March 22nd 2019 Newsletter
Crossover Day in Annapolis was Monday, March 11th. It is deadline for each chamber to send to the other Chamber those bills it intends to pass favorably. The bill from the Opposite Chamber bills received after this date are then sent to the Rules instead of the Committee of jurisdiction. This deadline provides a bill the best chance to be voted on in the opposite chamber and make it to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Six of my bills have crossed over to the House and on March 19th, I had the honor to testify in my old committee, the Environment and Transportation Committee in the House. I testified on my Real Property bill. SB 305, that passed the Senate last week.
Important Legislation Update:
HB: 100: The Budget
The Senate passed the $46.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 unanimously (HB100). It is a constitutionally balanced budget that grows the budget by 4% and meets the spending affordability limits. Since the Senate amended the House version with slightly different funding numbers on various things like the allocation for the first year Implementation of the Kirwan Commission recommendation, the bill will now go to a conference committee to hammer out the details between the competing versions before final passage in both chambers.
This budget maintains the States “Triple A” Bond rating. Maryland is one of 12 States that have this highest bond rating.
SB 280 “Fight for $15” Bill
Wednesday, the Maryland General Assembly gave final approval to the minimum wage increase. The compromise bill received a veto proof majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. The final version of this bill will increase the minimum wage in Maryland from $10.10 to $11 by January 2020 and then it will increase by 75 cents a year reaching $15 an hour by 2025.
This bill also gives companies with 15 employees or less a longer phase in period. For these companies, the minimum wage would still increase to $11 by next January but from there it will increase 60 cents a year, reaching $15 an hour in July 2026.
SB 895: “Taking Tobacco to Twenty-One”
Last week, SB 895 passed the Senate and crossed over to the House, and the House cross-file HB 1169 passed in the House of Delegates as well. A conference committee will reconcile the differences between these bills and an agreed upon bill will return to both chambers for another vote. This bill will increase the legal age to purchase tobacco in Maryland from 18 to 21. This will covers any tobacco product including liquids for electronic smoking devices regardless of nicotine content. Young people are the most at-risk of tobacco addiction. 80% of all adult smokers began smoking by the age of 18 and 90% did so before the age of 20. I believe this commonsense change will greatly improve public health.
SB 516: The Clean Energy Jobs Act
This week the Senate passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, an important piece of legislation I was happy to cosponsor. This bill increases the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard from 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030. Additionally, it increases alternative compliance payments, removes waste to energy and refuse-derived fuel sources from eligibility, adds a new round of offshore wind applications to the State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, and requires a study to explore the feasibility of moving to 100% by 2040. This is both a jobs bill and an environmental protection bill, by some estimates this bill will create 20,000 new solar jobs in Maryland by 2028 and 5,000 wind energy jobs by 2030. SB 516 crossed over to the House.
SB 713: 5G
All 5G bills (including my bill SB 713) in the House and Senate have been deferred to interim study. A work group of stakeholders and legislators will be set up and meet in the interim with the goal of recommending one bill outlining the implementation of 5G wireless technology in Maryland. I plan on continuing this discussion after the General Assembly session ends and fighting to keep local autonomy involved in this issue.
Day in the life of a State Senator
Since this is my first legislative session as the Senator from District 32, I thought it would be interesting to share what a typical day in the Senate is during session, if any day can be called “typical”.
8:30am: I arrive in my office, catch the headlines of the Maryland Reporter and have my first cup of coffee. I use this time to refresh myself on the bills that will be debated and voted on in the day.
9:00-9:50am: This is some of the only time available in my schedule for meetings so I try to make the most of it, meeting with constituents, and other stakeholders interested in bills before the Senate.
9:50-10:00am: I run from my office in the James building to the State House to make it on the Senate floor in time for the start of session.
10:00am-1:00pm: The Senate convenes for a floor session. Each session starts with an invocation/prayer followed by introduction of guests and floor resolutions before we get to the business of the day. We discuss and vote on amendments and bills before the Senate. This can take a while depending what bills are being discussed. The length of debate varies from bill to bill.
1:00pm to 1:20pm: Once the floor session either ends for the day or goes into recess until later in the evening, we normally get 15-20 minutes before committee hearings start. This is just enough time to run back to the office, grab my notes and take my lunch with me to committee.
1:30-4:00pm: The Finance Committee meets from about three or four hours depending on how many bills are being heard that day and how many bills are being voted on. Each bill that comes before the committee is introduced by its sponsor, followed by testimony from those in favor and those opposed to the bill with time for the committee to ask questions. There are so many bills to be heard that those testifying only have about two minutes to speak but they can supply the committee with as much written testimony as they would like. Most committee meetings end with us voting on bills that were heard earlier in session. Some hearings last until 8 or 9:00 pm.
4:00- 5:00pm: Depending on how late committee goes, I try to get back to my office, check in with my staff and answer calls and emails that came in during the day. Frequently we are going into a second session.
5:00-7:00pm: On Monday nights the Executive Nominations committee meets at this time to hear and give recommendations on the Governor’s appointments. I am the Vice- Chair of Executive Nominations.
8:00pm-10:00pm: Every Monday night the Senate reconvenes at this time but as we only have 18 days left in the Legislative Session, we have had more second floor sessions during the days Tuesday-Friday.
10:00pm: The day is usually done by this time and I go home for the evening.
I had the pleasure of welcoming the North County High School Unified Tennis Group to the State House. They have won the State Tennis Championship for two consecutive years. Congratulation to them!
As always, my office is open, if you are visiting the General Assembly and would like to stop by! Nancy Lipin Crawford, my Chief of Staff, and Joe Cadman, my Legislative Aide are on hand Monday to Friday to answer any questions you have. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns. My contact information is: pamela.beidle@Senate.state.md.us or 410.841.3593. You can also find updates at my website: www.pambeidle.com and on Facebook at Senator Pam Beidle.
It is truly an honor to serve you in the Maryland General Assembly,
Senator Pam Beidle
11 Bladen St
Room 202, James Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21411