We are closing in on Sine Die, with only 24 calendar days left in this year’s Legislative Session. Things have been moving very quickly this week, and will continue to move quickly for the remainder of Session. Some of this week’s highlights include:
On Tuesday, March 12, the House of Delegates passed the Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Program legislation by a vote of 111-25. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation, along with Speaker Busch, and Delegates Olszewski, Davis, and Mitchell, and we are very pleased that the legislation passed the House. The Senate version of the bill passed out of that chamber on February 18 by a vote of 46-0, so the bill now goes to Governor O’Malley for his signature.
The EARN program 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 and advancement into sustainable jobs. As a result of more coordinated and targeted training, the EARN Program will create jobs by closing the gap between the needs of employers, and the skills of Maryland’s workforce. You can find more information about the bill and the program here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=hb0227&tab=subject3&ys=2013RS.
Reducing Gun Violence:
As I’ve said previously, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I’ve heard over 24 hours of testimony over the past few weeks on the issue of gun violence prevention. Since the most recent Committee hearing last week, I’ve been working with my colleagues, the Governor’s office, and a range of stakeholders on the Firearms Safety Act (FSA) and other gun-related bills. The FSA will be brought to the House floor next week, and I look forward to bringing this important legislation to a favorable vote so that we can prevent and reduce gun violence in our state through reasonable and common sense measures.
Monday, March 25, is “crossover” day in the General Assembly. This means that each chamber must send any passed bills to the other chamber by next Monday. If there are any differences between the House- or Senate-passed versions of legislation, they will need to be reconciled in Conference Committee. If a piece of legislation was introduced in, and passed by, only one chamber, the other chamber will need to introduce and consider the bill, and vote on it by sine die, on April 8. Finally, if a bill hasn’t passed the House or Senate by crossover, it is unlikely to pass this session, and would need to be introduced again next session.
Because crossover is fast approaching, we have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that we pass all of our legislation out of the House next week. To that end, today, the House of Delegates passed two very important budget bills.
The House passed both the Fiscal Year 2014 state operating budget, and the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) of 2013. The BRFA ensures that our state’s books are balanced for the current, 2013, fiscal year, while the Budget sets forth our state’s financial priorities going forward. Under Maryland law, the state’s annual budget is proposed by the Governor, and can only be reduced by the legislature. During these difficult economic times, while other states have chosen to balance their budgets by making life harder for the most vulnerable citizens, we in Maryland have chosen a different path. Through the work of the Governor’s office and of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, the budget that passed the House today reflects our state’s priorities by investing in education, health care, and public safety. The budget also maintains fiscal responsibility by limiting spending growth to less than 2% annually, and increasing Maryland’s reserve balances to protect against a potential loss of Federal funding, both of which will ensure that Maryland remains one of seven states with a AAA bond rating. I would like to highlight that my Baltimore City colleagues and I fought hard to ensure that Baltimore City Schools maintained the funding allotted to them under the Governor’s proposed budget, which will support the BCPS’ ten-year plan to renovate, revitalize, and reinvigorate our City’s schools.
You can find the budget bill, HB 100, here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=HB0100&tab=subject3&ys=2013rs.
You can find a copy of the BRFA, HB 102, here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=HB0102&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2013rs.
In the Neighborhood:
I will be knocking on doors in the District again tomorrow, March 16, rain or shine. If you’d like to join me, send me an email at email@example.com.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. As always, you can reach me at 410-841-3303, or at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us. I look forward to fighting to improve the quality of life for the residents of Maryland and the City of Baltimore as we finish out this year’s Session.