General Assembly Update – Week Ten

We reached Crossover Monday, March 19, 2018. It was a fateful day for the 3,118 bills introduced during the 2018 legislative session. Crossover is the last day bills introduced in one chamber (the house or senate) can pass and be introduced in the opposite chamber. This is critical for a bill to become a law. Bills not crossovered to the opposite chamber by this date are unlikely to be turned into law this legislative session.

Below are several important topics of interest this week

  • Great Mills School Shooting
  • Sexual Predators Prevention Act – Allows courts to consider evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual crimes and abuse

  • Bump Stock Ban – Bans the sale, manufacture, and possession of bump stocks

  • University System of Maryland Budget –Southern Maryland Higher Education Center Funding

  • Governor Hogan introduced the Safe Schools Act of 2018

Great Mills School Shooting

My heart is heavy over the events that have unfolded this week at Great Mills High School. Now is the time to grieve and do what we can to support the families and students involved. As a community, we need to come together to help one another process the events and pain. Soon, the school administration and sheriff’s office will have details that can point us in the direction to improve our school safety. We will take action on the plans provided and funding needed. But for now, take time to hug your child, tell your neighbor they are important to you, and find ways to support your community.

HB 301 – Sexual Predators Prevention Act

I am pleased to announce that the Sexual Predators Prevention Act was passed by the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. The House Republican Caucus issued a statement requesting the House version of the bill be moved out of committee. Following the statement HB301 was voted out of committee and to the House Floor, It is currently in the Senate waiting for a hearing date.

House Bill 888 – Rapid Trigger Fire Activator (Bump Stock Ban)

House Bill 888 has passed in the House. The bill bans the sale, manufacture, and possession of bump stocks. This bill does not limit any guns, only the modification of a bump stock which gives a semi-automatic gun similar shooting action as an automatic weapon would have. I voted in favor of this bill along with all the members of the St. Mary’s and Calvert Delegations.

Following recent events across the nation, there has been a national outcry to ban on the rapid trigger fire activator. National surveys indicate that the majority of Americans (8 out of 10) favor the ban on these. The U.S. Justice Department has been directed to create regulations that would ban bump stocks. This is a bi-partisan issue.

Maryland’s House Bill 888 includes an amendment offered by the Republican Caucus leadership. This is a “grandfather clause,” which means citizens who already own bump stocks can continue to own them, once added to the prohibited list by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). While allowed to possess bump stocks, a citizen must apply for an National Firearms Act permit and have up to one year for the ATF to respond before they have to sell or surrender the item. The ATF is seeking to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns in order to regulate them in the same way.

I hope this information is helpful for you to understand my vote on HB888.

University System of Maryland Budget

I am perplexed to report that funding for the construction of a third building at Southern Higher Education Center has been removed. The building was previously funded in the Capital budget, which provides funding for construction projects. The St. Mary’s Delegation is currently working hard to try and restore funding for the building. I will let you know if I find out any more information or if the situation changes.

Safe Schools Act of 2018

Governor Hogan has introduced the Safe Schools Act of 2018, which provides statewide school safety standards. One of these standards will require training and certification for all school resource and security officers. Each county board will be required to implement an emergency plan for potential threats. I hope this bill will pass with bipartisan support.

Thank you for this opportunity to share. I look forward to wrapping up this session in the next few weeks.

Delegate Jerry Clark