Senator Eckardt’s update: 2022 Session Recap: Hybrid system, much activity

By Addie Eckardt, Special to Dorchester Banner
Posted 4/21/22

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 …

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Senator Eckardt’s update: 2022 Session Recap: Hybrid system, much activity

Posted

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:

Caroline County

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

Dorchester County

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

Talbot County

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

Wicomico County

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

Enacted Legislation

  • Senate Bill 80 - Motor Vehicle Registration - Exceptions for Golf Carts - Hoopers Island and Taylors Island
  • Senate Bill 94 - Public Health - Maryland Suicide Fatality Review Committee
  • Senate Bill 950 - Wicomico County - Orphans’ Court - Salary of Orphans’ Court Judges
  • Senate Bill 988 - Dorchester County - Orphans’ Court - Salary and Expense Allowance of Orphans’ Court Judges

Legislation That Will Continue to be Worked On for Next Year

  • SB 18 - Local Government Tort Claims Act - Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc.
  • SB 82 - Certified Nursing Assistants - Licensing Requirements
  • SB 154 - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact
  • SB 288 - Talbot County - Board of Education - Election of Officers
  • SB 513 - Health Occupations - Clinical Nurse Specialists - Prescribing Authority
  • SB 853 - Maryland Real Property Transfer-on-Death Act
  • SB 854 - Graywater Systems – Public and Private Buildings – Authorization
  • SB 937 - Maryland Higher Education Commission – Access to Mental Health Advisory Committee – Establishment
  • SB 993 - Local Government Tort Claims Act - Definition of Local Government
  • SB 994 - Public Health - Mental Health Advance Directives - Awareness and Statewide Database
  • SB 997 - Correctional Officers’ Retirement System - Talbot County
  • SB 998 - Maryland Environmental Trust - Trustees - Alterations

Important Legislation

 * designates legislation that was co-sponsored by Sen. Eckardt

^ designates legislation that was opposed by Sen. Eckardt

Business and Employment

  • * SB 391 - Economic Development - More Jobs for Marylanders Program - Extension and Alterations
  • * SB 402 - Employees’ Retirement and Pension Systems – Reemployment Earnings Limitation – COVID-19 Exemption
  • * SB 645 - Wicomico County - Alcoholic Beverages - Dinner Theater License
  • * SB 646 - Wicomico County - Alcoholic Beverages - Class B-BF (Banquet Facility) License

Child Care and Education

  • * SB 448 - Education - Regional Resource Centers and Libraries – Funding
  • ^ SB 275 - Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022)

Veterans and First Responders

  • * SB 109 - Vehicle Excise Tax - Exemption - Active Duty Military
  • SB 643 - Veterans Affairs - Communications, Outreach and Advocacy Program - Veterans Advocacy and Education Act
  • SB 975/HB 809 - Property Tax Exemption - Disabled Veteran, Active Duty and Surviving Spouse - Application Process
  • HB 1186 - Property Tax Credit - Elderly Individuals and Veterans Tax Credit - Amount and Duration
  • SB 295 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Emergency Service Transporters – Reimbursement
  • SB 446 - Public Safety - Fire, Rescue or Emergency Medical Services Entities - Peer Support Programs
  • HB 900 - Death Certificates - Fees - First Responders Killed in the Line of Duty

Fisheries and the Environment

  • * SB 826 - Economic Development - Maryland Watermen’s Microloan Program – Establishment
  • * SB 830 - Natural Resources – Oysters – Spat, Shells and Substrate
  • * SB 541 - Natural Resources - Maryland Park Service and State Parks - Alterations (Great Maryland Outdoors Act)
  • HB 51 - Talbot County – Deer and Turkey Hunting – Sundays *Sen. Eckardt cross-filed this legislation
  • HB 556 - Caroline County and Queen Anne’s County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting *an amendment was adopted to add Dorchester County to this bill.
  • ^ HB 884 - State Conservation Land - Old-Growth Forests – Management
  • ^ SB 528 – Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022

Mental Health

  • * SB 394 - Statewide Targeted Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2022
  • SB 241 - Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services - 9-8-8 Trust Fund
  • HB 513 - Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services Program – Established
  • SB 323 - Public Health - Medications to Treat an Opioid Use Disorder - Preferred and Nonpreferred Medications

Nursing and Healthcare

  • * SB 636 - Maryland Department of Health - Waiver Programs - Waitlist and Registry Reduction (End the Wait Act)
  • * SB 696 - Maryland Loan Assistance Repayment for Nurses and Nursing Workers – Program Establishment and Funding
  • HB 1208 - Health Occupations - Health Care Workforce Expansion
  • HB 55 - Health Occupations - Nurse Anesthetists - Drug Authority
  • HB 971 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Substance Abuse Treatment - Network Adequacy
  • SB 506/HB 725 - Children - Therapeutic Child Care Program – Funding
  • ^ SB 890/HB 93 - Abortion Care Access Act

Other Topics of Interest

  • * SB 405 - Income Tax - Retirement Income Subtraction Modifications and Senior Credit (Retirement Tax Elimination Act of 2022)
  • HB 1202 - Local Government Cybersecurity - Coordination and Operations (Local Cybersecurity Support Act of 2022)
  • SB 812/HB 1346 - State Government - Cybersecurity - Coordination and Governance
  • ^ HB 1 - Constitutional Amendment - Cannabis - Adult Use and Possession
  • ^ HB 837 - Cannabis Reform

Redistricting

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.

Congressional Maps

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.

Legislative Maps

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.