2016 Session: Week 3 Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
Highlights of Week 3 Below:
The Governor's Bills
Other Bills of Interest . . . and Interesting Bills
Local Bills: Howard County Delegation - School Board bills
Events of Interest
The Big Snow
The snow last weekend was beautiful, but inconvenient for everyone -- except the kids. It is also very expensive for the counties and the State.
This is the view down my driveway, from my front door
The Governor's Bills are introduced and sponsored by the Speaker of the House, By Request of the Administration. All of the bills are co-sponsored by a preponderance of Republican Delegates
[NOTE: Descriptions of the bills are very general; for atual language of the bill, click on the link to the bill text]
RELIEF FROM BUDGET MANDATES. "Mandates" are the Legislature's way of gaining and keeping control of state spending, despite the provision in the State Constitution that gives that power to the Governor. Under the State Constitution the Governor
creates the annual State budget, and the Legislature may cut, but not increase it, with certain exceptions. Mandated spending now subsumes 83% of the State's annual budget, leaving just 17% of the funds collected by the State that the Governor can spend (or cut).
This bill would cap all mandates at their 2018 level (except for education, the pension system, payment on the State debt, and the Rainy Day fund), and prohibit the legislature from enacting legislation that would encumber funds in a future year (for a particular program) unless it also repeals a spending mandate of the same value.
HB 450 TAX CREDITS--MANUFACTURING ZONES. This bill authorizes the creation of manufacturing zones to entice out of state companies to bring manufacturing into Maryland by offering tax incentives both to the business,
to the employees of the business. Hogan proposed a plan that would exempt "new manufacturers" from the state's otherwise oppressive 8.25 percent corporate income tax if they locate in certain parts of the state. All employees of those manufacturers making less than $65,000 would be exempt from the state's personal income tax. The exemptions would be in effect for 10 years.
ADMISSIONS AND AMUSEMENT TAX--REVENUE DISTRIBUTION--MD STATE ARTS COUNCIL. Redirects the revenue from electronic bingo and electronic tip jars to the Maryland State Arts Council.
INCOME TAX--EARNED INCOME CREDIT--REFUNDABILITY. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a very complex federal program that helps low-income working families by crediting back much, if not all, of the income taxes they would otherwise owe. In fact, when the tax credit (calculated by the relevant formulas) is greater than the tax owed, some families can get a "refund," sort of like the negative income tax Milton Friedman once proposed. The amount of the refund available in Maryland is a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit. That percentage was being increased over a four-year period from 25% to 28% after Dec. 31, 2017. The Governor's bill lops off two years, and
will allow the full 28% to go into effect immediately.
MARYLAND EDUCATION CREDIT. This is essentially the same credit the Governor attempted to provide last year in his second supplementary budget -- the one that the Speaker refused to introduce. It allows businesses a 60%
tax credit against the State income tax (up to $200,000) for contributions made to specified student assistance organizations that provide financial support to students both in pubic and qualifying private schoools.
STATE EMPLOYEES--MERIT INCREASES IN SALARY. A bill was passed last year that precluded any state employees from receiving merit increases in 2016. This bill modifies that prohibition to allow for the provision in the state's negotiated collective bargaining agreement with the Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance to allow for a step increase effective April 1, 2016.
INCOME TAX EXEMPTION AMOUNT--ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS. This bill would phase in a $5,000 income tax exemption for individuals over 65, begining this year with a $1,000 exemption, and increasing the exemption by $1,000 each year until it totals $5,000.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING PROGRAM--REVISIONS. This bill requires an authorized provider who prescribes a controlled dangerous substance by registered with the Program. It further requires that a prescriber or pharmacist must request data from the patient's prior six month medical history before treating the patient with any opioid or benzodiazepine, and continue to monitor the patient's progress while on such drugs.
CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS--FILING FEES--REDUCTIONS. This bill reduces the fee for filing Annual Reports by various Maryland business entities, from $300 to $100 over a four-year period.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING AND APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION. The Governor's redistricting bill is long and complex. I have created a two-page summary of the bill's provisions that you can read by c
licking on this link.
FEE, SURCHARGE, AND TAX REDUCTION ACT OF 2016. This omnibus bill reduces various fees throughout the government, generally by a relatively small amount. Below are many of the fees reduced:
- Business Regulation-- Reduces by approximately $25 each, application, processing and renewal fees for licenses for constractors, subcontractors, and salespeople.
- Courts & Judicial Proceedings-- The fee for special admission of out-of-state attorney is reduced from $100 to $25.
- Health--Cuts from $24 to $12 the fee charged for any activity regarding a birth or death certificate
- Transfers $10 million of the proceeds from the sale of Greenhouse Gas Initiative allowances into a the Environmental Trust Fund under Natural Resources, for the purpose of funding the Power Plant Research Program.
- Reduces the fee for an application for a wetlands license for a minor project from $750 to $500.
- Transportation-- Reduces from $50 to $25 the annual registration fee a person must pay for personal registration plates.
- Public Safety--Eliminates the $50 application fee and the $20 renewal fee for a handgun qualification license.
- Agriculture-- Reduces fees businesses must pay for registering each weight and measure used for commercial purposes, and eliminates the additional fee "for each business location."
- Natural Resources--Reduces the fees for various fishing licenses.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT--COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION--STUDENT AND RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOANS. This bill authorizes the Community Development Administration to
to provide financial assistance to provide financial assistance to individuals to purchase a home and pay off student loan debts.
CRIMES--CRIMINAL GANGS--PROHIBITIONS AND FUNDING. This bill dramatically increases the
penalties for gang-related criminal activity, increasing fines by as much as 500%. The bill also creates additional penalties, including the right of the state to confiscate any real property or enterprise owned by the gang, dissolve or reorganize the gang "enterprise," and suspend revoke any license granted to the enterprise or any member of the gang by the State or any political jurisdiction in the State. Finally, the bill directs that these penalties and assets be allocated to a new Addiction Treatment Divestiture Fund, the
proceeds of which may only be used to provide treatment for substance-related disorders.
STATE TRANSFER TAX--DISTRIBUTION OF REVENUE. This bill works toward eliminating the transfer of the State Transfer Tax from the Project Open Space funds to support spending from the General Revenues. Current law permits $83 million to be transferred out of the fund in the FY beginning July 1, 2016, and $86 million in the FY beginning July 1, 2017. Gov. Hogan's bill reduces those transfers to $63 million, and $46 million, respectively.
Bills of Interest . . . or Interesting Bills
Over 450 bills have been filed in the House at this point -- of the 3,000 or s0 that have been requested by members of the House and Senate. The ones below are interesting for various reasons -- good, bad, and informational.
Increases the maximum fine up to $350 for use of handheld telephone while driving.
HB 215 MARYLAND STATE SONG -- REVISION.
There is a truism that states, "
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This bill part of an ongoing effort to wipe out our past by renaming anything that reminds us of what we now longer consider politically correct or that we would prefer to forget. As the bill notes, "James Ryder Randall, a native of Maryland, wrote the poem Maryland! My Maryland!" during the early days of the Civil War when he was extremely despondent over the death of a friend who was shot while protesting Union troops as they marched through Baltimore."
HB 240 Requiring that tolls paid with cash may not be more than the comparable tolls paid using an E-ZPass.
HB251 EDUCATION--HOME INSTRUCTION PROGRAMS--PARTICIPATION IN CLUBS AND ACTIVITIES. This bill requires a local school system to allow students being home-schooled to participate in extracurricular clubs and activities -- including athletics-- at the school where the student would otherwise be enrolled.
HB 284 SENIOR APARTMENT FACILITIES--LIMITATION ON OCCUPANCY BY PERSON CONVICTED OF CRIME OF VIOLENCE. Last week, we reviewed a bill that would prohibit landlords from denying
any person convicted of a crime. This bill does the opposite, and
landlords to deny occupancy to any person convicted of a violent crime in senior apartment facilities.
HB 289 MEDICAL SCHOOLS--USE OF ANIMALS IN MEDICAL TRAINING--PROHIBITED. Prohibits a medical school "from using a live or dead animal in the medical education or training of students . . ." if there is an alternate method used by at least one other medical school in the state.
HB 293 BARBERS AND COSMETOLOGISTS--Repeal of CRIMINAL penalties for practicfing without a license. I have a particular fondness for this bill, for two reasons. The first reason is that my husband, Bob Kittleman, had a particular dislike of bills that prevented people from working in fields like cosmetology without a State license. Generally, these bills are less for the protection of the public and more for the protection of the industry from competition. To make it a
offense to cut someone's hair without a license seems extreme overreach. (I wonder if I'm guilty when I cut my grandchildren's hair . . . or my own.) The second reason I like this bill is because it is sponsored by a very liberal Democrat -- and proves that there ARE times when we can work together!
HB 4 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE--DOMESTIC VIOLENCE--ACTIVE ELECTRONIC MONITORING (AMBER'S LAW)
Victims of domestic violence, stalking, or any other crime where someone poses an ongoing threat of violence, currently can expect, at most, a "protective order," requiring the stalker to "stay away" from the victim. Police can't provide 24/7 protection forever, and even when protection is provided, it's not always effective. In Amber's case, the police were parked outside of the house when a stalker broke into Amber's home and killed her.
This bill specifically authorizes the court to require that a defendant who faiols to comply with a protective order wear an electronic monitoring device. The device (often an ankle bracelet) would not prevent the defendant from going about his daily life. However, both the police and the potential victim would be alerted immediately upon the defendent coming within a certain number of feet of the defendant. No longer would a stalker be able to break into a victim's home, unnoticed, and the person being stalked could have a modicum of relief from the constant fear.
The police say they have no way to protect someone from a stalker now. Why do we have laws with no means of enforcing them? This bill offers an answer that is reasonable, effective, and, since the expense of the monitoring device will be paid by the defendant, affordable.