General Assembly Week Update – Week Five

I hope you had a nice Happy Valentine’s Day and are enjoying the warmer weather. This week at the General Assembly, action has mimicked the weather. Bills poured in with a few bright spots but there were a lot of puddles to jump over. Here are a few important topics I would like to update you on.

  • Senate Bill 190 – Allows international observers to observe Maryland state elections
  • House Bill 531 – Requiring a driver to change lanes and or drive more slowly when a service vehicle is stopped on the side of the road.
  • House Bill 275 – This St. Mary’s County Bill seeks to updates and clarifies the code governing the Metropolitan Commission.
  • Our continuing efforts to fight the Paid Sick Leave Bill – SB304

Election Observers – Senate Bill 190

Senate Bill 190 allows international observers to observe Maryland state elections. As you know, I always look at both sides of the issue, but this bill creates many problems for no real gain.

The bill seeks to create a process where the State Board of Elections would be responsible for vetting any international observers. After passing a State Department background check, the observers are permit to go to any voting area. Perhaps the most alarming part is that international observers are not supervised or even accompanied by anyone in the voting area. I don’t know about you, but I would like more than a simple background check to keep Maryland voters safe from any privacy or security concerns.

While the bill makes a note of saying that international observers can be removed if they try to interfere with voters or voting equipment, I do not see how that can be enforced if they are not supervised. Simply put this bill prioritizes the interests of international citizens over Maryland’s own citizens. In fact, there is no justification as to why this would benefit Maryland in any way. This bill is fundamentally flawed and I intend to vote against it if it reaches the House floor. Currently the bill is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. I recommend contacting Senator Waugh and Senator Miller with your concerns over the bill.

Public Service Workers – House Bill 531

House Bill 531 requires drivers to either change lanes or drive more slowly when service vehicles, such as tow trucks and garbage/recycle trucks, are stopped or parked on the roadway. Sadly, it is fairly common for public service workers to be injured or killed in auto accidents while they are working on the roadway. With this measure there is an opportunity for all of us to make a difference in helping to keep our public safety workers safe.

MetCom – House Bill 275

The House Delegation presented House Bill 275 on behalf of the Board of St. Mary’s County Commissioners. After 4 months of work by the MetCom Chapter 113 Task Force, the code of St. Mary’s County has been revised to make clarifications and update the language. I presented this bill in committee this week along with MetCom stakeholders. The bill is expected to be voted on next week by the committee.

Paid Sick Leave Bill HB304

Unfortunately, the bill to delay the implementation of paid sick leave to July 1, 2018was voted down in the House Economic Matters Committee on Thursday, February 15th. However, the bill was only voted down by a razor thin margin of 12 to 11. This is a stunning reversal that shows how far support for the bill has dropped. Keep in mind it was just last month when Governor Hogan’s veto was overridden, which required a two thirds majority vote. Our efforts are making a difference as people begin to realize how the flaws in the bill will negatively impact our small businesses. Keep your hopes up the battle is not over yet. HB98, Governor Hogan’s Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018, will be heard in a few weeks. If passed, the bill will revise the current law on paid sick leave.

Well friend that’s all for this week. Stay dry and keep out of the puddles.

Delegate Jerry Clark