News from Annapolis
2019 Session:          Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
Week Ten
  • $15 Minimum Wage Bill Passes
  • The War on Roads
  • Future Fiscal Woes
  • Senate Kills Hogan Tax Cuts
  • Retiree Prescription Drug Plan Fix
  • Why Young People are turning into Socialists
  • Scholarships: Instructions & Application
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$15 Minimum Wage Bill Passes
         The "Minimum Wage Bill" that passed both houses is a compromise between the House and Senate versions.   
         The Senate version gave small businesses until 2028 to phase in the increase, whereas the House version required all businesses to be at $15 per hour by 2025.  The conference committee agreed to give small businesses (15 or fewer employees) until 2026 to phase in the $15 minimum wage.
          The compromise version also included the Senate provision that gave Community Service Providers a 4% rate increase rather than the 3% increase provided in House Bill.
           The bill now goes to the Governor to sign or veto.  Under a provision in the state constitution, bills submitted to the governor at least six days before the end of a legislative session become law after six days, unless the governor issues a veto. If there is a veto, the General Assembly can vote on whether to override before adjourning for the year.
The War on Roads
        In case you are unaware, there is a nationwide feud between the Roads People and the Transit People that would put the Hatfields and McCoys to shame.  It makes no sense to me, since buses are transit and they need roads.  But the Transit People seem to believe that transit means  trains.  
        Having spent four years in the Department of Transportation during the Ehrlich administration, I came to know this issue intimately.  Today, 13 years later, the war is as alive as ever.  
        Last term, the Transit People tried a direct, frontal attack on roads in the form of a bill that tried to strip MDOT of the right to prioritize projects and put it in the "hands" of a grading system that clearly favored transit.   
        This year, the attacks on general transportation (anything other than transit) is much more sophisticated, and thus more dangerous.   One bill (HB 1091) puts a number of additional reporting requirements and time-consuming activities into the process of building major road projects that use the Public-Private Partnership (P-3) process.  The bill specifically targets plans to expand I-270 and I-465.  The bill is a quite fitting illustration of a "roadblock" to roadbuilding.

A Second bill aims to increase transit funding.
           Maryland, along with Virginia and the District of Columbia provides the funding for the Washington Metro Transit Authority  ( WMATA).   Possibly, because of the divided responsibility, WMATA has not had appropriate oversight.   WMATA has not just overspent, but has overspent on all the wrong things.  Their equipment, including trains and rails, has fallen into a dire state of disrepair.  
         Last year, the three jurisdictions got together to work out an agreement for fixing the critically important metro transit system without bankrupting the three supporting jurisdictions!
        An agreement was reached in which each of the three agreed to give WMATA an additional $167 million to make needed repairs.  To ensure a modicum of fiscal responsibility by WMATA, the jurisdictions placed a cap of 3% on how much the WMATA budget could grow from year to year.  The Maryland General Assembly passed and the Governor signed HB 372 ratifying the agreement between the three jurisdictions and authorizing the $167 million expenditure.
        To ensure that this additional expenditure would not negatively impact the Maryland Department of Transportation's six-year "Consolidated Transportation Plan" (CTP), the bill intentionally allowed transfers from the General Fund to cover this huge appropriation.

More for D.C.-oriented Transit
        This year, before the ink is dry on the agreement, the Transit People have introduced HB 1412 which (1) eliminates the 3% cap on WMATA's budget growth, and (2) mandates that all WMATA funding come from the Transportation Trust Fund, and not the General Fund.  Just to make things worse, WMATA has already  ignored the agreement and proposed a budget that grows 11%.

Impact of HB 1412
         Growing at the current growth rate, WMATA's budget would need at least $723 million more annually than the 3% cap would have allowed. 
        Shifting the entire cost of funding WMATA to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) means that the TTF would need an additional $793 million annually to fund the 6-year transportation plan.
        Combined, the bill's two changes will reduce the statewide CTP by a staggering $2.3 billion  -- a 14.6% decrease in MDOT's statewide capital program.
        It makes one wonder, What's next?
Future Fiscal Woes on Horizon
"Maryland Has a Spending Problem"           
        On March 22, the House and Senate appointed a conference committee to reconcile the differences in their respective budgets. Regardless of which chamber prevails, Maryland is headed for significant financial issues beginning next year.
           The House approved a  4.2 percent spending hike, allocating $320 million to new Kirwan Commission initiatives in education and $500 million for public school construction. Although the Senate chose to allocate only $225 million to Kirwan, by the time of full implementation in 2029, those recommendations are expected to cost almost $4 billion a year.
          Analysis by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shows that if the increase in education spending is combined with the increase in the state minimum wage and an economic downturn, Maryland will experience a cumulative five-year budget deficit of  $21 billion.   
          Maryland's budget secretary, David Brinkley, said that to fund just the first year of the new education plan, we would be forced to either:
  • raise the sales tax by 33 percent,
  • increase personal income tax by about 15 percent, or
  • increase property tax by 200 percent
          "I can assure you that Maryland taxpayers will not support any of these options," he added.
          Really frightening is the fact that the above analysis did not include the $2.8 billion being legislated to fix the retiree prescription drug plan issue, or the extensive list of new programs that mandate additional spending.
          See below for an update on the progress of most of the mandated spending bills.
Bill Number
Mandate Amount


Passed one or both chambers
HB0082 Transportation - Complete Streets - Access to Healthy Food 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
YES, but Mandate eliminated
HB0084 Maryland Farms and Families Fund - Purpose, Use, Funding, and Grant Qualifications - Alterations 100,000 100,000 100,000
HB0117 Maryland Smart Growth Investment Fund 7,000,000 0 0
HB0129 Mandated Appropriation - City of Annapolis - Services 750,000 750,000 750,000
HB0132 Education - Robotics Grant Program - Alterations 350,000 350,000 350,000
HB0727 Building Opportunity Act of 2019 125,000,000 125,000,000 125,000,000
HB0156 Public Charter School Facility Fund 36,800,000 36,800,000 36,800,000
Charter School funds deleted!
HB0166 Labor and Employment - Payment of Wages - Minimum Wage and Enforcement (Fight for Fifteen) 83,900,000 124,910,000 168,180,000
Passed; on Governor's Desk
HB0248 Education - Child Care Subsidies - Mandatory Funding Level 9,400,000 $3,687,673 0
HB0338 Human Services - Food Supplements (Summer SNAP for Children Act) 2,000,000 2,500,000 15,913,704
HB0405 Natural Resources - State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund - Mandatory Funding and Repeal of Termination Date 2,000,000 2,000,000 2,000,000
HB0415 Medical Assistance Employment Initiative Pilot Program 250,000 250,000 250,000
HB0428 Comprehensive Flood Management Grant Program - Awards for Flood Damage and Mandatory Funding 5,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000
HB0485 Office of the Attorney General - Senior and Vulnerable Adult Asset Recovery Unit 450,000 450,000 450,000
HB0488 Forestry - Mel Noland Fellowship Program - Establishment 50,000 50,000 50,000
HB0513 County Boards of Education - Establishing Regional Career and Technical Education Schools - Authority and Funding 11,100,000 11,100,000 11,100,000
YES, but funds were previously encumbered
HB0520 Prenatal and Infant Care Coordination - Grant Funding and Task Force 4,500,000 4,500,000 4,500,000
YES, but Mandate eliminated
HB0633 Higher Education - Legal Representation Fund for Title IX Proceedings - Established 500,000 500,000 500,000
HB0657 Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance Grant
YES - Mandate decreased to $100,000
HB0664 State Department of Education - Nonprofit Youth Development Program - Established 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
YES - Mandate eliminated
HB0665 Criminal Procedure - Family Law Services for Sustained Safety Fund 1,000,000
YES, and Mandate raised to $3.1 million annually; 
HB0668 Public School Construction - Maryland Stadium Authority - Montgomery County and Other School Systems With Significant Enrollment Growth
60,000,000 60,000,000
HB0672 Housing - Local Housing Grant Program for Homeless Veterans and Survivors of Domestic Violence 2,000,000 2,000,000
YES - But Mandate eliminated
HB0714 Community Colleges - Supplemental Services and Supports for Students With Disabilities Grant Program 2,500,000 2,500,000 2,500,000
Not moving
HB0779 Higher Education - Historically Black Colleges and Universities - Funding 66,640,000 66,640,000 66,640,000
Not moving
HB0916 Maryland National Guard - Tuition Assistance Program - Modifications 200,000 200,000 200,000
HB1064 Maryland Sign Language Interpreter Act 100,000 0 0
HB1082 Local Health Services Funding - Modifications 30,951,074 30,951,074 30,951,074
Not moving
HB1094 Community Safety and Strengthening Act - Allowing JHU to establish a police department 9,500,000 9,500,000 14,500,000
HB1115 Community Colleges - Workforce Readiness Grant Program - Established 0
YES,  But mandate eliminated
HB1158 Clean Energy Jobs 16,200,000 500,000 500,000 YES - MANDATES $1,200,000 ongoing
HB1160 Public Health - Breathe Easy Pilot Program 500,000 0 0
Not moving
HB1167 Labor and Employment - Apprenticeship Career Training Pilot Program for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals - Establishment 100,000 100,000 100,000
HB1168 Education - Career and Technical Education Expansion Grant - Established 2,000,000 0 0
Not moving
HB1170 Behavioral Health Services Matching Grant Program for Service Members and Veterans - Establishment 5,000,000 5,000,000 5,000,000
Not moving
HB1178 Department of Housing and Community Development - Social Housing Act of 2019 2,500,000,000 0 0
HB1206 Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center - Data Matching 100,000 100,000 0
HB1257 Maryland Transportation Public-Private Partnership Oversight Act 20,000,000 20,000,000 20,000,000
Not moving
HB1266 National Capital Strategic Economic Development Program - Established 7,200,000 7,200,000 7,200,000
HB1272 Maryland Department of Health - Family Planning Program - Funding 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
HB1281 Transportation - Bikeways Network Program - Funding
YES - Mandate reduced
HB1293 Health - Professional and Volunteer Firefighter Innovative Cancer Screening Technologies Program 500,000 500,000 500,000
Not moving
HB1327 Small Business Development Center Network Fund - Minimum Appropriation 550,000 1,050,000 1,550,000
Not moving
HB1348 Public Safety - Youth Crime Prevention and Diversion Parole Fund - Establishment 500,000 500,000 500,000
Not moving
Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education Grant (Maryland Green Schools Act of 2019)
YES - Mandates slightly reduced

Senate Kills Hogan Tax Cuts
Tax Cuts!?!   "They cost too much!"
          This week, the Senate voted down two of Governor Larry Hogan's bills that would have authorized millions of dollars in tax breaks for retirees.
            "The Democratic-controlled committee voted 9-4, along party lines, to kill Hogan's 'Retirement Tax Fairness Act of 2019,' which would have expanded tax breaks on retirement income for individual retirement accounts, Roth IRAs and pensions."
            Hogan's other proposal would have exempted 100 percent of military retirement income from state taxation. This vote was closer, 7-6, with two Democratic Senators voting with Republicans for the bill.
"Maryland Senate budget committee votes down two Hogan tax-break bills for retirees," 
by Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun, March 8, 2019
Retiree Prescription Drug Plan Fix
Retirees up in arms over sneaky change in their Prescription Drug Plan -- in 2011!
        Back in 2011, the Maryland General Assembly tried to be responsible . . . but not to be  blamed for it.
        With future pension costs and Other Post-Employment Benefits ("OPEB") costs growing faster than expected, the 2011 legislature looked for a way to bring the costs back in line with what the state could afford.  One of the OPEB benefits the State offers is health care, including a very generous -- and expensive --prescription drug plan.
        It occurred to the legislature that Medicare also offers a prescription Drug plan, known as Part D.  Why not transfer the state retirees who are eligible for Medicare onto Part D?  
        While that sounded like a good plan, investigation into Part D discovered a big problem called the "Doughnut Hole."  No one is quite sure what the Doughnut Hole is, other than it is "bad" and left a big gap in coverage.  
        The legislature saw that as a problem,  but, the federal government announced that it was going to "close the doughnut hole" by June 2019.  
          The legislators realized they could both pass a bill to limit Maryland's future OPEB liabilities  and avoid blame by timing the transfer to begin July 1, 2019, to coincide with the destruction of the Doughnut Hole.  And that is what they did.
Skip ahead to 2018
        The federal government unexpectedly committed a very unnatural act by completing its elimination of the Doughnut Hole six months earlySo Maryland accelerated the date for our retirees to transfer to Medicare Part D by six months, to January 1, 2019.  
        In preparation for the change, the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) sent letters to all of the Medicare-eligible retirees notifying them that as of January 1, 2019 they would no longer be members of the State prescription drug plan, an d advising them to look to Medicare Part D (or any other plan they might want to join).
        As you might imagine, the retirees were not happy.  Indeed, they were furious!  Apparently, even without the Doughnut Hole, Medicare Part D is not comparable to the State Plan.  Although some retirees might end up paying less, others with more need for such drugs would end up paying large sums of money due to the way Medicare Part D is structured.
2019 Legislative Session
        It soon became clear that the legislature would have to act to  moderate the impact of the 2011 law.  A number of different ideas found their way into different bills -- most of which had a fiscal note of around $10 Billion.  The bill that is going to pass, HB1120/SB946, does a reasonably good job of solving a very difficult problem.  The price tag is only $ 2.84  billion.  Below is a limited summary of what it does:
        By January 1, 2020, DBM must establish three new prescription drug benefit programs for specified current and future retirees who are enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug benefit plan:

The Maryland State Retiree Prescription Drug Coverage Program is available only to an individual who:
  • Retired from the State on or before May 1, 2019;
  • Is enrolled in a prescription drug benefit plan under Medicare; and
  • Is eligible to enroll and participate in the State Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefit Program (State plan).
             It reimburses a participant for Out Of Pocket (OOP) prescription drug costs that exceed limits established in the State plan, which are currently $1,500 for an individual and $2,000 for a family;
The Maryland State Retiree Catastrophic Prescription Drug Assistance Program is available to an individual who
  • Began State service on or before June 30, 2011;
  • Retired on or after January 1, 2019; and
  • Is eligible to enroll and participate in the State plan.
          It reimburses a participant for OOP costs after the participant enters catastrophic coverage under the Medicare drug benefit plan; and
The Maryland State Retiree Life-Sustaining Prescription Drug Assistance Program is available to an individual who:
  • Is eligible to enroll and participate in the State plan and
  • Is enrolled in a prescription drug benefit plan under Medicare.
It reimburses a participant for OOP costs for a life-sustaining drug that is covered under the State plan but is not covered under the individual's Medicare prescription drug plan.
          The bill also requires DBM to provide one-on-one counseling to Medicare-eligible retirees to assist them in selecting a Medicare Part D plan.  Recognizing the complexity of health care in general and Medicare specifically, DBM is instructed to contract with an outside health care counseling service to provide these services:
  *  for at least three months before the Medicare open enrollment period through the end of open enrollment, and
  *  In the 12-month period after a retiree becomes eligible for Medicare.
Counseling may be provided in person or over the phone.
Caution:  This information is provided as an overview and is not to be relied upon in making any health care coverage decisions. 
Why so many young people  say they are SOCIALISTS
Because we've stopped TESTING and TEACHING
Civics, Citizenship, Social Studies
Years in the chart above go from  1980 through 2016
Delegate Trent M. Kittleman Scholarship
College students 
and college-bound seniors (and/or parents thereof) 
If you live in Legislative District 9-A 
( western Howard County and southern Carroll County)    
I Invite you to apply for one of my legislative scholarships.
District 9-A Residents:        
          Current high school seniors and full-time or part-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students, graduate students and students attending a private career school may apply.
For questions regardi ng the a pplication process, call my Annapolis office and speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy at 410-841-3556.
Please be sure to have your completed application postmarked by April 5, 2019.
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  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy