End of Session NewsLetter


End of Session Letter

Highlights of 2019

January 9th - April 8th


 Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A - trentkittleman@verizon.net

Please forward this email to your family and friends, and encourage them to sign up to receive the weekly News from Annapolis by sending me an email at TrentKittleman@verizon.net.

Dear Neighbor,
            THANK YOU, once again, for the opportunity to serve as your Delegate. I work hard to represent your views, but if you ever think I've failed, please let me know! We may not always agree, but I promise you this: I will always listen; I will take your opinion seriously and with respect; and if we differ on a significant legislative issue, I will respond and explain my thinking in-depth. My constituents deserve to know where I stand - and why.
            During the 12 weeks of the legislative session I write and email a weekly newsletter to anyone who sends me their email address. In it, I focus on bills of interest, but also on the "process" by which things happen here in Annapolis - which can be a lot of fun to write. People seem to enjoy it, and your positive feedback keeps me going! Thank you!
            In this End-of-Session letter, you'll find some "process" issues; an overview of what passed and what didn't; plus several commentaries. Enjoy!
We passed HOW MANY BILLS??
             I was speaking to a class of bright fifth graders last year and I asked them, "How many bills do you think we passed this year?" Many hands went up, and their answers started at "three." At least kids still have some common sense!
           This year, 1,430 bills were introduced in the House of Delegates; 1,051 were introduced in the Senate.
            Of those 2,480 bills, 867 bills were passed by both houses
            Of those, 625 bills were unique.  (See story below).
             Governor Hogan vetoed four bills, but his vetoes were overridden by the legislature.                                                                       
            If the Governor vetoes any more bills, at this point, those bills will be considered dead.   However, the Legislature will have an opportunity to vote to override any veto when it next reconvenes.

  What do these bills DO?
            Well, 153 of them are "local bills." These are bills sponsored by a county (or Baltimore City) and will apply only in that jurisdiction.
           One-third of all local bills that passed this year involved alcohol: licensing; classifications; awareness; racetrack rules; event permits; prohibited transfers; Baskets of Cheer; Continuing Care Facility for the aged, license; volunteer fire or ambulance company licenses; sale of chilled beer and wine, etc.
            Other local bills covered many topics including property taxes, school issues, and hunting licenses.
How 867 bills passed by both houses become just 625 new laws.
            The legislative process is absurdly complicated by the concept of "cross-filed bills."  Crossed-filed bills are exact duplicates, one sponsored in the Senate and one sponsored in the House. 
            The reasons for this practice are unclear, but are more political than practical. If both bills end up passing both houses in identical form, both go to the Governor who must pick one to sign and one to "veto." Nonetheless, the sponsors of both the House and Senate bills get to claim "credit" for passing the bill.
            This year, there were 245 sets of cross-filed bills - and that's how 867 becomes 635.
             After enjoying four years on the Judiciary Committee, I made the tough decision to request a transfer to Appropriations. Understanding where and how we spend our State tax dollars gives me a far better perspective on the costs and priorities of the many bills we vote on each year.
            Under Governor Larry Hogan, we have had five consecutive years of balanced budgets that provided both fiscal responsibility and adequate funding. Unfortunately, things are likely to change next year.
            Shortly after the Appropriations Committee began its deliberation of Governor Hogan's proposed budget, t he three- member Board of Revenue Estimates reported that the state now expected about $138 million less than anticipated for the fiscal year 2019 budget and about $269 million less over the next two years.
            In addition to the unexpected drop in revenues, the Legislature continued to propose and pass bills with spending mandates that will inflate future spending needs. A few of the larger price tags came with the following bills:
Bill #
Title of Bill
FY 2021
FY 2022
FY 2023
HB 166
Minimum Wage-Fight for Fifteen
SB 946
State Prescription Drug Benefits - Retiree Benefits
HB 1158
Clean Energy Jobs
HB 1266
Nat'l Capital Strategic Economic Development Program
SB 793
Community Safety and Strengthening Act-Allowing Johns Hopkins University to establish a police department
SB 1030
Education Blueprint for Marylander's Future
Commitment to fully fund Kirwan Recommendations @ $4,000,000,000 over next 10 years
HB 338
Food Supplements (Summer SNAP for Children)
HB 1272
MD Dept. of Health-Family Planning Program-Funding
Local Bond Initiatives
          One of the ways the State enhances its capacity to fund more human services for Marylanders is through its bond initiatives. Non-profit organizations apply through their local jurisdiction asking for funds for a specific purpose. Most requests are in an amount between $100,000 and $500,000. In order even to be considered, the organization must provide matching funds, thus doubling the State investment.
            This year, the Maryland General Assembly evaluated 262 Legislative Bond Initiative requests that totaled nearly $69.7 million. The Senate and the House each funded $7.5 million in legislative projects and provided another $19.1 million for requested Legislative Bond Initiatives in other w ays.
The Chart above shows the project requests and the funding authorized for Howard and Carroll counties
Kirwan Commission Recommendations.

SB 1030 - The Education Blueprint for Maryland's Future-- PASSED
            This year's legislation enacts the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission's Interim Report. The final report is due at the end of this year. While funding for the coming fiscal year has been authorized in the budget, the estimated price tag for fully implementing the Kirwan recommendations is around $4 billion over the next ten years. Without identifying a specific funding source, it could lead to significant tax increases.
               During the Glendenning Administration, when the Thornton Commission recommendations were passed providing historic funding for education, no funding source was identified. As a result, the state has been plagued with an ongoing structural deficit which contributed to the massive tax increases during the O'Malley Administration. While we all want our State to have a world-class education system we have to do this right, and money is not the only ingredient in the solution.
               Just as or more important than money is having significant accountability measures to ensure that the money is being spent on the right things and is producing
better educated kids. Thus far, the bill creates an independent Office of the Inspector General to investigate allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse in our local school systems. In addition, a separate bill creates a new office within the Department of Legislative Service charged with doing in-depth performance audits on all government entities, including schools. What is
not yet in evidence is once a performance problem is recognized, what can be done to ensure the problem is corrected. Without the possibility of incurring a serious penalty, bureaucracies will continue to do what bureaucracies do - nothing.
               Nonetheless, I have come to appreciate the extent of the work done by the Kirwan Commission as well as the recommendations they have proposed. The hard part is maintaining the political will to force the changes that are needed to produce the world class education system Kirwan envisions.
(If you are interested in a more thorough discussion of the Report and the recommendations, I've written about the Kirwan Commission in several of my Newsletters, any of which you can access off of the home page of my website, TrentKittleman.com.)
Charter Schools & Other Alternatives
            Although no member of the Kirwan Commission voted against its recommendations, a number of them expressed serious concerns in letters appended to the Report.  Chief among these concerns was the Commission's failure to consider any form of school choice.  "Children and parents should be especially troubled -- as I am--," said one member, "by the Commission's refusal to endorse or recommend any form of school choice, whether within and between districts, to charter schools, or to private and alternative schools."
          Maryland's Charter School law is considered to be the most restrictive in the country.   State legislators have a rigid reverence for "public education" -- far beyond their concern for the actual students.  Clinging to the belief that diversity and fairness will not happen unless the state has total control, the educators and the teachers' unions lobby in force against any effort, no matter how small, against any and all innovations.
        One such program is "BOOST" - Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today. BOOST is a scholarship program, now in its fourth year, that provides scholarships for low-income students, giving parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their child, whe ther public or private.
            In each of the last several years, the legislature has cut any increase in funding the Governor has budgeted for BOOST. This year, however, the House Appropriations Committee tried to go even farther. Our Committee added budget language limiting new scholarship recipients to siblings of current BOOST scholarship recipients, thus effectively killing the program.
            The Senate deleted this language, but kept the budget cuts.
HB 156: Public Charter School Facility Fund - FAILED
            The general purpose of the Maryland Public Charter School Program is to establish an alternative means within the existing public school system in order to provide innovative learning opportunities and creative educational approaches to improve the education of students. However, Charter schools are held to the same policy standards as other public schools. For example,
  • Teachers are represented by the same union as other public schools
  • Public charter schools must be nonsectarian and, with exceptions, open to all students on a space-available basis.
  • If more students apply than they have space for, selection of students must be done by lottery,
  • Public charter schools cannot discriminate in their enrollment policies or charge tuition to students.
  • A local school system must serve students with disabilities attending charter schools in the same manner as the public agency serves students with disabilities in its other schools
Charter schools receive operating funds from their local school boards equal to what other public schools receive, but they do not receive capital funds. HB 156 would have created a Public Charter School Facility Fund "to provide funding on an annual basis to public charter schools to acquire, plan, develop, finance, construct, lease, improve, repair and maintain public charter school facilities." The bill also mandated the Governor appropriate a certain amount of money each year into the Fund. Unfortunately, the bill failed.
SB  734: Education 
Students with Reading Difficulties - Screenings and Interventions -- 
            Although most of the conversation about edu-
cation has revolved around the recommendations made by the Kirwan Commission, I am particularly pleased with the passage of SB 734. Although only the Senate bill passed, I was a co-sponsor of the House cross-file.
            This bill requires, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, each local school board to ensure that students at risk for poor learning outcomes are screened to identify if the student is at risk for reading difficulties. If the results indicate that the student is at risk, the local board must provide supplemental reading instruction, as appropriate, and send a notification letter to the student's parent. The Maryland State Department of Education will develop and update resources for local boards every four years and provide technical support to local.
Beware of the Maryland Longitudinal Data System
            A little-noticed bill passed this year that insinuates the government further and further into our lives. In 2010, the Maryland legislature passed a bill creating the "Maryland Longitudinal Data System" ("MLDS") to collect and link student data from all  levels of education and into the State's workforce.  
        In order to get the bill passed, it had to be amended to provide that the information collected in the database would be kept no
longer than five years  from the last date a student attends a Maryland educational institution.
            One of the primary problems with programs such as this is the fact that they continue to grow and expand into areas never contemplated -- or specifically forbidden -- in the original bill.  
            For example, in 2015, the system expanded its database sources, and began to include data from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
            In 2016, the MLDS Annual Report noted that there were "data gaps" that needed to be filled by collecting (1) student discipline data, and (2) private school and homeschool data for pre-K-12. In the original bill, student discipline data was specifically excluded.
             The 2016 Annual Report also concluded that the requirement limiting the linkage of student data and workforce data to five years was "way too short." That year, the General Assembly passed HB 680 extending the time it would keep all of this data from the five-year limit to 20 years from the last date a student attends a Maryland educational institution, with no regard or concern for the original assurance that this data would be kept no more than five years .
            This year, the legislature passed HB 704, a little-noticed bill that according to the Fiscal and Policy note, "adds juvenile delinquency records and discipline records to the types of data that are collected and analyzed by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center; under current law these records are specifically excluded. To that end, the bill adds the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) to the entities required to provide data sets to MLDS ."
          According to the sponsors, the reason we are collecting such extensive data on students and teachers is to analyze what teaching works best to lead students to a good job later in life.
         Maybe it's worth it.
         But I have very serious concerns about the government collecting such extensive personal data on children starting from about three years of age and continuing for the next 34 years.
          There are all sorts of levels of privacy protection set forth in the bills, and I have no doubt that these efforts are sincerely applied and maintained. Nonetheless, as we have seen more and more, computerized data is always -- and apparently, fairly easily -- subject to being hacked, stolen, or sold.  
          This is an issue that demands for more public discussion.  Now may be the time to engage. 
Bills, Bills, Bills
HB 1124: Regulations Impacting Small Businesses - Economic Impact Analysis. PASSED. 
        Chapter 137 of 2015 established the Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Businesses. This bi- partisan  bill contains many of the recommendations in the Advisory Council's 2017 annual report.
          The recommendations of the Advisory Council are commonsense solutions that create a practical promulgation process aimed at minimizing regulatory burdens on small businesses. 
        These recommendations lay the foundation for a making a cultural shift in the State's regulatory process by transforming an economic impact analysis from an administrative task required by State law into a meaningful tool for State agencies to consider less costly and burdensome regulations for small businesses .
SB 561:   Crime of Violence against Pregnant Person - Enhanced Penalty ( Laura & Reid's Law)--PASSED
              Last year, Senator Justin Ready and I introduced cross-filed bills to address the fact that women who are pregnant are too often beaten and killed by abusers, and they deserved to be punished to the full extent of the law. The bill was named in honor of Laura Wallen, a teacher in Wilde Lake High School, who was murdered in 2017 by her boyfriend. Wallen was 14 weeks pregnant and she had planned to name her child Reid.
            Our initial bill was patterned after California law, making it murder to kill a fetus at any age, rather than only if viable. The bill failed due to opposition from groups such as NARAL. This year, we amended the bill to provide for longer sentences for defendants convicted of crimes of violence against a pregnant woman.
            The bill was a high priority for the Senate and passed easily. Meanwhile, in the other side of town, the House Judiciary Committee was pushing hard to pass a bill sponsored by Delegate C.T. Wilson that removed a statute of limitations for lawsuits rising from child sexual abuse. After passing through the House, Del. Wilson's bill died in a deadlocked Senate Committee.
            The stage was now set. As a headline in the Baltimore Sun put it, "Maryland lawmakers use unusual maneuver to revive bill on child abuse lawsuits." (by Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater, April 6, 2019)
In an "unusual move," the House Judiciary Committee took many elements of Delegate Wilson's bill and amended them onto SB 561, "Laura & Reid's law." This tactic was made possible because the subject matter of each bill was close enough to meet the "one-subject rule." The House adopted the amendments and moved the revised measure forward to a dramatic final vote on Monday - the last day of the Session. No one was quite sure what would happen. "I don't have my hopes up," said Delegate Wilson.
            In the end, the bill, as amended, passed both houses and was sent for the Governor's signature.
HB 1124: Regulations Impacting Small Businesses - Economic Impact Analysis. PASSED. 
        Chapter 137 of 2015 established the Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Businesses. This bi- partisan bill contains many of the recommendations in the Advisory Council's 2017 annual report.
          The recommendations of the Advisory Council are commonsense solutions that create a practical promulgation process aimed at minimizing regulatory burdens on small businesses. 
        These recommendations lay the foundation for a making a cultural shift in the State's regulatory process by transforming an economic impact analysis from an administrative task required by State law into a meaningful tool for State agencies to consider less costly and burdensome regulations for small businesses .
HB 1412: Metro/Transit Funding--FAILED
HB 1091: Public/Private Partnership - Reforms--FAILED

             If ever you are curious whether someone is a Democrat or a Republican, here's a simple test that is virtually foolproof. Ask them, "Do you prefer roads or transit?" While there may be one or two outliers, most of us have an almost sacred belief that building [roads-Republicans] [transit-Democrats] is the Right Thing To Do. I spent four years in Governor Ehrlich's Administration as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and then CEO of the Maryland Transportation Authority, and I do believe this schism is permanent.
            Therefore, I am no longer surprised that every year, the Democrats come up with a new way to hinder roadbuilding and promote transit projects.
            This year, there were two such bills:  
            HB 1412: Metro/Transit Funding,   that would have eliminated the fiscal responsibility provisions placed on WMATA in the Agreement Maryland had negotiated just the year before.
            HB 1091: Public/Private Partnership - Reforms. This bill was designed to put up time-consuming roadblocks to the process of getting a major transportation project built. Specifically, this bill was aimed at slowing down the plans for widening Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway. Fortunately, both of these bills failed.
H B 420: Clean Energy Jobs Act - PASSE
            This bill  requires the state to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, up from the current requirement of 25 percent by 2022.
            In the first place, Maryland can only meet its goal by buying RECs from states that have them. We do not and it is unlikely that we ever will produce enough solar and wind energy to power the State. We can meet the clean energy goals if allowed to count nuclear energy which provides about 40% of our electricity. Otherwise, it is nothing more than a feel-good bill that loses Marylanders jobs and money.
HB 109: Environment-Expanded Polystyrene Food Service-Prohibitions- PASSED
            There is a fine line between protecting the environment and protecting the needs of Maryland commerce, and issues such as this "Styrofoam ban" legislation straddle these lines. We need to be able to protect the needs of our economy and avoid putting our businesses at a competitive disadvantage while ensuring we are not contributing waste that is all too often generated in these pursuits. This bill does very little to protect the environment; it applies only to Styrofoam used in food service. It does not include any Styrofoam used for packing or shipping, nor can it apply to food products packaged out of state. Overall, this is a feel good measure that does nothing meaningful to protect the environment and at the same time puts Maryland businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
Place article copy here. Be sure to make the articles short and concise as people tend not to read much more than a couple of paragraphs. Place article copy here.
HB 286: Election Law - Same-Day Registration PASSED
            This bill establishes procedures allowing for an individual on Election Day at a precinct polling place in the individuals' county of residence, to register to vote and then vote. Local government expenditures increase collectively by $2.1 million annually from FY 2020 through FY 2022, and by $641,000 annually thereafter.
            In the "olden days," we all voted on a Tuesday, or sent in an absentee ballot if we were going to be away. People who worked a regular weekday schedule often had trouble getting to the poles. At that point, there may have been some justification for expanding access to voting. The obvious solution was to allow anyone to vote absentee ballot. The second most obvious solution would have been to allow early voting on the Saturday before the Tuesday election.
            Instead, Maryland decided to create a lengthy 9-day Early Voting option, covering a week and two weekends prior to Election Day. I'm ready to admit that a lot of people like early voting, and if money were no object, I'd have no objection to the creation of Early Voting or to this bill. But taxpayers don't have unlimited funds and it's our job to prioritize how we spend that precious resource. I'm just not sure that that spending a couple million dollars to help anyone who waits until the very last moment to go vote, rushes to the polls only to find that they weren't registered.
            Is satisfying this hypothetical need worth the cost? What else could we be doing with that $2.1 million dollars? Think about it.
HB 201 Maryland Transit Administration - State Employees - Free Ridership -- PASSED
            This bill requires the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to offer free transit ridership to all permanent Executive Branch State employees. The free transit ridership services must include all transit vehicles that are part of MTA's (1) light rail transit system; (2) metro subway; (3) local bus service; HB 201/ Page 2 (4) commuter bus service in the Baltimore region; and (5) any other systems and services specified by MTA.
            The bill also requires the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Department of Budget and Management to analyze the cost and feasibility of expanding the transit ridership program to include (1) employees of the Legislative and Judicial branches of State government and (2) ridership on the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority transit services.
HB 166 - Minimum Wage ("Fight for Fifteen") -- PASSED
            Of all the bills we passed this year, this one hurts the most.  While there are reasonable people can differ about the effects on small businesses when you continually increase the minimum wage, there is no legitimate reason
For the urban majorities to refuse to compromise on issues critical to the rural western and eastern counties.
            There is no reason to force a uniform wage rate on the entire State, to deliberately ignore the patently obvious differences in pay scales, income and culture between the urban strongholds and the rural counties.
            There is no legitimate excuse for ignoring the reality that at one point in western Maryland, the state is only 11 miles wide, making it almost inevitable that smaller Maryland businesses that can't afford a $15 minimum wage will move across the line into a state with a minimum wage less than half of Maryland's. 
            Over and over, I have seen the unbending tyranny of the urban majority ride roughshod over the rights and interests of the rural corners of the State.      
HB 1052: Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. PASSED
            This bill strips the Comptroller's office of its alcohol and tobacco oversight, a function the Comptroller's office has overseen since the prohibition era without any issues or scandal and gives this oversight to a five-person commission that will cost up to $55 million to form
Why are we creating more bureaucracy?
Why are we fixing something that isn't broker?
            Democrats claim that an independent board is more suitable than an elected official to manage these duties. This Commission, however, will report directly to the Governor. We are literally transferring oversight from one politician to another and wasting precious resources in the process.
HB 1343: Handgun Permit Review Board- Repeal -- PASSED
            Currently, Marylanders who apply to the Maryland Police for a permit to carry a concealed handgun are generally unable to meet the restrictive and subjective "good and substantial reason" standard used in Maryland. Anyone who is denied a permit, or given a permit with restrictions, can appeal the decision of the police to the Handgun Review Board. The Board is made up of five members, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.
            Recently, the legislative majority has become concerned that the Hogan appointees have been reversing the decision of the police more often than they would prefer. And in the spirit of a super-majority, they introduced HB 1343 to eliminate the specialized Handgun Review Board and turn the appeals process over to the Office of Administrative Hearings. The intention of having a citizen board has always been to ensure that our 2nd amendment rights are applied according to the Constitution and not according to the current politically correct position on gun control.
            And because they are a super-majority, their bill passed.
        Below is one of the many documents Department of Legislative Services prepares each year to help highlight some of the major legislation that is being considered.  I particularly  like this one. You can find it on the General Assembly website
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
Friends of Trent Kittleman, Bill Oliver, Treas.