FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Annapolis, MD. (Saturday, April 9, 2023) – Delegate Jeffrie Long Jr. releases his end of session letter after the House adjourned sine die.
It's an honor to come to you and give my final report on the 445th legislative Session in Maryland. I couldn't be happier to share some of the fantastic work accomplished throughout this legislative session. Before I start, I'd like to thank you, the constituents of legislative District 27B, for your unwavering commitment and support throughout this long and tedious legislative process as we all learn what legislating is like in the state of Maryland and for allowing me to serve this wonderful community of Southern Prince Georges, and Northern Calvert County. We have one of the most diverse districts in opinion and issues and keeping our feet to the fire by allowing us to understand some of the issues you hold near and dear to your hearts.
We started strong on January 11th, we knew we wouldn't be able to change the trajectory of the state of Maryland, but we tried our best to consider everyone's opinion, Democrats and Republicans, to get diverse opinions on bills going through the general assembly I've always stayed true to my promise of listening to everyone who emailed, called, or even came to our office in Annapolis to let their voices be heard during this historic legislative session.
During this legislative session, we have made strides in essential areas such as education, healthcare, economic development, and public safety. Our focus has been to promote policies that will create opportunities for all and ensure no one is left behind.
It has been a privilege serving as your state delegate during this legislative session. I am proud of the work we have accomplished and the progress we have made toward creating a better Maryland for all. Thank you once again for your support and engagement throughout this process. I look forward to continuing to work together toward a brighter future for our community and our state.
You in Excellence,
Delegate Jeffrie E. Long, Jr.
Delegate Jeffrie E. Long, Jr.
2023 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
HB 556 Cannabis Reform
House Bill 556 creates an equitable licensing, tax, and regulation framework for the new cannabis industry. The bill incorporates the best recreational cannabis practices from other states and learned lessons from the Maryland medical cannabis implementation. The legislation allows license seekers to apply for a combined medical and recreational adult-use license. It includes a low tax rate that will help discourage an illicit market while still helping fund support for social equity applicants and traditionally disenfranchised communities. And it creates a more equitable application process to give social equity applicants, those who were disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, an equal opportunity to compete for licenses including
• low application fees,
• priority consideration in the licensing process,
• state provided technical services and
• targeted grants and loans to help jumpstart new businesses.
HB 200 Budget Bill (Fiscal Year 2024)
This year's budget secures our state's financial future while continuing to make critical investments in Maryland’s economy as well as our transportation, education, technological, infrastructure, and physical and behavioral health sectors to support working Marylanders and their families.
• funds continued cost of living raises so we can provide competitive salaries and recruit and retain great workers as we seek to rebuild state government and fill record vacancies across our state agencies;
• continues to make record investments in public education so every student has a chance to succeed;
• includes new behavioral health investments so we can better address the mental health crisis in Maryland;
• makes continued investments in enhancing the child tax credit and expanding other benefits that support Marylanders in need to lift families out of poverty and support our working families; and
• prioritizes the development and utilization of renewable energy and other important steps to reach our goal of a clean, sustainable environment.
HB 547 (SPEAKER) Family Prosperity Act of 2023
House Bill 547 will reduce childhood poverty and help Maryland families by making the 2021 expansion of Maryland’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) permanent. It expands the state’s Child Tax Credit to cover taxpayers with children 5 and under who have a federally adjusted gross income of $15,000 or less. The bill retains the existing credit for children older than 6, which only applies to children with disabilities and removes the $530 cap for adults without qualifying children.
HB 552 (SPEAKER) Economic Development – Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program and Fund (Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act of 2023
House Bill 552 establishes the Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program within the state Department of Commerce to better support technology projects, develop innovation infrastructure and bring needed jobs across the state. The program will leverage state dollars for grants to businesses, local governments, non-profits, and academic institutions for infrastructure and technology programs. The bill pairs with the existing Innovation Investment Tax Credit (IITC) and Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit (BIITC) to expand access to capital and bring about significant tech-driven investment in Maryland.
HB 16 (J. Lewis) Hear Our Voices Act
House Bill 16 improves access to Title IX resources by requiring each public school to provide information to students, faculty, staff, and parents regarding who serves as the Title IX coordinator for the school, the process in place for filing a sexual misconduct complaint, and the support measures that are in place for filing a sexual misconduct complaint and how to access the support measures. This will help better protect students from and improve the response to sexual discrimination or misconduct in schools.
HB 384/ SB 248 (Smith/Kramer) Institutions of Higher Education – Transcripts – Prohibition on Punitive
House Bill 384 prevents colleges and universities from withholding transcripts because of outstanding debt. Withholding transcripts prevent students from getting jobs or submitting applications to further their education. This bill will allow us to find fairer practices for recovering student debt.
HB 448 - Nonpublic Education - Placements of Children with Disabilities - Teacher Salaries (Teacher Pay Parity Act)
House Bill requires a nonpublic school in which a child receiving special education services is placed to pay its teachers a salary that is equivalent to the local school salaries, phased in as specified over three years, beginning in 2025. These teachers are public school funded and should be paid the same salary as their counterparts who teach in public schools.
HB 770 (Atterbeary) Blueprint for Maryland's Future - Publicly Funded Prekindergarten, Maryland Consortium on Coordinated Community Supports, and Career Ladder – Alterations
House Bill 770 works to achieve the goals of the Blueprint to ensure that every child has access to high-quality prekindergarten. It expands access to full-day prekindergarten for more students in need by allowing homeless students, income-eligible students with disabilities and income-eligible students who come from a home in which English is not the primary spoken language to qualify for free full-day pre-K.
HB 1219 (SPEAKER) Maryland Educator Shortage Act of 2023
House Bill 1219 addresses the record vacancies in Maryland’s schools by establishing the Teacher Development and Retention Program as a pilot program to encourage college students to pursue teaching careers. The pilot program will help recruit more diverse teachers by providing stipends for students enrolled in a teacher preparation program at certain HBCUs. The bill also enhances existing programs to recruit and retain new educators, including expanding existing teacher scholarships and reforming the way we qualify childcare providers.
SB 610 (M. Washington) Primary and Secondary Education - Virtual Education
Senate Bill 610 puts guardrails around how virtual schools operate in Maryland and expands computer and Internet security infrastructure for virtual education. This will better equip the State for high-quality virtual education when remote learning is required.
SB 959 Higher Education - Maryland 529 Program – Reform
Senate Bill 959 reforms the Maryland 529 Program to address the program’s ongoing issues. It transfers the administration of 529 program to the Treasurer. That includes all the duties of the existing board, the transfer of the employees – with all their benefits and seniority and all other powers and duties of the existing program and board. The bill also phases out the pre-paid plan completely by prohibiting any new pre-paid accounts starting June 1.
HB 1200 (D. Jones) Election Judge Pay Increase
House Bill 1200 requires counties to pay election judges at least $250 or more per day. Under the bill as amended, returning judges will receive an additional $100, setting the floor for returning judges at $350 minimum.
Election judges are the backbone of our democracy. As voting methods, such as mail-in, become more popular the workload for judges continues to increase. This bill will help recruit and retain election judges to keep the election system continue working efficiently.
HB 9 (Ruth) Transportation Equity
House Bill 9 requires the Maryland Transportation Plan to prioritize ways to achieve equity in transportation when developing overall transportation goals. The department will now be required to develop guidelines, equity analysis policies, and report on the impacts on riders with disabilities and minority groups who may be adversely affected by current transportation policies. This legislation was vetoed by former Governor Hogan last year.
HB 123 (Fraser-Hidalgo) Vehicle Laws – HOV Lanes-Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles
House Bill 123 extends the state program allowing owners of zero-emission vehicles to buy tags to drive in the HOV lane. This will help encourage more consumers to buy electricity and cut carbon emissions.
HB 169 (Charkoudian) Public Utilities - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs – Energy Performance Targets and Low-Income Housing
House Bill 169 ensures equity in our energy efficiency program by investing state and federal funds to support weatherization for low-income families who struggle most to pay their utility bills. This bill was passed in both houses last year vetoed by the governor.
HB723 (Love) Natural Resources – Forest Preservation and Retention Passed the House
House Bill 723 modernizes our forest preservation strategy, updating forest goals and definitions to provide clarity and reflect new data. The bill stipulates that all development projects must proceed with no net loss of trees and reauthorizes the practice of forest mitigation banking to achieve this goal. It also ensures local governments significantly greater flexibility to pursue solutions that meet local needs and advance
HB 793/SB781 (Charkoudian) Offshore Wind Energy – State Goals and Procurement (Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act)
House Bill 793 increases Maryland's offshore wind capacity and directs the state to find solutions related to transmitting offshore energy to land. To support our transition to a clean energy economy, the rapid deployment of renewable energy and investments in infrastructure must be prioritized. This bill supports the expansion of offshore wind power by setting an offshore wind goal of 8.5 GW by 2031, initiating a state process to build coordinated transmission infrastructure, and investing in the full build-out of the existing offshore wind lease areas.
HB 908 (Clippinger) Electricity
Community Solar Energy Generating Systems Program and Property Taxes establish an equitable community solar program to increase access to renewable energy. Community-based, innovative solutions like community solar are critical to diversifying our energy portfolio. Makes the community solar pilot program permanent with equitable access to renewable energy.
HB 279/SB 202 (Cullison) – Prescription Drug Affordability Board - Upper Payment Limits
House Bill 279 removes the sunset to allow the first-in-the-nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board to continue its work to help lower the cost of prescription drugs for Marylanders.
HB 283/SB 460 (Kaiser. M. Washington) Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Gender Affirming Treatment (Trans Health Equity Act)
House Bill 283 is a healthcare equity bill that brings Maryland into compliance with existing federal legal nondiscriminatory standards on the provision of comprehensive healthcare coverage. It ensures Maryland Medicaid offers the same comprehensive healthcare coverage to the transgender community as private insurers. HB 283 reduces the significant health inequities for low-income Marylanders in the transgender community who cannot afford/access private commercial insurance, and it prevents state officials from interfering with the patient-provider and/or patient-parent-provider relationship. This is low-cost, high-impact legislation that will increase mental well-being, reduce suicidality, and save lives.
HB 376 (Sample-Hughes) Health Insurance – Diagnostic and Supplemental Examinations for Breast Cancer – Cost–Sharing
House Bill 376 prohibits health insurers and providers from imposing a copayment for diagnostic breast examinations. Although screening mammograms are covered by health insurance, when those results indicate an abnormality, the next step is diagnostic imaging and other expensive tests. Far too often, the high cost of the follow-up tests prevents people from scheduling that vital appointment, as the average out-of-pocket cost for diagnostic imaging range from $240-$1000. House Bill 376 ensures that insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that provide coverage for diagnostic and supplemental breast examinations cannot impose a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible requirement for the follow-up examination.
HB 239 (J. Long) Accessory Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force
This bill establishes the Accessory Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force to survey and document State and local laws regarding the development and operation of accessory dwelling units in areas zoned for single-family residential use; requiring the Task Force to study available best practices for streamlining or standardizing the application process for permits for accessory dwelling units; requiring the Task Force to report its findings and legislative or policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by June 1, 2024; etc.
HB 23 (Stewart) Protections for Mobile Home Park Residents
House Bill 23 protects residents of mobile home parks by ensuring that a potential buyer commits to the housing security of the residents and allows the residents to match an offer to buy their community. The bill also combats efforts by venture capital firms to buy these communities, increase the rent, and push residents out to redevelop the property for profit. This bill requires the buyer of a mobile home park to sign a sworn statement that says the buyer will allow the land to continue as is for at least five years after the purchase is finalized and that rent will not increase more than 10% per year for the first three years. Additionally, if a buyer does not sign the statement, the current community owner must allow the individual homeowners the opportunity to buy the community, by submitting an offer within 60 days which is substantially similar to the offer already accepted. This bill also expands relocation assistance eligibility by reducing the number of sites needed to close in a mobile home park from 38 to 10 to trigger assistance.
HB 36 (Lehman) Proof of Rental Licensure
House Bill 36 requires a landlord to have the rental license required by their county before they can go to court to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, tenant holding over, or breach of lease. A landlord may be exempted from this requirement if they can show the court that the tenant is causing the lack of licensure or by administrative error.
HB 151 (Wells) Notification of Rent Increase
House Bill 151 requires a landlord to tell a tenant about an upcoming rent increase. For leases over a month, the landlord must notify at least 90 days before and for a month-to-month lease, a landlord must notify at least 60 days before increasing the rent. A landlord can notify a tenant by mail, or a tenant can opt-in to electronic notification. This type of basic notification will help renters make better housing decisions and budget more effectively.
TAXES AND BENEFITS
HB 554/SB 554 (SPEAKER, PRESIDENT) Income Tax – Subtraction Modification for Military Retirement Income (Keep Our Heroes Home Act)
House Bill 554 expands the state’s existing tax exemption for military retirement income to encourage more of our military veterans to retire here at home in Maryland. Currently, retirees under age 55 may be exempt up to $5,000 of military retirement income, and retirees over age 55 may be exempt up to $15,000. The legislation would eliminate the age distinction and allow for the exemption of up to $25,000 for the taxable year beginning after December 31, 2022, and $40,000 for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023
HB 988/SB 828 (Qi/Hayes) Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Modifications
House Bill 988 implements the milestone legislation Time to Care Act for paid Family and Medical Leave that was passed last year. The critical modifications in this bill allow Maryland to begin providing the needed time off and partial wage recovery, through the state-administered insurance program (the FAMLI fund) funded by both employers and employees, that our workers and families need to care for their newborn children or ailing family members. The bill improves the administration of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program by clarifying and altering certain provisions relating to the administration of the Program.
HB 982 (SPEAKER) State Employees – Programs and Scholarships for Human Services Careers and Probation Agents and State Contributions to Supplemental Retirement Plans
House Bill 982 supports our state workers and institutes targeted programs to fill needed positions, as we work to lower the historic vacancy rate in our state government. The bill restores the annual supplemental retirement match of $600 for all participating state employees. For employees who make at least $600 in contributions to their retirement or have paid down their student loans by at least $600, the State will contribute $600 to their retirement. Restoring the supplemental retirement match will help provide relief for those with crushing student loan debt and help them save for future retirement. The bill also creates a program to fill front-line positions at our Department of Human Services by working in partnership with local school systems and community colleges to fill jobs that require a high school degree; the State will then provide tuition assistance and other mentorship opportunities to allow an individual to progress within DHS’s existing personnel structure. Finally, the bill addresses the dangerous vacancy rates at Parole and Probation and the Department of Corrections by providing student loan repayment assistance for our parole and probation agents, who are required to have 4–year degrees.
SB 555 (President) Fair Wage Act
Senate Bill 555 accelerates Maryland’s $15/hr minimum wage so more workers can earn a living wage. It moves the state’s $15 minimum wage up from its January 1, 2025 timeline to January 1, 2024.
LEGISLATIVE BOND INITIATIVE
Dee’s House of Hope $100,000 (Sen. Jackson, Del. J. Long)
During this Legislative session, Sen. Jackson and I secured $100,000 for Dee's House of Hope, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that offers transitional housing, counseling, and support services to victims of domestic violence in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Dr. DeeDee Freeman founded it to address the lack of housing programs for domestic violence victims. Their mission is to provide comprehensive services to women and children, including counseling, legal services, vocational training, and shelter, to help them live independently and rebuild their lives. Their vision is to create a community where all women are free from the cycle of domestic violence and fear. I couldn't be prouder. Dr. DeeDee chose gorgeous Prince Georges and, more importantly, District 27B for the location of her facility to help women and children.