Highlights From Annapolis

December 2016

Prefiled Bills Available on General Assembly Website

Mid-Term Election Brings Member Changes to General Assembly
Delegates Barbara Robinson and Will Smith have been appointed by Governor Hogan to fill two vacant seats in the Maryland Senate. Delegate Robinson is replacing former Senator Catherine Pugh, who was recently sworn in as the Mayor of Baltimore. Delegate Smith is replacing former Senator Jamie Raskin, who will be sworn in as a member of Congress in January.

Delegate Pete Hammen Joins Pugh Mayoral Administration
Delegate Pete Hammen retired from the General Assembly effective December 6, 2016 to join the Pugh Mayoral Administration as Chief of Operations. The senator and remaining delegates from district 46 have endorsed Robbyn Lewis, a community activist who lives in the Patterson Park neighborhood and works at the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to fill the vacant seat.

Senator Currie Rescinds Resignation
Senator Currie recently rescinded his resignation after announcing last month that he planned to retire from the Maryland Senate effective December 1.  In a letter to Senate President Mike Miller, he indicated he was withdrawing his resignation to end the political fighting over the selection of his replacement.

Senate Leadership Changes
Senate President Mike Miller has announced several leadership and committee changes, some prompted by the departure of former Senator and now Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh; and former Senator Jamie Raskin, who will be sworn in as a member of Congress in January. Changes are summarized in a Baltimore Sun article.

Governor Hogan Announces Cabinet Secretary/Leadership Changes
Governor Hogan has announced the following changes to his cabinet and senior staff appointments. Dennis Schrader, currently Appointments Secretary, will serve as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) replacing Secretary Van Mitchell, who is leaving his position in the administration to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Chris Cavey, currently Deputy Secretary of Appointments, has been appointed as Secretary. Sean Powell, who has served as Director of the Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), has been appointed Deputy Chief of Staff replacing current Deputy Chief of Staff Roy McGrath, who will be leaving the Administration for a soon-to-be-announced position. Michael Higgs, currently the Deputy Director of SDAT, will serve as Acting Director until a replacement is found.

Legislative Committee Unanimously Approves Aid for Northrop Grumman
The Legislative Policy Committee unanimously approved a $20 million forgivable loan for Northrop Grumman. The company will receive $5 million annually and will not need to repay the loan if it retains 10,000 jobs in Maryland and investments $100 million into buying new facilities in the state.

Governor Hogan Plans to Introduce Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Legislation
Governor Hogan announced he plans to introduce legislation this session that will require companies with 50 or more employees to offer full-time workers five sick days per year. The legislation would also allow smaller businesses to receive up to $20,000 a year in tax deductions for offering paid sick time. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, the proposal would cost the state approximately $63 million.

Medical Cannabis Commission Announces Dispensary Licensees
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced 102 preliminary dispensary licenses across the state. The companies selected now must go through additional review and pass inspections before opening. Up to two stand-alone dispensaries are allowed in each of Maryland’s 47 legislative districts.

Spending Affordability Committee Recommends Spending Limits for FY 2018
The Spending Affordability Committee, composed of members of the General Assembly and two public members, made a number of spending and budget recommendations to provide guidance to the Governor and General Assembly when formulating and approving the budget for FY 2018.  To close a structural deficit projected to be $377 million,the Committee is recommending that the final budget reduce the structural deficit by at least 50% leaving a structural gap of no more than $189 million. The Committee also recommends a detailed plan from the Administration for achieving structural balance in FY 2019. Other recommendations, one of which authorizes the use of rainy day funds in excess of the 5% requirement to help close the budget gap (approximately $200 million), can be found in the Spending Affordability Committee Report.

Procurement and Regulatory Changes Proposed
The Commission to Modernize State Procurement, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, issued its final report making 57 recommendations to modernize the state procurement system by utilizing new technologies, simplifying the bidding process, and providing better procurement training to state personnel and businesses. Governor’s press release.

In addition, the Governor announced that he plans to implement all 187 recommendations from the final report of the  Regulatory Reform Commission. The recommendations address a wide range of issues such as repealing regulations that no longer apply, allowing businesses to submit applications and reports online, and improving customer service.

Other Important Information and Websites
Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education – Meeting dates, meeting minutes, and other details can be found on the Commission website. Preliminary report is due December 31, 2016 and the final report is due December 31, 2017.

21st Century School Facilities Commission – Meeting dates and agenda topics can be found on the Commission page of the General Assembly’s website.

To access press releases, executive orders, and other information from the Office of Governor Larry Hogan, visit the Governor’s website.

To access information on members of the General Assembly, committees, committee meetings, legislation, and other publications, visit the General Assembly’s Website.


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