Election-year session ends with an eye on November

Image via Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Overhauling state tax code in response to sweeping federal tax cuts, bolstering school safety after a shooting at a Southern Maryland high school and stabilizing health insurance markets in the wake of Congressional action were just a few of the myriad policy decisions the Maryland General Assembly addressed in 2018 during the 90-day legislative session.

A 2018 legislative obituary: Weed legalization, a ban on Styrofoam, gerrymandering and more

Photo by Kevin Galens, via Flickr

Many lawmakers this morning are praising the now-concluded 2018 Maryland General Assembly session as a productive one. By the time the clock struck midnight last night, both houses had passed bills that, with the governor’s signature, would ban bump stocks and LGBT conversion therapy, shore up the market for Obamacare, revoke parental rights for rapists, ramp up school security and expand the state’s medical cannabis industry with 20 new licenses.

Specifically for Baltimore, politicians in Annapolis also passed legislation to protect more (but not all) residents from water lien tax sales, expand Safe Streets (as well as introduce regressive new mandatory minimum sentences) and form a commission to probe corruption by convicted Gun Trace Task Force officers.

But even with that sample flurry of legislative activity from the last 90 days, a number of high-profile bills floundered. We’re here this morning not to celebrate, but rather to pay our respects to the proposals that didn’t escape the State House.

General Assembly passes bill expanding state’s medical cannabis industry with 20 new licenses

Photo by Sam Sutch, via Wikimedia Commons

Maryland’s medical marijuana pipeline is set for growth—and hopefully, more equitable racial representation–following the Senate’s passage of a bill Monday that would create 20 new growing or processing licenses and update the business-application process to account for race.

Md. Senate advances moratorium on tax lien sales for Baltimore homeowners and renters (but not churches)

Photo by Martin Falbisoner, via Wikimedia Commons

The Maryland Senate has advanced a newly amended bill that, for the next two years, would bar Baltimore City from auctioning off residents’ homes—renters included—at tax sale due to water bill-related debts of $750 or more.

Baltimore lawmakers back Senate bill that would ban water lien tax sales, but advocates worry it will be stripped down

Photo by Ángelo González

Baltimore’s Senate delegation has decided not to support a House bill that would protect residents from having their homes and churches sold at auction due to water bill-related debt, instead backing a Senate bill that was originally amended to offer the same protections, but is now said to be under threat of being stripped down.

Hogan vetoes cut to board’s school-construction oversight

Gov. Larry Hogan holds up the vetoed legislation during the Board of Public Works meeting. Image via Facebook.

By Katherine Brzozowski
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would strip the state’s Board of Public Works of its power to oversee school construction funding, and was particularly aimed to take power away from Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat.

Maryland Advocacy Day: Students Take Action in Annapolis


Hello, my name is Zach Pearlstone and I am a part of STAC which stands for Students Taking Action for Change. Leading up to this year’s Advocacy Day in Annapolis, our group attended monthly sessions at the Owing Mills JCC where we practiced public speaking and other advocating techniques.

With time waning, legislators stall on proposal to ban water lien tax sales in Baltimore


With less than a week left in Maryland’s 2018 legislative session, water-rights advocates are growing restless about the fate of proposed legislation that would ban sales of Baltimoreans’ properties at auction due to water bill-related debt.

Hogan, ACLU reach settlement on social media protocol

Image via Facebook

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and state Board of Public Works have agreed to a settlement on how Gov. Larry Hogan can use social media after the civil rights group sued the governor’s office to argue Hogan had suppressed free speech by deleting Facebook posts that disagreed with his views.

Franchot vows to fight on after committee rejects beer bill

Comptroller Peter Franchot hoists a beer with Maryland brewers. Image courtesy of Comptroller Peter Franchot/Facebook.

Last Friday, Comptroller Peter Franchot’s bill to loosen regulations on the state’s craft brewers, the Reform on Tap Act, failed to escape the House Committee on Economic Matters. And it wasn’t close, with the vote going 17-4 against.

But the committee did pass another measure establishing a task force to see if the comptroller’s office should maintain oversight of the state’s alcohol industry. The House of Delegates passed that bill yesterday by a vote of 128-10.