The Maryland General Assembly is about halfway through its 90-day annual grind through more than 2,500 pieces of legislation along with the State’s budgets. State Senator Cheryl Kagan provides a regular email that lists her current activities, but it’s incomplete because so much is happening. To see the entire picture, you have to visit the General Assembly website to discover that she’s shepherding 78 bills, 10 of which she is sponsoring and 67 she is co-sponsoring. As a sponsor of a bill, she’s the one who introduced the legislation. Sen. Kagan is the primary sponsor of the following bills but note that they are subject to numerous revisions in the legislative process (so what you read here may change):
SB0001: Health Insurance – In Vitro Fertilization – Use of Spouse’s Sperm – Exception. This bill alters the required conditions for health insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by creating an exception to the required use of the spouse’s sperm. For a patient whose spouse is of the opposite sex, the patient’s eggs must be fertilized with the spouse’s sperm, unless (1) the spouse is unable to produce and deliver sperm and (2) the inability does not
result from a vasectomy or other method of voluntary sterilization. According to the Department of Budget and Management, State plan expenditures increase by an estimated $216,310 in fiscal 2017, or approximately 0.025% of annual State plan spending. The State plan currently covers IVF. Expenditures reflect increased utilization of IVF and medical claims associated with the resulting pregnancies.
SB0028: State Government – Web Sites – Language Access. This bill requires specified State departments, agencies, and programs to take reasonable steps, beginning October 1, 2016, to operate and maintain, for each publicly accessible website that provides access to public services, equal access versions in any language spoken by any limited English proficient population that constitutes at least 3% of the overall population within the State as measured by the U.S. Census. If machine translation services [e.g. Google Translate] are used to meet these requirements, the department, agency, or program may post a disclaimer regarding the accuracy of the translation. State departments, agencies, and programs are not required to provide equal access to website content that cannot be translated through machine translation software, including files in PDF format, images, and videos. The bill codifies an existing practice for some agencies whose websites are hosted by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) because the websites already meet the bill’s requirements using machine translation services. Other agencies can meet the bill’s requirements using machine translation services for little to no cost with assistance from DoIT. To the extent agencies elect to use human translation services for some or all of their website content, they incur additional costs; any such costs are not reflected in this estimate because they do not appear to be required by the bill.
SB0169: Election Law – Local Vote-by-Mail Special Elections – Start of Canvassing. This bill allows, in the case of a local special election conducted by mail, for the local board of elections to commence the canvass of vote-by-mail ballots at 2 p.m. on the day of the special election. Under current State election law provisions relating to absentee voting, a local board of elections may not open any envelope of an absentee ballot prior to 8 a.m. on the Wednesday following Election Day. The bill does not directly affect State finances.
SB0170: Voter Registration – Affiliation With Political Party and Participation in Primary Election, Caucus, or Convention. This bill requires that the statewide voter registration application, in the section of the application that asks whether the voter wants to affiliate with a political party, list the recognized political parties in the State and include the statement: “You must register with a political party if you want to take part in that political party’s primary election, caucus, or convention. Check one box only.” The voter registration application form prescribed pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) must satisfy requirements applicable to the statewide voter registration application. Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) expenditures increase by $12,100 in FY 2016 to modify Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) web/kiosk applications. Revenues are not affected.
SB0221: Creation of a State Debt – Montgomery County – Olde Towne Park Plaza. Authorizes the creation of a State Debt not to exceed $300,000 for a loan to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Gaithersburg for for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, and capital equipping of a new park promenade at Olde Towne Park Plaza; providing for disbursement of the loan proceeds, subject to a requirement that the grantee provide and expend a matching fund; establishing a deadline for the encumbrance or expenditure of the loan proceeds; and providing generally for the issuance and sale of bonds evidencing the loan. No state analysis available.
SB0222: Maryland State Song – Repeal and Replace – State Song Selection Panel. This bill repeals the State song and establishes a State Song Selection Panel. The panel must develop a plan for and conduct a State song competition, as specified. Among other things, the panel must develop and implement a specified online voting platform. The panel may solicit private contributions for a prize not to exceed $5,000 to be awarded to the winner. The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) must provide staff for the panel. By December 1, 2016, the panel must report a winner and recommend legislation to be introduced in the 2017 session that designates the winning song as the official State song. General fund expenditures increase by at least $23,000 in FY 2017 only for MSAC to hire a full-time contractual staff member to staff the panel. This estimate does not include any costs to develop and implement the online voting platform; thus, costs are likely higher. Special fund revenues and expenditures increase by up to $5,000 in FY 2017 only due to private funds collected for a prize and awarded to the winner.
SB0424: Emergency Number Systems Board – 9-1-1 Trust Fund – Planning Costs. FOR the purpose of authorizing the Emergency Number Systems Board to use the 9–1–1 Trust Fund to pay for planning costs for an enhanced 9–1–1 system; providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to the authorized use of funds in the 9–1–1 Trust Fund. No state analysis available.
SB0685: Creation of a State Debt – Montgomery County – Rockville Swim and Fitness Center. Authorizing the creation of a State Debt not to exceed $175,000 for a loan to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Rockville for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, and capital equipping of the indoor locker rooms at the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center, located in Montgomery County; providing for disbursement of the loan proceeds, subject to a requirement that the grantee provide and expend a matching fund. No state analysis available.
SB0686: Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System – Information Sharing (Carl Henn’s Law). To establish a certain mechanism for the Emergency Number Systems Board to review certain data; expanding the purpose of the Board to include review of certain data contained in certain reports; requiring the Board to include a general summary of findings from a review of certain reports in an annual report submitted to certain entities; requiring a telephone company or a certain 9–1–1 service carrier to provide a certain report to certain entities at certain intervals; specifying that certain reports are not subject to the Public Information Act; specifying that certain entities may only discuss certain information in certain closed sessions or executive sessions; and generally relating to 9–1–1 service. No state analysis available but requires the state board that manages the 9-1-1 service to review the quality of service on a quarterly basis to ensure emergency calls are not excessively blocked (more than 1 in 100 calls) and strangely exempts these reports from the Public Information Act (yup, the 9-1-1 system may be malfunctioning but the public will never know). Carl Henn was a Rockville resident who was struck by lightning at King Farm Park in 2010 and witnesses were unable to reach 9-1-1 due to busy signals.
SB0970: Drugged Driving – Oral Fluid Tests – Pilot Program. Establishing a pilot program to authorize a police officer of the Baltimore County Police Department, the Montgomery County Department of Police, the Prince George’s County Police Department, and the Ocean City Police Department who has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is or has been driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance to request the individual to submit an oral fluid sample subject to specified standards. No state analysis available but drivers can refuse to be tested, the results of the “oral fluid test” (breath analysis?) may not be used as evidence in any court action or civil action, and policies officers may require drivers to take a blood test. I’m really not sure what this accomplishes.
If you have comments or concerns about a particular bill, you’ll want to contact Senator Kagan. If you want to know the status of a bill, search for it by number (e.g. SB001) on the General Assembly website.