The Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Wednesday, March 18. There is a possibility of a Special Session in late May. Hopefully not, but we will send you any information as it becomes available.
MFRW most sincerely thanks our Republican Senators and Delegates who stood up for the most vulnerable and fought to protect us as taxpayers from the excesses of Kirwan and many other issues. They worked tirelessly for all of us against overwhelming odds.
A huge “Thank You” to all of you who made calls and sent e-mails and attended and testified at hearings. MFRW’s efforts together with those of numerous groups and coalitions and our Republican legislators kept major “bad” bills from passing. These include:
SB 89 – Voting Systems must accommodate Ranked Choice Voting – FAILED.
All of the anti-immigration enforcement bills FAILED – including HB 403.
The two horrific anti-life bills FAILED – SB 664 – Declaration of Rights – Right to Privacy and
SB 703 (HB 643) – Assisted Suicide.
HB 1400 – Cannabis Legalization, Taxation and Regulation FAILED.
Unfortunately, the people of Maryland will have to deal with expanded sales taxes under HB 932 – Digital advertising and downloads (e-books, music, movies & streaming TV services) and increased taxes on tobacco and vaping products to pay for the first 5 years of Kirwan implementation.
The “sleeper” bill for 2020– SB 1028, a Constitutional Amendment “To balance the State Budget” passed on the last day. It sat in the Senate B&T Committee from February 14 until March 17 and passed 2nd & 3rd Reading in the Senate on March 17. On March 18, the House Appropriations Committee had a hearing at 9:30 a.m. (watch the video at http://mgaleg.maryland.gov. Go to media – committee APP and 3/18). Before 11 a.m. the bill passed the committee; and 2nd and 3rd readings all done on 3/18. Speedy, speedy when the Majority wants it.
What is this bill about? It is all about power. The Maryland Constitution already requires a “balanced budget” as it states “the figure for the total of all estimated appropriations shall not exceed the figure for total estimated revenues.” This Constitutional Amendment is deceptive in its title and wording. As Delegate Acevero said at the Committee hearing “The Legislature shall have the power of the purse.”
“We identify the money and we set the priorities.” Another Delegate complained that the Governor holds back money.
While this bill will not affect Governor Hogan as the effective date is for the 2024 budget, if SB 1028 is approved by the voters it will change the balance of power between the Governor and the Legislature on the budget. Maryland has a “strong” Governor budget process. The Legislature can only cut or reduce a budget item for the Executive Department. This bill enables them to also ADD new budget items and increase budget items in the Executive Department’s budget. They will be able to re-order the priorities by re-allocating money to other areas. SB 1028 will also allow the Legislature to ADD items to their own and the Judiciary budgets as well. No need to negotiate with the Governor – just increase or add new items on their own. You only have to look at Kirwan funding to realize that fiscal restraint is not the Legislature’s strong point.
While not stated, SB 1028 will greatly increase the power of the Legislature’s “Big 3” delegations’ – Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore—power to push through their legislative and funding priorities.
The Governor cannot veto the budget as passed by the General Assembly. Two sections of SB 1028 appear to be in conflict with each other. Article II, Section 17 lays out limited conditions under which the Governor can veto additions or increases in items in the Executive Department budget, even while Article III, Section 52 states that “When passed by both Houses, the Budget Bill shall be a law immediately without further action by the Governor.” However, the bill’s fiscal note states that “the Office of Counsel to the General Assembly advises that line-items can still be vetoed.”
WE MUST DEFEAT THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN NOVEMBER.
MFRW Legislative Chairman
Click below to view/download the Legislative Committee’s Weekly Update