Silver Spring, MD – This week, Roger released an extensive list of successful legislative initiatives and accomplishments, derived from his work in both the Maryland Senate and House. The broad list includes highly prioritized legislation and solutions on issues ranging from jobs and economic development, to health care, to education, environment, government reform and civil rights.
- Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act of 2016 (SB 937): Maryland’s greatest natural resource is the Chesapeake Bay. However, over development and over harvesting of oysters, which filter up to 50 gallons of water each per day, have left the Bay’s health in a state of freefall for decades. In 2016, I introduced and passed Senate Bill 937 – Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act of 2016, to develop scientifically based sustainable harvest rates, through a collaboration between Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Special thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, and the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy.
- Pesticide Reporting Program and Funding (SB700): The widespread use of pesticides in recent years has raised numerous environmental, safety and public health concerns. I authored legislation in 2013 to study the creation of a Pesticide Reporting Database (SB675, Approved by the Governor – Chapter 523), and Co-Chaired the Pesticide Reporting and Information Working Group, which met extensively between April 2013 and January 2014. Throughout our meetings, the Working Group heard from dozens of public health and environmental experts, who spoke to the need for the creation of a publicly available online Pesticide Reporting Database, in collaboration with National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That’s why I authored SB700, which now provides the framework for the creation of the database, funded by an increase in pesticide chemical registration fees for all chemicals registered for sale in the State. Special thanks go to the enormous coalition of advocacy groups who either serve on the Pesticide Reporting and Information Working Group or who supported SB700, including: Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Nurses Association, Maryland Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, George Washington School of Health, Central Maryland Beekeepers, Maryland Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Food and Water Watch, Clean Water Action, Audubon Naturalist Society, Maryland PIRG, Smart on Pesticides Maryland, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), Maryland Farm Bureau, Farmworker Justice, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Maryland Grain Producers Association, Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition, Maryland Beekeepers for Better Pesticide Information, the Maryland Pesticide Network, Moms Rising, and many others.
- Electric Vehicles and Recharging Equipment Incentives (SB393/SB908): Electric Vehicles (EVs) are an important tool in reducing emissions and gas consumption, while also providing the impetus to increase the number of green jobs that expand our manufacturing base. It’s why we have identified a goal of reaching 60,000 EVs registered in Maryland by 2020. But to achieve that goal, the current Maryland excise tax credit for the purchase of EVs must be extended and expanded to incentivize the number of EVs and recharging stations throughout the State. To that end, I passed Senate Bill 393 – Clean Cars Act of 2017, to reauthorize and improve the Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program and the Excise Tax Credit for plug-in electric vehicles through fiscal year 2020. Previously, I authored SB908 in 2014 to restructure and extend this successful and important tax credit for three years, to convert the credit to a rebate program, and to substantially broaden the new rebate to increase the number of EV charging stations. Many thanks go to the Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council for making SB908 its “priority legislative recommendation for 2014.” Special thanks to Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Victor Ramirez, and General Motors for their substantial work on SB908.
- Clean Energy Incentive Act of 2016 (SB 946): Senate Bill 936 – Maryland Clean Energy Incentive Act of 2016 extends the Maryland Clean Energy Incentive Tax Credit program within the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to December 31, 2019, and for the first time, eliminates coal from the list of renewable energy sources. Extending the program through 2019 will help build commercial, renewable energy projects across the state – including offshore wind, solar, geothermal and hydrokinetic ocean sources – and encourage significant investment in grid-scale projects.
- Penalties for Polluters (SB 751): Phosphorous is a dangerous and illegal chemical that is a major cause of Chesapeake Bay blight. After introducing legislation in both the House and the Senate, I worked with colleagues in passing SB 751 to substantially increase penalties for ongoing violations of the 2007 phosphorous detergent ban.
- Chesapeake Bay Restoration (SB694): Adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water each day, which is why oyster replenishment efforts have become a critical function in the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay. Part of our challenge has been harvesting and recycling oyster shells, which provide the best substrate for baby oysters to grow to maturity. That’s why in 2013 I supported a new law that created the Oyster Shell Recycling Tax Credit. Building on that program, in 2015 I authored an expansion of that credit (SB694), which increases the tax credit by 500 percent. Thank you to the Chesapeake Bay Savers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Maryland Leave of Conservation Voters for their strong support of SB694.
- Maryland Organic Transition Investment Pilot Program (HB449): Transitioning to organic farming methods has been challenging due to the lack of funds to assist farmers. This pilot program, subject to federal appropriations funding, creates the necessary investment to begin this transition throughout the state.
- Maryland Pesticide Reporting and Information Workgroup (SB675): A key environmental priority, this law created a State workgroup to study and make recommendations regarding the establishment of a pesticide use database for Maryland. It notably led to legislation (SB700) which created and funded the Pesticide Reporting Program in Maryland.
- Statewide Fracking Ban (HB 1325): There is no way to extract natural gas from Marcellus Shale deposits, while protecting public health and safety, and guaranteeing good, high-paying, Maryland jobs. That is why, as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review Committee (AELR), I put a “hold” on the Governor’s regulations on fracking, which stopped fracking from moving forward, and which was a key factor in the eventual statewide ban on fracking in 2017. I am pleased to report that House Bill 1325 – Oil and Natural Gas – Hydraulic Fracturing – Prohibition passed and was signed by the Governor. Thank you to many stakeholders, including Engage Mountain Maryland, Food and Water Watch, Citizen Shale, Earthworks, Sierra Club Maryland, and League of Conservation Voters of Maryland.
- Nitrogen Oxide Emissions Regulations: In my work as Senate Chair of AELR, I play an active role in reviewing regulations concerning agriculture, the environment and public health. In 2015, I was especially outspoken when I challenged new nitrogen oxide emissions regulations that were the subject of litigation by Sierra Club, because those regulations weakened previous regulations.
JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
- Veterans Employment (SB245): Maryland’s 422,000 veterans and their families have sacrificed greatly for the safety and security of our great nation. It is our duty to help them acclimate back into civilian and family life by creating greater opportunities in the workforce. That’s why I’m proud to have passed Senate Bill 245 – Labor and Employment – Hiring and Promotion Preferences – Veterans and Spouses. This bill enables private employers to implement a hiring preference for honorably discharged Veterans and their spouses, consistent with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Thanks go to the Maryland Council of Chapters of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the American Legion Department of Maryland.
- Security Clearance Tax Credit (SB138/SB296): I authored the Security Clearance Tax Credit in 2012 to increase high-skilled, high-pay federal jobs for Marylanders by specifically targeting would-be federal workers in high security sectors, such as IT, Defense, and Homeland Security. Funded at $2 million annually, this legislation was one of five bills included in the “2012 Bipartisan Senate Leadership Package,” and received strong support from both business and labor groups as a substantial investment in jobs, economic development and the future of Maryland. In 2017, I passed SB 138 – Income Tax Credit – Security Clearances – Employer Costs – Extension, to extend this tax credit through 2021. Thanks go to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 26, AFL-CIO), the Washington DC Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO), and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce for their strong support and advocacy.
- Endow Maryland Tax Credit (SB486): With the need for social safety-net services growing, the role that community providers play in the delivery of social services has increased substantially. Most of these community providers utilize foundation and endowment funding to provide the services that they deliver – and “community foundations” provide the best means of directly delivering not-for-profit resources to those who need resources the most. That’s why I authored the Endow Maryland Tax Credit. This new law provides a State income tax credit for donations made directly to qualified community foundations for the purpose of capitalizing permanent endowment funds, which provide an important incentive for philanthropic giving. Thanks go to Governor Martin O’Malley and the 14 community foundations representing every region of the State that came together to offer strong testimony in support of SB486.
- More Learning, Less Testing Act of 2017 (SB452): The exorbitant and ultimately unproductive standardized testing requirements is a serious and pervasive problem that hinders the progress of our children and teachers in our K-12 education system. That’s why I authored and passed Senate Bill 452 – Education – Education Accountability Program – Limits on Testing, which drastically reduces onerous testing time by setting a statewide maximum amount of hours for the administration of district, state and federal mandated tests to 2.2% of a school year’s instruction time. I was particularly honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller, House sponsor Delegate Eric Leudtke, and hundreds of state education leaders who worked tirelessly through the 2017 session to get this groundbreaking legislation passed into law.
- Attendance Policy for Pregnant and Parenting Students (SB232): Young women who are pregnant or parenting are often hindered in their potential to learn as many schools in Maryland do not provide proper resources or support when these students need excused absences for medical appointments or to care for their children. When excused absences from school are not meaningfully established, and students’ rights to a full high school education are not clearly communicated by staff, these students may perceive being unwelcomed, thereby forcing them to drop out, which triggers a truancy investigation. That’s why I partnered with NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland in 2017 to pass Senate Bill 232 – Education – Pregnant and Parenting Students – Attendance Policy, which creates an attendance policy in schools for pregnant and parenting students for their medical and legal appointments. Many thanks to the Maryland Catholic Conference, Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Advocates for Children and Youth, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for their support.
- Advance Directive Registry (SB790): The ability for people to document and have honored their final health care decisions has presented numerous challenges for government and health care providers. Enactment of the Advance Directive Registry, in concept, set in place the mechanism to do so. However organizational challenges and the lack of a governmental mandate and funding plagued the establishment of the registry for many years. That’s why I authored SB790, to require the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish the Advance Directive Registry, provide the funding mechanism to do so, and set forth the means to honor medical wishes of patients who are incapacitated. Special thank go to AARP and Compassion and Choices for their strong and unwavering advocacy.
- Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (HB29): Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), genetic screening and discrimination based on those results was legal in Maryland. Specifically, for people who sought long-term care policies and who had genetic markers for a diseases, those markers were deemed preexisting conditions, and warranted differential ratings or denial of policies altogether. That’s why I authored HB29, to ban health care discrimination for long-term care policies in Maryland.
- Healthcare Decisions (SB 442): Advance directives help people indicate the kind of care they want during a medical crisis or at the end of life, yet only 30 percent of Marylanders have advance directives. Advance directives are free, legal documents, and can help avoid unwanted and unnecessary health care expenses by honoring patients’ medical choices and decisions. In 2016, I introduced and passed Senate Bill 442 – General Provisions – Commemorative Days – National Healthcare Decisions Day to establish April 16th as “National Healthcare Decisions Day” in Maryland. This designated day is meant to raise public awareness around advance directives, and the need for more Marylanders to plan ahead for healthcare decisions related to end-of-life care. I’m thankful for the support of the State Advisory Council on Quality Care at the End of Life for their advocacy on this legislation.
- Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System (SB286): Law enforcement personnel work tough jobs, and deserve good benefits. While some law enforcement qualify for the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System, other are not. That’s why I authored SB286, a new law that expands benefits for certain law enforcement by making them eligible for membership in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System. Thank you to the State Law Enforcement Labor Alliance (SLEOLA) for its strong advocacy and support for SB286.
- Apprenticeship Opportunities Act (HB644): Apprenticeship training programs have long been seen as smart, strategic pipelines to good paying jobs. However, in the State procurement process, little or no prioritization had even been placed on contracts that provide apprenticeship training — leaving large skills gaps on taxpayer funded contracts that are subject to the procurement process. That’s why I authored the Apprenticeship Opportunities Act, which requires State contractors to either provide apprenticeship training, or contribute to a new Apprenticeship Training Fund, administered by the State. Thanks to the Washington DC and Maryland Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO) for their strong support.
- The Healthy Retail Employees Act (HB1099): Otherwise known as the “shift breaks bill,” this landmark legislation now guarantees adequate paid rest breaks for retail employees throughout Maryland. For four years, the Healthy Retail Employees Act was UFCW Local 400’s top legislative priority in Annapolis, and was also one of organized labor’s top priorities.
- Outsourcing of Montgomery County Contracts (HB946 / MC 814-08): In so many cases, outsourcing at the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission had reduced the number of good union jobs, to the lowest bidder, and to the detriment of county taxpayers. That’s why I authored HB946/MC814-08, which significantly limits the ability of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission to enter into a service contract that may adversely affect collective bargaining employees. Special thanks go to UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO for their support.
- Parity Among First Responders for Cancer Presumptions (SB1099): First Responders have difficult and dangerous jobs that regularly expose them to a range of toxic carcinogens that can cause a variety of cancers. For many of these occupations – Fire Fighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) – cancers are presumed to have been caused by exposure while in the line of duty, which is appropriate. However, due to a loophole in the law, the list of cancer “presumptions” differs depending on whether that first responder is paid or volunteer. That’s why I authored SB1099 to create parity for all first responders, in terms of the list of cancers that are presumed to be occupationally related. Thanks go to the Maryland Professional Fire Fighters Association (IAFF) and the Montgomery County Career Fire Association (IAFF) for their support of this important legislation. Special thanks go to Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, for co-sponsoring and working with me to pass SB1099.
- Labor and Procurement: Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are construction contracts that are largely utilized in the private sector, but which are increasingly utilized by states in the public sector. A common misconception of PLAs is that they are “union only” contracts. In fact, PLAs do not require union workers, but rather, are contractual agreements that define specific terms of the project, including strict performance standards, deadlines, strike-out provisions, and the requisite skills training to complete the project to the highest possible standards. That’s why I authored the Project Labor Agreement Act (SB219) — the first legislation in Maryland history to advance PLAs through state procurement — which led me to meet with Governor O’Malley to urge him to issue Executive Order 01.01.2013.05.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
- “Jake’s Law” Texting and Talking While Driving Prohibition (SB348): Three days after Christmas in 2011, 5-year old Jake Owen tragically died in a car crash when a vehicle traveling 62 mph struck Jake’s mother’s vehicle. The driver that struck their vehicle never applied his brakes because he was distracted by the cell phone he was using. That’s why I authored Jake’s Law. Among the most highly prioritized and covered legislation in 2014 by the media, Jake’s Law is now one of the toughest laws in the nation that criminalizes cell phone use while talking or texting and driving.
- Expansion of the Maryland Antitrust Act (HB657): For too long, unscrupulous businesses had fixed prices on commodities and services, setting onerous minimum prices, in violation of the spirit of antitrust laws. That’s why I authored HB657, to ensure the clear prohibition of price fixing in Maryland.
- Task Force on the Implementation of Tax Benefits for Emergency Preparedness Equipment (SB481): Recent power outages have cost Maryland taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars in out-of-pocket costs that are not reimbursable from utility companies that provide power. That’s why I authored and chaired the Task Force on the Implementation of Tax Benefits for Emergency Preparedness Equipment to make recommendations on reducing costs of purchasing generators and other necessary emergency equipment.
- Security Grants for Schools, Day Care Centers at Risk for Hate Crimes (SB1191): In early 2017, incidents of hate speech and hate crimes increased nationally and across the state. As the number of these reports rise, government has a responsibility to protect the families and communities we serve, with every available resource and tool at our disposable. That’s why I introduced and passed Senate Bill 1191 – Schools and Child Care Centers – State Grant Program – Security Upgrades for Facilities at Risk of Hate Crimes or Attacks. This legislation authorizes the Maryland Center for School Safety to make grants to schools and child care centers determined to be at risk of hate crimes or attacks, for security-related technology and facility upgrades, and security personnel. I’m especially thankful to the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Baltimore Jewish Council, Orthodox Union, Al-Huda School, United Maryland Muslim Council, and Maryland Parents for Education for their advocacy on this legislation.
- Civil Rights Tax Relief Act (SB639/HB1169): This important and long overdue law addresses the disparity between personal injury and employment discrimination lawsuits, including sexual harassment, gender, racial and other discrimination, retaliation, and emotional distress. The new state law encompasses challenging issues under federal laws, including Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and ERISA. Strongly supported by the Maryland Employment Lawyers Association, the Civil Right Tax Relief Act is an enormous win for civil rights litigants in Maryland.
- Dedicated Funding for the Library For The Blind and Physically Handicapped (SB419): The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) is an enormously beneficial resource for disabled people throughout the State. However, under current law, it is the only library in Maryland that does not have a specific funding mechanism. As a result, funding for the library has fallen woefully short of the increasing needs and use of the facility. That’s why I worked with former 19th District Delegate Henry “Hank” Heller to author SB419, which establishes a minimum State funding source (estimated at $2.4 million) for the library.
- Tuition Waivers (SB656): SB656 expands tuition waivers for students with permanent and total disabilities, who are enrolled in classes for continuing education instruction designed to lead to employment, including life skills instruction.
- Open Meetings Act (SB450): Transparency and accountability in government is crucial to building and preserving the public’s trust in government. In order to strengthen this transparency and accountability, I partnered authored a new law that substantially strengthens the Open Meetings Act by requiring training, oversight, and accountability in governmental proceedings. Thanks to the work of our coalition partners, Common Cause Maryland, Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), MDDC Press Association, and Maryland Municipal League (MML).
- Disclosure and Accountability of State Spending (SB604): Maryland puts the highest value on critical measures such as education, health care, and public safety. For example, 84% of proposed State General Fund expenditures for FY15 are projected to be spent in these three areas (education 48%, health care 25%, public safety 11%). However, many Marylanders who pay taxes are unaware of the extent to which their hard-earned tax dollars are spent toward these shared priorities. That’s why I authored SB604, which now requires, on all State income tax forms, the inclusion of an easy to understand graphical representation detailing how much of each General Fund dollar is spent on each major funding category. In addition, SB604 now requires that this information be posted on the Comptroller’s website, with instructions for the applicable income tax forms. Thanks to Comptroller Peter Franchot for his support of this legislation. Special thanks to Senate Leadership for including this legislation in the Senate’s 2014 priority legislation agenda.
- Revenue Estimates and State Budget Projections (SB 371 / HB 503): For as long as anyone can remember, Maryland government has struggled to balance its budget just like families and businesses do every year – by knowing how much money is coming in, so that responsible spending decisions can be made as to how much money can go out. It’s been a serious problem that has led to a vicious, year-after-year, cycle in which state revenues are over-estimated at the beginning of the budget process. This results in huge shortfalls later in the year, which necessitate enormous mid-year cuts to health, education, public safety and environmental services throughout government. That’s why, as the Senate Chair of Spending Affordability Committee in 2017, I called for reforms of the Board of Revenue Estimates, and introduced Senate Bill 371 – State Budget – Appropriations – Income Tax Revenue Estimate Cap and Revenue Stabilization Account, to finally address the underlying structural problem. This legislation now mitigates the impact of revenue volatility on the State budget. Specifically, it establishes a new methodology for estimating nonwitholding revenues, creates a new “Fiscal Responsibility Fund,” increases Rainy Day fund balances, and dramatically increases capital school construction funding.
HOMEOWNERS AND TENANTS
- Penalties for Retaliatory Evictions (SB 620): Current law provides few protections from retaliation to tenants who report housing violations. That’s why I authored and worked with colleagues in passing SB 620, to strengthen protections for tenants, while also mitigating undue litigation, harassment and fraudulent complaints.
- Homeowners’ Tax Fairness In Eminent Domain Proceedings Act (HB1159): Governmental “eminent domain” takings of real property can be expensive and unfair to homeowners. Even when “fair market value” is assessed against a governmental taking of personal property, homeowners are still left with exorbitant costs, including tax liabilities incurred during and after their displacement and relocation. That’s why I authored the Homeowners’ Tax Fairness In Eminent Domain Proceedings Act, that exempts from local recordation taxes the new property that a homeowner acquires as a result of an eminent domain taking.
- Throughout my tenure in the Maryland Senate and as a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, I have been pleased to author numerous successful amendments to advance pensions, health care, women’s reproductive rights, “aging in place” funding for Seniors, and other social services.
Utilizing the capital bond process, I have worked closely with my colleagues in the 19th District to secure capital funding for numerous projects that expand public facilities available for community use and services, including funds for the Cardinal McCarrick Center, B’nai B’rith Homecrest House, the Silver Spring Learning Center, the Orthodox Congregation of Silver Spring Preschool Building, the Ann L. Bronfman Center, St. Luke’s House, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, Montgomery Hospice’s Casey House, the public social room at Young Israel Shomrai Emunah, and the public track and other facilities at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Aspen Hill.
I authored legislation in both the House and Senate, which sparked the debate and formed the framework for many successful executive orders, programs and legislation implemented by Governor O’Malley, the legislature, and other units of government:
- Seniors Health: My Medicare Part D “Donut Hole” Tax Assistance Act (HB37) led to Governor O’Malley’s successful program to assist senior citizens who fall within the Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole.”
- First Responders: My Heroes’ Housing Fund (HB38) led to Governor O’Malley’s Heroes’ Housing Initiative. In addition, my Law Enforcement Officer and Emergency Responder Protection Act (HB24) was the first legislation introduced to protect fire fighters and other emergency responders from assaults in the line of duty, and led to the passage of legislation in 2015.
- Women’s Reproductive Health: My Limited Service Pregnancy Centers bill (HB1146) led to landmark legislation in both Baltimore and Montgomery to require disclosures in previously unregulated “crisis pregnancy centers.”
- Environment: My Oil Sands Responsibility Act (HB10) in 2009 was the first legislation to highlight the troublesome issue of “fracking,” which sparked a multi-year debate and an eventual moratorium in 2015, and ban in 2017.
- Pension Funding: My Teacher and Employee Pension Sustainability and Solvency Trust Fund (HB10) highlighted the long-term pension underfunding created by the “Corridor Funding Method,” eventually leading to it being replaced in 2015 with an actuarial funding formula.
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