A Boring Start to the 2016 Session
Although a session of the Maryland General Assembly only runs for 90 days, don’t expect any excitement just yet. Today’s session began just like every other year: some mild pomp, a little circumstance, and a lot of guest announcements.
You can listen to the proceedings of the State Senate and House of Delegates by clicking on these links (Senate Proceedings and House Proceedings). Make sure to click on the small number under the left-hand column marked “Session.” You will need an audio player that can play the files. I recommend downloading a free copy of Real Time Player but make sure to carefully read the installation guide so you don’t accidentally install hidden software.
The Governor Larry Hogan (R) stopped by both houses to welcome everyone and to express a desire for bi-partisanship. Following his remarks were speeches by Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD-D) and Senator Ben Cardin (MD-D), first in the House then later in the Senate. Sen. Mikulski spoke briefly on how much money she secured for Maryland. Her remarks on her retirement were legacy building, stating how she fought for education and jobs. Sen. Cardin, who will not be retiring, focused on how we need to come together, work in a bi-partisan fashion, and be willing to listen to each other.
Consent on Veto of Duplicative Bills
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In terms of business, little took place today. Both houses listed on their agenda a “Calendar of Vetoed Bills” containing bills vetoed for being duplicative, but only the House of Delegates brought up the issue for vote. These were cross-filled bills (duplicates submitted both in the House and in the Senate) that were submitted and approved in both houses.
Often, duplicated bills are submitted to allow for a subject to be heard on both sides in a speedily manner because of the limited time allowed for session to be held. The choice of which bill to veto of a pair is arbitrary, and past governors have used myriad rational for their decision.
All bills vetoed for duplication were consented upon in the House of Delegates after a minor hiccup with the vote display board. In the State Senate, the discussion on these bills were special ordered (discussion and vote postponed) until Wednesday, January 20.
You can see the list of consented House Bill vetoes under “Calendar of Vetoed House Bills No. 1.”
You can see the list of consented Senate Bill vetoes under “Calendar of Vetoed Senate Bills No. 1.”
Postponement of Policy Veto Debate
Three House Bills vetoed by the governor for policy reasons were special ordered (discussion and vote postponed) until Wednesday, January 20. They are “Calendar of Vetoed House Bills No. 2” and are as follows:
Four Senate Bills vetoed by the government for policy reasons were special ordered (discussion and vote postponed) until Wednesday, January 20. There are “Calendar of Vetoed Senate Bills No. 2” and are as follows:
- SB 190 (Sales Tax)
- SB 340 (Ex-Felon Voting, see: HB 980 vetoed above)
- SB 517 (Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia De-criminalization)
- SB 528 (Seizure and Forfeiture)
Introduction of Bills
There are some notable bills filed today:
- HB 16 would establish protections for religious organizations regarding recognition of marriage.
- HB 18 would reduce college tuition for high school graduates and long term unemployed.
- HB 19 would provide local governments the ability to amend fire sprinkler system standards.
- HB 27 would require collective bargaining for community college employees.
- HB 31 (cross-file SB 57) would ban plastic bags from stores.
- HB 33 would alter the subtraction modification for retirement income.
- HB 49 would allow for private, home gaming.
- SB 5 would increase the subtraction modification for retirees.
- SB 7 would expand prevailing wage law to all public school construction.
- SB 11 Universal Voter Registration Act. See similar bill SB 19.
- SB 44 would require correctional officers or law enforcement officers to restrain inmates while transported in motor vehicles.
- SB 52 would remove liability for breaking into a motor vehicle to secure an unattended minor under 8 years.
- HB 1 would prohibit State License Plates from displaying the Confederate Flag.
- SB 26 State Tartan
- SB 27 State Duck
- SB 39 would alter the State Motto.
- SB 49 would replace the State Song.
Although today was boring in terms of legislation, there were many exciting activities for legislators to do. Here are some of the lobbyists that invited the legislators to join them:
- Alexander & Cleaver (Their Office)
- Maryland State Education Association (Their Office)
- Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, Beer Wholesalers, and Distributors (Calvert House)
- G.S. Proctor Association (Vida Taco Bar)
- US Oncology (Their Office)
Today was the equivalent of “Home Coming” for the legislators, and there will be little business this week. Over the next two weeks, most of the staff will be busy drafting legislation for the legislators to submit while caucuses and committees will participate in general briefings. On Friday, I will break down the legislation submitted this week and look to what issues will dominate this session.