May 7, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Kathy Klausmeier

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Kathy Klausmeier (District 8 – Baltimore County). In her first session as Senate President Pro Tempore, Klausmeier would be directly involved with some one hundred nineteen pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of forty-three meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the forty-three bills that she carried, nine passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 146 – Commercial Driver’s Licenses – Recognition, Prevention, and Reporting of Human Trafficking

This bill requires commercial driver’s license (CDL) training schools to include education and training on the recognition, prevention, and effective reporting of human trafficking. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) must update the Commercial Driver’s License Manual with the appropriate information and provide an applicant renewing a CDL with the information.

Senate Bill 147 – Public Health – Disposition of Remains – Forfeiture or Waiver of Right of Disposition

This bill (1) establishes conditions under which an authorizing agent, for purposes of arranging for the final disposition of a decedent’s body, forfeits or waives the right to arrange the final disposition of the decedent’s body; (2) establishes conditions under which the right to arrange final disposition must be restored; and (3) adds an adult grandchild of the decedent to the list of individuals who have a right to determine the final disposition of a decedent’s body. The bill cannot be construed to require a licensed mortician, funeral director, or funeral establishment to make any notification regarding the right of disposition. Further, a practitioner or funeral establishment may not be held civilly liable for acting in reliance on the bill’s provisions.

Senate Bill 436 – Vehicle Laws – Rental Vehicles – Security

This bill allows the owner of a rental vehicle to satisfy the minimum security required by law for the rental vehicle by maintaining the minimum security on the vehicle that is secondary to a renter’s personal insurance coverage, under specified circumstances. However, this authorization does not apply when the renter’s personal coverage is provided by the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF).

Senate Bill 532 – Insurance – Formation of Domestic Insurers – Number of Directors

This bill authorizes a domestic financial guaranty insurance company that is prohibited from issuing new policies of financial guaranty insurance to have only five members on its board of directors instead of nine members.

Senate Bill 643 – Criminal Procedure – Forfeiture Proceeds – Appropriation Percentage and Reporting

This bill increases, from 20% to 100%, the amount of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) forfeiture proceeds deposited in the general fund that the Governor must appropriate to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) for the purpose of funding drug treatment and education programs. The bill also requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) to include in its annual aggregate report on forfeitures the amount from CDS forfeitures deposited in the State’s general fund that were appropriated to MDH for the purpose of funding drug treatment and education programs and how the funds were spent.

Senate Bill 646 – Workers’ Compensation – Medical Presumptions for Diseases and Cancer – Eligibility (Firefighter Jesse McCullough’s Cancer Protection Law)

This bill eases the eligibility criteria for a firefighter, firefighting instructor, rescue squad member, or advanced life support unit member to qualify for a cancer or leukemia disease presumption under workers’ compensation law. The bill applies prospectively and may not be interpreted to have any effect on or application to any claim filed before its October 1, 2019 effective date.

Senate Bill 649 – Health Care Facilities – Change in Bed Capacity – Certificate of Need Exemption

This emergency bill exempts a health care facility from the general requirement to obtain a certificate of need (CON) from the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) before changing the bed capacity of a health care facility if the change in bed capacity will occur in (1) a licensed intermediate care facility that offers residential or intensive substance-related disorder treatment services or (2) an existing, licensed general hospice program. In order to be exempt, a health care facility must file written notice of the intent to change bed capacity with MHCC at least 45 days before increasing or decreasing bed capacity. The bill also requires MHCC to (1) review the chapter of the State Health Plan on Psychiatric Services; Emergency Medical Services and (2) if regulations are not adopted that update that chapter by December 30, 2019, provide a report on the review of the chapter to specified committees of the General Assembly by December 30, 2019.

Senate Bill 939 – Natural Resources – Shellfish Nursery Operations – Wetlands License Requirements

This bill establishes that a pump, a pipe, or any other equipment attached to a pier that is associated with a permitted shellfish nursery operation is not a “nonwater-dependent project” for the purpose of wetlands license and permit requirements. The bill specifies that, as long as installing such equipment (for the purpose of cultivating shellfish seed in a permitted shellfish nursery) does not require increasing the length, width, or channelward encroachment of the pier, (1) a person does not need to first obtain a tidal wetlands license or permit from the Board of Public Works (BPW) or the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and (2) such activity is a lawful use of private wetlands. If such a project does require increasing the length, width, or channelward encroachment of the pier, a license or permit must be obtained, but the project is not subject to the more stringent requirements related to a nonwater-dependent project.

Senate Bill 940 – Health Care Facilities – Certificate of Need – Modifications

This bill modifies certificate of need (CON) requirements related to (1) changes in health care services offered and (2) capital expenditures related to a health care facility other than a hospital. The bill also requires a specified CON filed after October 1, 2019, to be deemed approved if (1) the CON is uncontested and (2) final action by the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) does not occur within 120 days after the application for the CON was docketed. Finally, the bill alters the definition of “ambulatory surgical facility” and repeals an associated CON exemption.

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Klausmeier 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.