The 441th General Assembly Session Adjourned
Sine Die at 5:00 PM on March 18, 2020
As you have all probably heard, in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the General Assembly adjourned Sine Die Wednesday, March 19 at 5:00 PM. Ending early, for the first time since the Civil War. We expect that a Special Session will be convened the last week in May, I will let you know more as plans progress.
When the General Assembly convened on January 6th, the Senate and House of Delegates both had new leadership for the first time in decades. Senator Bill Ferguson was elected as Senate President and Delegate Adrienne Jones was elected as the first woman, Speaker of the House. More legislation was introduced then in any prior session with 1,323 Senate Bills and 1,909 House Bills introduced.
This abbreviated session means not everything we wanted to accomplish as your elected representatives was done, but we did secure significant funding for Anne Arundel County and the District. In this Newsletter, I will report on the highlights of the session, my legislation and the various legislation that you, my constituents, called, emailed or stopped by my office to discuss during the past 71 days.
Maryland Primary Election Postponed
The Governor announced this week that Maryland’s April 28th Primary will be postponed to June 2nd amidst COVID-19 concerns.
Any voter who wishes to cast their ballot by mail may do so. Submit a request online by visiting https://www.elections.maryland.gov and clicking the ‘Request a Ballot’ box or obtaining a request form from elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is May 26, 2020 if you want the ballot by mail or May 29, 2020 if you want the ballot electronically. Ballots must be postmarked by June 2.
2020 Budget and District 32 funding
The General Assembly completed our Constitutional mandate to pass a balanced budget before adjourning Wednesday night. We increased the rainy day fund balance from $126 million to $231 million. We passed emergency legislation to give the Governor $50 million for COVID-19 response. Another $100 million was added in a budget amendment, for the Governor to use as needed to protect small businesses during the state of emergency.
Delegates Bartlett, Delegate Chang, Delegate Rogers and I worked together to secured over 2 million dollars in funding for local Bond Initiative projects in District 32.
Bello Machre Community training and gathering center - $150,000
Benson-Hammond House - $100,000
Lindale Middle School - $60,000
Linthicum Elementary School - $60,000
Linthicum Veterans Memorial -$82,000
National Cryptologic Museum - $125,000
North County High School Field House - $1,443,500
Severn Intergenerational Center - $1,000,000
West County Family Support Center - $200,000
Some legislation passed in one house, but ran out of time to pass in the other house. Twelve of my 20 pieces of legislation passed and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. We will work on the legislation that did not get through during the interim for reconsideration during the 2021 session.
SB 31 – Anne Arundel County - Board of Community College Trustees
This legislation establishes term limits for the Anne Arundel County Board of Community College Trustees. Requires Board Members to reside in Anne Arundel County and provides term limits - 3 consecutive full terms of 4 years.
SB 222 – Anne Arundel County Board of Education – Annual Meeting and Election of Officers
This legislation changes the Annual meeting of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education from July to December. This will allow the election of the presiding officers to occur after the newly elected members take office.
SB 425 - Debt Collection - Exemptions from Attachment and Execution
This bill increases the amount of a debtor’s wages that are exempt from attachment. SB 245 is designed to protect the essentials of daily life—including shelter and a basic amount of income—from seizure by a family’s creditors. It does not end wage garnishment - it provides a basic level of protection for the working poor to maintain a survival budget of $330 per paycheck.
SB 746 - State Fire Marshall – Sprinkler Systems Enforcement
This is a simple bill requiring the State Fire Marshal to enforce any requirements relating to the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in new one and two family homes.
Although time ran out before my Senate Bill passed, the House bill did passed. This bill prohibits the renting of a vehicle to another person without verifying that the renter’s driver’s license has not expired. It also allows rental car companies to use electronic identification devices, like fingerprint scanners, to identify a driver and get them a rental car. This legislation will speed up the airport rental car process.
The House Bill passed in the last hour of session. This is a study bill to collect and study injuries, fatalities, and crime firearms; requiring all State and local law enforcement agencies and other governmental units to provide the Office of the Attorney General with certain information; requiring the Office of the Attorney General to report certain findings including:
the number and types of firearm crimes;
the jurisdictions where the crime occurred;
911 requests for emergency assistance involving firearms;
whether any arrests were made and, if so, the age of each individual arrested;
whether any charges were filed and, if so, the specific crimes charged, disposition of each charge, and the age of each individual charged; and
The type of firearm recovered and whether the firearm had a serial number.
Anne Arundel Liquor Laws
Over the course of the last year, the Anne Arundel County Senators have been working on fixes to the Anne Arundel County Board of License Commissioners.
SB 37/HB430 – This bill will update the renewal process for Class B and H licenses. It requires that the license holder sign a sworn statement that their gross receipts from food sales are equal to at least 51% of the gross receipts from the sale of food and alcoholic beverages.
SB141/HB461 – This bill gives part-time inspectors a slight raise. Liquor inspectors have not had a raise in over a decade and the cost will be covered by the funds the Liquor Board brings in, it will not cost taxpayers anything.
SB 143/HB638– This legislation limits the claims that can be filed against a license holder that can hold up a license application. It also gives the Board the right to defer to the courts if a claim is outside the expertise of the Board.
SB 361/ HB 642 – This bill allows barber shops and beauty salons to serve complimentary beer or wine, by the glass, for on premise consumption.
SB 525/ HB 714 – This legislation creates a gift basket permit and guidelines to allow florists (and anyone who’s primary business is the sale of gift baskets) to sell and deliver gift baskets containing beer, wine and liquor.
The Legislature passed this emergency legislation to allow the Governor to move $50 million from the state’s Revenue Stabilization Account. SB 1080 grants the Governor additional powers to help Marylanders during this crisis.
SB 1080 is emergency legislation that will
Reduce barriers to testing
Improve access to telehealth to reduce the number of people going to hospitals unless absolutely necessary
Ensure people under quarantine do not lose their jobs
Put the infrastructure in place to allow access to a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available
Prohibit price gouging for a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available
Expand unemployment insurance to individuals if an employer temporarily ceases operations due to the pandemic.
The General Assembly has also established The Joint COVID-19 Response Legislative Workgroup. A work group made up of members of the House and Senate to monitor the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To raise the revenue needed to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency in real-time, the General Assembly passed a tax on our country’s largest companies like Facebook, Amazon, and the tobacco industry. We need these revenues for our small businesses, we need them for our families, and we need them for our state’s economic viability.
The goal of The Blueprint is to transform Maryland’s early childhood, primary and secondary educational systems. This is a once in a generation opportunity to make sure that every student in Maryland regardless of race, gender, income level or zip code receives a world class public education. The plan is based on the Kirwan Commission's recommendations aimed at transforming Maryland’s public education system for generations to come. The Blueprint is a holistic and comprehensive approach including robust accountability measures, expanding publicly funded pre-k, increasing teacher salaries to match comparable professions, ensuring all students are college and career ready, as well as providing supports for all learners.
The establishment of a Concentration of Poverty School Grant Program to provide grants to schools with high concentrations of students eligible for free or reduced price meals as well as a Teacher Collaborative Grant Program. The changes to education will take place over the next 5 years with time to evaluate before going forward.
This legislation was introduced to enhance the horse racing industry in Maryland and keep the Preakness on Baltimore. It will invest $375 million into Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and Bowie Race Track. The funds for these projects will come from the Racetrack Facility Renewal Account, The Purse Dedication Account, video lottery terminal payments to Baltimore City and money from the Maryland Lottery. The Racing and Community Development Act will take effect on June 1st this year.
At least $180 million will go to rebuilding efforts at Pimlico. The entire grandstand and clubhouse will be rebuilt. The ownership of the Pimlico Racing Facility will be transferred to Baltimore City. Baltimore City will operate the Pimlico Clubhouse and Events Facility, grounds, and any facility not designated for the Maryland Jockey Club. The city is obligated to maintain the facility site as a first-class facility.
$155 million will be put towards renovations to Laurel Race track and Anne Arundel County will be granted an interest in the Laurel Park racing facility. The Maryland Jockey Club will manage and operate the racing facility site and conduct year-round thoroughbred training and racing, satellite simulcast wagering, advanced deposit wagering, and other lawful activities. The Jockey Club will be required to pay Anne Arundel County taxes equal to the prorated amount of real property taxes paid in Fiscal 2020.
SB4 is a Constitutional Amendment that will appear on the General Election Ballot in November. It could read: “Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”
As the session ends, my office is usually open, 9 am to 4 pm, 5 days a week but until the state of Emergency is lifted, my staff will be working from home. If you need to contact my office for any issue, my staff is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be monitoring the office voicemail periodically so if you cannot email us, please call the office 410-841-3593 and leave a voicemail and we will respond as soon as possible.
My contact information remains the same, email@example.com or 410-841-3593. You can also read this newsletter online at www.pambeidle.com and follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/senatorpambeidle.
Thank you for granting me the honor and opportunity to serve as your representative in the Maryland Senate. I truly appreciate your support and I look forward to seeing you in the community.
Senator Pam Beidle
COVID-19 - Check my Facebook frequently for important updates.
Senatorial Scholarship’s deadline - We will accept a copy of your last grade report, if you cannot get a copy of your transcript. The deadline remains March 31st 2020. For more information click HERE.