Maryland General Assembly Finishes the 2022 Session

by: Jimmy Tarlau

The 2022 General Assembly came to a close on Monday, April 11.  In the last week, a number of bills were vetoed by the Governor and those bills were overridden by the General Assembly and are now law.  In addition, the Governor did not either veto or sign other bills that have also become law. 

In the last week, the General Assembly also passed hundreds of bills.  On Tuesday the Governor signed another 79 bills which will now become law.  There are hundreds of others that are on his desk.  If he signs them, they will become law.  If he vetoes them, they are ‘dead’ until next year because the legislature cannot override vetoes because there will be a new legislature elected this November.

Here are some of the bills that are now law:

Climate Change Bill: A sweeping piece of climate change legislation that would push the state to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 would require building owners to start relying on electricity for space and water heating needs, creating a “green bank” that would invest state funds into private projects that reduce gas emissions and expanding the state electric vehicle fleet. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Abortion Care Access Bill: Health care workers besides physicians could start performing abortions in Maryland and the procedure would be covered without cost by most insurance plans in the state  The bill establishes and ensures that there are a sufficient number of health professionals to provide abortion care, while establishing the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program Fund, which also provides certain requirements regarding abortion services. (Governor vetoed bill and legislature overrode the veto.)

Paid Family/Medical Leave Bill:  The program would give workers up to 12 weeks — or, in some limited cases, as much as 24 weeks — to welcome a newborn, care for ailing relatives or deal with health issues themselves once benefits start being paid in 2025. The benefits would be funded by mandatory contributions from workers and most employers, although the payroll tax rate would be determined later. (Governor vetoed bill and legislature overrode the veto.)

Banning Ghost Guns:   The Maryland General Assembly has approved a measure to ban so-called ghost guns, which don’t have serial numbers. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Healthy Babies Equity Act, which expands Medicaid to all pregnant people regardless of immigration status (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Referendum to Legalize Marijuana on the ballot this November.  (Because it is a referendum this bill is not subject to a veto)

Recurring Contributions – protects Marylanders from deceptive campaign fundraising tricks by banning campaigns–and the technology platforms they use–from raising money without the affirmative consent of the donor. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Equity in Transportation Sector requires that equity be considered when State transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Companion Measure to Marijuana Legalization – Although Governor Hogan cannot veto the ballot amendment to legalize marijuana, he can veto the companion legislation that would — if the amendment passes in November’s election — legalize possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, remove criminal penalties on possessing up to 2.5 ounces and create a system to expunge past criminal records for those convicted of possessing marijuana. Each household could also grow two plants. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Criminal Justice Reform – An omnibus bill that includes no confinement for first-time misdemeanor offenses, unless the crime involves a gun.  Another bill would require police to notify parents and let children talk to attorneys before law enforcement interrogations. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Insulin Cost Reduction Act – Requires insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to limit the amount a covered individual is required to pay in copayments or coinsurance for a covered prescription insulin drug to not more than $30 for a 30-day supply. (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

Tenant Protection Legislation (Governor did not veto or sign this bill. It became law.)

  • Stay of Evictions Act would require a judge to delay eviction proceedings if a tenant can prove they have a pending application for rent assistance. The bill would also allow a judge to delay an eviction, even if the judge has already ruled in favor of the landlord. But it limits the delay to no more than 35 days.  The measure would apply only to tenants with pending rental assistance applications “submitted before or within 30 days after the tenant’s landlord filed a written complaint regarding the failure to pay rent.”
  • Senate Bill 662 and 279 would provide funds for tenants facing eviction to have legal representation.
  • Tenant Protection Act  requires a landlord to disclose  to prospective tenants if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system; making a certain lease provision unenforceable if the landlord fails to make the disclosure; requiring a landlord to document a bill for certain utilities; providing that a tenant organization has the right of free assembly during reasonable hours and on reasonable notice to the landlord; expanding certain provisions of law regarding the rights of certain tenants to include certain victims of stalking

Tax Relief Measures Signed into Law:  A big set of bills that the Governor did not veto.

  • 30-day suspension of the gas tax (ends April 17th!!)
  • The Retirement Tax Elimination Act provides relief for retirees 65 and older making up to $100,000 in retirement income, and married couples making up to $150,000 in retirement income. 
  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit incentivizes employers and businesses to hire and retain workers from underserved communities that have faced significant barriers to employment. 
  • Family Budget Boosters: sales tax exemptions for childcare products such as diapers, car seats, and baby bottles, and critical health products such as dental hygiene products, diabetic care products, and medical devices. 
  • The bill also expands the “hometown hero” tax exemption, which allows retired law enforcement, correctional officers, fire and emergency personnel to exempt $15,000 of retirement income annually.

The Governor signed 79 bills on Tuesday April 12th.  A couple of the important ones for our area are:

  • HB 897 – which allows the stadium authority to spend $400 million on recreational and entertainment venues in Prince George’s County.  (There is no money for a new football stadium but money for development in the Largo area)
  • HB 227 – Juneteenth (June 19th) becomes a state legal and state employee holiday.

There are hundreds of other bills that passed the General Assembly in the last week, but we don’t know if the Governor will veto these bills or not.  Here are a few of the important bills that are on his desk.  You may want to write Governor Hogan and tell him to sign these bills and make them law.

EDUCATION

  • HB 1349/SB 831: Education Support Professionals – Bonus and Report
    Gives a cash bonus to food service workers, TA’s, student advocates, and other education support professionals for the next two years.

ENVIRONMENT

  • HB 696:  Electric School Bus Pilot Program
    House Bill 696 establishes a 3-year electric school bus pilot program to begin transitioning Maryland’s 7,300 school buses from diesel to electric buses. 
  • HB 1391: Clean Cars Act of 2022
    House Bill 1391 extends the Clean Cars program for zero-emission and fuel cell electric vehicles that cost $50,000 or less. This bill is another important step in the right direction to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

HEALTH

  • HB 6/SB 150: Expanded Dental Coverage for Adults on Medicaid
    This legislation expands access to dental care by allowing adults with Medicaid to get dental coverage beginning January 1, 2023. This will expand dental coverage to the nearly 800,000 Marylanders without dental care.
  • SB 353: Insulin Cost Reduction Act
    Senate Bill 353 Limits the total amount of cost share for insulin for individuals with health insurance plans. Over half a million adults in the state has diabetes. Puts a cap on the cost of insulin to $30.  Requires an insurer, nonprofit health service plan, or health maintenance organization (collectively known as carriers) that provides coverage for prescription drugs and devices (including coverage provided through a pharmacy benefits manager) to limit the amount a covered individual is required to pay in copayments or coinsurance for a covered prescription insulin drug to no more than $30 for a 30-day supply.

HOUSING

  • HB 932:  Require Landlords to Accept Federal Rental Assistance for Failure to Pay Rent
    House Bill 932 requires landlords to accept a check of federal rental assistance provided by a tenant to avoid eviction. During the course of the pandemic, the state has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) which has helped Marylanders pay their rent during these difficult times. This bill clarifies existing law by specifically stating that a landlord must accept ERAP funds to stop an eviction just like any other allowed payment method.
  • HB 174:  Require All Licensure from Landlords in Failure to Pay Rent Cases
    This bill allows a tenant to make it an issue of fact at trial whether a landlord is in compliance with lead paint certification.
  • SB 384: Stay of Eviction Proceeding for Rental Assistance Determination
    This emergency bill requires judges to pause eviction proceedings for failure to pay rent cases up to 30 days when there is a good faith effort to apply for rental assistance. If a judgment has not been entered, the court must pause the proceeding. If a judgment has been entered in favor of the landlord, the execution of any warrant of restitution or order requiring the tenant to leave the property must be paused. This will prevent people who are eligible for rental assistance from being evicted from their homes.

LABOR 

  • HB 145: Stop Work Order
    House Bill 145 requires the Commissioner of Labor to start an investigation after receiving a complaint or being made aware of a violation of paying prevailing wage for a qualified project.
  • HB 611:  Prevailing Wage for Mechanical Service Contracts
    House Bill 611 extends prevailing wage requirements to routine mechanical service contracts that are part of a public work valued in excess of $2,500. While prevailing wage laws already apply to public work construction projects which cost $250,000 or more, this legislation ensures future work done involving HVAC, refrigeration, plumbing, electrical, elevator systems, etc. also qualifies for prevailing wage.

TRANSPORTATION

  • HB 254/SB 874:  Vision Zero Implementation Act of 2022
    This bill requires the State Highway Administration (SHA) to conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a state highway or at an intersection of a state highway and another highway or municipal street.
  • HB 1187: Highway User Revenues
    This bill increases the share of funds from the Gasoline and Motor Vehicle Revenue Account (GMVRA) and corporate tax that the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) must annually provide to local governments through capital transportation grants from fiscal 2024 through 2027. This will provide critical funds to the counties, municipalities, and Baltimore City


You can contact Governor Hogan at 
Governor Larry Hogan – Official Website for the Governor of Maryland or 410-974-3901 to tell him not to veto any of these bills.

Jimmy Tarlau is a Mt. Rainier City Councilman, a former State Delegate from Prince George’s County and a former union representative. He started the People’s Lobby Group in 2018 to help progressive advocates navigate the legislative process in Annapolis. See http://plg.solutions/