ANNAPOLIS - The 2022 Legislative Session officially ended on April 11. I would like to thank Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones for their leadership and extensive planning to safely transition back to business as normal while the General Assembly convened for our usual 90 days.
This year’s session was marked as a transition period with both Zoom calls and in-person meetings.
Although the Senate quickly moved to return to in-person meetings, the House continued having their hearings over Zoom, leaving the General Assembly running as a hybrid system throughout Session. We started the 90 days with many protocols in place, including weekly testing, mask mandates and virtual hearings. Fortunately, we ended the Session almost back to normal with the public returning to the legislative campus, resuming ceremonial presentations on the Floor, and the end of mask mandates. It was refreshing to be able to see everyone in person once again, whether it was my fellow legislators in committee or constituents who came to Annapolis to speak on their legislative priorities.
The 2022 Session was the last in the four-year term which changes the way vetoes and veto overrides are handled. Since a new General Assembly will be seated in 2023, all veto overrides must be taken up by the members who passed the vetoed bills, so at the end of a term, all veto overrides must be taken up before Sine Die or the vetoes will stand. The governor has six days to decide on whether or not he will veto legislation, so any bills needed to be passed by both chambers by Friday, April 1, to leave enough time to override the vetoes by Sine Die. This created a different rhythm to the end of Session as much of the flurry of activity seen in the final days happened early this year.
Below you will find highlights of the operating budget, as well as local initiatives in the capital budget. In addition, you will find a summary of my sponsored legislation that passed and other topics of interest. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions.
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Highlights
In a year of historic budget surpluses, the General Assembly passed Gov. Larry Hogan’s $61 billion budget.
This budget included some good things like providing funding to reduce the number of autistic youths on the Autism Waiver waiting list and increases in provider rates for those who care for vulnerable populations including the elderly, the developmentally disabled, and those in foster care. Funding was restored for providers serving victims of crime. The budget included funding for economic development as well as grants for art and tourism – two sectors still recovering from the COVID economy. The budget again made record investments in public schools and saved funds for the long-term costs of the expensive Blueprint Implementation (Kirwan). Cash was used to fund $800 million in capital projects, reducing the amount of borrowing the state would otherwise have to do. The budget also boosted Maryland’s savings putting an extra $2.6 billion into Maryland’s Rainy Day Fund and left $211 cash in the General Fund.
One of the best things about this year’s budget is that it includes $350 million per year in tax relief. This includes an income tax credit for retirees, a work opportunity tax credit for businesses who hire individuals with barriers to employment, and sales tax exemptions on diapers, baby products, medical devices, oral care products and diabetic products.
Local Initiatives in the Capital Budget:
Federalsburg Activities Center - $50,000
Benedictine School - $1,000,000
Choptank Community Health System - $420,893
Greensboro Elementary - Judy Hoyer Early Learning Center - $500,000
Caroline County Total - $1,970,893
Harriet Tubman Pavilion - $100,000
The Bayley House - $150,000
Maces Lane Community Center - $500,000
Delmarva Community Services – Jeanette Weinberg Intergenerational Center - $1,500,000
Boys and Girls Club – Cambridge Club - $750,000
Harriet’s House - $200,000
Dorchester County Total - $3,000,000
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum -$1,000,000
The ARC Eastern Shore - $1,000,000
Building African American Minds, Inc. - $1,050,000
St. Michaels Community Center - $200,000
Mid-Shore Community Foundation and Water’s Edge Museum - $675,000
Talbot County Total - $3,925,000
Junior Achievement Eastern Shore - $1,000,000
Salisbury Zoological Park - $250,000
Salvation Army Wicomico County - $150,000
Christian Shelter - $231,693
Wicomico County Total - $1,631,693
Senator Eckardt’s 2022 Legislation
Legislation That Will Continue to be Worked On for Next Year
* designates legislation that was co-sponsored by Sen. Eckardt
^ designates legislation that was opposed by Sen. Eckardt
Business and Employment
Child Care and Education
Veterans and First Responders
Fisheries and the Environment
Nursing and Healthcare
Other Topics of Interest
The 2022 Legislative was bookended by once-in-a-decade Congressional and Legislative Redistricting. The process was defined by a tale of two redistricting commissions – the Citizens Redistricting Commission appointed by Gov. Hogan, and the Legislative Redistricting Commission appointed by leadership in the General Assembly.
A Congressional map addressing the boundaries of Maryland’s eight seats in the US House of Representatives was debated and passed during a special legislative session in December 2021. The map was passed over objections, and lawsuits were later filed challenging the map.
This map was thrown out by the courts and the General Assembly was ordered to draw a new map as the General Assembly Session was winding down. That map was signed by Governor Hogan on April 4th.
New legislative maps that address boundaries for Maryland’s senators and delegates were brought to the General Assembly at the onset of the 2022 Session. Additional lawsuits have been filed challenging the legislative maps, and at this time, they are still being considered by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
A response was expected in mid-April. As a result of the court challenges to the legislative maps, the 2022 Primary Election has been shifted to July 19 and further changes are possible depending on the outcome of the Maryland Court of Appeals decision.