It’s been a one-of-a-kind session for Maryland delegates and senators in Annapolis this year, as they’ve juggled coronavirus pandemic-responsible floor sessions with hours of Zoom calls for bill hearings and votes.
Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick), chair of the Frederick County delegation and Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll), the vice chair and Senate Minority Whip, said before the beginning of session they expected fewer bills to make it through to Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) desk this year, given precautions taken because of the pandemic.
Police reform has been a major topic of discussion this session and contentious at points. In addition, the Senate and House have overturned several vetos by Hogan. That includes the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future or Kirwan bill, a massive public education overhaul that improves everything from teacher pay to pre-K to career training programs for students.
But there are many local bills that Hough and Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) have filed — more than three dozen. Here are a look at some of those, and legislation from the overall delegation.
Hough has found himself quite busy in his first session as Minority Whip, and often can be seen leading floor debates from his pod in the Senate.
One of the bills Hough has fought to get through for years would allow those who use medical cannabis in the state to be able to purchase or possess a firearm.
He believes the bill is in conflict between state and federal law, and it has passed the Senate unanimously multiple years. But the House has yet to vote on it, including this session.
He also sponsored Senate Bill 208, which would remove a prohibition on car manufacturers or factories preventing auto dealerships from listing the “purchase price” of a vehicle on its website, which only excludes taxes, title fees and dealing processing charges.
It passed in the Senate but the House’s Economic Matters issued an unfavorable report in late March.
This could perhaps be Young’s second-to-last session as a state senator, as he indicated earlier this year he likely won’t run for re-election in 2022.
Young is the cross-file sponsor on a bill filed by Del. Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County), which aims to prohibit wildlife killing contests for coyotes, raccoons or foxes. The House bill has passed both chambers and, barring any huge issues, should head to Hogan’s desk.
He also has sponsored legislation that aims to give more collective bargaining rights to certain faculty members at the Maryland School for the Deaf, which has campuses in Frederick and Columbia. The Senate has passed the legislation by Crossover Day, which is an important metric for if bills will be able to make it through both chambers.
Each year, the county delegation — consisting of the two senators and six delegates — puts in bills related to local issues, many related to alcohol laws.
But one bill, brought to the delegation by County Councilman Steve McKay (R) and County Executive Jan Gardner’s (D) office, aims to add a special elections process for Board of Education vacancies.
Under McKay’s proposal, the county executive would still appoint someone to fill a sudden vacancy, pending County Council approval. But county officials would use regularly scheduled midterm and presidential election cycles to fill any vacancies.
The vacancy would have to occur in roughly the first year of a board member’s term because of state filing deadlines. Elections would proceed as usual, with either three or four members being elected, and then the next highest vote-getter filling the empty seat.
Hough sponsored the bill in the Senate, which passed unanimously in late March. It has been referred to the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.
Young took the lead on Senate Bill 793, which allows liquor stores countywide to offer tastings of alcohol: 12 ounces of beer, 6 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. The annual permit would be $400.
It passed in the Senate and in the House late this week.
One bill that already reached Hogan’s desk is Senate Bill 694, which increases the amount of beer county barbershops and salons can serve from five to 12 ounces.