Maryland General Assembly Accomplishments: 2011-14 Term

Posted by Matt on February 26, 2014  |   Comments Off on Maryland General Assembly Accomplishments: 2011-14 Term

What has the General Assembly accomplished this term? Turns out, quite a bit! Check out a sample below:

Fiscal Stewardship:

  • Balanced the budget each year and fully funded the Rainy Day Fund.
  • Maryland is one of only 8 states to maintain a triple-A bond rating through the recession

Investing in Education:

  • Funding K-12 and Higher Ed:

–     Record investment in education, resulting in the #1 K-12 system for 5 years in a row

–     Increased access to higher education by freezing education for 3 years and then capping tuition at 3% for the past three years

Marriage Equality:

  • Maryland became the 8th state in the country to legalize same sex marriage, while providing strong religious protections

Jobs:

  • Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program  Established an industry-led partnerships to advance the skills of the State’s workforce and increase sustainable employment for working families.

Incentivizing Investment:

Public Private Partnership legislation – Expanded the use of an innovative financing tool that allows State budget dollars to leverage private sector investment.

New and Expanded Tax Credits

  • Created: Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Tax Credit, Security Clearance, Wine Production Tax Credit
  • Expanded: Biotechnology, Film Production Activity and Research and Development Tax Credits
  • Family Farm Preservation Act of 2012 – Eased the estate tax burden on family farms, making it easier to pass on and preserve agricultural land, by exempting from the estate tax up to $5M of agricultural property.

Protecting the Environment:

  • Poaching – Tightened penalties for illegally poaching rockfish from Maryland waters.
  • Banned phosphorous from detergents and lawn fertilizers. Maryland joins Virginia to curb the pollution flowing into the Bay from lawn fertilizers.
  • Maryland Agricultural Certainty Program –  Certifies farms that meet State agricultural nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction goals are granted a 10 year period of certainty for new laws and regulations.
  • Cleaning up polluted runoff
    • Ensured new cleaner technology will be used for new and failing septic systems and all State wastewater treatment plants will be upgraded with the cleanest and best technology

Energy:

  • Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 –  Incentivized the construction of a major wind energy project off of Maryland’s coast and ultimately create over 1,000 jobs in construction and ongoing operations.
  • Electricity Reliability – Directed the Public Service Commission to set a goal that each electric company establish reliability, and take appropriate corrective action against companies that fail to meet these standards, including civil penalties of up to $25K.

Expanded Access to Quality Health Care:

  • Expanded healthcare access to residents up to 133% of poverty to comply with the ACA
  • Approved a medical marijuana program for palliative support
  • Increased funding for developmental disabilities
  • Created Health Enterprise Zones to decrease minority health disparities

Gun Legislation:

  • Passed one of the strongest gun safety laws in the country, balancing 2nd amendment rights with public safety concerns and expanding support for the mentally ill.
  • Banned on military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips;
  • Created a new licensing system for handguns, which account for the majority of gun deaths in our state;
  • Established important new restrictions on access to firearms for those suffering from serious mental illness.

Abolished Death Penalty:

  • Repealed the use of capital punishment in Maryland. Maryland became the 18th state in the nation to eliminate the use of capital punishment, along with 141 other countries across the globe

Tough on Crime:

  • Drunk Driving – Expanded the use of ignition interlock to drunk drivers with a BAC over .15, repeat offenders, and anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test. Anyone under 21 who has any blood alcohol content is automatically enrolled in the ignition interlock program.
  • Criminal Vehicular Manslaughter –   Created a new crime if a person acts in a criminally negligent way while driving which results in death.

Protecting the Vulnerable:

  • Human Trafficking– Created an asset forfeiture law to seize real property, vehicles and cash from defendants convicted of human trafficking; and eliminated a defendant’s ability to claim “mistake of age” in cases that involve sex trafficking of a minor.
  • Child Neglect – To protect Maryland’s most vulnerable residents, created a new crime for child neglect. If a parent or guardian intentionally fails to provide support and resources for the physical or mental health of a child.

Infrastructure:

  • Transportation Funding – Increased transportation funding by over $3B to invest in the State’s transportation network that leverages over $4.4B.
  • To reassure State residents that Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) revenues will be used solely for their intended purpose, the General Assembly approved legislation that asks voters to approve a transportation “lockbox” during the 2014 general election.

Immigration:

  • Dream Act– Maryland joined 10 other states in allowing undocumented children who have attended a Maryland high school for 3 years to qualify for in-state tuition rates.

–     Maryland passed one of the most stringent laws in the country, requiring proof of tax payment, in order to qualify for the benefit.

Protecting the Right to Vote:

  • Improving Access to Voting Act –  Expanded early voting dates, times and locations, and increased penalties for voter fraud.
  • Campaign Finance Reform – Closed the loophole that treated limited liability companies owned by the same person as entirely separate entities. Maryland now has among the strongest reporting requirements in the nation for money spent during an election.

Ethics and Accountability:

  • Ethics– Required legislators’ conflict of interest forms to be filled out electronically and posted online.
  • Accountability– Amended the State Constitution to immediately remove from office a state or local elected official who pleads guilty to a felony or to certain misdemeanors related to the elected official’s public duties, without pay or benefits.