From Sen. J.B. Jennings:
Supreme Court Redistricting Watch
Over the summer, a federal court unfortunately ruled by a margin of 2-1 that the state’s 2011 redistricting did not violate the First Amendment rights of the seven Maryland Republicans who filed the suit. The new districts, spearheaded by former Governor Martin O’Malley, directly benefited Democrats across the state. The districts also ensured that Democrats would pick up a new congressional seat in the 6th District which is now held by Congressman Delaney. He defeated Roscoe Bartlett, who held the seat for 20 years prior to the race.
While this decision means that the current congressional map will stay intact for the 2018 midterm elections, an attorney representing the plaintiffs says they will appeal the decision, which will automatically put Maryland’s redistricting maps before the Supreme Court. A similar case, Gill v. Whitford, which pertains to the Wisconsin State Assembly map, is currently before the nation’s highest court. Depending on how the court rules, there could be hope for drastic changes in Maryland’s future electoral maps, and how the legislature draws them.
Efforts during Session 2017 to create a nonpartisan commission to draw congressional and legislative boundaries was once again rejected by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly. In its place, SB 1023, without any Republican support, passed the General Assembly. In this bill, Maryland’s redrawing of congressional boundaries is contingent on the agreement of a Mid-Atlantic regional coalition with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. Simply put, there is no correlation between how Maryland draws its congressional districts and these five other states. SB 1023 was a way for Democrats to say they passed redistricting reform without actually doing anything to fix the problem. Despite several amendments offered by Republicans, SB 1023 passed the Maryland General Assembly but was subsequently vetoed by the Governor.
Take Note: New State Laws Have Taken Effect
As of October 1st, dozens of new laws covering a wide array of issues have taken effect. Following is a sampling of some of the bills approved by the General Assembly that are now state law:
Parental Consent (SB 433/HB 860) – Authorizes parents or guardians to apply, on behalf of minors, for certified inpatient or intensive outpatient alcohol or drug abuse treatment programs.
Public Integrity Act (HB 879) – The state’s first ethics bill in over a decade mandates that lawmakers disclose any conflicts of interest and limits their advocacy for private business.
Amber’s Law (HB1163/SB 976) – Permits victims of domestic abuse to request that the offender use electric monitoring devices to track their location and provide alerts.
Rape Kits (SB 349/HB 255) – Requires a hospital or advocacy center to give rape kits to the police within 30 days of the victim’s exam and prohibits police from destroying or disposing of sexual assault evidence within 20 years of collection.
Reporting Animal Cruelty (HB1463) – Requires veterinarians who have reason to believe that an animal has been subjected to cruelty or violence to report the activity to police.
Around The District
I’ve had the pleasure of attending many events around the district this fall in recognition of upstanding citizens, local heroes and businesses making a difference in their communities.
I’d like to thank Sun Automation Group, a 100% employee owned business that has been in Baltimore for 30 years, for inviting me to celebrate the purchase of their new, 53-acre facility in Glen Arm. Thank you, Sun Automation, for your commitment to remaining in Baltimore County, and for being an integral party of its business community.
Did You Know?
The usual effective date for new Maryland laws is October 1, a date that allows time for laws to be published and made available to the public. Fiscal bills that affect the state budget may have a July 1 or earlier date. The earliest a bill may take effect is June 1, with the exception of emergency legislation and the budget bill, which is effective the day it passes the General Assembly.
So many of you have called, written, posted on social media, and even visited Annapolis to either voice your support or express your concern for any number of issues facing our great State of Maryland. Thank you for being engaged, and please continue to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have. Your feedback is very important to me, and helps me represent your interests to the best of my ability in Annapolis.
Senator J.B. Jennings