HUNDREDS OF BILLS PASS ON LAST DAY OF 2023 SESSION: The General Assembly wrapped up its session Monday with a marathon of lawmaking, passing hundreds of bills mostly with ease, though there were spurts of tension right at the midnight deadline, as well as earlier in the day, around proposed laws to control gun ownership and grapple with the impending legalization of recreational cannabis. Hannah Gaskill and Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
- In the end, lawmakers approved the regulatory framework for the sale of recreational cannabis when it becomes legal July 1, passed more restrictive handgun laws over multiple attempts by Republicans to water down the proposals, established a new state authority to oversee thoroughbred horse racing, and expanded the size of the Maryland Stadium Authority board to 11, to include a seat for Prince George’s County. William Zorzi and Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
- “The goal that we have in passing this (gun) bill is not to chip away at Second Amendment rights, as hard as it may be for some minority party members to believe. It’s to reduce gun violence of all kinds: gang violence, mass shootings, self-inflicted gunshots,” said Del. Marc Korman, a Montgomery County Democrat who is the House majority leader. But opponents expressed doubts the measure would stand up to inevitable legal challenges. Brian Witte of the Associated Press/The Cumberland Times News.
REPUBLICAN-LED SHOUTING MATCH AT 11:54 P.M.: After a 90-day session largely devoted to Democratic priorities, the Maryland House of Delegates devolved into a Republican-led shouting match with just six minutes before the General Assembly adjourned for the year. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
- The House of Delegates descended into pandemonium in the final minutes amid a debate over House Bill 1071, which would prohibit police from stopping or searching a person based solely on the odor of cannabis. William Zorzi/Maryland Matters.
- House Speaker Adrienne Jones rejected the pleas of Republicans attempting to speak before a final vote on the bill. A shouting match erupted between Republicans in the back of the House chamber who chose the last minutes of the last floor session to pick a fight over the rules with the speaker. Callan Tansill-Suddath, Brenda Wintrode and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
ON TO THE GOVERNOR’s DESK: 529 FIX; GUN CONTROL; CANNABIS: The Maryland General Assembly passed more than 230 bills on Monday, the final day of the 90-day legislative session. Some of the measures that will come before Gov. Wes Moore include offshore wind expansion, guns in sensitive places and reforming the state’s 529 college savings plans. Danielle Gaines and Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
- Maryland lawmakers moved swiftly between floor sessions and last-minute committee meetings to pass a bill Monday evening that transfers control of a troubled state college savings agency to the office of State Treasurer Dereck Davis 100 minutes before the conclusion of the legislative session. Lia Russell/The Baltimore Sun.
- The Maryland Senate voted Monday evening on a major piece of gun legislation that now heads to the desk of Gov. Wes Moore (D) for his signature. The 31-16 vote on Senate Bill 1, if signed into law, would prohibit the open carry of guns in Maryland and restrict where firearms can be carried to prohibit specific locations such as preschools, stadiums, government buildings and polling places. William Ford/Maryland Matters.
BILL TO EXPAND EMPOWER PROGRAM DIES: A measure meant to modernize the state’s EmPOWER program, which has required utilities and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to offer energy conservation grants to low-income households throughout the state, was allowed to die just hours before the end of the session. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
***BOARD OPENINGS FOR MONTGOMERY AND PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY RESIDENTS: The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has openings for residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties on the ERS Board of Trustees; one vacancy for each county. The term of appointment is July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2026. Anyone interested who is a resident of the county to which they want to represent must submit a Letter of Interest and resume of qualifications, received no later than close of business on April 7, 2023. Visit our website, https://www.mncppc.org/1644/Employees-Retirement-System, for a Board of Trustee Candidate Packet.***
MOORE MEETS SUCCESS IIN FIRST LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Gov. Wes Moore began the year as a brand-new governor with no elected political experience. He’s walking away from his first General Assembly session with most of his priorities passed in some form or another, and with almost all of his appointees confirmed. Pamela Wood and Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.
BAN ON BINDING HOME LISTINGS PASSES: Maryland lawmakers have approved legislation to prohibit exclusive real estate listing agreements that bind homeowners for more than one year. Sophie Kasakove/The Baltimore Banner.
SCENES FROM SINE DIE: The last day of the 90-day Maryland General Assembly session is generally a chaotic affair, as lawmakers go in and out of sessions in their chambers, punctuated by quick and impromptu committee voting sessions. Lobbyists and advocates make last-minute pushes for bills that still hang in the balance. Pamela Wood, Brenda Wintrode and Callan Tansill-Suddath/The Baltimore Banner.
DEL. BARVE TO LEAVE SEAT FOR MARYLAND PSC: Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Dist. 17) is leaving his seat in the Maryland House of Delegates to join Gov. Wes Moore’s administration as a member of the Maryland Public Service Commission. Ginny Bixby/MoCo360.
MOORE, GENERAL ASSEMBLY PUSH FOR OFFSHORE WIND: Maryland leaders are making a big commitment to offshore windmills in an effort to reach state goals increasing the use of renewable energy sources and making the state a leader in the wind energy industry. Both Gov. Wes Moore and the General Assembly are pushing those efforts, with Moore reaffirming the state’s effort to reach 100% of energy supplied by renewable sources by 2035 last month at the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum. Callan Tansill-Suddath/The Baltimore Banner.
- The General Assembly on Monday passed legislation to expand the state’s offshore wind infrastructure and strengthen labor standards in the industry. The Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act, also known as the POWER Act (SB781/HB793), is on its way the desk of Gov. Wes Moore, who has promised to sign the bill. Aliza Worthington/Baltimore Fishbowl.
MO CO PARENTS PUSH AGAINST LGBTQ BOOKS IN READING LIST: Earlier this school year, Maryland’s largest school district revised its curriculum to include a new reading list of books with young LGBTQ characters in an effort to be more inclusive, but the reading list is getting pushback from some families who argue that Montgomery County Public Schools should allow an “opt-out” policy so their children won’t have to read the books or participate in lessons about them. Nicole Asbury/The Washington Post.
OPINION: NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PREDATORY PRIEST: Deep within the litany of outrages by the Catholic Church documented by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General’s report, there is a revelation as shocking as the predatory priests or the religious bureaucracy eager to hide their sins. Nearly four decades ago, the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, led then by Warren B. Duckett, granted immunity to a child abuser. Rick Hutzell/The Baltimore Banner.