May 13, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Cory McCray

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful first session in the Senate for Senator Cory McCray (District 45 – Baltimore City). In his first legislative session as a Senator, McCray would be directly involved with some eighty-five pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of twenty meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the twenty bills that he carried, eight passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 33 – Baltimore City – Home Inspectors – Residential Rental Inspections

This bill prohibits a licensed home inspector from making a certification regarding the presence or identification of pests as part of an inspection of a rental dwelling in Baltimore City, unless the inspector is certified as a pest control consultant, pest control applicator, or public agency applicator by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). Similarly, a licensed home inspector may not make a certification relating to a rental dwelling’s electrical system unless the inspector has completed a minimum of eight hours of training in electrical systems certified by the Baltimore City Housing Commissioner. Existing civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation apply to both provisions, but existing criminal penalties do not apply.

Senate Bill 39 – Baltimore City – Police Districts – Redistricting

This bill requires the Police Commissioner of Baltimore City, following each decennial census of the United States, to prepare a plan for (1) the adjustment of the geographic boundaries and composition of each Baltimore City police district and (2) the reallocation of the resources and personnel of the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) among the districts, as specified. The commissioner must present the plan to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City within one year from the issuance of the decennial census population and housing data by the U.S. Census Bureau. The mayor and city council must approve the plan by resolution within 180 days from presentation or the plan becomes effective on the one hundred eighty-first day. A plan approved by the mayor and city council becomes effective immediately. The commissioner must implement any plan in effect, as specified.

Senate Bill 41 – Office of Legislative Audits – Audits of the Baltimore Police Department

This bill requires the Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), beginning July 1, 2020, and at least once every six years thereafter, to conduct an audit of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the financial management practices of BPD. OLA must provide information regarding the audit process to BPD before the audit is conducted.

Senate Bill 81 – Baltimore City – Police Department – Reports on Funds

This bill requires the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) to prepare specified reports, in fiscal 2019 and 2020, regarding the expenditure of grants received from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP). By December 31 each year, BPD must submit the required report to the Baltimore City Delegation to the General Assembly. The report must include the intended use of each grant from GOCCP to BPD and the specific expenditures made by BPD with any monetary grants received from GOCCP. The stated purpose of the bill is to ensure that grants from GOCCP to BPD for community policing efforts are used for that purpose.

Senate Bill 116 – Transportation – Complete Streets – Access to Healthy Food and Necessities

This bill expands the State’s complete streets policy and the Complete Streets Program (a local matching grant program administered by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)), to include a focus on access to retail stores that provide healthy food and other necessities, especially in “food deserts” designated by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The bill may not be construed to require MDOT to provide staff or operating expenses for the administration of the program until money is appropriated in the State budget for the program.

Senate Bill 218 – Human Services – Food Supplements (Summer SNAP for Children Act)

This bill establishes a process for the State to provide additional funding to supplement benefits received under the Food Stamp Program for children; participating counties must provide matching funds. The combined State and county supplement must be used to increase the benefit by at least $30 per child in the months of June, July, and August and $10 per child in December. The Governor must include at least $200,000 in the annual budget to fund the supplements. The bill also renames the Food Stamp Program as the Food Supplement Program.

Senate Bill 280 – Labor and Employment – Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage (Fight for Fifteen)

This bill phases in an increase in the State minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2025, with a longer phase-in for employers with 14 or fewer employees.

Senate Bill 596 – Alcoholic Beverages – Mead – Definition and Tax Rate

This bill expands the definition of beer to include mead. The bill imposes the same alcoholic beverage tax rate to mead that is imposed on beer, which is $0.09 per gallon. Mead is defined as a fermented alcoholic beverage consisting primarily of honey and water.

Because of the profound impact of his work and the legislation that he carried, Senator McCray was called a “Winner” of the 2019 legislative session by the Maryland Matters publication. They stated: “There may not be a more forceful spokesperson in the General Assembly for working men and women and for struggling Baltimore City communities.”

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator McCray now looks ahead to the 2020 session when he’ll bring with him the experience of a productive and effective first year in the Maryland Senate.