2018 Legislative Accomplishments
Maryland State Bills
During the 2018 Maryland State legislative session, WDC submitted testimony on twenty-five bills related to WDC’s priority issue areas that also met WDC’s endorsement criteria. WDC monitored the status of another twelve bills but did not submit testimony. Thirteen bills were passed by the State legislature and enacted into law. Many of these bills were sponsored or co-sponsored by our Montgomery County Senators or Delegates. Several bills were also priorities of WDC’s partner, the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW).
Aging: No bills were identified that addressed this issue area and also met WDC’s endorsement Criteria.
Affordable Housing (four bills): The Issues Committee monitored a bill which passed that establishes a Community Development Fund to provide financial assistance for community development projects and community development organizations around the state. The Committee also monitored bills which did not pass, that would have prohibited a landlord from evicting a tenant in Montgomery County in the absence of just cause; prohibited a landlord from including a penalty for the late payment of rent if the tenant received government benefits; and prohibited a Court from issuing a “body attachment” for the arrest of a tenant who is a defendant in a landlord-tenant action in which the amount of rent claimed does not exceed $5,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Children and Youth (seven bills): Legislation passed that provides additional funding for school breakfast and lunch programs for children living in poverty so that these students will now get school lunch and breakfast at no cost. Legislation also passed that requires a county board of education to provide age-appropriate instruction on the meaning of “consent” as part of the Family Life and Human Sexuality Curriculum.
Legislation did not pass that would have prohibited the use of state funds to finance any portion of a project to replace or construct playgrounds or athletic fields with synthetic surfaces. Legislation did not pass that would have established a competitive Translation Grant program within the State Department of Education to provided grants to public schools that are experiencing a significant number of requests to translate educational materials. WDC monitored bills which did not pass, that would have changed the current law that allows children to marry as young as 15, and made 18 the minimum age of marriage without exception; enabled school districts to seek grants to provide an increase in the summer meals provided to students in areas with high populations of families receiving free and reduced meals; and established that a child conceived by artificial insemination of a married woman with the consent of her spouse is the legitimate child of both spouses and established an expedited adoption process.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety (nine bills): Legislation passed that authorizes a court, under certain circumstances, to terminate the parental rights of an individual convicted of or found to have committed an act of nonconsensual sexual conduct against the other parent that resulted in the conception of a child; provides that, in a prosecution for certain sexual offenses, evidence that the defendant committed sexually assaultive behavior before or after the offense for which the defendant is on trial may be admissible; requires all local correctional facilities to have a policy in place regarding the medical care of pregnant inmates; requires the court to issue a permanent protective order against an individual if the individual committed an act of abuse against a person eligible for relief; and requires the State's Attorney to serve written notice on a defendant who has been charged with a domestically related crime, the defendant’s counsel, and the court, that the defendant is prohibited from possessing or owning a regulated firearm, rifle or shotgun. Legislation was also passed that requires the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics to refer a sexual harassment complaint by a lobbyist against a member of the General Assembly to an independent investigator and to develop a code of conduct with a clear definition of harassment and retaliation as well as a list of consequences for violating this policy.
Legislation did not pass that would have expanded Maryland’s current vacatur law to apply explicitly to survivors of labor trafficking, as well as expanded the number of crimes eligible for vacatur; required the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to develop and maintain a uniform, statewide training and certification curriculum to ensure use of best practices in sexual assault investigations; and required a county or municipality to arrange a third-party audit of sexual assault cases when the percentage of unfounded sexual assault cases exceeds by 5 percent or more a certain national average.
Health (ten bills): Legislation passed that extends the insurance coverage for contraceptives from six months to twelve months; requires health insurance carriers to cover services provided through local health departments (LHDs), including behavioral health care services; and establishes the Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program to provide funds to local jurisdictions to establish and expand community behavioral health crisis response systems.
Legislation did not pass that would have created a Medicaid Buy-In Task Force in the Maryland Department of Health to make recommendations on the feasibility of a Medicaid buy-in program; and required insurers to provide consumers with all contraceptive coverage information in a single document when the insurance carrier files for rate review.
The Issues Committee monitored two emergency bills that passed. One bill establishes a health insurance provider fee and requires the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission to study and make recommendations for individual and group health insurance market stability, including adopting a State-Based individual mandate with penalties used to support the purchase of health insurance. Another bill creates a reinsurance program and seeks specified federal pass-through funding to stabilize Maryland’s insurance marketplace.
The Issues Committee monitored bills that did not pass which would have replaced the existing State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) with a new RPS that increased over time to 100% by 2035 and required electricity suppliers to directly procure renewable energy; increased the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 25 percent by 2022 to 50 percent by 2030, and removed waste-to-energy and refuse-derived fuel as eligible sources; and established a state individual mandate to purchase health insurance, with any penalties going into a state account which could be used as a “down payment” to purchase insurance on the Insurance Exchange.
Working Families (seven bills): Legislation passed that requires the Governor to include in the State budget, appropriations to the Child Care Subsidy Program each fiscal year and to phase in a reimbursement rate increase to 60% of the market rate by FY2022; and provides that employees in the legislative and executive branches of state government are entitled to a maximum of 60 days of paid parental leave during the period of one year following the birth or adoption of a child.
Legislation did not pass that would have prohibited employers from relying on past wage history information to determine an applicant’s salary, or a current employee’s salary when considering that employee for a new position, including a promotion; raised the maximum income limits for eligibility for the State income tax credit for child and dependent care to $100,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly; prohibited an insurer of a private passenger motor vehicle from increasing premiums or refusing to provide insurance based on the marital status or gender of the insured or insurance applicant; required the State minimum wage to increase annually based on a gradual schedule until it reaches $15 per hour by July 1, 2023, and for tipped workers by July 1, 2025, after which it shall increase annually based on the annual growth in the Consumer Price Index; and strengthened existing law by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants for employment who have limitations due to conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, in addition to those who need accommodations as the result of pregnancy complications.
Montgomery County Bills
WDC submitted testimony for two County bills that would modify the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit Program (MPDU) to require additional MPDU units. The proposed changes include fees for small developments (in place of unit production), 15 percent minimum MPDUs in high-income areas, and utilizing square feet instead of unit count to calculate MPDUs produced. Working sessions continue on these bills.
WDC submitted testimony and undertook significant advocacy to urge passage of a revised bill that increased the County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour on July 1, 2021 for large employers with 51 or more employees. Mid-sized employers with between 11 and 50 employees must raise wages to at least $15 per hour on July 1, 2023. Small employers with 10 or fewer employers must pay workers $15 per hour on July 1, 2024. Non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) designations and eligible service providers must raise wages to $15 per hour by July 1, 2023, unless they are considered a small employer. In addition, the minimum wage must be adjusted annually for inflation according to the Consumer Price. This bill was enacted into law on November 13, 2017.
Wednesday February 28, was WDC Advocacy Day in Annapolis, hosted by Advocacy Committee co-chairs Emily Shetty and Ginger Macomber. Participants attended the morning session of the Women Legislators’ Caucus and were welcomed by Caucus President, MoCo Delegate Arianna Kelly. Alice Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to State Senator Jamie Raskin, gave top tips in advocating for WDC priorities. Afterwards, participants visited the House and Senate galleries where they had the opportunity to observe the State legislature at work, and next met with their MoCo Delegates and Senators for scheduled meetings. During lunch WDC hosted a number of our MoCo State legislators who alerted us to what they were hoping to accomplish during the 2018 legislative session. The day ended with an opportunity to attend a Committee Bill Hearing and a wrap-up session. It was Gun Control Day so several members had the unique experience of hearing our legislators face off against an NRA lobbyist about a bill to prohibit rapid-fire trigger activators.
Advocacy Alert Team
The Advocacy Committee continued its efforts to increase the number of members who have joined the Advocacy Alert Team. Currently there are 121 members. Interested members sign up on line on the WDC Web page Advocacy menu.