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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Senator Eckardt Weekly Wrap Up

Senator Addie Eckardt, District 37

Weekly Wrap-Up
January 12, 2018
Governor Hogan FY 2019 Budget
Governor Hogan submitted his budget on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 that holds the line on spending without raising taxes, cutting services, or raiding special funds. The general fund operating budget totals $17.7 billion and prioritizes key areas including education, economic development, public safety, the environment, and healthcare. 

Education continues to be the administration’s top priority; this year, a historic $6.5 billion K-12 budget ensures that every jurisdiction receives more direct aid than ever before. An extra $365 million has been set aside for school construction so that we are able to renovate and better serve our students.

In order to address economic development throughout the state, Governor Hogan’s budget provides $25 million for the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund while also providing $10 million for the two new tax credits established under the 2017 More Jobs for Marylanders Act.

Concerning public safety, Governor Hogan has allocated an additional $13.7 million to the existing $159.3 million dedicated to fighting the state’s heroin/opioid epidemic. Funding is also allocated to local governments and municipalities, Correctional Officers, and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.  

For the first time since 2008, no funding for transfer tax programs, including the environmental initiative Program Open Space, is diverted to the General Fund. This is also the third year in a row that the Hogan administration has fully funded Bay restoration efforts.

The FY 2019 budget addresses the healthcare needs of some of Maryland’s most vulnerable constituents, allocating funding to the Medicaid program, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, Autism Waiver, the Developmental Disabilities Adminsitration, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Governor Hogan Veto Overrides
Governor Hogan vetoed several key pieces of legislation last year. The Governor vetoed HB 1: Labor and Employment—Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, but this veto was overturned. In response, Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order creating the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance; this is intended to assist small businesses in complying with HB 1. While the Governor and I agree that hardworking Marylanders deserve access to paid leave, we believe that this should not be done at the expense of small, local businesses. In response to HB 1, Governor Hogan proposed the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 and the Small Business Relief Tax Credit. It has been suggested that businesses begin implementing a way to track accrual; however, I have been assured that this will not be monitored right now. Please feel free to contact the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance to express any concerns and have your questions answered.

The Governor’s veto on the “ban the box” bill (HB 694) was also overridden; this bill  would prohibit college and university applications from containing questions regarding the criminal history of the applicant. While students deserve a second chance, this bill does not distinguish between nonviolent and violent crimes.

District News
I was honored to recognize four Easton BSA Troop 532 scouts on January 14, 2018 as they attained the rank of Eagle Scout: Michael John Morrell, Brendan Paul Wazniak, David Will Stockman, and Jayke R. Conner.

Congratulations to Cambridge’s Transquaking Farms and Salisbury’s Perdue Family Farm on being recognized by Governor Larry Hogan on January 17, 2018 for having been productive for 100 years.

Thank you to Paige and Brooke Simonsen from Easton who came and spent January 18th in Annapolis with me and my staff. These young ladies are hoping to bring flurescent pink to Maryland as a hunting safety color.  

Co-Sponsored Legislation
Maryland Tax Package
This extensive package, submitted by Governor Hogan, aims to protect hard-working Marylanders from higher state tax bills.

Violent Crime Initiatives
Governor Hogan's legislation combats violent crime in Maryland, addressing truth-in-sentencing, violent gun offenders, and strengthening anti-gang statues.

SB 192: Workgroup on Categories for Funding Priorities in the Annual State Budget
The Workgroup on Categories for Funding Priorities would be established in the Annual State Budget; the purpose of the Workgroup would be to study and make recommendations concerning budgeting models used by state or local governments in the United States. The Workgroup would be required to report its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 31, 2018.

SB 182: Income Tax Credit—Venison Donation—Feed the Hungry Organizations
Through this legislation, an individual would be able to claim a credit against the State income tax for certain qualified expenses if the individual harvests and antlerless deer and donates the deer meat to certain organizations.

SB 196: Public Safety—Handgun Qualification License—Issuance With Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport
This legislation would require the Secretary of State Police to issue a certain handgun qualification license to a person who has been issued a permit to carry, wear or transport a handgun without an additional application or fee.

SJ 1: Exposure of Minors to Pornography—Degradation of Public Health
This legislation would declare that the exposure of minors to pornography and pornographic material as a public health hazard in the State; this leads to the degradation of the health and well-being of State residents as the proliferation of pornography accessible to minors causes certain health effects that affect State institutions and all State residents. 

Scheduled Hearings
SB 171: Talbot County Board of Education—Start Date of Term for Members
January 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm

SB 3: Dorchester County--Hurlock--Alcoholic Beverages--Place-of-Worship or School Distance Restrictions
February 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm

SB 51: Dorchester County--Alcoholic Beverages--Beer and Wine Festivals
February 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm

SB 140: Dorchester County--Alcoholic Beverages--Class C Per Diem Licenses--Catering Club Events
February 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm
I was joined by Delegate Adams and Delegate Mautz as we recognized the four newest Eagle Scouts from BSA Troop 532.
Senator Hershey and I welcomed Paige and Brooke Simonsen to the Senate floor to advocate for flurescent pink to be added as an optional hunter safety color.

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