As the 2019 Legislative Session concludes, we are left with many emotions. While Democrats passed a number of progressive policies that will make deep investments in education funding, improve wages for Maryland workers, and support working parents and young people, we also said goodbye to a friend, mentor, and legend in Maryland politics—Speaker Michael Busch.
As we honor the life, service, and legacy of Speaker Busch, let’s take a moment to recognize the incredible work of our leading Democrats to move our state forward into a brighter, bolder, more progressive future:
Equity and the Economy
Del. Nick Mosby and Sen. Jill Carter passed legislation banning disclosures regarding an applicant’s criminal history (aka ban the box) prior to an in-person interview in an effort to reduce recidivism and increase the employment prospects of tens of thousands of Marylanders. Maryland is just the 13th state to extend this requirement to private employers.
Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Diana Fennel sponsored a minimum wage bill making Maryland just the 6th state in America to enact a statewide $15 minimum wage.
Sen. Mary Washington and Del. Nick Mosby permanently banned the practice of initiating tax lien foreclosures on private homes and religious properties due to unpaid water and sewer bills.
Del. Jazz Lewis and Sen. Will Smith passed legislation to restrict and reform solitary confinement practices for juveniles in Maryland correctional facilities.
Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Wanika Fisher passed first-in-the-nation legislation to ban the practice of forcing pregnant inmates and those in post-pregnancy recovery into solitary confinement in any correction or detention facility.
Sen. Brian J. Feldman and Del. Jessica Feldmark passed a law establishing an emergency fund for Maryland based government employees who must report to work without pay during a shutdown. The law makes them eligible for temporary assistance through the state and no interest loans during future shutdowns.
Del. Ariana Kelly and Sen. Nancy King delivered for working families with young children and dependents by increasing access to child care and dependent care tax credits by increasing the maximum income limits for eligibility.
Source: Baltimore Sun
Empowering Women, Families, and Our Healthcare
Sen. Delores Kelley and Del. Shane Pendergrass spearheaded the effort to make Maryland the first state in America to cut ties with Title X after a Trump administration rule would deny clinics federal funding for providing abortion referrals. The bill prevents the Maryland Department of Health from accepting Title X money if it is conditioned on excluding family planning providers and medically approved services.
Source: Eve Hurwitz
Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes sponsored legislation to help small business outpatient mental health centers more easily recruit and retain psychiatrists to serve as medical directors.This is a vital step towards expanding healthcare access in rural areas of Maryland.
Del. Shelly Hettleman with support from Sen. Will Smith, and Sen. Sarah Elfreth led a successful campaign to enact legislation requiring that all rape kits—barring certain exceptions—be tested. Companion legislation providing law enforcement with necessary funding for rape kit testing also passed.
Del. Terri Hill, M.D. passed legislation granting minors access to PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) medication, a breakthrough drug proven to prevent HIV infection when used correctly. Sen. Clarence Lam, M.D. sponsored the legislation in the Senate. This bill is particularly important to maintaining the health, safety, and stability of Maryland’s LGBTQ youth.
Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Sen. Katherine Klausmeier passed legislation to create the first Prescription Drug Affordability Board in the nation which will help to make prescription drugs more affordable for Marylanders.
Del. Karen Lewis Young sponsored the Hospitals -- Patient’s Bill of Rights Bill (HB 145) to require a hospital administrator to provide to each patient a written copy of a patient’s bill of rights. The bill specifies the minimum required contents of a hospital the bill of rights, and requires hospitals to post copies of the patient’s bill of rights on the hospital’s website and in certain areas of the hospital, and provide annual training to all patient care staff on the patient’s bill of rights. The bill also requires the Office of Health Care Quality to monitor the compliance of each hospital with the patient’s bill of rights requirements.
Healthy Environment, Thriving Schools
Sen. Cheryl Kagan and Del. Brooke Lierman successfully passed America's first ever statewide ban on single use styrofoam food containers.
Senate President Mike Miller and Del. Alice Cain led legislation to mandate $1.6 million in spending over FY2021 through FY2025 to increase the number of Maryland’s designed “green schools” from 27% to 50%.
Sen. Brian J. Feldman and Speaker Michael Busch led legislation to require the state’s electric utilities to acquire their energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Sen. Paul Pinsky and Speaker Michael Busch led legislation to establish a network of oyster sanctuaries to protect oyster populations and enable large-scale restoration of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch led a successful push for $725M in education investments for Maryland public school children based on the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.
Source: Baltimore Sun
Our diverse and inclusive caucus has once again produced groundbreaking legislation in 2019 that will continue Maryland’s legacy of success, equity, and progressive change. The incredible work of our Democratic policymakers to better the lives of all Marylanders is the reason that Maryland continues to rank as one of the top states in terms of opportunity, education, and economic strength. We salute their service to our state in this year’s Legislative Session.