Annapolis Update: Status of My Bills

Tuesday, March 21, 11:33am

Last week was a big week for Team Lierman: while the City weathered the brief snow storm, the House of Delegates voted on (and passed!) five of my bills. District support has been key, so I didn’t want to wait for the newsletter to share the wonderful update and thank all of you and all the advocates who have helped us advance this far. These bills still need to pass the Senate – but even getting out the House before the crossover deadline on Monday is a huge first step.

The General Assembly doesn’t stop for the snow, and on Tuesday the House voted in favor of my bill to ensure Legal Aid staff at District Court self-help centers continue to have health insurance coverage. HB 991 passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support (138-2).

On Wednesday night, the House voted for HB 271 to repeal the farebox recovery mandate! Improving public transit has always been and will remain high on my priority list, and the farebox recovery mandate was an impediment to MTA providing better service. See the article here for more information about why the farebox recovery is such a problem. I am incredibly grateful to Get Maryland Moving, 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, and other advocates helped educate delegates about the importance of this bill. Thanks to our work, HB 271 passed 85-50.

My colleagues also voted to provide more transitional support to ex-drug offenders by loosening our random limits on SNAP (food stamps) and temporary cash assistance eligibility. Under current Maryland law, individuals with felony drug convictions are ineligible for food and cash assistance during the first year after their conviction, while those convicted of fraud or violent crime remain fully eligible. My bill reforms the law to better align with the restorative justice model and ensures that drug offenders are not arbitrarily denied basic support during such a critical time in their lives. HB 860, which was amended to exclude repeat offenders, passed on Third Reading by a 83-52 vote.

On Thursday, the House considered HB 425, the bill to prohibit suspensions and expulsions of PreK to Second Graders. The practice of suspending and expelling children from prekindergarten through second grade has no place in Maryland schools. Imposing these harsh disciplinary measures on our youngest students is completely at odds with data on child development and feeds the school to prison pipeline. Since the bill’s inception, we’ve had the science on our side, widespread support on the ground, and tailored language that addressed every concern we heard. As a result, HB 425 passed without debate. Ninety of my colleagues joined me in voting green. Thanks to Disability Rights Maryland, the ACLU, ACY, and every parent, teacher and advocate who championed this cause!

On Saturday, the House passed a heavily-amended version of the Paystub Transparency Act of 2017 (HB 1143). My original version set a minimum standard for written notice provided upon hiring and required each paystub to report information about overtime, wage rates, and location. The bill saw many revisions, and ultimately passed with robust notice requirements but none of the paystub demands than I hoped for. But compromise is key, and the bill moves the needle one step forward.

The General Assembly had already passed HB 224, a bill that would help Maryland’s non-profits recruit AmeriCorps volunteers and the state to keep these great people in our state by waiving the 12-month residency requirement for in-state tuition at our public universities.

These five bills will now crossover to the Senate. Crossover is the process in which the House version of a bill is transmitted to the Senate (or vice versa) for consideration by the other chamber. A bill has to pass both houses of the General Assembly before it can be signed into law by the Governor. I now have six bills in the crossover stage, so please cross your fingers that they make it to Gov. Hogan’s desk! Until then, standby for my final report.