2013 O’MALLEY-BROWN ADMINISTRATION LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

JOB CREATION

EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) EARN will provide funding for workforce training collaborations between businesses, local government, and non-profits so that Maryland's working families have the skills necessary for employment advancement into sustainable jobs. As a result of such training, EARN will create jobs by closing the gap between the workforce needs of employers and the skills of Maryland's workforce. This proposal is a joint initiative with House and Senate leaders, including Senator Klausmeier, and Delegates Olszewski, Mitchell, and Clippinger. 

Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 This proposal removes certain barriers to  employment that service members often face when making the transition from military service to the civilian work force.  The bill also expedites the occupational and professional licensing process for military spouses when a military family moves to Maryland. 

Public-Private Partnership This legislation will make the public-private partnership (P3) process in our state more predictable, streamlined, transparent, and attractive to private investment while ensuring strong workforce protections and maintaining control of State assets. Specifically, the bill amends the definition of a P3 and focuses on partnerships and the delivery of assets. The bill also creates processes for identifying P3 projects, evaluating P3 projects, and provides for legislative oversight of P3 projects. The bill is prospective and is revenue neutral.  Initial estimates have found that additional P3s could contribute between six percent and ten percent of Maryland’s $3.1 billion annual capital budget while creating as many as 4,000 jobs. 

EDUCATION

Digital Learning Innovation Fund The State of Maryland is committed to helping local districts maximize the potential of new and emerging technologies to improve student outcomes and better prepare students for the workforce needs of the 21st Century.  To advance the State’s efforts, the Governor’s budget includes a Digital Learning Innovation Fund to provide resources to local school districts to accelerate their conversion to comprehensive digital learning environments.  MSDE will make competitive grants from the fund to districts that propose the most compelling plans for conversion to digital learning.  Separate competitions will be held for large and for small districts to ensure that districts of varying size are selected for funding.  Supported activities would include: provision of multimedia assets to students and teachers, differentiation of instruction to address diverse learning styles, differentiation of assignments and leveling of materials for students advancing at different paces, training and support to both educators and students, and offering more current information than traditional textbooks on an ongoing basis. Note: The Administration has provided funding for this competitive grant proposal in the FY14 budget. 

Early College Innovation Fund The State of Maryland is committed to increasing access to postsecondary education and helping students obtain credentials that position them to compete for jobs in growing sectors of the State’s economy.  To advance the State’s efforts, the Governor’s budget includes an Early College Innovation Fund to support an expansion of early college access programs that provide accelerated pathways for students seeking career and technical education (CTE) or training in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.  Under the initiative, MSDE will make competitive grants from the fund to partnerships of local school systems and higher education institutions that are formed to create early college high schools or other forms of early college access. The support would be bridge funding intended to help eligible partnerships bear some of the start-up costs associated with creating new early college programs. Note: The Administration has provided funding for this competitive grant proposal in the FY14 budget. 

Calculation of Net Taxable Income  This bill alters how a jurisdiction’s net taxable income (NTI) is calculated for purposes of determining State education funding.  The bill requires that the Comptroller continue to calculate NTI using tax returns filed before September 1 but also perform a second calculation using tax returns filed before November 1.  For each jurisdiction, the Comptroller must use the NTI number that provides the jurisdiction with the higher level of education funding.  Under this proposal, jurisdictions will not lose funding due to any change in the calculation of NTI.

ENVIRONMENT

Offshore Wind This proposal would incentivize construction of a 200 MW offshore wind farm off the coast of Maryland.  Benefits of offshore wind include job creation and economic development; new in-state renewable generation; lower greenhouse gas emissions; and reduced public health costs.  The projected impact on the average residential ratepayer will be no more than $1.50 per month.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Assault Weapons Ban Maryland currently bans only 15 enumerated assault pistols, but allows for the sale and possession of high-capacity, military-style assault weapons designed for the greatest human carnage.  This legislation would establish a ban on all assault weapons, with a focus on the features that enhance a weapon’s lethality. 

Magazine Capacity Limitation This proposal would reduce the allowable magazine capacity from 20 rounds to 10.  

Licensing This proposal would require a license for every handgun purchase with age restrictions; mandatory safety training requirements; mandatory fingerprinting; and an attestation that a person is not prohibited, with a waiver for a full background check.  While respecting an individual’s right to protect one’s self and one’s family with a handgun, this common sense proposal also recognizes the need for accuracy in identification and the need for weapons familiarization and safety training prior to purchase.   Note: the Administration’s licensing plan will carve-out hunting rifles and shotguns from this requirement.

Statewide DNA Data Base System – Repeal of Sunset
Since January 2009, there have been 220 arrestee/charged offender DNA hits that have resulted in 73 arrests and 42 convictions. There are currently 71 open DNA hit cases including 27 confirmed active investigations as of January 1, 2013. This proposal removes the sunset provision, which is effective December 31, 2013.

Strengthen Existing Law Prohibiting Possession This proposal would strengthen existing Maryland law, which now prohibits possession if a person “suffers from a mental disorder … and has a history of violent behavior” by adding: (1) individuals currently under guardianship protection due to an inability to care for themselves or manage their own affairs; and (2) individuals civilly committed if the judge makes a determination that the individual cannot safely possess based on credible evidence of dangerousness to others.

Restricting Ammunition Possession Persons prohibited from possession of regulated firearms can still legally obtain ammunition. This proposal makes it a crime for prohibited persons to possess ammunition for weapons they cannot legally possess.

Registering Weapons from Other States Maryland law currently only requires registration for weapons obtained in Maryland. There is no registration requirement for persons who move into Maryland with their weapons. This proposal requires that persons who move into the State
register their guns within a certain time frame.

Automating Gun Application Process The way a person buys a gun is by submitting an application to a dealer, who submits the application to MSP for a records check. Under current law, gun dealers have the option of sending applications to MSP by means of certified mail, fax OR automated means. This proposal mandates automation, which will streamline the process and ensure greater accuracy.

SCHOOL SAFETY

Enhance School Security The Governor’s FY14 budget proposal dedicates $25 million of school construction dollars to school security enhancements. Initiatives will include cameras at entrances, automatically locking doors, shatterproof glass, and buzzer entrance systems.  Note: The Administration has provided funding for this competitive grant proposal in the FY14 budget. 

Establish a Maryland Center for School Safety To be located at Maryland’s fusion center, a partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement, the Center would work with all public school and law enforcement stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive approach to school safety, including disseminating information on best practices, providing training and technical assistance, and gathering meaningful data on school safety issues.  Note: The Administration has provided funding for this competitive grant proposal in the FY14 budget. 

K-12 Emergency Plan Review This initiative directs the Maryland State Department of Education, working with the State Police (MSP), to review all school district emergency plans to identify gaps (including any in educator training, planning and drills, and auditing of plans), and revise statewide regulations to close those gaps.       

Higher Education Emergency Plan Review This initiative directs the Maryland Higher Education Commission, working with the State Police (MSP), to review the emergency plans of higher education institutions and address safety issues with institutional presidents.

MENTAL HEALTH SAFEGUARDS AND IMPROVEMENTS IN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Data Sharing This proposal would provide consistency between the data available to state and federal law enforcement officials for background checks. The goal is to ensure that state law enforcement officials and federal officials have the same data available to them.

Mental Health Treatment Through policy and budgetary initiatives, the Administration will improve the delivery of mental health services in Maryland and provide for earlier intervention to reduce the potential for violent behavior. Those initiatives include:

(i) Expanding crisis intervention teams, which include trained police officers and mental health professionals who together respond to mental health emergencies, with the goal of preventing or diffusing dangerous or threatening emergencies involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in the community; and

(ii) Expanding crisis response services, which offer crisis and referral service hotlines; mobile crisis teams; trauma and critical incident response; emergency respite; emergency department and detention center diversion programs; care coordination and stabilization; and referrals to long-term services and resources.

(iii) Establishing a Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness, which will advance understanding of effective early intervention; program components will include evaluations and treatment, telephone consultations with primary care and other clinicians a hot line for the affected individual or their family, and an education program to increase awareness of warning signs of clinical high risk mental states, manifestations of psychosis, and referral mechanisms.

Establish a DHMH-led Task Force to Improve Continuity of Care for Individuals in the Community Mental Health System A risk factor for poor outcomes and, in some cases, potential violence, is disruption of effective outpatient mental health treatment. The task force will review Maryland law and practice to identify ways to strengthen access and adherence to treatment to improve health outcomes and reduce the potential for violent behavior.

DIGNITY

Death Penalty Repeal and Appropriation from Savings to Aid Survivors of Homicide Victims In 2008, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, led by former United States Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, found that for every 8.7 Americans sent to death row, there has been one innocent person exonerated.  It was near unanimous in reporting that “the administration of the death penalty clearly shows racial bias.” It determined that no administrative fixes could end these disparities and that the cost to taxpayers of pursuing a capital case is three times as much as the costs of pursuing a non-death penalty homicide conviction, where a person receives a life sentence without parole.  The data shows that the death penalty is expensive and does not work.  This proposal would end this inefficient procedure, preserve the option of life without parole for the most serious offenders, and appropriate the savings to aid survivors of homicide victims.

ELECTIONS

Early Voting and Same Day Registration Maryland first allowed early voting during the 2010 primary elections, and it has steadily grown more popular. More than 16 percent of ballots cast in November came during early voting, and some polling places, particularly in large jurisdictions, saw hours-long lines. The law authorizing early voting only specifies the details for the 2010 and 2012 elections and must be expanded to accommodate increased popularity.  In addition, Numerous states have enacted strict voter ID laws that will limit voter turnout, but this legislation would reverse the trend by making it easier for Maryland residents to vote through same-day voter registration during early voting periods.

HEALTH REFORM

Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 This proposal updates various provisions of State law to fully implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Maryland.  It includes: the expansion of Medicaid as permitted under the ACA; the establishment of a dedicated funding stream for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange from the existing premium tax on health insurers; provisions to move enrollees of the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) into the Exchange in a manner that prevents rate-shock; provisions to ensure Continuity of Care for those switching insurance policies and moving in and out of Medicaid and commercial insurance, and other necessary changes to become fully compliant with the ACA.