergency.

Although the tenant remains responsible to pay landlord the rent owed, landlords will have no funds coming in for the taxes, utilities, maintenance, or any other expense involved in owning a residential building.

The Amended Bill passed the House on Friday, March 12, by a party-line vote.
Another Excellent
School Choice Option

This bill is patterned on the model legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Conference (ALEC). The purpose of the Program is to provide State grants to the account of the parent of an eligible student to provide for the student's education. To be eligible, the student must have been in a Maryland public school for not less than 100 days in the previous year.

The funds go directly to the parents rather than to a school, to be used for education purposes. These purposes are spelled out in the bill and include tuition, fees, textbooks, school uniforms (if required), private tutoring, purchase of curricular materials, and, if applicable, Internet service provider fees or online learning fees. Other expenses may be approved by the Department of Education.

For families whose income is less than or equal to 500% of the federal poverty level [$26,500 for a 4-person family] the State will deposit into the family's ESA, 25% of the per-pupil spending in the family's county (or Baltimore City). For families whose income is greater than 500% of the federal poverty level, the amount would equal 18.75% of the per-pupil spending.

To participate, a school must be (1) an approved nonpublic school; (2) a nonpublic school with provisional approval; or (3) an approved home school program.

The bill combines specific regulatory requirements with sufficient flexibility to allow parents to find the best match for their student.
Anti-School Choice Testimony
Testimony against the bill came from the same public school organizations that oppose any form of school choice. Testimony from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) stated: "MABE opposes all types of public financing for private schools and home instruction, including education savings accounts, and opposes the use of such public financing tools for not only those families choosing non-public schools, but also families choosing to provide home instruction, commonly known as homeschooling."

Objections are always the same:
  • Against using public funds. This argument ignores the fact that there is no such thing as "public funds." There are Taxpayer funds that governments collect to, among other things, educate our children. If the state fails to do so, year after year, the state has an obligation to let parents take their kids out of failing schools and put them into schools that do the job!
  • Lack of Maryland State Board of Education oversight. I have difficulty understanding the benefit of MSDE oversight when such oversight fails to do anything about failing schools that continue to fail year after year!
  • Private school options "underperform" public schools. This is a generic statement without meaning --and wrong. There is a study in existence somewhere to prove virtually anything. But the clear majority of studies done show that school choice produces better outcomes in every category.
What the opponents are really saying is that parents cannot be trusted to choose how their children are educated. They are wrong. Not only will parents care more about how their kids are being educated, school choice gives them flexibility; if their first choice is not providing what their child needs, school choice options give them the right to find a better alternative.

The public education monopoly does not. The pubic education monopoly forces children to stay in some of the worst schools in the nation, year after year, decade after decade. It's time we stood up to the teachers' unions; it's time we stopped protecting a system and started protecting our children!
The "Felons may serve" Act
Currently, an individual is prohibited from serving on a jury if the person has (I) "been convicted, in a federal or state court of record, of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding 1 year and received a sentence of imprisonment for more than 1 year; or (ii) has a charge pending, in a federal or state court of record, for a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding 1 year."

In other words, if the person has ever been convicted of or charged with a serious crime.

This bill removes the "forever" provision of the law and allows a person who "has been convicted, in a federal or state court of record, of a felony, and is currently serving the sentence imposed for the conviction, including any term of probation," to qualify for jury duty after completing their entire sentence.
HB 670 the Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021. This is probably the most significant House bill of the session, although there is a package of bills on police reform. In fact, DLS has prepared a separate RACIAL AND EQUITY IMPACT NOTE relevant to all of the bill. Here are the primary provisions of this bill:
1.The bill Repeals the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) and establishes a complex new discipline process for police officers that:
  • Creates an Independent Investigative Agency, independent of State government, to investigate “use of force” incidents
  • Requires each County to have a Police Accountability Board to receive complaints; active police officers may not be active police officers
....o  A complainant can file a Complaint (i) anonymously, (ii) without
............. being notarized or sworn to under the penalty of perjury.
  • Establishes a Statewide Administrative Charging Committee to review and determine if the results of an Investigation Agency warrant charging the police officer charged.
  • Directs each Law Enforcement Agency to:
....o  establish a Trial Board Process, and appoint a Trial Board
..............composed of:
..............§ An active or retired judge.
..............§ A civilian, who shall receive training in police procedures, and
..............§ A police officer of equal rank to the officer being accused of
.................misconduct, and
....o  Designate one of its employees to serve as a Victim Rights ...............Advocate to act as the contact for the public
2.Allows the public access to internal affairs complaints and other disciplinary records of individual officers.

3.Requires each law enforcement officer to be using body-worn cameras by January 1, 2025

4.Creates a Maryland “Use of Force” Statute. Of all the new rules this bill makes, this is the one that seems to be totally incompatible with functioning as a police officer. Lethal force means: “any force that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, whether or not intended to cause death or serious injury. Lethal force includes:
  • Discharging a firearm at a person
  • Striking a person’s head, neck, sternum, spine, groin, or kidneys with any hard object;
  • Striking a person’s head against a hard, fixed object;
  • Kicking or striking a person’s head using a knee or foot
  • Striking a person’s throat;
  • A knee-drop on the head, neck, or torso of a person in a prone or supine position;
  • A maneuver that restricts blood or oxygen flow to the brain, including chokeholds, strangleholds, neck restraints, neck holds, and carotid artery restraints
  • Any contact with the neck that may inhibit breathing or blood flow, or that applies pressure to the front, side, or back of the neck;
  • The discharge of a less-lethal kinetic impact projectile launcher at a person’s head, neck, chest, or back; and
  • More than one discharge of an electronic control device on a person.
Restrictions on the use of lethal force preclude an officer from using lethal force:
  • Unless it is necessary and proportional
  • Unless the officer has exhausted all reasonable alternatives and only until the objective is achieved
  • Unless it is used as a last resort to prevent imminent threat of death or serious physical harm
5.Provides that No-Knock warrants must now be grounded in "clear and convincing evidence, approved in writing by a police supervisor and state's attorney," include a list of everyone who might be in the house including pets, among other changes.
6.Provides that a warrant to search a residence must be executed between 8 am and 7 pm, absent exigent circumstances, and officers must wait at least 30 seconds after knocking to attempt to enter the residence.
7.Establishes tuition scholarship and a tuition reimbursement programs for specified individuals attending a public institution of higher education who are or intend to become a police officer; includes an annual BUDGET MANDATE of $8,500,000 for the programs.
8.  Establishes the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) as an agency and instrumentality of Baltimore City (instead of the State). 
HB 315: Plastic Bag Reduction Act
In 2019, Howard County passed a 5-cent fee on the use of disposable plastic bags. Fees are collected by each store at the point of sale and are remitted to the county quarterly. Stores are authorized to retain up to 20% of the 5-cent fee collected. The fee took effect February 5, 2020.

Although this las has been very successful both in drastically reducing the number of plastic bags taken home, it still leaves customers with the option of paying the 5 cents per bag.

This bill provides that on or after July 1, 2022, a retail establishment may not provide a plastic carryout bag to a customer. A retail establishment that violates this section is subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $500.
Provisions for notice and waivers.

The penalty will not be imposed on a retail establishment unless it is first issued a written notice of violation and fails to correct the violation within 3 months. A penalty may not be imposed on a retail establishment more than one within a 7-day period.

Retail establishments may receive two 3-month waivers if the unit of government in charge of the program determines that achieving compliance would cause the establishment “undue hardship or a practical difficulty not generally applicable to other retail establishments in similar circumstances.”

Preemption of Local Laws/Ability for Local Governments to Collect Fees, Taxes, or Other Charges for the Use of Carryout Bags

Beginning July 1, 2022, only the State may enact a law or take any other action to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the use of plastic bags less than four mils thick by a retail establishment. The bill (1) preempts the authority of a local government to enact such a law or ordinance and (2) supersedes any local law or ordinance that currently prohibits, restricts, or regulates the use of plastic bags less than four mils thick by a retail establishment.
UPDATE ON Baltimore's
Failing Schools
Kittleman Legislative Scholarship
District 9-A Residents
High school seniors, current undergraduate students at a 4-year college, a community college, or a private career school are eligible to apply for a Legislative Scholarship.
Please EMAIL your applications to Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
For questions regarding the application process, call my Annapolis office and speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy, my Legislative Aide, at 410-841-3556.