2019 Bill Update - March 18
The following bills have been voted out of their original committees and are passing one chamber and heading to the other chamber for consideration. The descriptions below include any changes made by amendment. Since the status of bills changes very quickly now, please see the table for information on their progress.
Passed the House with Amendments and sent to the Senate [awaiting final House passage]
HB 814 - Maryland Health Insurance Option (Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019) - The original proposal would have replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA’s) individual mandate eliminated in the recent federal tax reform legislation with a Maryland health insurance down payment plan. The federal individual mandate was a program that charged fines for individuals if they were not enrolled in a qualified health insurance plan. The original bill would have allowed a tax payer faced with a fine for not having qualifying coverage at tax time to have the option for this fine to go toward their health insurance in the Maryland Health Exchange. As amended, the state individual mandate is removed, but the bill retains the new mechanism to use information from an individual’s state tax return to determine eligibility for Medicaid or an insurance affordability program through the Exchange, thereby enrolling tens of thousands of now-uninsured people into free or low-cost health care plans which will help keep premiums down for everyone in the individual market.
Passed the House with Amendments and sent to the Senate [in Senate Finance Committee]
HB 697 - Health Insurance - Consumer Protections – As amended, the bill no longer codifies into Maryland law several provisions for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) including the prohibition against denying or limiting coverage due to pre-existing conditions, prohibiting a carrier from rescinding a health benefit plan once the insured is covered under the plan, with specified exceptions such as fraud, prohibiting a carrier from establishing lifetime limits or annual limits on the dollar value of benefits for any insured individual, and requiring coverage for a dependent child until the child is 26 years of age. However, it restores language that specifies that these provisions of the ACA still apply to Maryland insurers, and it codifies that the “General Assembly finds and declares that it is in the public interest to ensure that the health care protections established by the [ACA} continue to protect Maryland residents in light of continued threats to [it].” The amendments then require the Maryland Health Commission to establish a workgroup to carry out this finding and declaration. Specifically, the workgroup shall monitor pending appeals regarding the ACA and the the enforcement of the ACA by the Federal Government, “determine the most effective manner of ensuring that Maryland consumers can obtain and retain quality health insurance independent of any action or inaction on the part of the Federal Government or any changes to federal law or its interpretation,” and report back to the General Assembly by December 31, 2019.
Passed the House and the Senate with differing Amendments [in House Economic Matters]
HB 166/SB 280 - Labor and Employment – Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage (Fight for Fifteen) - As amended by the Senate, the bill increases the minimum wage for non-tipped and non-agricultural workers to $15 per hour by 2025. It includes a 6-month delay in implementing wage increases so that they will correspond to each calendar year and rolls out the $15/hour wage for small employers (less than 15 employees) over a longer period through 2028. It applies the minimum wage to individuals 18 and older, allowing wages to be 85% of the wage if below 18 (currently, the age is 21). It allows the Board of Public Works to suspend the increase for a year if the seasonally adjusted total employment is negative for the previous six months as reported by the US. Department of Labor Statistics. It also requires the Commissioner of Labor to adopt regulations to “require restaurant employers that include a tip credit as part of the wage of an employee to provide tipped employees with a written or electronic wage statement for each pay period that shows the effective hourly tip rate as derived from employer-paid cash wages plus all reported tips for tip credit hours worked each workweek of the pay period.”
Death With Dignity
Passed the House with Amendments and Sent to the Senate [in Senate Judicial Proceedings]
HB 399 - End-of-Life Option Act (Richard E. Israel and Roger 'Pip' Moyer Act) - Like the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, this bill would allow terminally ill state residents to obtain and use prescriptions from their physicians for self-administered, lethal medications if they are: (1) an adult (18 years of age or older), (2) a resident of the state, (3) competent to make and communicate health care decisions, (4) diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months, and (5) able to self-administer the medication. The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis and determine whether the patient is capable and his/her judgment is not impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder. The amendment allows a sentence for coercing a patient or using undue influence to be separate from and consecutive to or concurrent with a sentence for any other crime based on the act establishing the coercion or undue influence.
Passed the House with Amendments and Sent to the Senate [in Senate Judicial Proceedings]
HB 214 - Victims and Witnesses - U Nonimmigrant Status - Certification of Victim Helpfulness - Requires law enforcement officials to certify the helpfulness of a victim or witness in the prosecution of a crime in a petition for a U Immigrant Visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services will grant a temporary (2 years) visa to foreign nationals who are victims of qualifying criminal activity and their qualifying family members. The list of qualifying criminal activity is extensive. The visa may be extended. The purpose of the bill is to remove the reluctance of undocumented immigrants to report crimes and help to build trust between the law enforcement and immigrant communities and create safer communities for all. The amendments extend this protection to an assisting parent, guardian or next friend of a victim if the victim was under 16, incapacitated or incompetent. They also provide civil and criminal immunity for a certifying entity of official who, in good faith, acts or fails to act under this law except in cases of willful or wanton misconduct.
Passed the Senate without Amendment and Sent to the House [in House Appropriations]
SB 537 - Higher Education - Tuition Rates – Exemptions - Maryland’s DREAM Act, passed in 2012, allows young people brought to this country as children to qualify for in-state college tuition for community colleges regardless of immigration status. This bill expands the laws to include all state colleges and allows more youth to qualify beyond the specific years in the original bill.
Passed the Senate with Amendments and sent to the House [in House Judiciary]
SB 346 – Public Safety – Regulated Firearms – Sell, Rent, Transfer or Loan – As amended, the bill includes the loan of a firearm in the existing law that prohibits a dealer or other person from selling, renting, transferring or loaning a firearm to a person who would not be allowed to own it due to a criminal conviction, addiction, mental disorder, or subject of a protective order, etc. It also adds a prohibition against selling, renting, transferring or loaning a firearm to a person if there is reason to believe that he/she intends to commit a crime or harm a person (self or other).
Passed the Senate with Amendments and sent to the House [in Senate Judicial Proceedings]
SB 622 - Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention – Crime Firearms – Study - As amended, the bill requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to study and compile information that relates to firearms used in the commission of a crime of violence or recovered by law enforcement in connection with an illegal firearm possession, transportation, or transfer.
Passed the House without Amendment and sent to the Senate [in Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs]
HB 367 - Public Safety - Education - Firearm Funding - Prohibits a local school board or public school from using funds from any source to directly or indirectly provide a teacher with a firearm or train a teacher in the use of a firearm.
Passed Senate with Amendments and sent to the House [in House Judiciary]
SB 621 - Correctional Services - Diminution Credits – Education – As amended, the bill allows an inmate to receive a credit diminishing his/her term of incarceration for successful completion of academic or training requirements. The credit is equal to 20 days for a one-time vocational or technical program and 30 days for: an intermediate high academic certificate, a GED, high school diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. These diminution credits are in addition to any other credits an inmate may earn.
Passed the Senate with Amendments and Sent to the House [in House Environment and Transportation and Economic Matters Committees]
SB 249 - Regional Initiative to Limit or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Transportation Sector - Authorization (Regional Transportation and Climate Protection Act of 2019) - Would legislate Maryland’s continued involvement in the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) and authorize the Governor to enter Maryland into a cross-state policy to reduce climate pollution from the transportation sector. The amendment removed the authority of the Governor to impose a statewide or citywide greenhouse gas emission fee on the sale of distribution of motor fuel if Virginia or DC does so.