The Maryland General Assembly passed more than 660 bills during the 2020 legislative session — which the global outbreak of the coronavirus cut short. Most of the bills are now headed directly to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk.
Below is a summary of some of the major bills:
HB001/SB001-Built to Learn Act of 2020 – Provides more than $2 billion over the next five years for school construction and renovation throughout the state. The legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue revenue bonds that are backed by annual payments from the Education Trust Fund.
HB004/SB0208-Public Safety-Rifles and Shotguns-Sales, Rentals and Transfers– Requires a background check for the secondary transfer of “long guns,” such as rifles and shotguns. The legislation provides exceptions for certain temporary transfers. Penalties for violation include up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
HB1661/SB1079-State Budget-Revenue Stabilization Account Transfers-Coronavirus-Emergency legislation that authorizes the governor to transfer by budget amendment up to $50 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” to various state agencies to respond to the virus. The legislation expires on June 30, 2021. (Signed by the governor.)
HB1300/SB1000-Blueprint for Maryland’s Future-Implementation– Provides for a sweeping overhaul of the state’s education system per the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. The legislation is projected to cost about $32 billion over the next decade.
HB0037/SB0145-Election Law-References to Absentee Voting in Communications-Main-In Voting– Alters references to to absentee voting. It requires the State Board of Elections and local election boards to designate absentee ballots as “mail-in ballots” and absentee voting as “mail-voting.” The legislation takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
HB1444/SB0531-Discrimination-Definition of Race-Hair Texture and Styles– Bans discrimination against people with hairstyles that are often associated with certain racial groups. However, the law does require employees to adhere to “reasonable workplace appearance and grooming standards” applicable to the specified profession.
HB1260/SB1043-Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Funding– Provides a total of $577 million to Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities from FY 2022 to FY 2031. The legislation goes into effect July 1, 202o; however some of its provisions are contingent upon the completion of a final settlement agreement in a lawsuit.
HB005/SB0161-Crimes-Hate Crimes-Use of an Item or a Symbol to Threaten or Intimidate– Prohibits the placement or inscription of threatening symbols or items such as a swastika or noose on public or private property without the express permission of the owner(s) of the property. Penalties for violation include up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
HB0233/SB0212-Criminal Law-Assault in the First Degree-Strangulation– Expands the definition of felony first-degree assault to include intentional strangulation. Penalties for violation include up to 25 years in prison.
HB0231/SB0530-Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act– Prohibits residential discrimination on the basis of the source of income used to pay rent.
HB0125/SB0148-Board of Public Works-Land Acquisition Requirements– Requires the Board of Public Works to consult with the Legislative Policy Committee before approving the acquisition of property worth $500,000 or more. The bill provides exceptions for land the state acquires for preservation and conservation purposes. The legislation goes into effect June 1, 2020.
HB0250/SB0227-Peace Orders and Protective Orders-Extension– Would make petitions to extend a final order already in place automatic if the hearing for the extension is not held by the time the original order expires.