The crossover day for the state's General Assembly — the deadline by which one chamber must send to the other those bills it expects to pass or already has passed — has been pushed back, though the effect on Carroll legislation is expected to be minimal.
Among the bills expected to make the transition are ones dealing with allowing casino events at certain charity fundraisers, legislation allowing the county to issue $17 million in bonds in the coming fiscal year and a measure that would apply the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights to correctional officers working at the Carroll County Detention Center.
The crossover deadline was originally Monday, but has been moved to today.
Carroll County senators and delegates have proposed several bills that already have passed in one chamber, while a few others aren't likely to move along and still a few beyond that are in limbo.
Carroll legislation ready to make the transition includes:
• Senate Bill 4, introduced by Carroll County senators, seeks to allow defined organizations to hold casino events to act as fundraisers. Existing law only allows senior center visitors to play card games, but with no cash prizes. On Jan. 21, after a favorable report by the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee, the Senate passed the bill, 47-0. It was then sent to the House's Ways and Means Committee and scheduled for a Feb. 17, which was canceled. It has been rescheduled for March 31.
• House Bill 115, which was introduced by Carroll County Delegation, and cross-filed in the Senate as SB 721 by Sen. Justin Ready, R-District 5, would make the Correctional Officer's Bill of Rights applicable in Carroll County. Warden George Hardinger, of the Carroll County Detention Center, first brought the issue to the county's legislators at a meeting late last year. His main intent is to ensure Carroll correctional officers are allowed a hearing before a board of their peers in the event of a complaint.
The bill was given a favorable report by the House's Appropriations Committee, and it was passed, 137-0, on Feb.12. Ready said the bill has been since sent to the Senate and it has been assigned to the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill's counterpart in the Senate, SB 721, was heard by the Judicial Proceedings Committee March 17.
• HB 296, filed by Carroll County Delegation, and cross-filed as SB 663, would allow Carroll Government to issue $17 million in bonds during the upcoming fiscal year. HB 296 passed in the House, by a vote of 137-0, on March 5, and SB 663 passed the Senate, 46-0,on March 18. Each has been sent to the opposite chamber for a hearing.
• Carroll County Delegation also filed HB 117, which would allow holders of Class A "off-sale" licenses to sell alcohol on Sundays beginning at 8 a.m. Existing law only allows for the sale of alcohol beginning at 11 a.m. It was reported as favorable by the House's Economic Matters Committee, and was passed, 136-0, on March 5. It has been assigned to the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, and was heard March 6.
HB 117 was cross-filed in the Senate as SB 719 by Ready, with Carroll's other two Senators, Gail Bates, R-District 9, and Michael Hough, R-District 4, co-sponsoring it. It was given a favorable report by the Health and Environmental Affairs Committee but had not gone to vote in the Senate as of March 23.
• HB 83, introduced by Carroll County Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, requiring require government agencies to maintain accurate and up-to-date lists of public records, was given a favorable with amendments report by the House's Health and Government Operations Committee, and passed the House, 136-0, on March 6. It has since been assigned to the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee and was heard March 9.
The bill also seeks to eliminate a contradiction between two state laws. One says that when a court issues a ruling, the clerk must issue it to those involved immediately, yet another says a clerk cannot issue rulings until the time to appeal the court's decision has passed, which in Maryland is 30 days.
Bills that have a chance to make the crossover deadline include:
• HB 583, also introduced by Krebs, which would require all public bodies who must follow the state open meetings law to issue an agenda at least 24 hours before a scheduled meeting. The purpose, Krebs said, is to increase state government's accessibility to its constituents.
While the General Assembly's website has not updated the bill's progress since its hearing by the House's Health and Government Operations Committee on March 11, Krebs — who sits on the committee — said the bill has passed the committee and now must go to the floor of the House for a vote.
The bill was cross-filed in the Senate as SB 879 by Bates, but it has failed to leave the Senate's Rules Committee. If a bill is submitted in the Senate after the 24th day of session — this year it was Feb. 6 — it is assigned to the Rules Committee, which then presents it to one of the Senate's six standing committees. Acceptance of the bill by the standing committee, however, is not automatic.
• HB 222, introduced by Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-District 15, of Montgomery County, would make the direct or indirect distribution of heroin or fentanyl, if it leads to the death of another, a crime punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment.
The bill, co-sponsored by Carroll County Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, was given a favorable with amendments report by the House's Judiciary Committee, but was special ordered, which means action on it was delayed until a specified time — in this case, until March 20. Nothing new has been reported on the General Assembly's website concerning HB 222 since March 16.
• HB 280, introduced by Carroll County Delegation, also seeks to authorize casino events in the county. Since it is not the exact bill as SB 4, it is not a cross-filed version. One of the biggest differences between the two bills is that SB would allow anyone who is at least 18 to participate or operate such an event, while HB 280 would set the minimum age at 21.
HB 280 was given a favorable with amendments report by the House's Ways and Means Committee March 20, and passed its second reading, but has yet to be scheduled for a third and final vote.
May not make it
Parts of the Carroll legislative program not likely to make it include:
• Two House bills which would drastically reduce the amount of retirement income the state would be allowed to tax — thus decreasing the state's general fund revenue significantly — have been given unfavorable reports by the House's Ways and Means Committee.
HB 144, submitted by Krebs, would allow all people 65 and older or who are disabled to exempt a portion of their pension plan from taxes. Law currently allows for government and public education employees to exempt up to $29,000 a year from their pensions.
The bill's analysis concluded that the state's yearly revenue loss would likely exceed $50 million.
HB 250, submitted by Del. Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, of Frederick and Carroll counties, would fully exempt all taxable pension income of government and public education employees.
If passed, the state's general fund revenue would decrease by $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, and eliminate about $1 billion in revenue a year through FY2020.
When a bill receives an unfavorable report, "99.99 percent of the time it kills the bill," Krebs said. The legislator who introduced it usually withdraws it from consideration, but for HB 144, she chose not to do this, she said.
"The Ways and Means Committee needs to vote on it," Krebs said. "The committee needs to examine tax codes to make this fair for everyone. It's a fairness issue its not favoring anyone."
• Two bills introduced By Del. Warren Miller, R-District 9A, of Howard and Carroll counties, are expect to die in the House.
HB 1251, which would mandate that every employee of a governing agency which follows open meetings law take open meeting training, has failed to make it out of the House's Rules Committee.
"I had a hard time getting it out of Rules [Committee]," Miller said. "I think it's too late now."
HB 1072, would prohibit employers from discriminating against current, future and potential employees due to the lawful activities they engage in during their off time — such as smoking. It received an unfavorable report by the Economic Matters Committee, Miller said.
"There was some opposition in the committee and I couldn't get a vote," he said.
Multiple bills which sought to create special elections in the event of a legislative vacancy are also expected not to make the crossover.
HB 604 and HB 806, which were assigned to the House's Ways and Means Committee, have been heard, but have not been in voted on in the committee as of Friday.
Afzali said if these — and any other bills — fail to make it out of the committee by this afternoon, "it's pretty certain they are not coming out."
She said she is in support of special elections, as is Krebs, and that she shares the frustrations of her constituents in Carroll County.
This frustration stems from the manner in which the Carroll County Republican Central Committee handled the recommendation process for two vacant legislative positions over the past few months.
When former Sen. Joe Getty, of District 5, was appointed to Gov. Larry Hogan's staff in December, the Carroll Republican committee originally recommended former Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, which caused an uproar in parts of the community.
Later, they failed to recommend Sen. Justin Ready's replacement in the House by their March 4 deadline. Ready was appointed as Getty's replacement in the Senate Feb. 2.
Afzali said that HB 604 and HB 806, while providing a solution to the recommendation process, were full of problems themselves.
"What I had heard was that [the Way and Means Committee] was not given any special election bills that actually improved upon the current mode of doing things," she said. "If we had gotten a bill that would have been significantly better, it would have been acted on."
Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or email@example.com.