Good Maryland Legislation That Was Buried in 2015
By J. Alexandra Tuttle
Over the next several weeks, you will be hearing about all the bills that passed during this year’s legislative session – the good and the bad. What you might not hear about are the good bills that were proposed and quietly slipped into a drawer, after perfunctory hearings were held. According to Melanie Sheranko, aide to Delegate Tony O’Donnell, it “is up the chairman/woman of the committee which bills come up for a vote. That decision is based on many things: if the chairman likes the bill and/or the bill sponsor; if the chairman thinks the bill will likely make it out of committee on a vote; if the majority party wants the bill to come out of committee; outcry from the public, influence from the governor, etc. ”
What about all those common sense voting bills that came up in Chairwoman Sheila Hixson’s House Ways and Means Committee? Whether it was the Interstate Crosscheck Bill, proof of citizenship, or voter identification, organizations were always “on hand” at hearings to decry the need for any of this legislation.
Health Care for the Homeless testified regarding the problem of accessibility in obtaining these documents. For example, for a short time South Carolina implemented “free voter ID rides” as a way of addressing critics. Currently, they allow for provisional ballots after a voter signs an affidavit stating that there was a “reasonable impediment to obtaining a photo ID – such as lack of a birth certificate or lack of transportation.” The Interstate Crosscheck Bill opponents noted that there was always the risk of someone being dropped from a state’s voter rolls, due to a common name.
However, in 2013 the Federal Presidential Commission on Election Administration endorsed the use of this program, and 30+ states are currently using it. Moreover, information is exchanged with another state to investigate claims further when discrepancies arise. According to Delegate Pat McDonough, he intends to “reintroduce the legislation again next year,” and (notes) that “it is fine the way it is.”
Tax Relief Anyone? You have heard by now that the Motor Fuel Tax Repeal, a regressive tax hitting low income people particularly hard, received an “unfavorable report from House Ways and Means. The corporate tax rate reduction from 8.25% to 6% would have also signaled” that Maryland is open for business. ”
HB 249, the “Right to Work” comes to Maryland? No, Maryland won’t be joining the other 24 states yet, and the requirement to be part of a union for affected employees continues in this state.
SB 806/HB 1200: State Board of Education -This bill would have provided that the State Board of Education require each student to take a standardized government high school assessment in order to graduate from high school.
Handgun Permits Reciprocity – SB 491/HB 465. This bill specifies that a permit issued by another state to an individual to carry a handgun, including a concealed handgun, is valid in Maryland.