May 17, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Paul Pinsky

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Paul Pinsky (District 22 – Prince George’s County). In his first session as the Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Pinsky would be directly involved with some eighty-three pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of twenty-six important bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the twenty-six bills that he carried, fourteen passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 123 – Election Law – Coordinated Expenditures and Donations – Investigation

This bill authorizes the State Administrator of Elections or the State Administrator’s designee to (1) investigate potential violations of “coordinated expenditure” provisions and (2) in furtherance of an investigation, issue a subpoena for the attendance of a witness to testify or for the production of records.

Senate Bill 128 – County Boards of Education – School Year – Start and End Dates

This bill requires each local board of education to set start and end dates each year for public schools in the county. The bill effectively repeals any law prohibiting a local board from beginning or ending its school year before or after a certain date. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 201 – University of Maryland University College – Renaming

This bill renames the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) to be the University of Maryland Global Campus. To that end, the bill also contains various provisions related to the continuity of transactions, employment, entities, records, real property, contracts, and other related topics. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 260 – Community Colleges – Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships – Revisions

This emergency bill alters the eligibility requirements for the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship (MCCPS) program such that (1) an applicant must attend the applicant’s local community college except under specified circumstances; (2) an applicant may enroll in noncredit courses that lead to licensure or certification; (3) an applicant may participate in a registered apprenticeship; and (4) an eligible applicant who does not receive an award due to insufficient funding remains eligible for the program the following year. The bill also alters the service obligation such that employment outside the State satisfies the requirement if the recipient lives in Maryland and allows certain recipients to delay the service obligation until the completion of a baccalaureate degree. Finally, the bill alters the grade point average (GPA) requirement such that eligibility is based on an applicant’s cumulative GPA at the end of the first semester of the senior year in high school.

Senate Bill 399 – Consumer Protection – Private Career Schools and For–Profit Institutions of Higher Education – Disclosures

This bill adds several items to the list of specified information that a private career school or for-profit institution of higher education, including those that are required to register with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), must provide to a prospective student prior to the student signing an enrollment agreement, completing registration, or making a financial commitment to the school or institution. All specified information must also be prominently displayed on the website of the school or institution without the need for providing personal information. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 400 – Maryland Higher Education Commission – Private Nonprofit Institutions of Higher Education – Regulation (Private Nonprofit Institution of Higher Education Protection Act of 2019)

This bill alters the definition of “private nonprofit institution of higher education” to mean, in addition to current criteria, that the institution (1) benefits no person through any part of its net earnings; (2) is legally authorized to operate as a nonprofit organization in each state in which it is physically located; and (3) is determined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be an organization to which contributions are tax deductible. The bill requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to determine whether an incident constitutes private inurement if a private nonprofit institution of higher education engages in a reportable incident as defined by the bill. By July, 1, 2019, MHEC, jointly with the Office of the Attorney General, must develop a procedure for determining and enforcing the classification of institutions of higher education as enacted by the bill. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 447 – Health Occupations – Requirements for the Practice of Optometry – Miscellaneous Revisions

This bill alters various provisions relating to the practice of optometry for therapeutically certified optometrists (TCO), including the circumstances under which a TCO may (1) administer and prescribe pharmaceutical agents; (2) treat glaucoma; (3) perform specified procedures; and (4) order specified tests. The bill also alters the definition of “practice optometry.” TCOs must obtain specified additional training by July 1, 2020, with limited exceptions. The bill’s training requirements take effect June 1, 2019. The remainder of the bill’s provisions take effect March 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 448 – Oysters – Tributary-Scale Sanctuaries – Protection and Restoration

This bill establishes in statute a network of five oyster sanctuaries (in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River, and the Manokin River). With the exception of aquaculture activities under a valid lease, the bill prohibits catching oysters in or removing oyster seed from the five sanctuaries or sanctuaries established by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in regulation. The bill establishes requirements and deadlines relating to restoration plans for the five identified sanctuaries. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 449 – Election Law – Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Places

This bill establishes procedures allowing for an individual, on Election Day at a precinct polling place in the individual’s county of residence, to register to vote and then vote.

Senate Bill 471 – Agriculture – Use of Antimicrobial Drugs – Limitations and Reporting Requirements

This bill makes various changes to provisions governing the administration of medically important antimicrobial drugs to cattle, swine, or poultry, relating to (1) the allowable administration of the drugs; (2) the definition of “medically important antimicrobial drug”; (3) the applicability of the provisions; (4) the penalty for violating the provisions; and (5) reporting requirements.

Senate Bill 546 – Agriculture – Nutrient Management – Monitoring and Enforcement

This bill makes various changes relating to (1) nutrient management plan compliance, enforcement, and reporting; (2) concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) permitting and fees; and (3) water quality monitoring in tributaries located on the lower Eastern Shore.

Senate Bill 554 – State Board of Massage Therapy Examiners – Massage Therapists – Authority to Regulate

This bill repeals authorizations specific to Anne Arundel, Charles, Howard, and Washington counties, and instead authorizes the county executive or any governing body of any county, after consultation with the State Board of Massage Therapy Examiners, to adopt ordinances or regulations relating to massage establishments and verification, inspection, and display of licenses. A law enforcement officer in any county may demand proof of licensure or registration. Local health officers and local law enforcement have the authority to carry out the provisions of ordinances and regulations adopted under the bill.

Senate Bill 743 – Election Law – Election Service Providers – Contract Clauses and Termination of Contract

This bill prohibits the State Board of Elections (SBE) from approving a contract with an election service provider unless the contract includes a clause requiring the election service provider to provide specified notice of ownership of, investment in, or control of the election service provider by a foreign national. The bill also authorizes the State Administrator of Elections to terminate a contract with an election service provider on specified grounds regarding a foreign national’s ability to control, influence, or direct the election service provider.

Senate Bill 1004 – Election Law – Election Calendar and Processes – Revisions

This bill changes various election-related filing and other deadlines (generally making them earlier), as well as other provisions governing mostly administrative and judicial processes, leading up to primary and general elections. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019.

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