2022 Legislative Accomplishments & Recap
The 2022 session of the Maryland General Assembly was truly momentous. Strong Future Maryland advocated for numerous bills that advance equity, and promote a sustainable, just and prosperous economic future for all Marylanders. There are many major accomplishments to be proud of, although not all priorities passed. While there is still more work to be done, there were big wins for working families, tenants, students, public health, and the environment. SFM is proud of the role that we played in passing sweeping climate legislation, securing paid family leave for all Marylanders, addressing health disparities, protecting tenants, and advancing youth justice reform. A full list of bills that SFM is tracked and their final status can be found here.
Establishes the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide workers up to 12 weeks paid time off to take care of a newborn, themselves, or a loved one with a serious medical condition or disability. It is funded through a state-administered insurance pool into which employees and employers contribute. Read more about what it took to get this bill passed here and here.
Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide comprehensive medical care and other health care services to undocumented pregnant women who would qualify for the Program but for their immigration status and their children up to the age of 1 year. Learn more here.
Provides Maryland renters four concise, long-needed, meaningful reforms that help balance landlord-tenant relations: requires documentation of security deposit deductions; expands grounds for early lease termination to include victims of stalking; allows renters access to utility information at master-meter buildings; and gives tenant organizations the right of assembly in their buildings.
Provides for the stay of certain eviction proceedings when a tenant is waiting for a determination regarding the tenant’s good faith application for rental assistance. Here’s a great op-ed on why we need this bill.
Requires landlords to submit evidence of compliance with local rental property licensure requirements and demonstrate that the landlord is compliant with the licensure requirements.
Requires the State Highway Administration (SHA) to conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a State highway or at an intersection of a State highway in order to meaningfully implement the Vision Zero plan.
SB0528 Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 ✅ Passed
Requires the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2031 and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The bill allows Maryland to begin planning for a smart electric grid, addresses energy performance standards for buildings, expands the state’s use of electric transit and school buses, and establishes a green bank to finance clean-energy solutions and complement private investment. It provides new resources for low-income communities and communities of color that have been overburdened with pollution from industries and highways, and engages youth through the expansion of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. Elements of several SFM priority bills including SB525/HB88 (GRID Act) and HB880 (Climate Equity Act) were included in SB528. Learn more.
Exempts certain community solar energy generating systems from personal property taxes.
Requires law enforcement to make good faith efforts to notify parents or guardians that their child will be subject to interrogation and requires a child to consult with an attorney prior to being interrogated. Also encourages Maryland courts to adopt age-appropriate language for children to understand their rights. Learn more.
Enacts a number of reforms including establishing a minimum age of 13 for prosecuting children, setting developmentally-appropriate limitations on probation, removing barriers to diversion, and banning incarceration for low-level offenses such as misdemeanors and technical violations. Learn more.
Ensuring Funding for SB684 from 2020 – Women’s Pre-release Center ✅ Passed
The Women’s Pre-release coalition successfully advocated for funding to be allocated in both the operating and capital budgets for construction of the pre-release center as required in SB684 of 2020. The pre-release center connects women re-entering society after incarceration to housing, jobs, and life skill preparation. The Governor failed to include funding for the pre-release center, but after strong advocacy from the coalition and direct testimony from FY’23 operating budget includes $150,000 to hire a project manager and the FY’24 includes pre-authorization of $2 million in capital construction funding. Learn more.
Other Major Priorities of the General Assembly for 2022
In addition to SFM’s priority legislation, we closely followed and supported the important bills below. We celebrate these major accomplishments and recognize the important work of the coalitions and advocates who led these efforts that advance equity, address health disparities, solve transportation needs, and make our schools safe spaces for every student.
Allows medical professionals beyond only physicians to perform abortions, allocates $3.5 million per year for medical training on providing abortions, and requires most health insurance plans to cover abortions at no charge to patients. Learn more here.
Bans the sale, purchase, or transfer of unfinished gun frames. These gun parts can be purchased online and assembled at home, resulting in a proliferation of untraceable, unregulated guns. This common-sense gun control legislation aims to close that loophole. Learn more.
Amends the Maryland Constitution to legalize limited possession, use, and home cultivation of cannabis for anyone at least 21 years old. Allows for automatic expungement of all records where simple possession was the only charge and for those incarcerated for possession to petition for and be granted release or resentencing. Also establishes a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund to allocate tax revenues from the cannabis industry to low-income communities or those that have been affected by cannabis prosecution. Read more here.
SB0350 Community Violence Prevention Services ✅ Passed
Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide community violence prevention services; provides for Medicaid reimbursement of violence intervention services; and establishes requirements for professionals seeking certification as a certified violence prevention professional. Learn more.
Provides non-discrimination protections for students on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability at any school receiving state funding.
Prohibits public and private schools from using seclusion or physical restraint as behavioral health interventions for students with disabilities except in limited circumstances. This legislation also improves training and provides resources for positive behavioral interventions and requires the State Department of Education to develop an accountability system to ensure all schools are in compliance with the law. Learn more.
Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide dental services, including diagnostic, preventive, restorative, and periodontal services, for adults whose annual household income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.
Requires that equity be considered when State transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed and requires the Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the Maryland Transportation Administration, to conduct a transit equity analyses and consult with certain communities before announcing any reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project in the construction program of the Consolidated Transportation Program.
Requires the Maryland Transit Administration to establish certain investment programs for enhancing certain rail lines and services operated by the Maryland Area Regional Commuter rail service.
Prohibits a person from using, manufacturing, or knowingly selling or distributing Class B fire-fighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals.
SB0290 Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Bill ✅ Passed
SB0291 Fiscal Year 2023 Capital Budget Bill ✅ Passed
Legislation SFM Opposed
HB423/SB339 “Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022” ❌Defeated
A priority bill for Governor Hogan, this bill increases penalties for certain firearm crimes and creates mandatory minimums for repeat offenders. While this might sound like a solution, mandatory minimums have not been effective at reducing or preventing crime. Most firearm crimes are not being charged or prosecuted; increasing penalties is not an effective solution.
Here’s a must-read op-ed from Dayvon Love at Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle explaining exactly why Governor Hogan’s crime solution is deeply misguided.
SB401/HB415 Scholarships for Nonpublic School Students ❌Defeated
Permanently sets in law the “BOOST” private school voucher program opposed by public school advocates, the ACLU of Maryland, and the MSEA (state teachers’ union). The voucher program was created in Governor Hogan’s budget several years ago, never in statute, so every year the General Assembly chooses to allocate funding to the program, which is managed by the State Department of Education. The program is supposed to give vouchers to public school students to attend private school, yet a majority of students in the BOOST program already attended private school when they received the voucher. There are major concerns about public dollars going to private, mostly religious schools where adequate non-discrimination protections don’t exist. There have been numerous cases of religious schools receiving public money through BOOST that have blatantly anti-LGBTQ+ policies, and a recent court ruling determined the state can’t prohibit these schools from receiving vouchers. SFM supports eliminating the BOOST program entirely and strongly objects to attempts to make the program permanent by codifying it in state law with mandatory annual funding.
HB757 “Save Women’s Sports Act” ❌Defeated
Prohibit girls from participating in K-12 sports activities that align with their gender identity. SFM opposes this and all transphobic legislation.
SB 404 – “Marylanders Tax Relief Act of 2022” ❌Defeated
SFM is opposing this bill because it fails to maintain EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) eligibility for all Maryland taxpayers and we can’t support a bill that takes away the credit from Marylanders who are currently eligible to receive it. This bill would also create future budget deficits and jeopardize critical funding for the Blueprint for Education.
Work to be Continued
While this session was a success overall, there are many bills that did not pass. Some bills ran out of time or didn’t have enough support, while others were a clear failure of leadership to ensure final passage. SFM is committed to continuing the work to see these bills become a reality.
Requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide gender-affirming treatment. Also prohibits the program from declining gender-affirming treatment unless a health care provider with experience in gender-affirming care has reviewed and confirmed the determination.
This bill passed the Senate, passed the House committee, but was sent back and never brought to a vote in the house. Read more about what happened here.
Ends the practice of automatically charging youth as young as 14 in adult court for certain charges. This would help reduce the overrepresentation of youth of color in the Maryland court system and provide more opportunities for rehabilitation. Learn more.
As mentioned above, several important youth justice bills passed this session. Unfortunately, the bill to end auto charging did not pass, but the legislation garnered a lot of attention including numerous press articles, and a strong coalition is in place to advocate for the bill to pass in the 2023 session.
HB0392 Tenant Justice Act
Enables a tenant to file a rent escrow case about building and unit conditions on behalf of multiple tenants or a tenants’ association and allows tenants to seek damages and attorney fees from negligent landlords who refuse to make necessary repairs to uninhabitable conditions.
Increases the amount of the surcharge required to file civil cases in eviction actions and requires those surcharges to be the responsibility of the landlord.
HB0880 Climate Equity Act
Ensures that Maryland state agencies, in their decision-making processes, meaningfully assess a proposed action’s potential climate change impact and effect on overburdened communities, environmental justice communities, and workers and jobs in Maryland. The legislation would establish a quantifiable way to identify overburdened communities and prioritize them for investment.
Important components of this bill were included in the Climate Solutions Act, but the major provisions requiring agencies to perform equity assessments did not pass.
Proposes an amendment to Maryland’s Constitution stating that every person has the right to a healthful and sustainable environment. Establishes the state as the trustee of the State’s natural resources—air, land, water, wildlife and ecosystems—and to protect, conserve, and enhance the State’s natural resources. Learn more
HB797 – County Boards of Education – Student Membership
Extends voting rights to all student members of County Boards of Education and requires all County Boards to have elected student members.
Prohibits employees of correctional facilities from discriminating against inmates on the basis of protected classes including race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy status, and political beliefs. It requires employees to address inmates and house them in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
Establishes an ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General to conduct investigations into the actions taken by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Requires all firearms to be stored in a manner preventing access by a minor and imposes penalties for firearms owners if a minor accesses a firearm and poses a threat or harms themselves or another.
Creates the Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Program within the Maryland Legal Services Corporation. The program provides access to legal representation to people involved in immigration proceedings and provides education and outreach to individuals, families, and communities affected by immigration proceedings and detention. Learn more.
Requires employers in certain food service and retail industries to provide extra compensation for employees who work “on-call shifts” or are required to be “on-call” by the employer, but end up not receiving a shift. The legislation also provides overtime pay for employees who work back-to-back shifts, anti-retaliation protections, and other employee rights.
Establishes a Commission on Universal Health Care to develop a plan for the State to provide single-payer healthcare.