As the clock strikes midnight, the Maryland General Assembly adjourns sine die and the 2017 session comes to a close. It was an eventful session and one that saw many critical pieces of legislation advance. The session began with great uncertainty as to what the incoming Trump administration would mean for Maryland and ends with the legislature taken a number of concrete steps to protect the citizens of our state from some of the president’s most damaging policies. Below, you’ll find synopses of many of the most important actions the legislature took this session.
I am excited to be back in Baltimore and to reconnect with friends and constituents. My 43rd District colleagues and I will be making the rounds through our communities and look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns directly. As always, if you have questions about legislative or constituent matters that my staff and I can assist with, please do not hesitate to contact me. As always, thank you for your continued confidence and support.
DELEGATE McINTOSH’S LEGISLATION:
HB 694 – Maryland Fair Access to Education Act: This bill “bans the box” on college admissions applications and prohibits colleges from automatically or unreasonably disqualifying applicants for admission based on their criminal history. Maryland colleges will not be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal history on campus-based admissions applications and must develop a transparent policy detailing how information collected on third-party applications is used in the admissions process. HB 694 and its Senate crossfile – sponsored by Senator Conway – passed today and are on their way to the Governor’s desk.
HB 503 – Income Tax Revenue Estimate Cap & Revenue Stabilization Account: This bill caps projections on certain highly volatile types of revenue – mainly capital gains paid by a few very wealthy taxpayers – and helps more accurately project the funds available for the annual State budget. When revenues are greater than expected the excess will be used to close budget deficits, shore up the “rainy day fund”, and provide additional money for school construction projects. HB 503 was signed by Governor Hogan last week.
HB 101 – Manna House – Manna House received $50,000 in the capital budget bill for expansion and renovation of their headquarters in Charles Village. The expansion will help them better implement their mission of providing meals to the homeless population of Baltimore City.
STRENGTHENING BALTIMORE SCHOOLS:
There was perhaps no issue more pressing for the members of the Baltimore City Delegation than helping to close the structural deficit faced by Baltimore City Public Schools. As the session opened, BCPS faced a $130 million deficit for the 2017-18 school year. Working together, State and City leaders have now resolved almost $100 million of that deficit. The following legislation was aimed at fixing the gap and helping BCPS improve its financial picture:
HB 684 – This bill aids declining enrollment schools throughout Maryland, most especially Baltimore City. This bill provides a total of $23.7 million in additional aid to BCPS, including a $13.5 million grant to mitigate the impact of declining student enrollment and a $10.2 million grant to help offset the cost of BCPS’ full-day Pre-K program. HB 684 has been signed by Governor Hogan and the grants funded in a supplemental budget.
HB 1109 – This bill relieved local boards of education from specified portions of their pension payment obligations, allowing them to direct more money into classrooms. For Baltimore City, this provided $1.8 million in relief.
SB 1149 – This bill requires MTA to allow qualified Baltimore City students to ride transit free of cost. MTA is the primary provider of student transportation in Baltimore City and this bill allows BCPS to put $7.5 million back into classrooms. SB 1149 was passed this morning and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
Other legislation returned $4.6 million in excess Baltimore City bottle tax revenue from the 21st Century Schools program to BCPS. This is money above and beyond what the City is required to pay in to the 21st Century Schools programs. Legislation also required the City to step up to the plate, and Mayor Pugh did so in committing $22 million next year as part of a 3-year $180 million City and State investment.
BALTIMORE CITY LEGISLATION:
As introduced, Governor Hogan’s budget de-funded a number of items from the “Baltimore Package” the City delegation worked so hard on during the 2016 session. Working together we restored many of those cuts, including:
- $3 million annually to expand the hours of the Enoch Pratt libraries
- $5 million annually through FY 2022 for the Next Generation Scholars Program
- $12 million annually through FY 2022 for the Baltimore Revitalization Neighborhood Initiative (BRNI).
- Funding to expand academic, recreational, and enrichment activities for youths
HB 562 – For the first time in 20 years, the Mayor of Baltimore will have sole authority to appoint members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. This authority will help clarify fiscal oversight, which is critical as the City and BCPS work to eliminate the school system’s structural deficit.
HB 441 – This bill gives Baltimore City a 2-year grace period for repayment of State debt on the 26 school buildings set to be closed and returned to the City for new uses. Many of these schools are being replaced by new or renovated buildings under the 21st Century buildings plan. The legislation gives the City valuable time to find new productive uses for these buildings without putting additional strain on the City budget.
SB 166 – This bill made modest but meaningful reforms to the Civilian Review Board. The legislation removes the requirement the requirement that complaints to the CRB must be notarized, and extends the time period for filing an excessive force complaint from 90 days to one year. While the City Delegation will continue to tackle the issue of police reform, these changes ensure that citizens will be able to have their grievances heard without unnecessary bureaucratic interference.
PRIORITY LEGISLATION UPDATE:
HB 1 – The Healthy Working Families Act – This bill extends earned sick and safe leave to nearly 488,000 Marylanders who currently do not have it. It also provides job-protected unpaid leave to an additional 205,000 workers employed by small businesses. The Healthy Working Families Act has passed the legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.
HB 978 – The Protect Our Schools Act – This bill is aimed at finally addressing the long-standing achievement gaps in our schools and improving opportunities to learn for our kids. It sets safeguards to prevent over-testing and school privatization in the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The bill also preserves local control in how to improve underperforming schools. The legislature acted earlier this week to pass HB 978 over Governor Hogan’s veto.
HB 1325 – Fracking Ban – In 2017, the General Assembly finally enacted a ban on hydraulic fracturing following a last minute change of heart by Governor Hogan. I have been interested in this issue since my time as chair of the Environmental Matters Committee and was proud to co-sponsor the ban bill. Fracking has proven to cause a number of detrimental environmental effects, including contaminating drinking water and contributing to earthquakes.