State Policy Update

March 23, 2016

By Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director, Maryland Nonprofits 

Taxes

The efforts of those opposing the tax rate reductions included by the Senate in SB 840 for upper-income levels continues. Thank you to those who have signed onto the letter of opposition so far. Starting today, there is an online sign-on page where both organizations and individuals can sign on directly. We are encouraging folks to sign on to that letter (takes a minute or two). But if you can spare maybe five more minutes to help stop a threat to future funding of education, infrastructure, health and other services, please contact your representatives in the House of Delegates and ask them NOT to accept the tax cuts for income over $100,000 that the Senate added to a bill about the EITC for the working poor. (phone calls from constituents really count)

The House has passed two additional tax-related proposals from the Augustine Commission; HB 1254 providing for a corporate tax ‘repatriation holiday’, and HB 1252 requiring all multi-state corporations to apportion taxable income to Maryland based on the “single sales factor” method. The Senate has passed SB 843, an Augustine Commission recommendation, expanding the number of tax credits subject to review and evaluation, and terminating several incentive tax credit programs. (no action by either House on the cross-files)

Below is a quick recap of legislation we are supporting or watching that has moved from at least one house as of the 22nd:

Transportation

As mentioned before, most of the ‘transportation reform’ package has moved from the House – House Bill 1013 (rating projects by objective criteria and opening the decision-making process), and House Bill 1012 (improving tax credits for employer provide commuter benefits) are now pending in Senate Budget and Tax.

House Bill 1010 (establishing an oversight board for the MTA) has passed the House and is now in Senate Finance.

However
the Senate has not moved the cross-files of either HB 1013 or HB 1012.

Both House Bill 891 and Senate Bill 1035 (repealing the MTA fare-box policy requirement) remain in their respective original committees.

Open Government Priorities

House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 370, requiring advance public notice of any Board of Public Works reductions to the enacted Budget Bill, have ‘crossed’ with slightly differing provisions. ‘Second house’ hearings held on 3/22. Approval of a compromise version in some form, with a requirement that advance disclosure of reductions

be
in a computer searchable format, is expected.

The other Marylanders for Open Government (MDOG) priority legislation, House Bill 1088 and Senate Bill 754, establishing requirements for training, enforcement and annual reporting under the Open Meetings Act, have not moved from Committee, but a comparable bill – House Bill 823 has moved to the Senate. Related bills moving are:

  • House Bill 984 and Senate Bill 17, extending

    time
    for retention of meeting minutes and requiring online posting in certain cases, have crossed in

    similar
    form
  • House Bill 217, requiring advance disclosure of agendas for public meetings, has passed the House

Voting

House Bill 1008 requires increased early voting centers in larger counties, and authorizes an additional center in counties under 125,000 in population, and has passed the House.

House Bill 1009 creates a task force to study increased voter

participation,
and has passed the House.

House Bill 1007, as amended and passed by the House, requires the establishment of electronic voter registration systems at several state agencies, provides that all clients be offered the opportunity to register or re-register, and also designates the MVA and Maryland Health Benefit Exchange as “automatic voter registration agencies” to transmit information from eligible clients directly to the State Election Board for registration.

Charities

Senate Bill 10 raises the threshold, in

the amount of
contributions received, that require submission of an audit with annual charity registration from $500,000 to $750,000. As amended and passed by the House, also raises the threshold for a financial review from $200,000 to $300,000. Heard in Senate Judicial Proceedings 3/16 and pending action.

House Bill 1182 clarifies the activities that require registration as “fundraising counsel” by excluding certain activities performed by independent contractors in connection with fund-raising. Passed the House and heard 3/22 in Senate Judicial Proceedings.

House Bill 1488 and Senate Bill 909

create
the Maryland Corps Program to enable selected high school graduates (or GED recipients) to receive stipends for service with nonprofit or government agencies addressing social needs in

communities,
and to receive scholarship assistance if they successfully complete nine months service.
Both bills have passed the house of origin and are pending in the second house. 

Health Related

House Bill 1318 & Senate Bill 929 would require standards to be set for adequacy of health insurance provider networks and criteria for network directories. Bills have passed their original houses in comparable form. 

Senate Bill 413 and House Bill 1499 require the Developmental Disabilities Administration to do reporting and mandates appropriations to provide services for clients in an urgent need ‘crisis resolution category. Senate Bill 413 has passed the Senate and is pending in the House Health and Government Operations Committee, with HB 1499 that has had no action.

House Bill 420 and Senate Bill 417 restrict the circumstances in which work activities centers and sheltered workshops may be allowed to pay persons with developmental disabilities less than the state minimum wage. Both bills have passed their house of origin with amendments and are pending in the opposite house.

Senate Bill 497 and House Bill 595 (“Keep the Door Open Act”) mandate the funding of inflationary reimbursement rate increases for community behavioral health service providers. SB 497 has passed the Senate and is in the House Health and Government Operations Committee, where HB 595 is still pending.

Senate Bill 758 and House Bill 445 require the State to ensure that all households receiving federally funded benefits under the food stamp program receive a minimum benefit of $30 per month by providing a supplemental benefit if necessary. Both bills have passed the house of origin and have hearing dates set in the second house – HB 445 on 3/31, SB 758 on 3/29.

*Senate Bill 304 and House Bill 423, to establish a Task Force to develop a procedure to ensure that health concerns are addressed in all major policy decision-making, do not expect action – advocates are already discussing alternative approaches to a legislated task force.

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