Register to Vote

Image result for small twitter logo Image result for small fb logo


Legislative News

2018 General Assembly Wrap Up Report

By Ella Ennis

Victories are sometimes more about stopping bad bills than passing favorable bills.

In 2018 one huge victory – The Maryland Federation of Republican Women (MFRW), working with several independent groups—was instrumental in stopping HB 1461 the Sanctuary Bill that would have prohibited any cooperation between state and local law enforcement and the Federal ICE and DOJ.  The coalition of 46 speakers testified against this bill after a 9 hour wait for the Chairman to call the bill.   There was outstanding research, planning, cooperation, coordination, and presentation of testimony.  A huge thank you to Gail Weiss, Sandy Tuttle, Brigitta Mullican, Hessie Harris, Zhenya Li, Ellen Paul, Amy Waychoff who coordinated with Jeff Werner, FAIR, CAN, AAN, Montgomery County GOP, and other groups to get this great turnout. It was a broad coalition. We are grateful to Sylvia Darrow, Carol Randall, Marilyn Akinfolarin, Kathryn Jerrard, Liz Matory, Nancy Altman, Eleni Dorian, Lori Jaffe, Joan Pleiman, Dick Jurgena Katherine Adelaide, Dee Hodges, Ella Ennis and so many others for being there. Kudos to everyone who participated in this effort.

An important victory where members of the MFRW also played a major role was stopping Ranked Choice Voting for Montgomery County (HB 173).  Sandy Tuttle raised the alarm on this bill and many Montgomery County friends opposed this bill in the Montgomery County Delegation and when it was heard in the Ways & Means Committee.  In Maryland the person who gets the most votes in an election wins that office.  But under Ranked Choice Voting the Montgomery County Council would enact a law setting a formula that would be used if one candidate in a multiple-candidate race didn’t get at least 51% of the vote.  The formula would dictate the specific process, but one version would be to eliminate the person who received the fewest votes and divide those votes among the other candidates and repeat until one person attained 51% of the votes. If this bill had passed it is likely that within a few years the Dems would propose it for the whole state, not just Montgomery County.   A great save!

Another “bad” bill that did not get out of Committee was HB 1264 full Legalization of Marijuana and production, and sale of marijuana products (like brownies and cookies) that could be very dangerous.  This bill did not get out of Committee.

Legislative Victories

Governor Hogan’s Ideas – Proposals – Determination – and willingness to forge compromises led to numerous victories in the 2018 Legislative Session.

They include:  SB 1265 – Increase in Funding for the Maryland Center for School Safety; and requires each school system to develop behavioral health assessment teams to identify students whose behavior may pose a threat to individuals attending or working in a public school.  In addition, this bill requires local school systems to identify a School Safety Coordinator to be certified by the Center for School Safety; and require standardized training and certification for School Resource Officers.

HB 281 – Requires by the 2021-22 School Year each county Board of Education shall require each public school in their county to offer at lest one computer science course and includes $5 million set aside by the Governor for computer science initiatives.

Taxes - OH Taxes!

Governor Hogan had proposed returning all of the additional money from the Federal Tax Reform to the citizens who pay the taxes, but the Democrats in the Legislature were not willing to give it all back.  However, they passed:

SB 184- Allows Marylanders to claim their State Income Tax Return Exemption and itemized deductions.
SB 318 – Increases the Standard Deduction on an individual’s Maryland Income Tax Return.
HB 327 – Exempts the first $15,000 of military retirement income from MD Income taxes.
HB 996 – Exempts first $15,000 of military retirement income (under 55 years old), retired Police or correctional officers from State Income taxes.

While the Federal Tax Reform eliminated some deductions and exemptions it also reduced tax rates thus lowering Federal taxes. But the loss of those exemptions on Maryland Income Tax Returns would increase the person’s   state income taxes.  The compromises reached will bring some tax savings to Maryland Taxpayers by retaining/expanding exemptions and deductions that were lost due to changes in Federal Tax law. 

SB 134 – Small Business Tax Relief will provide $5 million a year in tax credits to businesses with 14 or fewer employees that provide paid leave benefits to their employees.

SB 1267 – Establish a structure for a Reinsurance Program to help stabilize health insurance premiums.

HB 1782- Provides additional funding for Health Care Reinsurance Program

Protecting Victims of Crime

SB 2 – Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – Allows rape victims who conceive a child to end parental rights of the rapist.

SB 270-HB 301- Repeat Sexual Predator Act – allows evidence of sexually assaultive behavior (prior assaults) if the court states on the record that it is to prove lack of consent, or to rebut that a minor fabricated the sexual offense.  Defendant must have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.

HB 255 – To allow participants in the Address Confidentiality Program to request shielding of real property records in which they have an ownership interest.

Tackling Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

SB 1137 – This bill was amended to include Governor Hogan’s proposal to expand the Volume Dealer law to include Fentanyl and its analogs and allows for prosecution of high-level drug traffickers who deal in large quantities of controlled substances.

HB 359 – Allows emergency services providers and law enforcement officers to share data about opioid overdoses and input data into the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area overdose detection mapping application program, or any other program operated by federal, state or local government. 

Transportation Infrastructure

HB 1765 – Provides $167 Million a year for dedicated funding for Metro for capital costs of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The Bad and the Ugly

Election & Voter Registration

HB 532 – Constitutional Amendment to allow the General Assembly to enact a law to allow a qualified individual to register and vote in a precinct on election day.   WE MUST OPPOSE THIS AMENDMENT ON THE BALLOT IN NOV.
There are no requirements for proof of citizenship (US birth certificate or passport or naturalization certificate.)

HB 152 – Re-designating electronic voter registration agencies as automatic voter registration agencies; requiring the agencies to inform an applicant for any service transaction that the applicant SHALL be registered to vote or update their voter registration record unless the applicant declines.
This legislation moves us towards compulsory voter registration.  It intimidates the most vulnerable in our society who apply for welfare, food stamps, transportation services, etc.  Non-citizens can be registered to vote when applying for services. 

HB 1783 – Removes the Board of Public Works (the Governor, Comptroller and the Treasurer) from approving school construction contracts.  This bill rips approval authority from elected officials who are accountable to the people and gives it to appointed bureaucrats who are only answerable to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.

Bad and ugly Voting Legislation that FAILED but could come back next year

HB 173 – Ranked Choice Voting in Montgomery County (See page 1)

SB 256 – that would deny a Political Party the ability to nominate electors for the Electoral College if either of the candidates of that Party’s Presidential Ticket fails to file copies of the last 5 years of federal income tax returns with the Maryland State Board of Elections and give written consent for disclosure of those tax returns on the State Board of Elections Web Site at least 65 days prior to the General Election.

HB 1461 – SAFE Act—Prohibits State & Local Government from cooperating with Federal immigration officials.

HB 1264 – Legalize Marijuana.
HB 1516- Single Payer Health System.
SB 1011 – Mandate for Health Insurance or pay penalty.

Missed Opportunities

SB 301 – General Assembly & Congressional Legislative District Apportionment Commission; requires single member districts consecutively numbered; 9-member commission with 3 members from the largest voter political party; 3 members from the 2nd largest political party and 3 members not of either of the 2 largest parties.

SB 357 – Voter Registration Integrity Bill.  To require a county Jury Commissioner to send information to the State Board of Elections within 5 days of report of an individual rejected for jury duty due to not being a U.S. citizen.  It also requires the State BOE to maintain a file with the number of individuals removed from the voters list because they are non-citizens.   This is an important issue because between mid-2015 and mid-2016 the Circuit Court Administrator reported that in Montgomery County 8,185 people were rejected for jury duty due to NOT being United States citizens.  Jury pools are drawn from the voters lists and MVA drivers’ licenses and Identification cards.  Efforts to determine how many of these individuals are actually on the voters’ lists or whether or not they voted have been frustrated by the refusal to share that information through the Freedom of Information act and rules that juror related information is confidential.