The Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO has more than 600 affiliated local unions, representing 340,000 union members in public sector, education, trades and construction, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, health care, retail, hospitality, and other industries. We work to strengthen and build unions, for the right of all people to be free from employment discrimination, to be treated fairly, to earn family sustaining wages with secured retirement and affordable health care, and to be safe at work. Our focus includes: Investing taxpayer dollars in building and repairing our infrastructure and schools, creating good family-supporting jobs with benefits and job protections; maintaining and building good jobs at home by reindustrializing the Maryland economy and redoubling efforts for worker protections; ensuring fair tax policies, transparency, and accountability in spending public tax dollars; protecting public education and public service workers so that they can continue to provide the highest value and level of support to Marylanders; and ending wage theft through protecting and enforcing current labor laws.
The State Fed Headquarters was the hub of labor and activists’ activities during the 2018 General Assembly. The weekly Monday Night Labor Lobbyists meetings were well attended by a cross section of labor leaders and activists representing all sectors of labor affiliations. The State Fed educated attendees and facilitated affiliates on issues impacting workers in Maryland. Unions presented their legislative issues and kept the broader labor community educated and involved in our movement’s fights.
During the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session, we monitored over 740 bills including the Operational Budget and the Capital Budget. We submitted testimony and testified before legislative committees on 113 bills.
Labor’s success on advocating for our bills and opposing anti-worker bills was due to the grassroots lobbying efforts of unions. Leaders and members spent hours in hearings and visiting legislators to make Labor’s voice heard on our issues. Union members were visibly present and testifying at bill hearings and lobbying House and Senate committees. On several days, with high profile labor bills in hearings, there was a sea of union members in the chambers’ hallways and offices. Of important note is the fact that every single bill that was opposed by the State Federation did not pass this legislative session, but working together, unions saw gains for teachers, tradesmen and women, public workers, and working families throughout Maryland.
2018 Session Statistics
During the 2018 regular session of the General Assembly, legislators introduced a total of 3,101 bills and passed 889 bills and 3 resolutions. The Senate originated 1,269 bills and the House originated 1,832 bills.
The 438th session of the General Assembly of Maryland marked the fourth year of the four-year 2015-2018 legislative term for 47 Senators and 141 Delegates. Since the 2017 Session, two seats have changed hands, and one is waiting for an appointment. In District 2B, Delegate Brett Wilson was named a judge, and Paul Corderman was appointed to replace him. Sadly, Senator Wayne Norman (District 35) passed away on March 4th, 2018. His wife, Linda Norman was appointed as his replacement. In District 41, Senator Nat Oaks stepped down from office amid a Federal investigation. His replacement has not been appointed yet.
The Operating Budget for FY 2018 (compiled from the “90 Day Report”)
The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Bill, Senate Bill 185 (enacted), provides $44.6 billion in appropriations for fiscal 2019 – an increase of $981.4 million (2.3%) above fiscal 2018.
General fund spending accounts for 40.1% of the total budget. Federal funds support 29.4% of all spending. Special funds constitute 20.3% of the budget, and higher education revenue provides the remaining 10.2%. State agency operations constitute the largest area of spending, accounting for 40.7% of the total budget. Entitlements represent 29% of the budget, and 19.6% is provided as aid to local governments. Remaining appropriations fund pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) capital spending, debt service on State general obligation (GO) bonds, and an appropriation to the Rainy-Day Fund.
General fund spending in fiscal 2019 increases by $743 million, or 4.3%, over the fiscal 2018 working appropriation. State agency spending accounts for $278.3 million of that growth, for a 4.1% growth rate. Increases were provided for a 2% general salary increase effective January 1, 2019, along with negotiated step increases for law enforcement officers, $38.9 million for additional major information technology (IT) development projects, in the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) expansion of community-based services and a provider rate increase in the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), overtime and inmate medical expenses in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), $24.3 million for personnel expenses in the Judicial Branch including funds for Judicial salaries consistent with House Joint Resolution 3 (passed). Higher education saw an increase of $62.6 million to provide funds to open new facilities and for cyber and workforce development initiatives.
Medicaid spending rises by $202 million, or 6.3%, to support rate increases for managed care organizations and other providers, fund enrollment growth, and align prescription drug rebates with actual attainment.
Local aid grows by $153.6 million in general funds, or 2.3%. Most of this increase is provided through K-12 education formulas, including the Foundation and Limited English Proficient programs. General funds to pay debt service on GO bonds increase by $26.4 million. Finally, fiscal 2019 funding for general fund PAYGO increases by $50 million, as funding was added for the Capital Region Medical Center, school safety, housing programs, and a Community Engagement Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus.
Special funds grow by $172.2 million, or 1.9%, compared to the fiscal 2018 working appropriation. Most of this growth is in the area of PAYGO capital funding that increases by nearly $100 million. Additional spending is found in the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for the Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund and Bay Restoration Fund, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) as spending ramps up for construction of the Purple Line and replacement buses are procured, and for Program Open Space (POS) in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Special fund operating growth is mostly found in MDOT’s State Highway Administration (SHA) for road maintenance and snow removal expense, as well as in the Maryland Transit Administration to pay for paratransit costs and operating expenses for Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) operations. GO bond debt service also accounts for $33.2 million of the increase.
Federal fund spending decreases by $24 million, or 0.2%, largely due to a decrease of $100.5 million in Food Supplement Program benefits to align the budget with actual spending. Federal funds also decrease due to the completion of PAYGO capital projects in the Military Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These large decreases are partly offset by an increase of $55.3 million in Medicaid and $57.3 million in support of the MDOT capital program. Medicaid federal spending grows due to annualization of the calendar 2018 provider rate increases and other program expenses. The addition of PAYGO projects in SHA accounts for much of the federal fund growth in MDOT’s capital program, offset by cash flow decreases for various MARC transit projects. Funding for the State’s public higher education institutions increases by $90.2 million in total funds (unrestricted and restricted funds), or 2%, in fiscal 2019. This includes a commitment to limit in-state resident tuition increases to 2%. Aid to community colleges also increases by $4.7 million to $322.4 million, including $2 million for grants to colleges limiting tuition growth to 2%. Aid to nonpublic colleges and universities grows by $7.4 million, providing a total of $56.3 million in fiscal 2019.
With respect to personnel, the size of the regular State workforce decreases by 107 positions, to 80,409 regular positions in fiscal 2019. A 2% general salary increase is provided effective January 1, 2019. If fiscal 2018 general fund revenues exceed forecasted levels by at least $75 million, State employees will also receive an additional 0.5% general salary increase and a $500 bonus effective April 1, 2019.
Governor Hogan vetoed three bills following the 2017 Legislative Session. During the 2018 Legislative Session, the General Assembly overrode two of them:
- HB 1 (SB 230) – Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide employees with earned sick leave that is paid at the same wage rate as the employee normally earns; requires employers with 14 or fewer employees to provide unpaid earned sick leave. We worked with a large coalition known as “Working Matters” for five years to pass this bill and to override the Governor’s veto, but finally Earned Sick Leave is a reality for 750,000 more Maryland workers.
- HB 694 (SB 543) – Higher Education – Admissions Process – Criminal History (Maryland Fair Access to Education Act of 2017) prohibits specified institutions of higher education from using information about the criminal history of applicants on admissions applications; allows an institution of higher education to use a third–party admissions application that contains questions about the criminal history of the applicant under certain conditions; prohibits an institution of higher education from automatically or unreasonably restricting a student’s admission based on that student’s criminal history. This bill is commonly referred to as “ban the box”, and the Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto on January 12th, 2018.
During the 2018 Legislative Session, Governor Hogan vetoed two bills, and the General Assembly immediately moved to override both of them during Session, making them law:
- HB 1783 – 21st Century School Facilities Act makes comprehensive changes to public school construction funding and approval processes in the State, including altering the name, composition, and role of the Interagency Committee on School Construction, requiring periodic public school facilities assessments, streamlining the State approval process for school construction projects, and providing at least $400 million for public school construction annually including $10 million for school safety improvements. The most controversial part of this bill, and the reason why the Governor vetoed it, is that it strips the authority from the Board of Public Works (BPW) to make decisions on funding for local school construction projects and vests it completely in the hands of the Interagency Committee on School Construction. BPW is a three-member panel, comprised of the Governor, Comptroller, and the State Treasurer. It was vetoed on April 4th, 2018 and overridden the following day.
- SB 639 – Education – Public School Personnel – Disciplinary Hearing Procedures alters the procedures for suspending or dismissing a teacher, principal, supervisor, assistant superintendent, or other professional assistant by authorizing such an individual to request a hearing before an arbitrator instead of the local board of education. The Governor vetoed this on April 4th, 2018, and the Legislature overrode the veto the following day.
HB 264 – Labor and Employment – Labor Organizations – Right to Work (FAILED) was introduced by Delegate Warren Miller in the House. Unions from throughout the State came together and voiced unified opposition. The State Federation submitted testimony from twenty-six unions and had three panels of union leaders testify orally against HB264, in a strong unified message of solidarity. The bill was voted down in the Economic Matters Committee, on a strict Party-line vote. This is the eighth year, in a row, that Delegate Warren Miller (District 9A) has introduced a “Right to Work” bill in the General Assembly. In late March, the State Federation mailed union members in his district, explaining “right to work” and asking them to contact Delegate Miller to express their disapproval of him pushing anti-union legislation, year after year.
The 2018 Legislative Session was a positive step forward for the Trades and Prevailing Wage protections. Also, direct attacks against Prevailing Wage were nearly nonexistent, with the notable exception of an attempt by Senator Serafini (District 2) and Delegate Ghrist (District 36) to try to challenge existing Prevailing Wage Law by offering amendments to HB 1783 – 21st Century School Facilities Act that would raise the threshold of applicability. The amendment was not adopted.
HB 546 (SB 278) – Prevailing Wage – Tax Increment Financing – Application (PASSED) enables local governments (Counties or Baltimore City) to apply Prevailing Wage law to TIF funded development projects.
SB 572 (HB 1243) – Prevailing Wage Rates – Public Work Contracts – Suits by Employees (PASSED) brings Prevailing Wage Law in-line with all other Wage Laws in Maryland by allowing workers to sue contractors if they are victims of wage theft.
SB 853 (HB 1539) – Labor and Unemployment – General Contractor Liability for Nonpayment of Wages (PASSED) makes a general contractor on a project for construction services jointly and severally liable for violations of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law committed by a subcontractor, regardless of whether the subcontractor is in a direct contractual relationship with the general contractor. It was passed during Session and became law on April 5th, 2018.
When it comes to training bills, the 2018 Legislative Session was packed. Most were directed at increasing apprenticeships through the creation of new apprenticeships under DLLR, as well as engaging the public-school system with increased youth apprenticeship programs.
SB 949 (HB 1599) – Career Education Policy Act (FAILED) required public high schools to make students aware of employment and skills training opportunities through apprenticeship sponsors and employers. It specified that a requirement to earn a credit in technology education to graduate may be satisfied by completing certain courses selected by the county board, and it authorized applicants for legislative scholarships to be enrolled in Workforce Development Sequence courses or to participate in an apprenticeship training program. It was voted unfavorably in the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and received no vote in House Ways and Means.
SB 517 (HB1226) – Career Apprenticeship Investment Act (FAILED) authorized the Governor to provide an additional $2,000,000 annually, in addition to the $1,000,000 annual appropriation, to the Maryland Higher Education Commission for Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships. Additionally, it required the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to create a statewide media campaign to promote participation in career and technical education, apprenticeships, and workforce development in workforce shortage occupations in the State. It passed the Senate but failed to receive a vote in House Appropriations.
SB 618 (HB 1234) – Career Youth and Public-Sector Apprenticeship Act (PASSED) authorizes a county board of education to award credit to a high school student for work-based training or classroom instruction completed under a registered apprenticeship program. It also authorizes a county board to count toward high school attendance the time a youth apprentice spends during work-based training. Importantly, it prohibits institutions of higher education from referring to courses as an apprenticeship or apprenticeship training course unless the course is part of a registered apprenticeship training program.
SB 978 (HB 1216) – Career Preparation Expansion Act (PASSED) allows a student in Maryland to release their Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores to registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship programs, and employers registered with DLLR. The law allows the State Board of Education to adopt regulations that can allow high school credit for work as an apprentice or youth apprentice. The law also expands the Workforce Development Sequence Scholarship to registered apprenticeship programs.
SB 515 (HB 1098) – Career and Technology Education and Workforce Investment Act (FAILED) established the Career and Technology Education (CTE) Grant Program within the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) to provide grants to local school systems for the equipping of school facilities used to provide CTE. It authorizes the Governor to include up to $2.0 million annually in the budget for the program for fiscal 2020 through 2026. It passed the Senate, but never received a vote in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB 614 (SB 390) – Hospitals - Changes in Status - Hospital Employee Retraining and Placement (FAILED) required a hospital that downsizes or changes its status in such a way that would result in layoff of workers to pay a fee directly to the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. It would also have required the Department to establish a program for retraining and placement of hospital employees. The bill passed the Senate but received no vote in the House Government Operations Committee.
There were not that many transportation related bills this session but introduced legislation that positively impacts State Federation affiliates, as well as stronger protection against the deleterious effects of Public-Private Partnerships, were passed. Additionally, WMATA received much needed additional funding from Maryland.
HB 816 – Public-Private Partnership Agreements – Compensation Provisions and noncompete Clauses – Alterations (PASSED) clarifies that a P3 agreement for a project involving road, highway, or bridge assets may not include a noncompete clause that would inhibit the planning, construction, or implementation of State-funded transit projects. This bill is a direct response to other States being sued by private companies because natural disasters had affected their profitability.
HB 312 – Criminal Law – School Bus Driver and Public Transportation Worker – Obstructing, Hindering, or Interfering With (PASSED) increases the maximum incarceration penalty for obstructing, hindering, or interfering with a school bus driver or public transportation worker who is engaged in the performance of his/her official duties from 90 days to one year.
HB 372 (SB 277) – Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act (PASSED) requires the Governor to include in the State budget an appropriation of $167 million from the funds available in the State capital program in the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), mandates additional capital and operating funding for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) from fiscal 2020 through 2022, establishes additional transit planning responsibilities for MTA, and requires WMATA to study and report on its operations. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and unanimously on the floor of the Senate.
HB 370 (SB 279) – Metro Board Member Act (PASSED) requires one of Maryland’s two principal members on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metro Board of Directors to be the Secretary of Transportation or the Secretary’s designee if they are an employee of the Maryland Department of Transportation. The bill also encourages each signatory of the WMATA Compact to support reform of WMATA’s governance structure to improve efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness of WMATA’s performance, oversight, safety, accessibility, environmental quality, economic development, and quality of life in Maryland. It also provides eight examples of possible reforms to the governance structure. The bill passed unanimously in the House Environment and Transportation Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and it passed unanimously on both the floor of the House and Senate.
Collective Bargaining and Labor Disputes
Collective bargaining expansion in Maryland is a challenging road to travel. Bringing more Maryland workers under a CBA is going to take strategic planning, resources, and a coordinated effort of all unions in Maryland. However, the General Assembly did work to protect public employee unions through legislation that protects existing CBAs and grants further access to those whom the unions represent.
HB 811 (SB 819) – Education – Collective Bargaining – Exclusive Representative's Access to New Employee Processing (PASSED) requires public school employers to provide an exclusive representative with access to “new employee processing”, which is when new employees are advised of specified employment-related matters. Within 30 days of a new employee’s hire a public-school employer must provide the exclusive representative with information about each new public-school employee, including name, position classification, and personal cell phone number. Additionally, this information must be provided about each employee in the bargaining unit every 120 days. This bill passed during Session and was enacted into law on April 6th, 2018.
HB 1017 (SB 677) – State Personnel – Collective Bargaining – Exclusive Representative Access to New Employee Program (PASSED) is the State Worker equivalent of HB 811, above. It requires the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the University System of Maryland system institutions (USM), Morgan State University (MSU), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), and Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) to provide employee information in a searchable and analyzable electronic format to the union within 30 days of a new employee’s hire. It repeals the right of employees to opt out of the release of their personal information to the union, although on written request of an employee, the union must withhold further communication with a worker unless otherwise required by law or the written request is revoked by the employee. It also requires that the union be allowed to meet with new workers in the relevant bargaining unit. This bill passed during Session and was enacted into law on April 6th, 2018.
SB 654 (HB 864) – Collective Bargaining - Memorandum of Understanding – Continuation (PASSED) prohibits a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is agreed to and ratified for State worker collective bargaining units from expiring until a new MOU is agreed to and ratified. Showing solidarity with public workers, dozens of private sector unions submitted testimony in support of the bill. This bill passed during Session and was enacted into law on April 6th, 2018.
SB 408 (HB 667) – Education – Community Colleges – Collective Bargaining (FAILED) established a collective bargaining process for local community college and Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) employees including full-time faculty, part-time faculty, and staff, but excluding officers, supervisory or confidential employees, and student assistants. AFSCME 67, AFSCME 3, AFT-MD, CWA 2100, and SEIU 500 currently represent certain community college workers in Maryland. The bill was heard in both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and were eventually withdrawn by the sponsors. This is the fifth year that this legislation has been introduced.
HB 83 (SB 73) – Harford County Sheriff - Deputy Sheriffs and Correctional Officers - Collective Bargaining (PASSED) extends Collective Bargaining to Harford County Sheriff’s Deputies. This is the second year that a version of a collective bargaining bill for Harford County Sheriff’s Deputies and Correctional Officers was proposed. Additionally, another version proposed this session, HB 15, was withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB 163 – University of Maryland University College – Collective Bargaining – Adjunct Faculty (FAILED) provided Collective Bargaining rights to adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland University College. The bill was eventually withdrawn by the sponsor due to lack of support.
HB 199 (SB 560) – Higher Education - Collective Bargaining - Graduate Assistants (Graduate Assistant Collective Bargaining Fairness Act) (FAILED) expanded Collective Bargaining rights to graduate assistants in the University of Maryland System. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor in the House and received no vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
Worker Pay, Benefits, and Retirement
The story of Pay, Benefits, and Retirement is a mixed bag for the 2018 Legislative Session. While high-profile bills like “Fight for $15” did not make it, extra protections for State workers and their families, as well as increased retirement security for our correctional officers were gained. There were multiple attempts to weaken the newly passed Maryland Health Working Families Act of 2017, but they were all defeated.
SB 304 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Delay of Effective Date (FAILED) was an attempt to delay the start date of the act from February 11th, 2018 to July 1st, 2018, thereby depriving Maryland workers of over 1.5 million earned sick days. The bill passed the full Senate but was voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
SB 377 (HB 512) – Labor and Employment – Pay Scales and Wage History Information (FAILED) prohibited an employer with at least 15 employees from screening an applicant for employment based on the applicant’s wage history and from seeking wage history information for an employee. An applicant or an employee is not prohibited from voluntarily sharing wage history information with an employer. It passed the full House but never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 98 (SB 135) – Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 (FAILED) was the Governor’s “sick leave” bill, as a response to the General Assembly overriding his veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act of 2017. It would have required an employer with 50 or more employees to provide each employee with paid time off that can be used for any reason beginning January 1, 2018. It never received a vote in either the House Economic Matters Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 543 (HB 664) – Labor and Employment – Payment of the Minimum Wage Required (Fight for Fifteen) (FAILED) phased in an increase in the State minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by fiscal 2024. Beginning on July 1, 2024, the minimum wage may increase further as it is indexed to inflation. It also phased out the tip credit by July 1, 2026, that employers can apply against the direct wages paid to employees classified as tipped employees. Just like in the 2017 Session, the bill never came up for a vote in either the House Economic Matters or Senate Finance Committees.
SB 859 (HB 775) – State Employees – Parental Leave (PASSED) provides up to 60 days of paid parental leave to an employee in the Executive Branch of State government who is the primary caregiver responsible for the care and nurturing of a child to care for the child immediately following either the child’s birth or the adoption of a child who is younger than age six. An employee entitled to parental leave may use available accrued annual leave, accrued sick leave, and personal leave. If that leave is less than 60 days, the State agency that employs the employee must provide the employee with additional paid leave to attain 60 days of parental leave
HB 296 – Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Retirement Income of Correctional Officers (PASSED) expands the existing State subtraction modification for retired law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency services personnel by extending eligibility to State correctional officers. Therefore, the first $15,000 of retirement income resulting from state employment will not be subject to State taxes.
SB 48 (HB 205) – Permanent Partial Disability – State Correctional Officers (PASSED) alters the definition of “public safety employee” to include State correctional officers, thereby making these officers eligible for workers’ compensation benefits based on preexisting medical conditions. This is the second year that it has been introduced.
HB 484 – Workers' Compensation – Average Weekly Wage – Multiple Employers (FAILED) required that the weekly wages from the work of a covered employee who, at the time of an accidental personal injury, was employed by more than one employer be combined for purposes of computing the average weekly wage. The bill was voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
HB 180 – Railroad Company - Movement of Freight - Required Crew (PASSED) prohibits a train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight, on the same tracks where passenger trains also travel, from being operated in the State unless it has at least two crew members. This was the third year this bill was introduced, and it passed on Sine Die.
HB 1493 (SB 526) – Regulation of Farm Labor Contractors and Foreign Labor Contractors (FAILED) required a foreign labor contractor (FLC) to be licensed by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry before the individual may perform foreign labor contracting services in the State. Fundamentally, the bill brings transparency to the recruitment of foreign workers, levels the playing field for workers and ethical employers, and combats human trafficking. It was never taken up for a vote in either the House Economic Matters Committee or the Senate Finance Committee. This is the second year, in a row, that this bill has been introduced.
In many ways, this was a banner Legislative Session for public education. Most notably, voters will now get to weigh in on dedicating casino gaming money directly to education in the General Election in November. Additionally, teachers will now actually be represented on the Maryland State Board of Education. And both of Governor Hogan’s in-Session vetoes that were overridden by the General Assembly were priorities for our unions.
SB 1122 (HB 1697) – Education – Commercial Gaming Revenues – Constitutional Amendment (PASSED) commonly referred to as the “Casino Lockbox Bill”, this proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by the voters in the November 6th, 2018 General Election, requires the Governor to provide supplemental State funding for public education through the use of commercial gaming revenues that are dedicated to public education in the State budget beginning in fiscal 2020. Supplemental funding must total $125.0 million in fiscal 2020, $250.0 million in fiscal 2021, and $375.0 million in fiscal 2022. In all subsequent years, 100% of the gaming revenues dedicated to public education must be used for supplemental funding. The bill repeals the constitutional provision specifying that capital projects at community colleges and public senior higher education institutions are among the purposes for which revenue from video lottery terminal (VLT) facilities is raised. Beginning in fiscal 2020, the Governor must identify in the annual State budget how the supplemental revenue is being used to supplement and not supplant spending on public schools.
SB 739 (HB 154) – State Board of Education – Membership – Teachers and Parent (PASSED) increases the membership of the State Board of Education from 12 to 15 members, by adding 2 certified teachers (to be decided upon by MSEA and AFT) and 1 parent of a student enrolled in a public school.
HB 1415 (SB 1092) – Education – Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (PASSED) extends the deadline for the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to complete its work by one year. It also establishes or alters several programs and mandates funding for them beginning in fiscal 2019, including a comprehensive teacher recruitment and outreach program, the Maryland Early Literacy Initiative, the Learning in Extended Academic Programs (LEAP) grant program, the Public School Opportunities Enhancement Program (PSOEP), the Teaching Fellows for Maryland scholarship program, and the Career and Technology Education (CTE) Innovation grant program. Beginning in fiscal 2020, the Governor must annually appropriate to the Prekindergarten Expansion Fund an amount that is at least equal to all revenues received in prior fiscal year. Finally, the scope of a study of the individualized education program (IEP) process in Maryland is expanded and the due date for the study is extended.
HB 186 – Prince George’s County Board of Education – Election of Vice Chair and Voting Procedures PG 507–18 (FAILED) required the elected members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, rather than the county executive, to select a vice chair of the board and also altered from two-thirds to three-fifths the percentage of the voting members of the county board that is required to take an action that is contrary to an action of the Chief Executive Officer. And, identically to what happened to this bill last year, it passed the full House but failed to get a vote in the Senate EHEA Committee.
HB 968 (SB 92) – Maryland School Overcrowding Reduction Act of 2018 (PASSED) establishes the Public School Facility Construction Innovation Incentive Pilot Program to accelerate public school construction projects by providing State incentives for local school systems in Harford, Prince George’s, and Washington counties to reduce the costs of construction and renovation. Systemic renovation projects are excluded from the program, but all other major construction and renovation projects are included. IAC must develop an application process for the pilot program, implement and administer the program, and promote the program. A local version of this bill was also proposed, SB 473 (HB 195) – Prince George’s County – School Overcrowding Reduction Act of 2018, that did not pass the General Assembly.
HB 679 – County Boards of Education – Length of School Year – Adjustments (PASSED) Authorizing a county board of education to extend the length of the school year for up to 5 school days beyond June 15 without approval from the State Board of Education. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on April 10, 2018.
Unfortunately, there were few gains for workers in higher education in the 2018 Legislative Session, including the inability for the General Assembly to prohibit anti-union activity by community college staff. However, Maryland did pass significant scholarships for community college attendees, opening up increased training and educational opportunities to everyone.
HB 237 – Community Colleges - Unfair Labor Practices - Prohibition (FAILED) prohibited community college trustees and employees and public officials and employees of a county or municipality from engaging in any unfair labor practice, including those related to discouraging collective bargaining. The bill passed the full House but affiliates thought several amendments were still needed – like captive audience meetings – and asked the Senate Finance Committee to hold the bill.
HB 16 – Community Colleges – Near Completers and Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships (PASSED) creates the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships. Beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year, the annual scholarship award may not be more than $5,000 per recipient, or actual tuition, whichever is less, for full-time in-State residents. This is known as a “last dollar” scholarship because it is applied after any other scholarships or awards are deducted from the cost of tuition.
Energy and Environmental Bills
There was a flurry of bills introduced this Session that would have affected energy and environmental policy in Maryland. Most of those that would have negatively impacted union jobs were successfully fought down, while some that provide environmental protections while not endangering employment passed. Union members advocated effectively against the more extreme of the bills.
HB 1135 (SB 1058) – Renewable Energy - Offshore Wind Projects - Distance Requirements (FAILED) altered from between 10 to 30 to not less than 26 nautical miles the distances required of certain qualified offshore wind projects from the State shoreline, which would have significantly delayed the Maryland Wind projects. The bill received no vote in the Senate Finance Committee and was voted unfavorably by the House Economic Matters Committee.
HB 230 (SB 290) – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Extension Act (PASSED) allows Maryland to exit the RGGI only with the express approval of the General Assembly, instead of allowing the Governor to do so, unilaterally.
HB 878 – 100% Clean Renewable Energy Equity Act of 2018 (FAILED) repealed the existing State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2020 and replaced it with a new RPS that increases over time to 100% by 2035 and required electricity suppliers to directly procure renewable energy. It would have removed everything from the RPS portfolio, except wind, solar, and geothermal. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor due to lack of support.
HB 1453 (SB 732) – Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2018 (FAILED) amended the law passed two years ago that increased the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 25% by 2022 b proposing to raise the RPS to 50% by 2030 and removed incineration from eligibility as a Tier I renewable energy source. An existing study being conducted by the Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) is modified to include additional topics and a supplemental study on a 100% RPS. The bill never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee and was voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Corporate Taxes, Transparency, and Business Regulation
Unfortunately, the General Assembly remains uncommitted to transparency and openness when it comes to corporate taxes. In the 2018 Legislative Session, we, once again, saw very little appetite to impose regulations on businesses that would make them more accountable to the taxpayers.
HB 41 – Hospitals – Community Benefit Report – Disclosure of Tax Exemptions (FAILED) required a nonprofit hospital to include an itemization of all tax exemptions received by the hospital in the hospital's annual community benefit report. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor because it had no support.
SB 971 (HB 1241) – Corporations and Associations – Recordation and Filing – Proof of Occupational or Professional License (FAILED) prohibited the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) from giving a business license to an entity that provides a service that requires an occupational or professional license from the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) or admission to the bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, unless SDAT receives proof that the owner of the entity holds the required occupational or professional license or bar admission. It received no vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and was voted unfavorably in the House Economic Matters Committee.
Elections and Voting Rights
Voting in Maryland gets easier with each passing legislative session. The 2018 Session was no different, with greater enfranchisement through multiple bills, including a change to the State’s Constitution that will be decided by voters in the 2018 General Election. Unfortunately, the push for universal Vote by Mail (VBM) did not pass.
SB 594 (HB 532) – Elective Franchise - Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Place (PASSED) is also known as “Same Day Registration” and it proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to allow Marylanders to register and vote at a precinct polling place on Election Day. The voters of Maryland will have the opportunity to vote on this Constitutional change on November 6th, 2018, in the General Election.
HB 152 (SB 1048) – Secure and Accessible Registration Act (PASSED) establishes automatic voter registration through any citizen’s interaction with the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange (MHBE), MVA, Social Services, and the Mobility Certification Office (MCO) in the Maryland Transit Administration. It also orders the State Board of Education to work with the Comptroller’s office to provide those who file taxes electronically an opportunity to register to vote thought a link to an online voter registration system. It was passed during Session and became law on April 5, 2018.
SB 730 (HB 829) – Local Government – Municipal Elections – No-Excuse Absentee Voting (PASSED) prohibits a municipality from requiring an individual to provide a certain reason in order to vote by absentee ballot.
HB 1563 – Election Law – Qualification of Voters - Proof of Identity (FAILED) was anti-voting legislation that required a form of ID to vote. It received an unfavorably vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.
SB 547 – Elections by Mail (FAILED) required all elections to be conducted by mail and repealed provisions relating to voting in person at polling places and early voting centers. This is the second year that this bill has been introduced, however, it never received a vote in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
SB 246 – State Personnel – Maryland Hatch Act (FAILED) would apply the Federal Hatch Act standards of political non-involvement to State workers. Bizarrely, the bill removes the current prohibition against State workers advocating the overthrow of the government by unconstitutional or violent means. It was only filed in the Senate, and never received a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 356 (SB 307) – General Assembly and Congressional Legislative Redistricting and Apportionment Commission (FAILED) proposed a constitutional amendment that, if approved by the voters in the November 2018 General Election, would have repealed existing constitutional provisions related to the legislative and congressional redistricting process and required the appointment of a General Assembly and Congressional Legislative Redistricting and Apportionment Commission. The bill prohibited two-member delegate districts and any consideration of party, incumbency, or candidates when drawing districts. It was voted unfavorably in the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, and it never received a vote in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
HJ 11 (SJ 7) – United States Constitution – Amendments Convention – Democracy Amendment (FAILED) called for an Article V Convention of the U.S. Constitution, to propose an amendment that affirms every citizen's individual right to vote, reserves constitutional rights to natural persons and not corporations, and authorizes regulation of contributions and expenditures intended to influence elections. It has been a priority of the AFL-CIO for the past two years, to rescind all former calls by States for an Article V Convention, as well as to stop all new calls from being passed. The resolution passed the House but was voted unfavorably in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Film Production Activity
SB 1154 (HB 1449) – Income Tax – Film Production Activity Tax Credit – Alterations (PASSED) altered the definition of "film production activity" to include each season of a television series, authorized a Maryland small or independent film entity to qualify as a film production entity, prohibited the Secretary of Commerce from issuing tax credit certificates in excess of $10,000,000 for a single film production activity, and it increased, over time, the yearly tax credit to $20,000,000 per year, with no sunset provision. The Governor signed this into law on May 15, 2018.