Newsletter

Maryland General Assembly 2018 - Wrap Up

 

Dear Friend:

The 2018 Legislative Session has come to a close. I am honored to represent so many people who take a vested interest in our community. Your input helps me best understand and represent the values and ideas of Southern Maryland.

It was a very busy legislative session with 3,127 bills presented and 890 of these passed. The St. Mary’s Delegation will be sending out the Annapolis Report at the end of the summer which will tell about the new state legislation going into effect this year. So for my end of session letter, I will take the opportunity to share Calvert’s and St. Mary’s local legislation, local State Budget highlights, and my bills.

County Bills

The St. Mary’s County Delegation submitted six bills this year. Five of those bills passed.

  • HB 105 will change the fee for a Class C per diem beer license in St. Mary's County from $10 per day to a $10 per period for which the license is issued.

  • HB 107 requires the County Treasurer to pay over to the Commissioners of Leonardtown fees received for liquor licenses issued for premises within the limits of the Incorporated town of Leonardtown.

  • HB110 expands types of programs permitting inmates to leave the Detention and Rehabilitation Center. Any income the inmates receive during this time can be used to pay for services previously funded by the center.

  • HB275 updates the public local laws for MetCom’s infrastructure programs and funding flexibility.

  • HB331 gives St. Mary's County $24.6M bonding authority.

The University System of Maryland Partnership Act (HB1143) passed with only minutes to spare on Sine Die. This bill provides the merger of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in Hollywood and the University of System of Maryland. The partnership will bring a larger variety of classes to the area along with funding. The Delegation worked hard to support this bill.

The Calvert County Delegation submitted 16 bills this year. Ten of those passed.

  • HB446 allows Calvert’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association members to choose alternates to represent them in the Fire and Rescue Commission.

  • HB498 provides that the County Commissioners will set the Assistant Sheriff’s salary on appointment.

  • HB627 allows the spouse or children of a deceased, volunteer firefighter member, over 50 years of age, to receive 50% of the member’s LOSAP benefits.

  • HB729 increases the amount of money permitted in budget changes before requiring that a resolution be approved by the Commissioners.

  • HB815 increases the amount of money the county can spend for purchasing contracts for supplies or services without bid from $15,000 to $30,000.

  • HB1102 and HB 1354 give Calvert County Bonding Authority for a combined $59.66M to finance public infrastructure within the enterprise fund (i.e. water, sewer, solid waste, etc.) and public facilities.

  • HB1114 allows the County to give preference to a local Calvert County business for bids less than $25,000.

  • HB1357 alters the salaries of the Board of County Commissioners members, the Sheriff of Calvert County, and the County Treasurer of Calvert County.

  • HB1459 requires the Calvert County Youth Recreational Opportunities Fund be used to complete the Ward Farm Recreation and Nature Park.

State Funding

Each year the General Assembly passes an Operational Budget which provides funding for state supported agencies and facilities. Budgeted funding for Education (Primary, Secondary, Libraries and Community Colleges) in St. Mary’s County is $124.8M. Calvert County’s Educational funding is allocated at $99.1M. Funding per pupil is $7K in both counties. Transportation funding for St. Mary’s County totals $1.9M and for Calvert County it is $1.8M. In Calvert County, $3M is funded to finish the MD 2/4 widening project in Prince Frederick. In St. Mary’s County, Leonardtown’s Abell/Moakley Streets improvement will receive $2.2M and MD 5 widening project will receive $4.8M. Additionally, engineering for the Thomas Johnson Bridge is funded at $3.8M.

Direct funding for many well needed projects in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties are included in the Capital and Supplemental Budgets. Some of the special projects for St. Mary’s County include the Navy Alliance’s Innovation Center for Autonomous Systems ($750K), St. Mary’s Nursing Center ($75K), St. Mary’s Detention Center ($731K), Sotterley Foundation ($12K) and Historic St. Mary’s Commission projects - Pavilion ($277K), Maryland Dove ($2M), Dove Pier ($550K), Heritage Center ($1M). Calvert County special projects include the North Beach Fire Department Boat ($100K), Jefferson Patterson Park ($3.8M), Calvert Health System ($1.7M), Calvert Detention Center ($500K), East-John Youth Center ($50K), and Calvert Marine Museum ($50K). Additionally Governor Hogan’s Supplemental Budget added $5M to improve school safety.

Sponsored Legislation

This session I sponsored five bills. Last year, the General Assembly passed a bill which gave retired professional emergency personnel a tax break. Since Calvert and St. Mary’s County fire stations are all-volunteer forces, I wanted to help those in our community receive these same benefits. So I sponsored HB37, which would have provided an income tax subtraction modification for retired volunteer fire and EMS personnel. It did not pass, but other legislation this year increased the income tax subtraction for all emergency volunteers.

Calvert County farmers asked me to sponsor HB119, which authorizes a Deer Management Permit be used year-round just as is currently allowed St. Mary’s and Charles Counties. The permit is intended for owners of farms and orchards. The bill allows Calvert County farmers, experiencing crop loss due to deer, to hunt on their land year-round. This bill passed!

Last summer, I began working with the Chesapeake Bay Trust on a bill to increase funding for Bay restoration. HB104, allows individuals who purchase a license, permit, or registration through the DNR electronic licensing system to make a donation to Chesapeake Bay Trust and Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. This bill passed!

I sponsored three other bills. HB18 which would have eliminated the fee to dissolve corporations. This bill, also put in last year, failed to be voted out of committee by only one vote. HB317 would have allowed fraternal organizations, such as the Elks, to have video lottery gaming machines and give a portion of the proceeds to help homeless veterans. This bill did not make it out of committee. Lastly, I sponsored a bond bill to give East-John Youth Center in Lusby funding for their pool renovations. The committee approved $50,000 for the project and added it to the Capital Budget as a line item.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful community. I am grateful for the trust you have place in me. Keep an eye out for my Annapolis Report. I look forward to see you around this summer.

 

Sincerely,

Gerald “Jerry” Clark

Calvert/St. Mary’s District 29C



 

 

 



Maryland General Assembly Week Twelve

Dear Friend:

The last week of session has sprung upon us. Like the ninth inning in a ballgame, riveting moments have kept me on my toes. Below are a few important topics for the week.

  • Governor Hogan’s Vetoes – This is the last session before the gubernatorial election in November. Democrats have pushed through a few bills to get them to Governor Hogan’s desk bef ore the end of session.

  • The status of the funding for the Research Center (Third Building) at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.

  • House Bill 1069 – Provides an income tax subtraction modification for Volunteer Firefighters.

  • Senate Bill 532 – Provides grants to colleges to all in-state individuals who qualify for financial aid, including ‘Dreamers.’

Governor Hogan’s Vetoes

The 2018 Session takes place in an election year; therefore, the veto process works differently than usual. Following the election, the General Assembly will have new members. These new members cannot vote to override vetoed bills from the 2018 Session, because they were not members during that session. Therefore, Democrats in the General Assembly will push through bills to reach Governor Hogan’s desk prior to the end of 2018 Session. If a bill is vetoed, the Democrats then have sufficient voting members to override the veto.

HB1783 – 21st Century School Facilities Act - Vetoed – expedites school construction and removes the Maryland State Board of Public Works from the process. The Board of Public Works (BPW) consists of the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer and oversees the school construction process in addition to many other projects. While Governor Hogan supports expediting the school construction procedure, removing the BPW from it would eliminate oversight from the process. Unfortunately, the House of Delegates voted to override the Governor’s veto.

SB639 – Public School Personnel – Disciplinary Hearing – Vetoed – alters the procedure for suspending/dismissing school personnel by allowing them to request a hearing before an arbitrator instead of the local board of education. The cost for the arbitrator is split 50-50 between the individual and the county BOE. This bill replaces decisions made by the local BOE for a bureaucratic process making it more difficult to remove or discipline school personnel. The House of Delegates overrode Governor Hogan’s veto on this bill, too.

I voted against both of these bills and the veto overrides.

 

Funding for the Research Center at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center

The Southern Maryland Higher Education Center’s Research Center (Third Building) will provide space for engineering and research classes. For several years, funding for this project has been included in Governor Hogan’s Capital Budget. The State budget is submitted by the Governor to the General Assembly at the beginning of the Legislative Session each year. The House of Delegates and Senate take turns (every other year) taking the lead on reviewing the Budget.

This year, the Senate was at the helm. Funding for the Research Center was removed from the budget by the Senate prior to coming to the House. The St. Mary’s Delegation made every possible effort to keep the funding in the budget. We spoke to President Miller and Speaker Busch along with House Appropriations Committee leadership and University of Maryland representatives on this. Letters from the Delegation, St. Mary’s County, Calvert County, and NavAir were present to the committee in support of keeping funding for the project in the Budget. Additionally, I offered a committee amendment to the Senate Bill to restore the funding; however, the amendment was not accepted.

A conference committee was called to work out the difference of the House and Senate versions. We were assured by House members that efforts were being made in committee to put the funding back in the Senate version. In the end, all efforts failed and the Capital Budget passed without the funding. Do not be misled by others to think that anyone dropped the ball; this is definitely not the case. It is my ambition to get funding for the SMHE Research Center put back in the budget next year.

 

House Bill 1069 Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Volunteer Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Service Members

You may recall that I introduced House Bill 37 to provide an income tax subtraction modification of $15k for Retired Volunteer Firefighters. While that bill has not made it out of committee, I am happy to say House Bill 1069 has passed in the General Assembly! This bill was introduced by Delegate Buckel and will gradually increase the income tax subtraction each year for volunteer emergency service personnel to $7,000. This bill will offer volunteers more money.

 

Senate Bill 532 Higher Education – Financial Aid – In-State Students

This bill will extend grants for college to all in-state students who are eligible for financial assistance. Unfortunately, this bill has hidden negative consequences. Grant opportunities are currently stretched thin and many students are on waiting lists. This bill increases the pool of people eligible for the scholarships, including making “Dreamers” eligible. Students will soon be receiving smaller grants, and non-citizen students will be taking grant opportunities from citizens. I voted No on this bill.

 

I’d like to thank you for your continued support this session. Though it is only my second session, it has been my best yet. I hope to be re-elected and continue my efforts to support you and make Maryland the best place to live and work. If you have contacted me during the 2018 session about any issue, keep an eye out for my End Of Session Letter. If you live in my district, the Annapolis Report will be put out by the St. Mary’s Delegation. Both of these contain information about bills that passed this 2018 session.

Thanks for following along with me this year, and I hope to see you this summer!

 

 



Maryland General Assembly Update Week 10

 

Dear Friend,

It is hard to believe that the 2018 session is about to end. It feels as if this session had begun yesterday. Here are some hot topics for the week:

  • Same Day Voter Registration HB532 – Creates a constitutional amendment allowing people to register to vote on the same day they vote.

  • Secure and Accessible Registration Act SB1048 – Changes electronic voter registration agencies (MVA) to automatic voter registration agencies.

  • School Safety – The General Assembly has included funding for several programs to address school safety.

  • Delegate Scholarship Deadline April 15th

Same Day Voter Registration HB532

General Assembly has passed HB532 which will put a constitutional amendment question on the November ballot. This will ask if voters are in favor of allowing people to register to vote at the precinct polling place on Election Day. I have to say this is one of the more underhanded bills that the General Assembly passed. Now I am all for giving someone the best opportunity to vote, but having someone register to vote on the same day they vote takes things too far. Needless to say, this would create an environment ripe for voter fraud. The good news is you have the opportunity to vote against this measure on the November Election Ballot. I voted against this bill.

 

Secure and Accessible Registration Act SB1048

Under current law, a person has the choice to register to vote while renewing their driver’s license. However, this bill creates an automatic system which registers people to vote when interfacing with state agencies (MVA, MD Heath Exchange, Mobility Certification Office in the MTA, and local Social Services Departments) using the information provided to the agency. A person will be told they are being registered to vote or having their voter registration information updated. If a person knows the law, they can opt out of the service, but will not originally be given this option. In essence this bill takes away the individual responsibility of the people and gives it to the state. Additionally, it adds an unnecessary person to the process who could influence party affiliation. I voted against this bill.

 

School Safety

I want you to know that the School shooting at Great Mills High School continues to be heavy on my mind. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and I am thankful that the school resource officer was there to intervene. I believe regardless of our political views, we can all agree there is more we can do to improve school safety. As such, the budget includes several provisions to address school safety. The plan is to:

  • provide grants to schools at risk for hate crimes,

  • provide grants for mandatory school safety assessments,

  • set up a special fund to provide grants to enforce school safety,

  • set up an operating fund to increase resources to monitor school safety, and

  • provide for school safety capital improvements.

While this is not the end all solution, I feel that it is a great first step to improve school safety and security. Governor Hogan has also submitted additional provisions for funding school safety.

 

Delegate Scholarship

The April 15th deadline for the Delegate Scholarship is fast approaching. Please share this opportunity with all graduating seniors, current undergrad and grad students, and those looking to further their education so that they can take advantage of this opportunity. The link for the scholarship is:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eVZDhqSBc8aMRavX_ikwpndr5fqcTznZzHhG7Zaofec/edit?usp=sharing

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you. Next week will be the last full week of the 2018 Legislative Session. Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

 

 

 



General Assembly Update – Week Ten

 

Dear Friend:

 

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.

 



Dear Friend:

Happy March. Just as it is supposed to be getting warmer, we have a snow storm blow through the state! Seems about right for this time of year. This has been an eventful week so I thought I would give you an update.

  • The Governor’s Tax Bill – Information update

  • House Bill 1251 –Provides a bond to pay for repairs to East-John Youth Center’s Pools

  • House Bill 104 – Allow individuals who purchase a license through the electronic licensing system to give a voluntary donation

  • House Bill 991 – Proposed ban of the possession of magazines over 10 rounds

The Governor’s Tax Bill

Unfortunately, this week Governor’s Hogan’s tax bill was voted down in the Senate Budget and Tax Committee. However, a compromise bill (Senate Bill 184/House Bill 365) from Senator Edward Kasemeyer and Delegate Jay Walker did passed in their respective chamber. It will increase the Maryland State standard tax deduction to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married couples. While this version will not provide as much tax relief as the Governor’s version, it will give $1.2 billion in tax relief for Marylanders.

House Bill 1251 – East-John Bond

Yesterday, March 10th was Bond Day in Annapolis and I presented HB125 with the assistance of East-John Youth Center Board members, alumni of the center and the Calvert County United Way. The purpose of the bill is to assist East-John Youth Center funds to finance the repair of their pool. East-John Youth Center is in Lusby and provides youth with educational and recreational activities. Their pool has fallen into disrepair and has been closed for the past four years. With the assistance of HB1251, East-John will begin the pool restoration project this summer.

House Bill 104 – Natural Resources – Electronic Licensing – Voluntary Donations

HB104 has passed in the House of Delegates and is now in the Senate. The idea of the bill came out of my meeting with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Delegate Robinson, who is on the Board of Foundation, and I presented this bill earlier in session. It will allow anyone who purchases a license, permit, or registration on the Department of Natural Resources electronic license system to give a voluntary donation to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 trust fund. All money is split 50-50. This bill has broad bipartisan support and I am hopeful that it was pass the Senate and be signed into law.

House Bill 991 - Weapon Crimes – Detachable Magazines and Regulated Firearms – Possession

House Bill 991 has received an unfavorable report from the Judicial Committee. The bill sought to ban the possession of magazines that hold over 10 rounds. Needless to say, this was one of the most disturbing bills I have seen this year. Thankfully, people stood up and made a difference. In fact, 746 people showed up in person to testify on the day the bill was heard. It was your letters and testimony that stopped this bill dead in its tracks.

Heading into Cross-Over week, I will busier than ever and am sure there will be a much to discuss next week. Take care and stay warm.

 



 

General Assembly Week Update – Week Seven

Dear Friend:

February is over and we are now half way through the 2018 session. To finish the month off I’d like to follow-up on a couple bills and announcements.

  • House Bill 119 –Calvert County – Deer Management Permits

  • Senate Bill 190 – Election Law – International Observers. There is some good news about this bill.

  • Governor Hogan has announced that citizens will soon be able to contact 911 services with text messages

  • March is Red Cross Month

House Bill 119

House Bill 119 has been passed by the House of Delegates. The will extend Deer Management permits to residents to help prevent crop loss and damage. This long awaited bill will heard in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs soon. Thank you for your support.

 

Senate Bill 190

The Election Observer Bill, Senate Bill 190, has been recommitted to committee. While the bill is not dead, it is now next to impossible that it will be passed this session. The bill collapse was stunning to see. Senator Miller himself was the deciding factor in sending the bill back to committee. This proves the bill was fundamentally flawed. Thankfully Marylanders will not have to worry about poorly vetted foreign observers wandering around in their voting places.

 

911 Text Message Services

Governor Hogan has introduce a new 911 service that will soon be able to support text messages. This means you can contact and communicate with them via text messages. Not only will this allow people who are deaf or cannot speak to reach 911, it will allow anyone to silently text 911 if they are in the middle of an emergency and cannot make any sounds. Just a note for our more tech savvy readers, text messages to 911 can only contain text; that means no pictures or videos. Any counties that choose to participate in the service are hoping to have it ready for public use by May 1.

 

March is Red Cross Month

This week I was honored to sponsor the American Red Cross in the House of Delegates. Several executive members were recognized in the House and then spent time updating Delegates and Senators on recent efforts and available resources. Check out my facebook page for pictures and link to the March Red Cross site.

 

Scholarship

It is getting closer to the deadline for the Delegate Scholarship. Please spread the word to any graduating high school seniors or current undergrad or graduate students in District 29C.  

The deadline for submitting your application is April 15th. Link to Scholarship Website: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eVZDhqSBc8aMRavX_ikwpndr5fqcTznZzHhG7Zaofec/edit?usp=sharing .

For more information please contact my office at jerry.clark@house.state.md.us.

 

 



General Assembly Week Update – Week Five

 

Dear Friend:

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, 2018 was 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.

 

 

 



General Assembly Week Update – Week Four   

 

Dear Friend:

This week I will be discussing Taxes. That not so lovely word most of us never want to hear. But in this case it’s attached to Governor Hogan’s bill Protecting Maryland Taxpayers Act Of 2018. This bill, in response to federal tax reform, promises that Maryland State Taxes will not be increased due changes in federal taxes. Sounds great to me!

Also this week, two of my bills were heard in the House. I am excited to discuss those with you.

Taxes

According to Maryland Comptroller Franchot’s review of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, most Marylanders will pay less federal taxes next year (71% less, 16% no change, 13% more). Because Maryland tax law is tied the old federal tax code, Maryland taxpayers will experience the opposite effect with their state taxes.

Governor Hogan’s bill – Protecting Maryland Taxpayers Act of 2018 was introduced in the House this week. The bill addresses the new state tax problem in two ways. First, the bill changes a provision in Maryland law that temporarily prevents the federal tax code from impacting state and local taxes (10-108), into a permanent provision. Second, the bill allows for taxpayers to take the new federal standard deduction while continuing to take longstanding exemptions and deductions on their state returns.

It’s a commons sense approach to a difficult problem. I am glad to co-sponsor this legislation and will work to help keep money in your pockets.

HB119 and HB317

Calvert County – Hunting – Deer Management Permits (HB119) authorizes a Deer Management Permit be used year-round in Calvert County just as is currently allowed St. Mary’s and Charles Counties. The permit is intended for owners of farms and orchards. The bill allows Calvert County farmers, experiencing crop loss due to deer, to hunt on their land year-round.

State Lottery – Instant Ticket Lottery Machines – Fraternal Organizations (HB317) authorizes fraternal organizations to have video lottery gaming machines on premises. A portion of the proceeds from these machines will go to help homeless veterans. The remainder goes to the state lottery, which pays for the machines, and the fraternal organizations. Fraternal organizations then use these proceeds to give back to the local community through scholarships, fundraisers, veteran outreaches, etc. Fraternal organizations include the Elks, Moose, Fraternal Order of Police, and Knights of Columbus.

Scholarships

The deadline for submitting your application is April 15th. Link to Scholarship Website: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eVZDhqSBc8aMRavX_ikwpndr5fqcTznZzHhG7Zaofec/edit?usp=sharing .

For more information please contact my office at jerry.clark@house.state.md.us.

 

Next week we will be seeing more bills come to the House Floor for a vote. I will update you on more of these in the next issue. Have a great week.

 

 

 



General Assembly Week Update – Week Three

 

Dear Friend:

“We cannot afford to turn back now.” Governor Larry Hogan used the phrase several times during his State of the State speech on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. It’s a not so subtle reminder that we are at a turning point. Much has improved in the state since Governor Hogan’s inauguration, three years ago. But we have so much more to do.

Although the speech was short, Governor Hogan really hit the highlights of Maryland’s improvement over the last 3 years. Here are some excerpts:

  • The day after I was sworn in, we submitted the first balanced budget in a decade, which eliminated nearly all of the $5.1 billion dollar structural deficit which we inherited. We did it while cutting taxes three years in a row.”

  • Our budget provides an unprecedented $6.5 billion for K-12 education, ….We ensured that every single school system in Maryland will receive increased funding from the state.”

  • We had the best year for business in Maryland in 15 years and the best year for job growth in a decade. We went from losing 100,000 jobs to gaining more than 110,000 jobs….Maryland truly is open for business.”

  • We have fully funded the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and Program Open Space.”

  • We have committed half a billion dollars toward fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic and substance use disorders, with a four-pronged approach focused on education, prevention, treatment, and enforcement.”

In the last three years unemployment has gone down, wages have increased, and jobs have added. Although my job here only began a little over a year ago, I am proud of the work being done to improve life for everyone here in Maryland. And I will continue to do my part to work for you.

So in keeping with the State of State speech….”We cannot afford to turn back now. Let’s keep moving forward.”

 

Scholarships

On a final note, the Delegate Scholarship application for 2018-19 is available. The requisites of this scholarship are as follows:

  • pursuing a degree at an undergraduate (two or four year) institute, graduate program, or career/trade school

  • enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours

  • reside in Delegate Clark’s District of 29C

 

Link to Scholarship Website: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eVZDhqSBc8aMRavX_ikwpndr5fqcTznZzHhG7Zaofec/edit?usp=sharing

The deadline for submitting your application is April 15th. For more information please contact my office at jerry.clark@house.state.md.us. I look forward to reviewing your applications.

 

 

 



 

General Assembly Week Update – Week Two

 

Dear Friend:

I hope you are all enjoying the warm weather after the cold streak we had earlier this month. The Legislative Session is progressing here at the Maryland General Assembly and I’d like to update you on some important topics.

  • Governor Hogan’s work on Redistricting Reform

  • House Bill18 – My bill which aims to eliminate the fees associated with dissolving a business.

  • The Delegate Scholarship Application and Information

Redistricting Reform

Governor Hogan is continuing his efforts to address Redistricting Reform. This aims to address the way Maryland’s Congressional and Legislative Districts were drawn to favor incumbents over challengers. Maryland’s districts are considered among the most biased in the country. Even former Governor O’Malley testified to the Supreme Court that Maryland’s districts were drawn to specifically benefit incumbent Democrats and create another seat for Democrats.

In an effort to address this, Governor Hogan has signed on to support the plaintiffs in Benisek v. Lamone, a case currently under review by the Supreme Court that seeks to address Maryland’s gerrymandering. The plaintiff’s argument is that Maryland’s 6th Congressional District violates the First Amendment of the Constitution by seeking to give Democratic incumbents an advantage over their Republican opponents. This case has bipartisan support with former California Governor Gary Davis joining with Governor Hogan to support the plaintiff’s case. It is the Governor’s hope that the Supreme Court will order Maryland’s districts to be redrawn.

In addition to supporting Benisek v. Lamone, Governor Hogan has introduced the Redistricting Reform Act of 2018. This act seeks to change the way that Congressional and Legislative districts are drawn in Maryland by creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission that would have a transparent process to insure that both congressional and legislative districts are fairly drawn. The bill would prohibit multi member districts and give the Maryland Court of Appeals the authority to officially draw the districts under certain circumstances. Governor Hogan hopes that the General Assembly will bring the bill to the floor to a vote and pass his legislation.

 

House Bill 18

On Wednesday, I presented my second bill, House Bill 18, to the Economic Matters Committee. The bill eliminates the fee associated with dissolving a corporation. Under current law, to dissolve a business a $100 fee must be paid. I feel this is unfair and adds an extra burden for those going through the process of dissolving a business.

Scholarships

On a final note, the Delegate Scholarship application for 2018-19 is available. The requisites of this scholarship are as follows:

  • pursuing a degree at an undergraduate (two or four year) institute, graduate program, or career/trade school

  • enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours

  • reside in Delegate Clark’s District of 29C

 

Link to Scholarship Website: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eVZDhqSBc8aMRavX_ikwpndr5fqcTznZzHhG7Zaofec/edit?usp=sharing

The deadline for submitting your application is April 15th. For more information please contact my office at jerry.clark@house.state.md.us. I look forward to reviewing your applications.

 

 

 


 

2018 General Assembly Update Week One

 

Dear Friend:

On Wednesday, January 10th the 2018 Legislative Session began. I feel honored and blessed to serve in the Maryland General Assembly. I am excited and ready to work. This session feels different than the last one. We have already been very busy in this first week.

This week the General Assembly voted to override Governor Hogan’s 2017 veto of House Bill 1 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (Paid Sick Leave) and House Bill 694 Higher Education – Admissions Process – Criminal History. While I am in favor of the general idea of both bills, the actual provisions in the bills have many problems and I voted to maintain Governor Hogan’s veto.

 

House Bill 1 – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (Paid Sick Leave) - 2017

This bill as it is written has many problems that would have a negative impact on Maryland citizens and small businesses.

  • The construction industry and unions are exempt from the bill, which means that less than half of the employees in Maryland are covered by the bill’s provisions.

  • Victims of domestic violence will be required to report this to their employer, violating their privacy.

  • This bill will subject small businesses to an increased cost of labor, keep businesses from expanding from more than 15 employees, and encourage businesses to move out of state.

  • Small Businesses who are struggling to stay afloat will have no provision for a waiver from the bill.

  • Worst of all this bill makes an assumption that a business is guilty of a violation if a complaint is filed against them.

Governor Hogan has introduced House Bill 98 Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 to fix the problems with the bill. While the legislature considers this and other sick leave bills, Governor Hogan has issued an executive order to create the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance to assist small businesses with complying with 2017 House Bill 1.

 

House Bill 694 – Higher Education – Admissions Process – Criminal History -2017

While I am in favor of giving people a second chance this bill takes things too far.

  • It would rob colleges and universities of an important tool to find and use information about a potential student’s prior criminal history.

  • The bill does nothing to distinguish between students with minor offenses, like a traffic violation, versus those who committed serious offenses, like murder or rape.

  • This could lead to individuals with a prior criminal history of serious offences, including rape and murder, being admitted to universities or colleges which could endanger the safety of students on campus.

As our nation and state works to address sexual assaults on campus I feel this legislation is a step in the wrong direction and sends the wrong message.

 

House Bill 37 - (Income Tax - Subtraction Modification - Volunteer Fire, Rescue, or Emergency Medical Services Membership)

I had my first bill hearing on Wednesday. I was joined by volunteer firemen from Calvert County and from the Maryland State Firemen Association. This bill will offer volunteer firefighters with the same tax benefits that were provided for career firefighters last year with House Bill 100. This income tax subtraction is a small representation of the hard work and service they provide for our community every day.

 

Thank you for your interest and support. Check back next week for a new update.

 

MDGOP Candidate