Highlights From Annapolis

February 2017

General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto of Renewable Energy Bill
The General Assembly overrode the Governors veto of a renewable energy bill which will require utility companies in Maryland to buy more energy from sources such as wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric dams. The Governor and GOP lawmakers objected to the cost to consumers. The requirement is expected to make electricity more expensive, but it’s not clear by how much. Democrats argued that the requirement will boost the renewable energy industry, create high-paying jobs, reduce air pollution and combat climate change at a small cost to consumers.

Governor Hogan Delivers His Third State of the State Address
Governor Hogan recently delivered his third State of the State address urging state legislators to work with him on legislation to expand vouchers and other school options, require certain businesses to offer paid sick leave, use tax credits to boost manufacturing jobs and take a variety of measures to address the state’s opioid crisis. Coverage of the speech and reaction from members of the General Assembly can be found in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.

Governor Hogan Unveils His Fiscal 2018 Budget
Governor Hogan unveiled his proposed fiscal 2018 budget. The total budget is $43.5 billion, of which $17.1 billion represents the States general fund. The general fund budget is the part of the budget paid for through the income tax, sales tax, lottery proceeds and other similar revenues. Accompanying the budget to help bring the general fund into balance and address out year spending mandates is the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2017, which freezes spending on a number of programs at the fiscal 2017 level among other changes; and the Common Sense Spending Act of 2017, which would not require the state to fund any program or item by more than one percent under revenue growth. This will ensure that spending growth is always less than revenue growth. The bill makes exceptions for state aid to public K-12 education, debt service payments, and several other critical areas.

Members of the General Assembly expressed skepticism over the budget and in a fiscal briefing to the budget committees, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) pushed for further spending reforms. During the briefing, DLS laid out potential legislative issues ranging from the potential vulnerabilities expected from federal cost containment, to declining education aid for Baltimore City and a reduction in funding to Prince George’s Regional Medical Center.

New Members Appointed to the General Assembly
Delegate Nathaniel Oaks has been appointed to the State Senate to represent District 41, filling the seat vacated by Senator Lisa Gladden. Delegate Oaks served in the House of Delegates from 1983-1989 and from 1995 to the present. Jazz Lewis has been appointed to represent District 24, filling the seat vacated by Delegate Mike Vaughn. Lewis currently serves as the executive director for Congressman Steny Hoyer’s campaign office. Bilal Ali has been appointedto represent District 41, serving Baltimore City. Ali currently serves as a community liaison coordinator for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. Nick Mosby has been appointed to represent District 40, serving Baltimore City. He is a former member of the Baltimore City Council, where he served from 2011-2016. Jheanelle Wilkins has been appointed to represent District 20 in Montgomery County, filling the seat vacated by Senator William “Will” Smith. She is a senior field manager for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

House Leadership Changes
House Speaker Michael E. Busch announced that Delegate Anne R. Kaiser (District 14) will serve as the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Former Chair, Delegate Sheila Hixson (District 20) was named Chairman Emeritus and will assist the Speaker with leadership responsibilities, continue to be a strong voice for Montgomery County in House leadership, and serve as a key advisor to House leadership members.

Delegate C. William Frick (District 16) assumed the role of Majority Leader, the position previously held by Delegate Kaiser.

Websites of Interest
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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