With the 2016 General Assembly just past its midway mark, lawmakers this week will take on some of this session's most promising bipartisan initiatives and some of its most politically-charged issues.
The Senate could see a floor fight Tuesday when its takes up legislation that would bar audio recording of passengers on transit buses and trains.
Committees will consider matters including paid sick time, criminal justice, business tax cuts and redistricting.
The various proposals of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, which seeks to reduce incarceration while improving public safety, get their first public airing Wednesday in a Senate committee and Friday before a House panel.
The effort at criminal justice reform has the blessing of Gov. Larry Hogan and the backing of the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, but the main bill is quite sweeping. Its passage is not a sure thing.
Wednesday will also see a joint House-Senate hearing on eight bills that embody the tax-overhaul recommendations of the commission headed by former Lockheed Martin chief executive Norman R. Augustine. The bills, which include cuts in income taxes paid by businesses, represent an alternate economic strategy to the agenda laid out by Hogan.
The Augustine measures might not pass this year, but the hearing will let House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller give the ideas exposure and invite Hogan to jump aboard. The commission was Busch's and Miller's baby, and while Hogan has expressed general support for its efforts, he has yet to embrace its specific tax recommendations.
Redistricting reform will be front and center in a Senate committee Thursday, with Hogan's bill competing with several other approaches aimed at eliminating gerrymandering. Impassioned testimony is expected. Passage of any bills is iffy.
A proposal to require employers to allow their workers to earn paid sick leave will be heard in the House Tuesday and in the Senate Thursday. Proponents of the bill are bringing moms and kids dressed in superhero outfits to Annapolis to deliver a petition. Business groups, meanwhile, are expected to oppose the bill.
The week will end on a symbolic note Friday as a Senate committee hears proposals to designate a state tartan (based on the state flag) and a state duck (canvasback).