Highlights From Annapolis

March 2017

State Reduces Fiscal 2017 Revenue Projections by $35.3 Million
The Board of Revenue Estimates lowered its projection for the current fiscal 2017 year by $35.3 million and increased its projection for fiscal year 2018 by $2.3 million, resulting in a net reduction of $33 million. According to a statement from the Comptroller’s office, the new revenue estimates are influenced by the civilian federal hiring freeze that has been imposed by the Trump Administration. The General Assembly’s budget committees, currently in the process of making budget decisions, must incorporate these reductions into their budget decisions. An article by the Capital News Service describes the differing views of what is causing the large fluctuations in state revenues. Some believe that mandated spending is the primary issue for the budgetary problems, while others argue that lagging state revenues are causing the issues.

House Appropriations Committee Approves Budget and Companion Bill
The House Appropriations Committee voted to approve Governor Hogan’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget and the accompanying Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2017 to bring the State’s general fund budget into balance. Actions taken by the Committee will leave a fund balance of almost $138 million at the end of the fiscal year. The House of Delegates will debate the budget this upcoming week with passage expected by the end of the week. The Senate will take up the budget following House passage.

Paid Sick Leave Bills Advance in House and Senate With Slight Differences
The Maryland Senate gave initial approval to legislation that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. The bill, which was amended on the floor, would require companies with 15 of more employees to give at least five days of paid sick leave to full-time workers. For companies with fewer than 15 employees the sick leave would be unpaid. This is different from the version of the bill that passed the House of Delegates earlier in the week, which requires businesses to offer seven days of sick leave. Additional coverage can be found in the Washington Post.

Baltimore Mayor and State Lawmakers Offer Proposal to Fund Baltimore City Schools
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and members of Baltimore City’s delegation to the General Assembly outlined a proposal for the city and the state to provide $180 million over three years to assist the City’s school system with its budget shortfall. This three-year arrangement would provide assistance until a Commission examining how education funding is allocated makes its recommendations in the fall. It’s anticipated that the Commission, known as the Kirwan Commission, would recommend funding increases. Discussions are still ongoing with the administration.

House of Delegates Approves Fracking Ban, Senate Action Uncertain
The House of Delegates voted to ban fracking in Maryland, a process used for natural gas extraction. The ban passed by a veto-proof majority 97 – 40, 12 more than needed to override a possible veto by Governor Larry Hogan. The Chair of the Senate Committee to hear the bill, Senator Joan Carter Conway, has said that without a veto proof majority in the Senate, it would be better to extend the moratorium on the process. Additional coverage can be found in the Washington Post.

Governor Declares State of Emergency in Response to Drug Crisis
Governor Larry Hogan issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in response to the heroin, opioid, and fentanyl crisis in Maryland and across the country. This declaration activates the governor’s emergency management authority and enables increased and more rapid coordination between the state and local jurisdictions. The governor also announced $50 million in new funding to address the crisis, as well as the appointment of the governor’s senior emergency management advisor Clay Stamp to lead the state’s coordinated effort to combat the crisis. Executive Order

Angela Gibson Appointed to House of Delegates
Governor Hogan appointed Angela Gibson to the House of Delegates following the recommendation of the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee. Gibson will replace Senator Nathaniel Oaks who was recently sworn in as state senator. Delegate Gibson currently serves as the Mayor’s legislative liaison to the Baltimore City Council.

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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