Final tally in record year: 890 bills passed, 142 already law

In a record year in which 3,127 bills and joint resolutions were introduced, 890 bills or 28% were passed and 142 have already become laws, most of them (114) in Tuesday’s bill signing. At the signing ceremony, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continued to tout bipartisan cooperation and the contrast with Washington inaction, a theme he plans to carry through his reelection campaign in heavily Democratic Maryland.

Gallery: A cold and cloudy final day of a four-year term

It was the coldest final day of the Maryland General Assembly that anyone could remember. Sine Die (sign-ee die) in State House speak is usually warm and sunny. For at least nine senators and 29 delegates, it will be the last session in their current posts. Here is a gallery of photos to give a flavor of the day.

Guest Opinion: Debtors’ prisons still exist in Maryland

The Maryland Constitution – and 80 years of state case law – make clear that a person cannot be jailed for disobeying an order to pay money based on a debt. Yet, debtors’ prisons continue to exist in our state. Legislation (SB 1050/HB 1081) to eliminate debtors prisons in Maryland has passed the Senate but is currently awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

Across-the-board opposition to Hogan’s $5.6 billion Amazon incentive, but bill passes House

Opposition from lawmakers was across the board Wednesday as a final vote took place in the House of Delegates to ultimately approve a $5.6 billion tax incentive package to lure to Montgomery County. While Montgomery County’s House delegation voted unanimously to approve the measure, legislators from other areas of the state — Republicans and Democrats alike — had nothing nice to say about the bill. Many called it a job killer for small businesses.

Bill would provide Internet users in Md. with privacy protection and net neutrality; dies in Senate

Maryland may soon join other states that are putting consumer protections in place to allow residents to determine which personal data Internet service providers may use, while ensuring they’re treated equally regardless of they use the Internet. A bill sponsored by Del. Bill Frick, D-Montgomery, scheduled for a final House vote this week would require Internet service providers to give their customers an opt-in choice before using their personal information for marketing and other third-party uses. The bill would also reset the net neutrality rule requiring Internet providers to treat all customers equally when it comes to Internet speed and fees, a response to the FCC’s 2017 deregulation.

Guest Opinion: Comprehensive crime bill will take us back decades

Caryn York responds to Gov. Larry Hogan’s Sun op-ed on the comprehensive crime bill. She says the bill was rushed, and contains mandatory minimums that will again lead to mass incarceration, contradicting last year’s Justice Reinvestment Act which both she and the governor supported.

School construction funding fight is part of ongoing drive to strip power from the governor

Maryland’s governor has long been considered one of the most powerful in the country, mainly because of his control over spending and appointments. The Maryland General Assembly has for decades sought to chip away at the governor’s power, mainly through spending mandates and other legal restraints. Last week’s action in the Senate and House to pass a new mandate on school construction and take the governor out of the decisions on what schools should be funded is just another chapter in that ongoing drive to shift the balance of power.