May 23, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Craig Zucker

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Craig Zucker (District 14 – Montgomery County). In his first session as a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, Zucker would be directly involved with some one hundred one pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of eleven meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the eleven bills that he carried, eight passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 265 – Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief – Extension

This bill repeals the termination date of the State income tax subtraction modification for qualified mortgage debt relief. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 344 – State Agricultural Land Transfer Tax – Alteration of Nonagricultural Use Reduction and Exemptions

This bill repeals an exemption from the State agricultural land transfer tax for instruments of writing that convey property for land that has had the property tax paid for five full consecutive taxable years before the transfer on the basis of an assessment other than the farm or agricultural use assessment. In lieu of this exemption, the bill provides a partial transfer tax reduction. In addition, the bill exempts transfers of agricultural land from the agricultural land transfer tax if the land was previously subject to the tax for a previous transfer.

Senate Bill 433 – State Procurement – State Funded Construction Projects – Payment of Employee Health Care Expenses

This bill requires the Board of Public Works (BPW) to adopt regulations that require all bidders, contractors, and subcontractors on State-funded construction projects to pay employee health care expenses, as defined by the bill. The bill does not apply to minority business enterprises (MBEs) or businesses with 30 or fewer employees. The Department of General Services (DGS) must establish procedures for bidders, contractors, and subcontractors to certify that they pay employee health care expenses. BPW must collect and report on specified information for three years after the bill’s enactment.

Senate Bill 529 – State Board of Education – Membership – Teacher and Parent Members

This bill increases the membership of the State Board of Education from 12 to 14 members, by adding 1 certified teacher who is actively teaching and 1 parent of a student enrolled in a public school, and establishes processes to appoint these members.

Senate Bill 640 – State Government – Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability and Maryland Program Evaluation Act

This bill establishes the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPE) in the Department of Legislative Services (DLS). The office has similar powers and responsibilities to the Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), but with respect to conducting performance evaluations instead of audits. The Joint Audit Committee is renamed the Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee (JAEC) to reflect its expanded roles in directing and reviewing performance evaluations and monitoring the performance evaluation process. The bill also eliminates the required evaluations under the Maryland Program Evaluation Act (MPEA), although the termination dates for the various entities subject to MPEA are maintained. Instead, those entities currently subject to MPEA may be evaluated in accordance with a DLS work plan, while responsibility to introduce reauthorizing legislation is placed on the entities.

Senate Bill 732 – Child in Need of Assistance – Guardianship by Local Department – Financial Accounts

This bill requires a court, on request of a local department of social services that has been granted guardianship over a child in need of assistance (CINA), to issue a separate order granting the local department guardianship authority to establish (1) an individual savings account; (2) an “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) account, if unable to establish an individual savings account due to the child’s age, or (3) a pooled special needs trust account. An order must meet specified requirements.

Senate Bill 733 – State Board of Physicians – Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists

This bill authorizes a licensed physician to delegate duties to a “registered cardiovascular invasive specialist” (CIS) assisting in a fluoroscopy under specified conditions. The State Board of Physicians (MBP) may impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each instance of a hospital’s failure to comply with specified requirements. The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) must conduct a review of hospital cardiac care catheterization laboratories in the State that includes specified information and submit its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by October 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 734 – Education – Students With Reading Difficulties – Screenings and Interventions

This bill requires, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, each local school board to ensure that specified students are screened to identify if the student is at risk for reading difficulties. If the screening results indicate that the student is at risk of reading difficulties, the local board must provide supplemental reading instruction, as appropriate, and provide a notification letter to the student’s parent as specified. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) must develop and update resources for local boards every four years and provide technical support to local boards allowing them to provide training opportunities annually. Local boards must report annually to MSDE beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Zucker 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.