Maryland Sine Die 2014 is here, and with only hours left in the 90 day, 2014 General Assembly Session, I would like to offer a brief wrap up of what has happened in your state legislature over the last 89 days.
Apr 8, 2014 – Minimum-Wage Hike, New Marijuana Laws Approved As Session Ends – Sun
Apr 8, 2014 – Extra Money For House Of Cards Fails In Final Hour – Rptr
Apr 7, 2014 – As The General Assembly Grinds To A Close – Bills Of 2014 – Fred
Summary Of 2014 Actions
– Maryland State Budget – The FY2015 Budget (HB170) increases spending by $2 billion dollars (6%) over last year’s budget and increases spending by $10 billion (37%) over the first O’Malley/Brown budget in 2007. Unfortunately, after 80+ new taxes and fees since 2007, the 2015 budget uses $200 million of pension money to balance. Moreover state overspending has increased state debt dramatically and Maryland debt payments from the budget doubled this year and will double again next year, which will likely result in a huge increase in state property taxes.
– Taxes – Several efforts to reduce personal and corporate taxes failed, but the State did finally reduce the Estate Tax (HB 739) which will help reduce the number of seniors leaving the state seeking to protect their savings for their children and grandchildren.
– Maryland Obamacare Exchange – One of the largest ever financial fiascos is the Maryland Health Care Exchange. After spending $150+ million on a computer system that didn’t work, the entire system will be scrapped and replaced with the Connecticut system for an additional $50+ million, demonstrating poor judgment and leadership.
– Marijuana – I voted against the decriminalization of Marijuana, which did pass, making the possession of <10g of marijuana (SB 364) a civil penalty with a fine. I did support the reworking of the law to improve the delivery of Medical marijuana (HB 881). - Bathroom Bill - While the bill (SB 212) was advertised as a way to prevent discrimination against transgendered individuals, it opens the door to sexual predators who seek to gain access to children. Several amendments that would have exempted bathrooms and locker rooms were rejected. Action is being considered to petition this to a statewide vote by all Marylanders. - Pit Bulls – After three years, the General Assembly finally reached a compromise (HB 73) to partially correct a court decision that imposed additional liability on dog owners. .- Speed Cameras - Despite continued abuses in the system, efforts to fully repeal speed cameras were unsuccessful, but a major reform bill (HB 929) did pass that raises the standards for speed camera vendors, and ticket accuracy. - Education. Parent and teacher concerns about the transition to Common Core in Maryland’s schools prompted several bills that sought to slow down or abandon its implementation. All were unsuccessful. The only concession (HB 1164) that passed was a measure to establish a statewide group to study its implementation. - Baltimore City Detention Center - In the wake of the widespread scandal in which nine correctional officers were convicted of criminal activity, several bills were passed to increase security and procedures to reduce contraband and fraternization. - Baltimore City Needle Exchange - Free needles to drug addicts at taxpayer expense was greatly expanded despite the failure of the program to reduce disease as promised over the program’s 20 year history. I was very much opposed to the expansion. - Minimum Wage - The Maryland minimum wage (HB 295) increases from $7.25 to $10.10/hr (a 39% increase). The increase is a job killer particularly for young workers seeking a first job. I offered several unsuccessful amendments (HB 1364, HB 374) to the law. - Prevailing Wage for School Construction - The General Assembly passed a law (HB 727) that will require the prevailing wage, which is higher than the minimum wage, to be paid to all workers on all school construction projects, so fewer schools will be built. - Local Highway User Revenues - Despite raising the gas taxes dramatically the Governor refused to restore local road money to the counties for the fifth year. - Legislator Salaries - House Republicans attempted to force a vote to block automatic pay increases but were twice thwarted by the Democratic Majority who buried the resolutions in the House Rules Committee. Republicans opposed pay increases because of the continued recession and need by the State after 80+ tax and fee increases to steal pension money to balance the budget. This is just a brief summary of issues. Items that passed the General Assembly could still be vetoed by the Governor. If you would like additional information on these or other topics please don’t hesitate to contact me. It is a great honor to represent Anne Arundel County and the State of Maryland for this my 12th year in the Maryland House of Delegates. Thank you for your continued support. _________________________________________________ Sine Die 2014 And Beyond Conference Committees
During a session, conference committees are appointed when the two chambers pass different versions of the same bill and cannot reach agreement. With the exception of the conference committees on the operating and capital budgets, conference committees consist of three delegates and three senators generally appointed by the presiding officers on recommendations of the chairs of the two committees that considered the bill. A conference committee goes out of existence when a resolution of the differences is reached and the conference committee report is delivered to each house.
For the conference committee to deliver a report, at least four of the six members from the two chambers must agree on the proposed version of the bill. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill dies. If no conference committee is appointed, or if the conference committee fails to meet, the bill dies. On rare occasions, the conference committee may be requested by the presiding officers to meet again, or a new conference committee on the bill may be appointed.
If the conference committee reports a proposal to resolve the differences between the two chambers, each chamber then votes either to accept the report without change or to reject it. Following adoption of the conference committee report, the bill, as amended by the conference committee, must be approved in each chamber by a majority of the total membership in a roll call or recorded vote, which is posted on the General Assembly website. At this point an “enrolled bill” is printed, reflecting any changes made by the second chamber or the conference committee. Revised synopses and fiscal notes are posted on the General Assembly website.
There are usually differences between the House and Senate versions of the operating and capital budgets. These differences are resolved by a conference
Beating The Deadline
The legislature will conduct multiple sessions in the last days to finish its work including meetings over the weekend. Monday, Sine Die, the House of Delegates will convene at Noon and be in an out of sessions, committee meetings, conference committees until final adjournment, or adjournment “without days” or Sine Die at midnight.
Many times that legislature is busy voting right up until midnight and bills die because time runs out before all the votes are cast. At midnight, most of the members and staff leave the statehouse for a midnight party that includes a breakfast buffet, a well stocked bar, a dj and a dance floor (my favorite part).
Once a bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly it goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The traditional Sine Die gubernatorial bill signing (day after the session adjournment) is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, in the Governor’s Reception Room, second floor, Maryland State House. Additional bill signings are scheduled in the Reception Room for Thursday, May 2, and Thursday, May 16. These signings will all begin at 10:30 a.m.
At the bill signings, sponsors and supporters typically pose for a picture with the Governor, Speaker and President of the Senate as the Governor signs the bill into law.
Bills that receive a veto from the Governor. are sent back to the legislature for consideration by the legislature for an over-ride of the Governor’s veto.