April 18, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Joanne Benson

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Joanne Benson (District 24 – Prince George’s). In her first session as both the Senate Rules and Prince George’s County Senate Delegation Chair, Benson would be directly involved with some one hundred eleven pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of seventeen meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the seventeen bills that she carried, six passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 299 – Tanning Devices – Use by Minors

This bill prohibits an owner, employee, or operator of a tanning facility from allowing a minor younger than age 18 to use a tanning device.

Senate Bill 300 – Prevailing Wage Rates – Public Work Contracts – Suits by Employees

This bill authorizes an employee under a public work contract who is paid less than the appropriate prevailing wage to sue to recover the difference in wages paid without first filing a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

Senate Bill 301 – Hospitals – Patient’s Bill of Rights

This bill establishes additional duties for a hospital administrator and specifies the minimum required contents of a hospital patient’s bill of rights.

Senate Bill 421 – Video Lottery Terminals – Minority Business Participation Goals – Enforcement and Reporting

This bill extends by one year, to July 1, 2020, the requirement that a video lottery facility applicant or licensee be subject to the minority business enterprise (MBE) participation goal set in State law and any other corresponding MBE provisions. The bill also extends by one year the deadline for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to complete a study of the MBE requirement’s compliance with federal law, from December 14, 2018, to December 13, 2019.

Senate Bill 422 – State Department of Education – Employment Categories and Practices

This bill alters the employment categories of specified professional assistants within the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). The bill generally reclassifies special appointment positions within MSDE, except those who perform a significant policy role or provide direct support to a member of the executive service, to positions in the professional or skilled service under the State Personnel Management System (SPMS).

Senate Bill 425 – Home Energy Assistance – Critical Medical Needs Program

This bill establishes the Critical Medical Needs (CMN) Program in the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) within the Department of Human Services (DHS). The purpose of the CMN program is to reduce barriers to the energy assistance application process for “critical medically vulnerable individuals” and their households in obtaining State and federal financial assistance for their electric, gas, or other energy source bills so that their service continues or is restored.

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Benson now looks ahead to the 2020 session when she’ll bring with her the experience of another productive and effective year in the Maryland Senate.