From State Sen. J.B. Jennings:
It was business as usual in Annapolis this week despite a late season snow storm that blanketed much of the State. As we near the end of the legislative session, days are getting longer and committees in both the Senate and the House are on overdrive to meet the annual deadline to pass bills out of their chambers to be sent to the other. This event, known as “Crossover Day,” takes place today, Monday, March 20, 2017, where it allows for the greatest chance for bills to be turned into laws.
Paid Sick Leave
The Senate passed its version of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act on Thursday by a 29-18 vote, despite what I and others did to stop it. The bill, which states that businesses with at least 15 employees are required to provide five days of paid sick leave per year, will impede job growth in the State and stop businesses from creating additional jobs. There are approximately 20,000 small businesses in the State with at least 15 employees; we cannot expect them to continue to have a positive influence on the economy while simultaneously demanding that they meet unrealistic and expensive demands.
Transportation Scoring Bill
This bill, also known by opponents as “the road kill bill,” would require the State to rank highway and transit plans in order of need and importance before deciding which project to fund. This legislation favors big transit rail projects over road projects, and urban area needs over rural and suburban transportation ones. It has jeopardized funding for almost all of Maryland’s major transportation projects, and will force the State to cancel nearly $1 billion in planned road projects. It was vetoed by the Governor; the veto was subsequently overridden by the General Assembly.
Veterans Service Dogs (SB 441)
I’m a proud co-sponsor of this bill, which establishes the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program. The purpose of the program is to pair physically and mentally wounded Veterans with service or support dogs, who provide assistance, companionship and help in adjusting to life after war. These dogs have been trained to be familiar with and sensitive to all symptoms and behaviors of PTSD. To be eligible for this program, Veterans must be Maryland residents, must have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and been honorably discharged.
Less Testing, More Learning Act (SB 452) School Testing
I have co-sponsored this legislation, which would limit schools from spending more than 2% of classroom time on testing mandated by federal, state and local entities. The bill also repeals the requirement for statewide social studies assessments in middle and high school (the high school assessment is known as the Government HSA). Instead, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, each local board of education would be required to develop a locally designed and implemented performance-based social studies assessment. Each local board of education must also establish a District Committee on Assessments to monitor and evaluate the county’s assessment program.
Kate and Hogan
This week my daughter Kate made a special trip to visit me in Annapolis and ran into her old friend, Governor Hogan.
Thank you for your continued interest in Maryland’s 2017 Legislation Session, and please stay tuned for next week’s Annapolis update. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback on the issues I’ve outlined today, or anything else of importance to you and your family. As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.