Last week, the House made its final push to pass bills in time for Crossover - the deadline to send bills to the opposite chamber. Despite a largely remote session, House legislators were able to pass significant reforms and legislation that will create meaningful change in every Maryland community. Some of the legislation the House passed in time for the Crossover deadline is outlined below.
With a year of socially distanced learning due to COVID-19 school closures, a growing number of students are falling further behind in this pandemic. House Bill 1372 revises the Blueprint for Maryland's Future in response to the current state of education and builds a path forward for students. The Blueprint 2.0 bill includes needed fixes to education funding that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as providing more support to address learning loss and expanding behavioral and mental health resources.
I had the honor of signing House Bill 1 into effect alongside Senate President Ferguson and Governor Hogan this past Wednesday. This key legislation will give additional funding to Maryland's great HBCUs on top of already increased funding from the State of Maryland. These boosts in HBCU funding are necessary to ensure the attraction of more students to Maryland's HBCUs. With the passing and signing of House Bill 1, $577M will be provided to HBCUs to fix duplication issues across Maryland's HBCUs ending an ongoing 15-year lawsuit. This legislation will help level the playing field for all students regardless of background, race, or college that they attend.
This past Thursday, Georgia passed legislation to impose new and strict voter restrictions on Georgia voters. The legislation imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, limits use of ballot drop boxes, and even makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water. This is a blatant attack on democracy. I am proud to be a part of a legislature that fights on the behalf of Maryland's voters and amplifying their voices. With passing reforms on our election processes, voting will be easier, more accessible, and equal representation for all voters in the state of Maryland.
The House's passing of House Bill 655 officially gives Marylanders the right to choose who represents them in their local county elections. This legislation dismantles the tools used to disenfranchise voters by requiring county commissioners to live in a specific district but electing commissioners at large. This legislation will restore democracy to voters and places the ability to properly choose your representatives in your hands.
The House also passed House Bill 1048 making voting easier and more convenient for Marylanders by creating a permanent mail-in ballot option. The elections during this pandemic have shed a light on how our current mail-in voting process operates and that voters should have the opportunity to choose the option that works best for them. This bill will take Maryland in the right direction to ensure more accessible and equitable democracy is achieved.
HOUSING RELIEF PACKAGE
The House passed the legislative housing relief package to address issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic with focuses on strengthening the landlord tenant process in the future. The House's dedication to addressing the shortcomings of Marylanders has resulted in multiple bills passing to give much needed relief and to do what is necessary to protect individuals and families across the state. Some bills a part of the relief package include requiring a tenant's right to counsel in specific eviction cases and freezing rent increases during a health emergency.
ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS PILOT PROGRAM
House Bill 832 establishes the Electric School Bus Pilot Program to help the state transition our diesel powered school buses to an electric fleet. The utilities will make the electricschool buses the same cost as diesel buses, and over time, electric buses will be far less costly than diesel buses to maintain and fuel. This an important step in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our overall clean energy goals.
Maryland has been at a competitive disadvantage with other East Coast states who offer sports betting options. Last year at the ballot box, voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment to allow sports betting in Maryland. House Bill 940 makes Maryland the 21st state in the nation to legalize sports betting, increases funding for education and maximizes the opportunity for minority businesses to participate in Maryland’s newly established gaming industry.
COMMITTEE HEARING SCHEDULE
See the committee hearing schedule for the week of March 28 HERE. Follow @mdgahearings on Twitter account to stay up to date on the MGA committee hearing schedule.
DISTRICT 10 SCHOLARSHIP
The District 10 Legislative Scholarship is currently available to students living in District 10. Eligible high school, undergraduate and graduate students can receive at least $200 to use to help further their education. Unofficial transcripts will NOT be accepted this year. Applications need to be returned by mail only. For questions about the scholarship or application process, email Essence.Cropper@mlis.state.md.us. Download the application HERE.