A Senate bill to address “predatory” toll penalties, technical problems with transponders and poor customer service at E-ZPass will die in the Senate Finance Committee this session, its chairman said Tuesday, along with a watered down House version that delegates supported unanimously on Monday. Instead, Senate Finance Committee Chair Thomas “Mac” Middleton said he is holding off legislation for a year to give the Maryland Transportation Authority time to improve customer service and pursue new contracts with vendors to operate Maryland’s toll system.
The Maryland Senate on Friday adopted the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act to monitor congressional plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that could cost the state billions to maintain current coverage.
Starting next year live C-Span style deliberations of the Maryland House and Senate could be televised and live streamed during the last two weeks of each session, under a provision in a bill to support Maryland Public Television should Congress cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as President Trump has proposed.
A bill that would give in-state tuition rates to AmeriCorp volunteers who’ve served all their hours in Maryland passed the House of Delegates, 86-50, on Thursday in a party line vote. Republicans objected that residents could be bumped from admission to Maryland colleges to give in-state slots to non-residents.
As the cost of college has skyrocketed, students and parents could soon get relief on expensive textbooks under the Textbook Cost Savings Act of 2017 that would provide funding to develop free open source learning materials.“The state is moving rapidly towards free textbooks online,” said the bill’s sponso rSen. Jim Rosapepe, D-Prince George’s, in an interview. “If the bill passes it will be state policy that we want to move in that direction as much as possible.”
Maryland retailers are again pushing for the state to collect sales taxes from online merchants not based in Maryland, helping them and potentially raising hundreds of millions for the state. Brick and mortar stores are struggling to compete with online sellers in other states, retail business interests testified in Annapolis on Wednesday in support of the Main Street Fairness Act of 2017.
The fight for a $15 minimum wage went before the House Economic Matters Committee on Tuesday — and not all businesses are opposed to this national push for higher pay. But others wondered how they would pay for the hike which would also cost state government $126 million.
A bill to pre-fund future pension and health insurance liabilities for state workers passed overwhelmingly in the House of Delegates last week in a 130-5 vote — and now waits in the Senate Budget and Tax Committee for a hearing. The bill, HB28, sponsored by Del. Carol Krimm, D-Frederick, would require 50% of the general fund balance in excess of $10 million be split equally between the pension system and the Postretirement Health Benefits Trust Fund, up to $25 million for each fund.
A bill to require Best Available Technology (BAT) for all new construction on septic everywhere in Maryland is struggling to survive in the Senate.
The bill, SB266, sponsored by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City, would establish a 2012 regulation issued under former Gov. Martin O’Malley into law that required BAT systems for all new construction in the state, even beyond the critical areas. Gov. Larry Hogan killed the O’Malley-era regulation last summer and limited BAT system requirements to the critical areas only.
Responding to fears about how President Trump and a runaway constitutional convention might tamper with the U.S. Constitution, Democrats at the State House are moving closer to rescinding decades-old calls for a constitutional convention to deal with issues of the day. A Senate resolution that would “rescind, repeal, cancel, void, nullify, and supersede” four historical applications to the U.S. Congress for a convention was adopted in the Senate on Thursday. Republicans fought in vain for an amendment to keep the 1975 call for a balanced budget open for seven years.