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Update on Legislation before the General Assembly of Maryland

By Ella Ennis

A number of consequential bills moved forward this past week in the General Assembly and will have floor votes this week.  In addition, there are several important hearings this coming week. 

HB 166 -Raises the Minimum Wage to $15/hour by 2025 passed the House 96-44. It will be in the Senate Finance Committee. This bill is particularly harmful to counties that border other states with lower minimum wages. Businesses tend to locate where labor is less expensive. Raising the minimum wage will likely lead to more automation of jobs including restaurants (order on the table computer) and farming-- that hurts entry-level job seekers.

HB 399 - End of Life Options Act to legalize assisted suicide by terminally-ill persons received a Favorable Report from the Joint Judiciary and Health & Government Operations Committee by a vote of 24 to 20 on Friday. It will be on the House Floor this coming week. If you feel strongly about this bill you need to call/e-mail your Delegate(s) as soon as possible. Senator Bob Cassilly had an Op Ed piece in today's Baltimore Sun's "Readers Respond" titled "Medically Assisted Suicide is Wrong". Very thoughtful article - worth reading.

On Tuesday, March 5 there will be hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on three Sanctuary State Immigration enforcement related bills--companion bills to those heard last week in the Senate. Very important to testify or send written testimony or at least send e-mails to the members of the Judiciary Committee to oppose these bills. We have a wonderful coalition of MFRW members and the Chinese American Group, FAIR and others working very hard to stop these bills whose aim is to thwart any immigration enforcement by any state or local government agency, even where crimes have been committed. Last week 23 people testified against this legislation.  But time is of the essence. 

They are:  HB 1273 - Have the AG develop a policy "that limits immigration enforcement" on a government entity's premises "to the fullest extent possible under federal and state law for the purpose of ensuring safety and access to all state resident, regardless of immigration status."  Read all schools, colleges, courts, prosecutors, social services, correctional facilities, etc.

HB 1165 - Prohibits state and local government agent from requesting information on citizenship or immigration status during a stop, or arrest or other action.  Authorizes aggrieved party to seek legal remedy and court costs and legal fees from the agent or employee.  

HB 913 - Prohibits an employee of a correctional facility from detaining a person past their state-release date or providing any information to federal immigration enforcement; prohibit a police officer from inquiring about immigration status or birthplace during a stop, search or arrest.  

HB 632 - Constitutional Amendment to legalize marijuana use, cultivation, and sale to those at least 21 years old.

HB 656 - Cannabis legalization, Taxation and Regulation   They are being heard in the House Judiciary Committee this Wednesday at 1 p.m.  There is growing evidence of the connection between marijuana use, mental illness and violence that escalates, particularly among young people whose brains are still developing till their mid-20s.

Finally there is a bill to support sponsored by Republicans including our Delegates Mark Fisher and Jerry Clark.  IT is HB 975, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act of 2019.  The hearing will be before the House Health and Government Affairs Committee this Friday, March 8 at 1 p.m.  It would require that abortions not be performed after 20 weeks (the time by which an infant can feel pain) unless the woman's life or serious physical health issue requires, and then that, where possible, the procedure be one that will have a chance of delivering a live child.

You can read the text of any bill at the General Assembly's web site at:  http://mgaleg.maryland.gov.