Last week was the 3rd week of the 2013 legislative session. In an average legislative session, approximately 2500 bills are introduced between the House and the Senate. As of Friday, there were 385 bills submitted in the Senate and 400 in the House. The Governor has submitted all of his Administration’s legislation. Last week I mentioned his two pieces of legislation that dealt with gun control and the death penalty. In addition to those he has also introduced the following bills:
SB 273- Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013. This bill expedites licensure for education and work training for former members of the military with relevant military training.
SB 274- Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013.This bill expands eligibility requirements for the Maryland Medical Assistance Program and the definition of “independent foster care adolescent” to conform to federal eligibility requirements.
SB 275- Maryland Off-shore Wind Energy Act of 2013. This bill mandates a certain percentage of our energy portfolio to be derived from wind power. In order to do so, the Governor has proposed we place an off-shore wind energy farm along the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
SB 277- State Aid for Public Education – Certification of Net Taxable Income . This bill redefines “net taxable income” in order to calculate how much State aid is given to the school system.
SB 278- Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program. The Maryland EARN Program provides grants to business owners for business development. The grants are to be administered by the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and the Department of Business and Economic Development.
SB 279- Election Law- Improving Access to Voting. This Bill allows an individual to register to vote or update their registration at early voting locations. The Bill requires proof of residency when updating or registering to vote at an early polling place.
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This session will also have several additional topics that are sure to attract a lot of attention in Annapolis.
Speed Cameras – Three years ago the Legislature passed the speed camera law. It was controversial then and has only got worse since the problem with the cameras in Baltimore City came to light. There are numerous bills trying to address the problems with these cameras.
Transportation Funding – The past few years’ money has been siphoned away from the transportation trust fund in order to balance the State’s budget. This has left the account in an unhealthy state, with fund levels well below what is needed in order to maintain, improve and construct new highway projects. There will be intense debate on how to deal with this issue and restore the transportation fund.
Fracking – Currently there is a moratorium on Fracking in Western Maryland until an environmental study is conducted. Proponents see the potential rich gas reserves bringing jobs and economic boom to Western Maryland. The opponents fear the environmental impact it could cause. There will extensive debate in the Environmental Committees dealing with this issue.
Pit Bulls – A court ruling last year calling pit bulls “inherently dangerous” created legal nightmare for dog owners, landlords and insurance companies. Since the court ruling a committee has been meeting to discuss how to handle the issue and whether or not a single breed can be singled out.
As we look ahead to week four, Legislators will continue to submit their bills in order to meet the filing deadline of February 1st. Committees will begin to hold hearings on bills and start voting on legislation. The Governor will present his “State of the State Address” on Wednesday at noon to a Joint Session of the Legislature in the House of Delegates chamber.
As always I will do my best to keep you informed and don’t ever hesitate to contact me with your concerns.
Senator J.B. Jennings