Session report card: Grading Anne Arundel's state lawmakers

The 2017 General Assembly session was a successful one for Anne Arundel lawmakers.

In addition to agreeing on an elected school board after decades of debate, the county's delegates and senators collectively saw 99 non-bond bill measures pass the General Assembly before the session ended at midnight April 10.


Successful local measures include legislation expanding the county's payment-in-lieu of taxes program to apply to commercial development projects that bring "unique" benefits to residents (House Bill 695); allowing property tax credits for limited-income seniors (House Bill 1269); and permitting local charities, veterans' groups and chambers of commerce, among others, to host casino night fundraisers. The first two measures will have to be approved by the County Council before they can go into effect.

The legislature also passed a bill aimed at reining in the expenses of the county's liquor board, which have ballooned in recent years. Senate Bill 374 triples the salary of the board's in-house attorney — from $20,000 to $60,000 a year — but caps its budget for contractual expenses to $30,000. A separate bill aimed at routing the fees the liquor board collects exclusively through state government — cutting the county out of the process when it comes to paying the board's salaries, benefits and expenses — failed.


And though it wasn't sponsored by county lawmakers, legislation creating a temporary ban on cownose ray fishing tournaments held on the Chesapeake Bay each summer will become law. The measure sets a moratorium on fishing for the rays until July 1, 2019, giving the Department of Natural Resources time to prepare its own regulations.

Here's a rundown of how the measures introduced by Anne Arundel's senators and delegates fared this session. Tallies do not include bond bills, which request money for construction projects.

Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis: Sponsored 18 bills. Passed nine (three so far have been signed by Gov. Larry Hogan). Astle, the senior member on the Senate delegation, was involved this session with negotiating a school board bill and sponsored the liquor board attorney measure. One of his successful statewide bills, Senate Bill 898, will help patients synchronize the dispensing date of new medications with their current prescriptions by requiring insurers to allow prorated daily payments for a partial supply of the new drug.

Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Millersville: Sponsored three bills. Passed one. His Senate Bill 57 gives a two-year extension to an income tax credit for registering tractor-trailer vehicles. The measure could save the vehicles' owners up to $400 per registration.

Sen. Ed Reilly, R-Crofton: Sponsored 11 bills. Passed three (one so far signed by Hogan). Senate Bill 73 increases the initial share of an estate a person can claim when their spouse dies without a will, from $15,000 to $40,000. Reilly's bill proposing to reduce the hours that water skiing is allowed in Maynadier Creek, filed late in the session in response to constituent complaints, did not make it out of the House's rules committee.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's: Sponsored 19 bills. Passed seven (two so far have passed into law without Hogan's signature). Among the senator's successful measures: Senate Bill 884, creating a Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission that will assess the effect of federal financial industry regulation changes on Marylanders, and Senate Bill 424, requiring the governor to include $100,000 for the Maryland Open Source Textbook Initiative in next year's budget. Senate Bill 1200, his last-minute bill seeking to preserve internet privacy protections recently overhauled by Congress, failed.

Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena: Simonaire sponsored 20 bills and, with 10 of them passed, saw the most success among Anne Arundel's senators this session. Two so far have been signed into law. Bills that got the green light include Senate Bill 441, which creates a partnership between the state and nonprofits aimed at connecting veterans to therapy dog programs, and Senate Bill 88, which changes the translation of the motto on Maryland's Great Seal from "Manly deeds, womanly words" to "Strong deeds, gentle words." Another bill, making targeted attacks on police a hate crime, failed to make it out of committee.

Del. Ben Barnes, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's: Sponsored six bills. Passed three (one signed so far). Barnes' House Bill 1109 relieves county school boards of some of their retirement and pension expenses this fiscal year by providing a one-time state grant that covers part of the difference between projected and actual costs. His House Bill 159, banning most people from carrying guns on public college campuses in Maryland, passed both chambers of the General Assembly but died in a conference committee after negotiators couldn't resolve differences between the two versions.


Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum: Sponsored six bills. None passed. As chair of the House delegation, Beidle presided over meetings of local legislators and saw to it that local bills had hearings and votes. Though the final elected school board bill, House Bill 716, was labeled an Anne Arundel delegation measure, Beidle sponsored the original version and was instrumental in shepherding the change through the House and Senate — particularly in the final days of session, when it looked like both chambers might not come to agreement on a path forward for the Board of Education.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis: As the presiding officer of the House of Delegates, Busch typically does not introduce legislation beyond bond bills. The speaker does the bulk of his work behind-the-scenes, seeing to it that majority-party priorities, such as this session's paid sick leave bill, get passed. Busch said his biggest local success this year was ensuring Anne Arundel Medical Center will keep its certificate of need for an open-heart surgery program, after it was threatened by attacks from Prince George's County lawmakers who feared the new program would cut into surgeries performed in their jurisdiction. Ultimately, he was able to broker a deal that offered additional funding for Prince George's County Regional Medical Center in exchange for a commitment that AAMC's open heart program could move ahead. "They earned it, they were selected, and there was no reason for anyone to step in and take it away from them," Busch said.

Del. Ned Carey, D-Brooklyn Park: Sponsored six bills. Five passed. House Bill 974 expands privacy protections for workers in Maryland and requires businesses to take reasonable steps to protect the personal information of employees, former employees and customers when destroying records.

Del. Mark Chang, D-Glen Burnie: Sponsored eight bills. None passed. While he convinced the local delegation to support a two-year Human Trafficking Awareness Pilot Program for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the bill passed both House and Senate chambers, differences between the two versions could not be reconciled by the final day of session.

Del. Barbara Frush, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's: Sponsored five bills. Three passed. House Bill 1309 increases the maximum penalty for organizers who fail to recycle at special events from $50 to $300 a day, and House Bill 1463 requires veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty or involvement in animal fighting by the pets they treat to law enforcement or Animal Control.

Del. Seth Howard, R-West River: Sponsored 13 bills. Two passed. Howard's Recovery Residence Residential Rights Protection Act, House Bill 869, requires the state to create a list of sober homes and whether they are certified to help people struggling with addiction find appropriate long-term recovery options.


House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena: Sponsored 14 bills. Three passed (one signed by Hogan so far). One of them, House Bill 822, increases an income tax credit for police auxiliaries and reserve volunteers to $5,000. As leader for Republicans in the House, Kipke is also responsible for helping shepherd Hogan's legislative agenda through the chamber. He characterized this session as a "great success" for the governor's priorities, which included successful passage of an ethics reform bill and tax incentives for manufacturers providing jobs in some of the state's most depressed regions.

Del. Michael Malone, R-Crofton: Sponsored 11 bills. Two passed. His House Bill 906 makes felony home invasion a "crime of violence," a classification that makes extra penalties available to punish a person convicted of the crime.

Del. Tony McConkey, R-Severna Park: Sponsored eight bills. One passed. The measure, House Bill 62, deals with calculating pensions for retired people receiving disability benefits who are re-employed. House Bill 60, his effort to allow parcels of the Crownsville Hospital Center to be sold individually, passed the House but got stuck in the Senate.

Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis: With 17 bills sponsored and seven passed, McMillan saw the most legislation passed among members of the House delegation. Several of his initiatives this session focused on suggestions from constituents, including changes to property tax assessment appeals procedures. House Bill 1402 requires tax assessment refunds to be issued within 30 days of an appeals decision, while House Bill 1394 prevents the state Department of Assessments and Taxation from automatically eliminating a lowered assessment the next time a property's value is determined. Another suggestion led to House Bill 1427, which creates an apprentice hunting license allowing first-time hunters to hunt all legal game birds and mammals for $10.

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's: Sponsored 15 bills. Passed six. Much of Peña-Melnyk's legislation this session focused on fighting drug abuse. House Bill 887 breaks down barriers making it more difficult for addicts in recovery to be prescribed medication-assisted treatments for opioid abuse, such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. House Bill 950 requires the state's public colleges to develop a collegiate recovery program offering services to students who are suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.

Del. Sid Saab, R-Crownsville: Sponsored five bills. None passed. A watered-down version of legislation from Saab advocating for the rights of family members of sick, disabled or dying people and backed by children of celebrities such as Casey Kasem and Mickey Rooney died in the Senate after passing the House. He said he plans to bring the bill back next year.


Del. Meagan Simonaire, R-Pasadena: Sponsored nine bills. One passed. House Bill 4 allows out-of-state former prisoners of war and disabled veterans to claim a free lifetime angler's or sport fishing license if their state offers reciprocal privileges for Maryland veterans.

Del. Ted Sophocleus, D-Linthicum: Sponsored one bill. None passed. Sophocleus introduced a bill pushing for a reduction in the state's attorney's annual pay raise but withdrew it after County Executive Steve Schuh assured him that he would work to close the gap between the state's attorney's salary and those of lower-ranking attorneys in the prosecutor's office.