Around 2,300 bills have been filed for this legislative session, including some that are actually good. But leaders are already moaning about the lack of time to give them all the attention tney deserve.
Our Maryland General Assembly leaders have a history of reluctance to extend the three-month session or schedule special sessions, even when needs are obvious. Longtime observers see this as a dodge to allow leadership to cherry-pick their preferred bills for fast-tracking while they cry bitter crocodile tears about the ones that don’t make it. Letting the 90-day session limit dictate what gets to passage is a mug’s game, and leadership works it to the hilt. Marylanders should push their legislators to stay in session as long as it takes to get ALL good bills across the finish line.
Read about bills and scuffles as the new administration and the Assembly experience a leetle friction and start to lose their permanent smiles.
Three-month Assembly calendar should not be used as an excuse for ducking uncomfortable bills
Maryland Matters reports in its weekend political roundup that “A backlog of bills is causing one presiding officer to project a difficult month of March. Friday marked the halfway point of the 90-day session, and nearly 1,000 bills have been introduced in the Senate as of Friday. Roughly one-third of those came as the chamber hit its filing deadline. [Just short of 1,300 bills have been introduced in the House.]
“We are not going to be able to pass every bill that either could be passed or should be passed. It’s a logistic impossibility,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). “We’re going to do the best that we can to prioritize the things we know we have the votes for, the things we know that we can get through and don’t back up additional bills.”
About ten states have full-time legislatures – mostly big ones like California, Illinois, New York. Tellingly, the last two states admitted to the union, Alaska and Hawaii, both have year-round lawmaking even though they are hardly the largest states. Maybe they could see something coming.
Meanwhile, our Maryland General Assembly leaders have a history of reluctance to extend the three-month session or schedule special sessions, even when needs are obvious. Longtime observers see this as a dodge to allow leadership to cherry-pick their preferred bills for fast-tracking while they cry bitter crocodile tears about the ones that don’t make it. Letting the 90-day session limit dictate what gets to passage is a mug’s game, and leadership works it to the hilt. Marylanders should push their legislators to stay in session as long as it takes to get ALL good bills across the finish line.
ON THE LEGISLATIVE HORIZON
Our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition have a great breakdown of the status of important bills as the General Assembly hits the heavy-lifting phase of shaping bills to get them through the meat grinder by the sine die date ending the session (see our comment above -- or so they think/hope. Learn about family-friendly bills on health care and prescription drugs, housing, and the fight to mitigate climate change. And here’s their chart of upcoming hearings on progressive bills for the next few crucial weeks, with info on how your voice can be heard.
Legislative Leaders Working On Bill To Move Maryland 529 To Treasurer, Wind Down Pre-Paid Tuition Program -- Legislative leaders are planning to introduce a bill next week that would shift oversight of Maryland’s beleaguered college savings plan to the state treasurer’s office and wind down pre-paid college tuition plans. Sen. President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said during a Friday morning press briefing that top leaders will be taking up the offer made by [newly re-elected, see below] Treasurer Dereck Davis (D) to move the program into his office. Maryland Matters
Juvenile Services Nominee Gets Tough Hearing, Divided Vote: Vincent Schiraldi’s appointment as head of the state’s juvenile services was approved on a party line vote Tuesday A UMCP Diamondback op-ed outlined reasons to confirm him
Gop Caucus Wants $10 Million Funding For Private School Program: State Republicans are pushing again for funding of a scholarship program originally established by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that has sparked perennial debate in Annapolis. The caucus’s “Right to Learn Act of 2023” would require Maryland’s governor to appropriate at least $10 million a year the program that provides funding for low-income students to attend private schools. Gov. Wes Moore’s proposed $63.1 million budget includes an $8 million appropriation for the program. Maryland Matters.
Moore Joins 19 Governors In Reproductive Freedom Alliance: Gov. Wes Moore (D) joined governors from 19 states across the U.S. in a new Reproductive Freedom Alliance to safeguard and improve abortion and reproductive health care access “in the face of an unprecedented assault by states hostile to abortion rights,” according to a joint statement. The formation of the alliance, led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, was announced Tuesday. Maryland Matters.
Moore Taps Gas Industry Official To Regulation Panel: A month after his inauguration, Democratic Gov. Wes Moore is angering some of his environmental supporters by nominating a natural gas industry official to the state Public Service Commission, a five-member body that regulates utility companies and plays a pivotal role in the state’s efforts to combat climate change. WaPo
Davis Re-Elected as State Treasurer: On Tuesday, re-elected by his former colleagues to a full four-year term as state Treasurer, Dereck E. Davis outlined several priorities for the office that include being “socially responsible and fiscally prudent” with taxpayer dollars, expanding financial literacy in the schools and achieving the 29% goal in the state’s minority business enterprise program, where the figure “routinely” sits around 12%. Longtime former Delegate Davis, along with the Governor and new Comptroller Brooke Lierman, make up the Board of Public Works, which manages state expenditures in biweekly meetings. William Ford and Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
State Gets $19m To Address Forever Chemicals: Maryland is getting about $19 million in federal funding to help municipalities trying to test or reduce levels of “forever chemicals” in their water supply. The funds are part of $2 billion earmarked from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will be distributed to U.S. states and territories through the EPA’s grant for small or disadvantaged communities grappling with the presence of the chemicals in their water systems. Frederick News Post.
More Relocation Guidance, If Needed: South Carolina’s Senate Finance Committee has approved one-time fees of $250 for a driver’s licenses and $250 for vehicle registrations for new residents, a measure dubbed the “Yankee Tax.” South Carolina added 129,000 residents from other states in 2019. (Associated Press) via Pluribus
The Congressional Budget Office last week said the country will run out of cash between July and September, but city officials are still holding out hope the Biden administration and Senate Democrats will be able to reach a deal with House Republicans to raise the debt limit to avoid the nation defaulting. A default on the federal level could discourage investors from providing the money cities around the country need to be able to make improvements, officials said. If the federal government fails to raise the limit, it could lead to higher borrowing costs for cities and force them to direct what little money they do have to cover their debts, according to a recent article on NLC’s website. from Route Fifty
E-Presence In Court For Threats Of Eviction -- Colorado’s legislature has a great idea that would right the unjust scenario where landlords can afford to have a lawyer in court where eviction-threatened workers can’t skip work to appear. Colorado Public Radio
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