2016 Session: Nonprofit Advocacy Update
Blog post by Henry Bogdan, Policy & Advocacy Director, Maryland Nonprofits
This blog series, “2016 Session: Nonprofit Advocacy Update,” shares important information discussed during our weekly policy calls, which will take place every Monday at noon for the duration of the session. Your organization is invited to participate! Dial 712-775-7031 and enter access code 540797 to join in the conversation. For more information, or how to get involved on any of these issues, contact Henry Bogdan, our Director of Policy and Advocacy.
Earned Income Tax Credit – Robin McKinney (MD CASH Campaign) discussed three pending proposals to improve MD’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Governor Hogan has submitted SB 384/HB452 to accelerate an already scheduled increase in MD’s credit from 25% to 28% of the federal EITC. The MD CASH-led coalition of EITC advocates (including Maryland Nonprofits) is seeking passage of SB 294, to expand the EITC benefits for individuals, both in amount and age-eligibility, as well as accelerating the phase-in contained in in the Governor’s proposal. MD CASH has prepared an explanation of this proposal, including an online ‘sign-on’ for support – and we encourage you to join us in supporting Senate Bill 294. Please act soon – SB 294 will be heard next Wednesday (Feb. 17) in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Government Transparency – Damon Effingham of Common Cause MD updated the status of priorities for the Marylanders for Open Government network (aka “MDOG”) of which Maryland Nonprofits is a member. These include:
- House Bill 368/Senate Bill 370 to provide at least some public notice and transparency before the Board of Public Works can approve cuts (up to 25%) of appropriations already approved in the State Budget Bill. These bills are also being heard next week, Feb. 16 in House Appropriations and Feb. 17 in Senate Budget and Taxation.
- Senate Bill 754, to strengthen the powers of the Open Meetings Compliance Board, require more information in the Board’s annual reports, and require training on the Open Meetings law for certain members of public bodies.
- MDOG is also monitoring proposals regarding the status of body-camera video under the Public Information Act – Senate Bill 930, House Bill 947.
Voting – Nancy Soreng of the MD League of Women Voters described Senate Bill 350 that would adopt a system of “automatic voter registration” for Maryland similar to a system now in place in the State of Oregon. Maryland Nonprofits will be supporting SB 350, and the bill is being heard on Feb. 18 in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Contact Nancy for the LWV’s fact sheet on how universal registration works.
Public Health – Raimee Eck, President of the Maryland Public Health Association (MdPHA) described their legislative priorities:
- The Healthy Maryland Initiative for a further increase in Maryland’s tobacco taxes – House Bill 71/Senate Bill 514. HB 71 is being heard next week (Feb. 17) in the House Ways and Means Committee. (Maryland Nonprofits is also supporting and will testify on HB 71)
- The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (House Bill 580/Senate Bill 472) to assure Maryland workers can have time-off to deal with their own or family members’ illness – as a matter of fairness and public health safety.
- Senate Bill 607 to restrict and regulate the use of antibiotics on farm animals for health purposes only
This week Maryland Nonprofits testified in support of House Bill 423, that proposes creation of a Maryland Commission on Health in All Policies, and the use of a “health in all policies framework” to promote the consideration of health outcomes, and of factors that affect the health of Maryland residents, in policy decision-making processes of both government and the private sector. The proposal would include many commonly identified ‘social determinants’ of health among factors to be considered in policy making processes. The Senate version, SB 304, will be heard next week, Feb. 17, in the Senate Finance Committee.
Next week, In addition to bills and hearing mentioned above, Maryland Nonprofits will also be supporting:
- House Bill 353, proposing a major re-structuring of state procurement, in House Health and Government Operations, on Feb 17
- Senate Bill 428, to establish a system for public754 support of candidates in state legislative elections, being heard in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Feb. 18
For more information, or how to get involved on any of these issues, contact Henry Bogdan, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Maryland Nonprofits.
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