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Sine Die, COVID-19, and the Days ahead...

Dear Neighbors and Friends of District 22, I am proud to represent you in Annapolis and I thank you for reaching out to me this legislative session with your concerns. Our world has changed rapidly in the past few weeks. In Annapolis, the Legislature adjourned this past Wednesday. Even though our office has gone mobile we are still here to answer your phone calls and respond back regarding your concerns. We hope to return back at the end of May to pass some additional legislation that did not make it across the finish line during our shorten session. Out of a total of 1675 bills considered in our truncated session, the General Assembly passed over 650 bills in the last few days before adjournment. Here is a list of some of the important work we accomplished during this shorten session.

  • Emergency Funds for Coronavirus (Senate Bill 1079) allows the Governor to transfer by budget amendment up to $50 million from the Revenue Stabilization Account (known as the rainy day fund) to the general fund in order to provide resources for a full-fledged response to COVID-19, such as testing, research, preparedness and outreach to vulnerable communities.

  • Emergency Bill (House Bill 1663/Senate Bill 1080) gives the governor authority to take several actions to expand healthcare coverage, unemployment benefits and consumer protections throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Because of this bill, the Governor can

  • Eliminate co-pays and out of pocket costs for COVID-19 tests and immunization

  • Reduce restrictions on telehealth so that patients can be diagnosed on the phone or online

  • Prohibit employers from firing employees solely because they are under quarantine


My 2020 Legislation 

Juvenile Causes - Court Records

(House Bill 1069) : Until now, court records pertaining to a Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) case have been confidential. This law allows the Department of Juvenile Services, the Department of Human Services or the local department of social services to access these records if they are providing treatment, services or care to a child. Sharing information will allow agencies to jointly plan and deliver needed services to support our children. I was happy to serve as the lead sponsor of this bill which will go to the Governor's desk for his signature. 


2020 Maryland General Assembly

Legislative Accomplishments 


Education

  1. Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (House Bill 1300) (Kirwan Commission Recommendations):

  • Expands full-day prekindergarten for 3 and 4 year-olds in low-income households and provides more family support centers in high-poverty areas

  • Hires and keeps high-quality, diverse teachers by paying teachers a salary comparable to other fields

  • Raises the standards for college and career readiness so students can compete with their international peers

  • Provides more resources for the students who need them most

  • Implements an accountability board to monitor progress and ensure tax-payer funds are being used effectively.

  • The bill was amended to lower the amount of the financial obligations placed onto Prince George’s County. Prince George’s will now have to pay $183 million more by 2030, down from $386 million originally proposed and will receive $724 million more in additional state funding annually by 2030.


2. Revenue Bills to help pay for the education bill - Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund:

  • Tobacco and Online Advertisements Tax (House Bill 732) Per pack tax on cigarettes will increase by $1.75 while vaping products will be taxed for the first time. Companies such as Facebook will be required to pay a tax based on the overall revenue of their online ads. It will fund education with at least an additional $90 million in revenue.

  • Digital Download Sales Tax (House Bill 932) The sales tax will be extended to digital downloads of products such as e-books, songs, movies and streaming TV services. It excludes cable and satellite providers and will raise $150 million per year for the Blueprint for Maryland Fund.


3. Build to Learn Act of 2020 (House Bill 1): Provides money to repair and build schools to ease crowding and replace aging buildings beginning in fiscal year 2022. Priority will be given to districts with the oldest buildings, the highest number of classroom trailers and those districts with a high number of Title 1 schools.


4. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (House Bill 1260): This bill resolves the 13-year ongoing litigation around the inequitable funding and resources provided to Maryland's historically black colleges and universities. This bill requires the Governor in each fiscal year starting in 2022 until 2031 to include $57.7 million in the annual state budget to be allocated to the 4 historically black colleges and universities in Maryland, if the lawsuit is settled by December 1, 2020. 


Environment

  • Prohibition on Use of Chlorpyrifos (Senate Bill 300): This pesticide has been proven to cause brain damage in children, harm our environment, and kill wildlife. 

Gender Equality

  • Correctional Services - Prerelease Unit for Women - Facilities and Services (Senate Bill 684): Requires the Maryland Department of Corrections to provide a comprehensive rehabilitative prerelease facility for female inmates. The State of Maryland does not have any such facilities for women, yet the State has 9 facilities for men.

Fair Housing

  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act (House Bill 231/Senate Bill 530): Provides fair housing to all citizens regardless of source of income; provides additional opportunities for tenants utilizing public subsidies to live in certain neighborhoods and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of the source of his or her income.

Public Safety

  • Hate Crimes Act (House Bill 5/Senate Bill 161): Prohibits a person from inscribing or placing an item or a symbol, including nooses or swastikas, on any public or private property without express permission of the owner with the intent to threaten or intimidate. Hate and bias events have no place in our communities.

Health Care

1. Enshrines parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into state code (House Bill 959/Senate Bill 872) In case the ACA is repealed by Congress or ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It codifies these key provisions:

  • Allows young adults to stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26

  • Eliminates co-pays for certain preventive services

  • Prohibits health insurance companies from limiting how much they would pay for any individual’s medical bills over a lifetime

  • Expands coverage for individuals with “pre-existing conditions”

  • Provides base level healthcare plans


2. Hospitals - Financial Assistance Policies & Bill Collections (House Bill 1420): Increases the family income threshold to between 200% and 500% of the federal poverty level at which a hospital’s financial assistance policy must provide free medically necessary care to patients.


3. Reverse Auctions (House Bill 1150): Companies who wish to supply vital prescription medications under the State Benefits Program must bid against each other in a reverse auction which will ultimately drive down drug prices. This bipartisan legislation is predicted to save consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in prescription drug costs.


Workers’ Rights

  • Wage History Act (House Bill 123) requires an employer, on request, to provide to an applicant for employment the wage range for the position for which the applicant applied.

Operating Budget (Senate Bill 190)

  • The General Assembly passed a balanced budget with bipartisan support that eliminated the structural deficit for next year and left over $1 billion in cash reserves to guard against an economic downturn. On the last day of session, the House and Senate amended the budget to allow the Governor to access up to $100 million extra in funding to support small businesses and to re-open hospitals in the COVID-19 crisis.

Elections

  • Taking Action on Elections (House Bill 37/Senate Bill 145): Improves the absentee ballot process in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This emergency bill changes the name of “no-excuse absentee ballots” to “Mail-in ballots” to ensure voters understand that they are allowed to cast a mail in vote regardless if they are able to vote on election day or not in person. The ballots will have prepaid postage to give Marylanders the opportunity to cast a ballot conveniently, for free.


2020 Legislative Bond Initiatives

  • The Greenbelt Station –Hiker/Biker Trail received funds to build a ½ mile trail connection between a new housing development at Greenbelt Station and the Greenbelt Metro Station. This money will allow the $2.1 million-dollar project to begin, for which other funds had already been collected.

  • Berwyn Heights – Senior Center received funds to repair a roof and upgrade an elevator bringing it into compliance with the American Disabilities Act.

  • Hyattsville - Police Headquarters received funds to construct a new Police and Public Safety Headquarters for the Hyattsville City Police Department. 

  • Hyattsville – Teen Activity and Mentoring Center received funds to make construction changes in a building for use as a after-school and weekend program for about 20-30 teenagers from 5 cities in Prince George’s County.

  • Riverdale Park – Municipal Center received funds to improve the property adjacent to the Town’s Municipal Center, particularly its lighting.

  • Sarvis Empowerment Cafe received funds to create a HUB in the Greater Riverdale community to provide job training and placement, entrepreneurship, community engagement and health/wellness



Speaker Adrienne Jones serves as Maryland's first African American and Woman Speaker of the House of Delegates. Here she is declaring the end of session (Sine Die).