Summary –

This document represents the Maryland Legislative Coalition’s Agenda for the 2021 Session. These are the policy initiatives that the Coalition will support and hopes to pass during the session. The 2021 Legislative Agenda is divided into major policy areas of Education, Environment, Elections and Democracy, Gun Control, Health Care, Transportation and Social and Economic Justice.  HIGH PRIORITY, OR MUST-WIN LEGISLATION IS IN BOLD.

 

 Education –

The biggest initiative in terms of schools is overriding the Governor’s veto of the Kirwan Blueprint legislation. The veto of the Kirwan Blueprint also put all school construction on hold, which make it doubly important to override.  Additionally, we would like to see the veto of the HBCU funding overridden as well.  Our specific legislative goals are:

  • Overriding the Kirwan Blueprint veto
  • Ensuring that School construction move forward
  • Overriding the HBCU funding veto
  • Ending the BOOST Program
  • Reform Juvenile Services Education – young persons in Juvenile Services are not getting educated during the pandemic so there needs to be a plan
  • Reporting Requirements for all Alternative Schools – more children with learning difficulties are being placed in alternative schools, which have no real oversight

Environment –

Last year, one of the very few legislative wins that we had in the environmental arena was the banning of Chlorpyrifos, which was vetoed by the Governor.  We would like to see that overturned, but are looking to go back at a LOT of environmental legislation that was left on the table.  What we are looking to support this year includes:

  • Climate Solutions Now Act, this is a comprehensive bill, which will increase the statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirement from 40% by 2030 to 60% and requires the State to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.  It also sets targets for electrifying state vehicle fleets, supporting solar on buildings and planting trees.  Finally it has justice/equity provisions which will support already burdened communities.
  • Community Choice Energy, which will be enabling legislation for each county that will allow them to aggregate their rate payers to negotiate for better rates and for the kind of energy (solar, wind, fossil fuel) that their residents want to use
  • Climate Crisis Act, (a tax on carbon) which will raise money for the state to be used to fund environmental and other solutions
  • Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Rights, which will give everyone in Maryland the right to clean air, water and a pollution free environment
  • Transition from Black Liquor and Incineration, which will look to close coal fired power plants and transition away from incineration
  • Low income energy efficiency targets, which will help to alleviate the burden of disproportionate energy costs for low-income households
  • MTA Conversion to Zero Emission Buses
  • Worker protections for agricultural workers, who are currently exempted from health care, time off, minimum wage requirements and other basic requirements
  • Consideration of Climate in the planning and building of utility infrastructure
  • PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy), which is a loan system that allows residences and businesses to afford solar
  • Cleaning up lead in drinking water in schools
  • Incentives for more electric vehicles, including the electrification the bus fleet and police vehicles
  • Extended Producer Responsibility, which will put the responsibility for recycling plastics back on the producers
  • Plastic Bag ban
  • Expansion of composting including repeal of HOA and Condo Assn prohibition on composting
  • Geothermal Energy development, which is another clean energy source
  • Converting the Dickerson Incinerator to Solar
  • Getting Universities to Net Zero by 2030
  • Creating a Chief Resilience Officer
  • Overturning the ban on Chlorpyrifos, the bee killing pesticide

Elections and Democracy–

Some of the election-related bills that didn’t pass last year will come back. We are not expecting a lot of election reform bills to get much traction, but the ones we are looking to support include:

  • Campaign Finance Reform including the Small Donor Incentive Act
  • Permanent Vote by Mail
  • Counting mail-in ballots as they come in
  • Student voter empowerment
  • Governance of the State Board of Elections
  • Ranked Choice Voting
  • Ability to file electronic signatures for ballot petitions

Gun Control –

There were several bills that didn’t pass last year that will be making a return. There are also a few new legislative ideas on mass-shootings that sound very promising. We are looking to support:

  • Override the veto of the Background Checks for Long Guns
  • A ban on 3D printed guns and guns with no serial number, which will require the creation of an agency to manage serial numbers
  • Liability for manufacturers of guns
  • Re-definition of domestic terrorism to include mass shootings

Health Care –

One of the most promising bills from last session was the study of how we transition to a single-payer health care system, which didn’t get a vote. We will push hard to get it through this year.  Another bill that we hope will come back is the End-of-Life Act.  We are very close to getting that in Maryland, so we will support that bill and other legislation, such as:

  • Study the transition to single payer
  • Health Equity Resource Community Initiative, which is a resolution which addresses health inequities based on race, ethnicity, disability and place of residence
  • Time to Care Act, which provides family medical leave
  • Healthy Working Families Act, which adds 14 paid days whenever there is a declared health emergency, removes exemptions for agricultural, seasonal, temporary and on-call workers, expands sick leave days from 5-7 and reduces the waiting period to take leave
  • End of Life Act
  • School Based Health Centers
  • Ensuring that insurance pay for mental health and telehealth
  • Insulin price reduction and legislation affecting the need for emergency supplies of insulin
  • Prohibition on consumer price gouging for Long Term Care Insurance
  • Mental health legislation 
  • Additional Vaping legislation

Transportation –
Transportation is a large component of climate change, and as such will be big part of our future.  We will continue to support any enhancements to public transportation, such as:

  • Transit Safety and Investment Act – provide funds to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to ensure that we continue to provide affordable, on-time public transit around the state
  • Studies for better public transportation for the Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, Western Maryland and between Maryland and Virginia
  • Monorail between Frederick and Shady Grove
  • Transportation Climate Initiative – regional initiative to develop a green energy economy
  • Commuter Buses for 1-270
  • Transportation Equity and Assurances Act of 2021
  • Creation of an Inspector General for P3s

Social and Economic Justice – 

There will once again be a lot of focus on Social and Economic Justice this session, with a very heavy emphasis on policing.  Social Justice bills often sit in the Judicial Proceedings Committee and don’t get passed year after year. This is why so many bills keep coming back in the hope of passing. This year, there will once again be many return bills that we will support and we will hope they will not get pushed aside again due to the focus on policing.  

  • Policing –
    • Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights
    • Public Information Act – allowing access to law enforcement records become public when there is misconduct
    • Removing School Resource Officers
    • Psychological evaluation of officers before hiring, annually, and after any incident where a citizen was harmed
    • Creation of Use of Force Standards
    • Prohibition of purchase of military grade equipment by police
    • Creation of a duty to report misconduct and creation of a misconduct database
    • State Prosecutor investigation of police misconduct that ends in death or injury
    • Citations in lieu of arrests
  • Immigrant Rights –
    • Trust Act – prevention of racial profiling at police stops
    • Creation of an Office of Immigrant Affairs
    • Correctional Facilities and Police Officers – Immigration status
    • Preventing ICE from using driver’s license pictures
    • Prohibition on new ICE facilities in Maryland
    • Prohibition of forensic genetic searches
  • Housing
    • Social Housing, which includes tenant protections, affordable housing and zoning changes that allow for duplexes, triplexes and quarterplexes
    • Emergency relief for renters – extending protections through April 2022, pausing rent increases, Covid defense for evictions, just cause evictions, requiring notice for evictions
    • Housing for the homeless
    • Affirmatively furthering fair housing
  • Disability Rights –
    • Transitioning services for young people who have become adults to help them get jobs
    • Department of Education Trauma approach for medically fragile kids
  • Women’s Rights
    • Spousal defense
    • Protection of a woman’s right to choose
  • LGBTQ Rights – 
    • Administrative name/gender change rights
    • End of minor solitary confinement
    • Elimination of the panic defense
    • Banning discrimination by private schools that get public funds
  • Economic Justice – 
    • Protect the first $2,600 in bank accounts from debt collection
    • End medical debt lawsuits and property garnishments for medical debt
    • Maryland Essential Workers Protection Act, which provides for safe and hygienic working conditions, hazard pay, healthcare assistance, universal health and bereavement leave, free testing and right to refuse dangerous work
    • End debtor’s prisons
    • Wage protection – retaliation – protections for $15 minimum wage
    • Eliminating body attachments
    • Bail reform
    • Child tax credit for low income families
    • Broadband expansion
  • Criminal Justice Reform –
    • Eliminating the Unit Rule
    • Pre-trial release monitoring systems (GPS systems vs incarceration)
    • Women’s prerelease centers
    • Juvenile Sentencing Reform
    • Marijuana legalization
  • Equitable Taxation –
    • Decouple from Federal tax giveaways  
    • Decouple from CARES Act giveaways
    • Capital Gains Surtax
    • Close the Carried Interest Loophole
    • Close the Pass Through Loophole
    • Create Progressive Tax Brackets
    • Reform the Enterprise Zone Tax Credit