2021 POST SESSION NEWSLETTER
Updated: May 6, 2021
As usual, I take great pride in sharing with you a summary of my legislative work during the 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly. I also appreciate the opportunity to continue my service as Senator of Maryland’s 10th Legislative District. In Annapolis, I serve additionally as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which has responsibility for issues and legislation on the following subjects:
Economic & Community Development
Collective Bargaining & State Personnel
Human Services (welfare, social services)
Health Care Policies and Regulations
Energy and Utilities
Commercial Law & Consumer Protection
Summary of My 2021 Successful Bills
Senate Bill 14-Compensation to Individual Erroneously Convicted, Sentenced, and Confined (The Walter Lomax Act)
Prior to the passage of this legislation, Maryland had no requirement to provide compensation to persons wrongfully convicted, sentenced, confined, and later exonerated. It was up to the whims of each Maryland Governor to determine whether and/or in what amounts to grant compensation to innocent convicts who were eventually exonerated (sometimes after decades of wrongful conviction). Senate Bill 14 creates legal certainty, as well as amounts of compensation applicable for various categories of damages owed to an exonerated person. The Bill was named for Walter Lomax, a Maryland exonoree who became a member of the Maryland Task Force to Study Erroneous Conviction and Imprisonment, a task force created by one of my earlier successful bills.
Senate Bill 65-Electricity-Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard-Tier 2 Renewable Sources, Qualifying Biomass, and Compliance Fees
With the passage of SB 65, Maryland finally removes black liquor (a mix of caustic chemicals and wood waste) from our taxpayer-subsidized portfolio of “Renewable Energy.” In 2019, when the Luke Mill Paper Plant in Western Maryland closed for economic reasons, it was hoped that Maryland would end the fiction that black liquor belonged in our so-called clean Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). Since 2019, Maryland had remained the only state in our region whose electric utility customers were forced in our rates to subsidize dirty energy, contaminated black liquor from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. With the passage of Senate Bill 65 (which now awaits the Governor’s signature), we can spend all of our clean-energy subsidies on actual clean energy, including solar, wind, and hydro. Senate Bill 65 strengthens Maryland’s commitment to actual cleaner energy.
Senate Bill 100- Task Force on Oral Health in Maryland
This successful legislation mandates the creation of a Task Force to identify continuing barriers that prevent thousands of Marylanders from having access to oral health care, including poverty, lack of oral health literacy, lack of insurance coverage, age, disabilities, and/or lack of transportation. Senate Bill 100 specifies the various professions and organizations to have representation on the Task Force, and requires a report to the General Assembly at December 1, 2022.
Senate Bill 149- Insurance- Application of Premium Tax- Continued Exclusion of Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund
Senate Bill 149 is a technical Bill, the passage of which was important as a requirement to prevent an otherwise automatic auto insurance premium increase that would have needlessly impacted the insureds of Maryland’s private insurance market, as well as the 1.5% of Maryland drivers not insurable by the private market, and who therefore are only insurable by the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF), a creation of the State, which is also regulated by the State.
Senate Bill 202- Correctional Services- Parole-Life Imprisonment
This Bill eliminates the ability of the Governor to over-rule a decision of the Maryland Parole Commission to grant parole, after careful study and analysis, to an inmate serving a parole-eligible life sentence.
The Bill was amended to require a favorable vote on each such case by at least six members of the Parole Commission. Additionally, the Bill requires if the inmate’s crime was committed on or after October 1, 2021, the inmate must serve at least 15 years (or its equivalent when considering allowances for diminution credits) before parole release can be considered.
Senate Bill 215- Maryland Department of Health-Birth Registration-Gestational Carriers
Senate Bill 215 was requested by the Vital Statistics Division of the Maryland Health Department to systematize the preparation of birth certificates for newborns who were carried by gestational carriers. Although Maryland is one of 15 states which mandate that certain insurers cover infertility treatments, Maryland had not previously standardized by statute, protocols for preparation of birth certificates for babies born of gestational carriers, to whom the babies are genetically unrelated.
Senate Bill 215 specifies what paperwork must be submitted and on what timeline by the intended parents, including a copy of the Order of Parentage issued by a Maryland Court of proper jurisdiction, as well as the paperwork required for submission to Vital Statistics by the attending obstetrician or midwife.
Senate Bill 215 sets no new policy regarding gestational surrogacy in Maryland. Governor Schaeffer vetoed bills intended to outlaw gestational surrogacy (SP 251 in 1992, and SB 171 in 1994), but the General Assembly failed to override either veto, thereby endorsing collaborative reproduction.
Senate Bill 384-Health Facilities- Residential Service Agencies-Guidance and Reporting
Given the passage of Senate Bill 384, the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health and Labor, is required to prepare and disseminate a report clarifying the definition, and legal rights of personal care aides, who are sometimes led to believe that they are independent contractors, even when a residential service agency has actually hired these workers, and control their assigned work placements, duties, and compensation. Once this official report is widely available to the public, exploitation of personal care aides should be significantly reduced.
Senate 428-Public Utilities- Annual Reports
Senate Bill 428 is a technical Bill, requested by the Public Service Commission, altering the due date of an annual report by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, relating to the Electric Universal Service Program.
Senate Bill 429- For-Hire Driving and Vehicles- Requirements
Senate Bill 429 alters requirements for submission of certain photographs to be submitted to the Public Service Commission by certain applicants seeking a for-hire driver’s license. SB 428 allows the Commission to access the required photographs through the Motor Vehicle Administration, and repeals the requirement that certain applicants for a Baltimore city Taxi Cab license take an obsolete course not required of applicants in any other Maryland jurisdiction.
Senate Bill 430- Public Service Commission-Virtual Public Hearings
Given the on-going health pandemic, this emergency legislation was requested by the Public Service Commission, granting it permission to hold virtual public hearings on applications for utility rate increases, or for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). The legislation requires that for rate-increase hearings, there be adequate public notice so that persons in affected areas can participate. Also, for CPCN hearings, the PSC must provide on its website, prominent advance notice regarding any virtual hearing. The Commission must also provide the public with reasonable opportunity for public comment and participation when holding a virtual hearing.
Senate Bill 497- Juvenile Services Education Board and Program- Establishment, Powers, and Duties
This successful legislation responds to the critical need for an independent school board, superintendent and school system adapted to the unique needs of the youth committed to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. Senate Bill 497 was passed by the General Assembly of Maryland to improve equity and opportunity for the largely low-income and minority youth committed to the Department of Juvenile Services.
The new system created by this legislation will have authority and resources to address pervasive issues related to staffing, budget, curriculum, and special education services.
The new JSE Board and Program will have a robust system of quality assurance, accountability, and transparency, will foster partnerships with local county schools and community colleges, and removes long time barriers to school re-enrollment when students are released from the Department of Juvenile Services.
Senate Bill 507-Division of Consumer Protection- Assisted Living Programs
The passage of Senate Bill 507 will shine much needed light on the extent to which many elderly or disabled assisted living residents without close family, legal guardians or trusted financial advisors of their choice, are mandated (as a requirement for entry or for continued residency) to permit assisted living owners, or managers to serve as representative payees of their social security and or other government pensions.
The passage of SB 507 now requires that on or before June 1st of each year, each assisted living program that served as a representative payee for any of its residents at any point during the reporting period, shall report to the Division of consumer Protection on the use of social security benefits, and or on other federal, state, or local government funds of each such resident at any time during the immediately preceding year.
Even through these difficult times of the Pandemic, my staff and I have continued to assist our constituents by resolving issues with State Agencies and by keeping them abreast of items of interest in the legislature and State. If you or community organizations have questions about the resources or operations of any State Agency, or need help navigating the “red tape” of any State Agency, please contact our office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 410-841-3606.
Our office is happy to be a part of our constituent’s milestones and accomplishments by providing you with a Senate Resolution commemorating such events. Please email (email@example.com) your request to our office at least 14 days prior to any of the following events:
Birthdays (age 75 and older)
Wedding Anniversaries (30 years or more)
Retirements (20 years or more service)
Volunteer Fire Department Members (20 years or more)
Institutional Anniversaries (25 years or more)
Eagle Scout Rank and the Girl Scout Gold Award
Extraordinary Acts of Heroism
National, Regional, State, and County Level Awards (i.e. , Teacher-of-the-Year, Blue Ribbon Schools, State and Regional Athletic Championships)
In the event of the death of a constituent, we can provide you with a formal Declaration of Condolence. Please make the request as soon as you know the arrangements.