Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Legislative Agenda to Create Jobs, Strengthen Small Businesses, Enhance Public Safety

Agenda includes legislation to provide immediate tax relief to small businesses, keep Maryland families in their homes, protect children from predators, fuel green innovation, and improve the nation's best public school system


ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 25, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley submitted his legislative agenda today, focusing on strengthening small businesses and creating jobs to bring Maryland through the national recession.  The Governor also proposed additional protections for Maryland families facing foreclosure, and specific reforms to further improve the nation’s number one public school system.  And the Governor’s energy agenda focuses on fueling innovation to create green jobs, and position Maryland as a national leader in renewable resources.

“There is no government program that is as important and empowering as a job which allows a family to raise their kids with dignity and respect and a roof over their heads.  Our task as public servants is to continue making the choices and connections that will allow our families to get through these tough times even stronger,” said Governor O’Malley. “The times we live in call out for less partisanship and more citizenship, and as Marylanders, we have a history of coming together in times of great adversity.”

“Governor O’Malley and I continue our efforts to stand up for Maryland’s families. Our ambitious legislative package builds on the progress we have made in past years and will help create an atmosphere that fosters job creation and improves the health of all Marylanders,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “I am excited to work with the General Assembly to help Governor O’Malley pass these important bills.”

In addition to job creation initiatives, the Governor announced today comprehensive legislation to impose lifetime supervision requirements for sexual predators, including rape, sexual abuse of a minor, and other sexual offenses.  The bill would require judges to order lifetime probation, which may include GPS or other monitoring, imposes criminal penalties for violation of probation, and disallows dimunition credits for violations.

The Governor’s proposals call for a $3,000 credit for businesses for every unemployed Marylander that it hires.  This initiative, when fully utilized, can account for 6,700 Marylanders coming off the unemployment rolls and back into the workforce.  In addition, Governor O’Malley submitted emergency legislation to provide immediate unemployment insurance tax relief for small businesses, and a series of reforms to modernize the system and stabilize the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. 

Governor O’Malley proposed legislation to fuel innovation in Maryland’s green economy, including a tax credit for the purchase of next generation electric vehicles, expected to be on the market in the fall of this year.  Governor O’Malley’s proposal to accelerate Maryland’s solar Renewable Portfolio Standards requirements in the early years (2011 – 2017) would result in more residential and commercial solar installation and greater job creation.  In addition, the Heritage Tax Credit program has been broadened into a Sustainable Communities Tax Credit, not only to create and sustain construction and design jobs on historic structures, but to reward those development projects that adhere to ecologically-friendly building standards.  The Governor also called for the reauthorization of the Renewable Energy Production tax credit, and has submitted legislation that will make the production of off-shore wind energy in Maryland more feasible.

In addition to job creation initiatives, Governor O’Malley will also submit legislation giving every Maryland family facing foreclosure the legal right to mediation with the lender seeking the foreclosure.  Building on the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s bold reforms of the foreclosure process and timelines in 2007, the Administration remains committed to ensuring that those homeowners who are eligible for loan modifications are able to obtain them, and that others can pursue alternatives to avoid foreclosure or lessen its harmful impact.  Borrowers who may be eligible for loan modifications to save their homes but find themselves facing foreclosure anyway should be afforded the opportunity to talk directly with their lenders to find a resolution before their homes are sold.  This bill gives Maryland families the right to a foreclosure mediation process upon filing of foreclosure proceedings.  It requires lenders/servicers to use the 45 day period prior to the filing of the foreclosure action more productively to achieve loan modifications where possible by requiring the Notice to include a loss mitigation application and other information helpful to the homeowner to prevent the loss of their home.

Governor O’Malley will also introduce legislation to improve upon Maryland’s public school system, named the nation’s number one public school system by Education Week Magazine for the second straight year.  Included among the reforms is a proposal to develop the structure necessary for the creation of a longitudinal data system, which would track students as they move from elementary school through higher education in order to better track progress, trends, and best practices in education.  Governor O’Malley also introduced legislation to make funding for the Higher Education Investment Fund from corporate tax revenues permanent and to establish a Tuition Stabilization Account in the Fund in order to establish a more predictable, affordable tuition policy and avoid large tuition increases in the future.  The Higher Education Investment Fund was created under the O’Malley-Brown Administration to help stabilize tuition and make college more affordable for Maryland’s working families.

The Governor also plans on introducing legislation at a later date to better position Maryland for federal Race to the Top funding.  The Governor continues to work with stakeholders to craft reforms that will further improve the nation’s number one public school system.

Governor O’Malley also introduced legislation today establishing the framework for patient centered medical homes (PCMH), a model of primary care in which a team of health professionals, guided by a personal physician, provides continuous, comprehensive, and coordinated care in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner.  The bill directs the Maryland Health Care Commission to establish a PCMH Program consisting of all-payer and single-payer PCMH pilots.  A PCMH program in law will establish a clear state action claim and protect stakeholders from federal anti-trust challenges.

Governor O’Malley also reintroduced legislation from last year to advance the State’s efforts to contain costs and eliminate waste and abuse in State health programs.  The bill will enable the State to recover damages and penalties from individuals who defraud the State by filing false claims against State health plans and programs.

To read the bill summaries, click here.


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