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What's in the Legislative News?

Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Rutherford Announce 2017 Heroin and Opioid Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement Initiative

Press Release - January 24,2017

Governor Larry Hogan Announces 2017 Justice for Victims Initiative

Press Release - January 12, 2017

Measures Aimed to Prevent Repeat Sex Offenders, Prosecute Human Traffickers, Support Victims of Crime, Keep Serial Drunk Drivers Off the Road

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced the administration’s Justice for Victims Initiative, a series of proposals to help prevent future victims of crime, protect Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens, and stop repeat offenders. Joining the governor for the announcement were leading victims’ rights advocate Roberta Roper; Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, and Sergeant David Owens, who investigated the 2009 murder of Sarah Foxwell by a repeat sexual predator; anti-drunk driving advocates Rich Leotta and Marcy Goldman; and Baltimore County Senator Jim Brochin, as well as cabinet secretaries, state’s attorneys, and state and local law enforcement officials.

The Justice for Victims Initiative includes proposed legislation that will help prevent repeat sexual predators, protect victims of human trafficking, provide transitional housing for victims of crime, and toughen penalties for repeat drunk drivers.

“Making Maryland safer begins with making sure that we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for their actions and the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing,” said Governor Hogan. “The Justice for Victims Initiative we are announcing today is bipartisan, common sense legislation that will help protect the most vulnerable among us, improve services for the victims of crimes, and help us reduce and prevent the number of future victims of crime.”

“The voices of crime victims and survivors are making our nation a better place to live, and making for a more just and fair society,” said Roberta Roper. “To achieve positive change, someone has to listen and someone has to take action to change old behaviors and fully apply the law. We thank Governor Hogan for listening and making positive changes.”

The proposals announced by Governor Hogan build on a strong record of protecting and supporting victims of crime in Maryland. During the 2016 legislative session, the Hogan administration worked closely with the legislature to enact the Justice Reinvestment Act, a landmark criminal justice reform law that includes key provisions to strengthen victims’ rights, including reforming the restitution system to ensure offenders repay victims for financial losses caused by their crimes.

The governor recently announced $46 million dollars in grants to directly aid victims of crime, which fully funded all eligible requests from victims’ service providers across the state. In April 2016, the Hogan administration convened the first-ever governor’s statewide Victim Services Conference to share best practices and resources among victims’ service providers.

The Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention has also joined with the Office of the Attorney General to survey 135 law enforcement agencies on the handling of sexual assault evidence kits in an effort ensure that justice is served in every case of sexual assault.

Governor Hogan’s Justice for Victims Initiative includes:

Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act of 2017: Governor Hogan announced this bipartisan measure, modeled after legislation put forward by Senator Brochin during the 2016 legislative session, which will allow courts to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual assault convictions during prosecution for subsequent sexual offenses. Data shows that many sexual predators follow patterns of behavior, and this proposal will ensure that prosecutors have the tools needed to bring these criminals to justice.

Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2017: This proposed legislation will further define sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, regardless of whether the sexual abuse was committed by a parent or any other person who has responsibility for supervision of a child. Current law requires local agencies to have evidence of an alleged offender’s relationship to a victim in order for law enforcement to investigate – this legislation will give authorities the ability to more effectively prosecute sex traffickers.

Transitional Housing Assistance Program: Governor Hogan announced that the administration is directing up to $5 million in new funding resources to provide up to one year of transitional housing assistance for victims of crime, many of whom face homelessness as a result of becoming isolated from support networks. This program will be coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, the Maryland Department of Human Resources, and the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development.

Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act of 2017: During the 2016 legislative session, Governor Hogan signed “Noah’s Law,” which requires ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving in Maryland. The proposal announced today would make drunk driving a felony offense for those with three or more prior convictions, as well as for any offender convicted of causing a death or a life-threatening injury on a second or subsequent offense. Impaired driving crashes account for one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the state, but the current maximum sentence is three years in prison, regardless of repeat offenses.

Governor Hogan Announces 2017 Student Debt and Tuition Relief Initiative, Investments in Higher Education

Press Release - January 10, 2017

Student Loan Interest 100% Tax-Deductible for All Marylanders Making Less Than $200,000 – Tuition Growth Capped at State Colleges & Universities

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced the administration’s 2017 Student Debt and Tuition Relief Initiative, as well as targeted investments in higher education. Governor Hogan made the announcement at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was joined by Maryland Secretary of Higher Education James Fielder and Maryland Secretary of Housing and Community Development Ken Holt; as well as University of System Maryland Chancellor Dr. Robert Caret; University of Maryland, College Park President Dr. Wallace Loh and the University’s Board of Regents; University of Maryland University College President Dr. Javier Miyares; St. Mary’s College President Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan; Morgan State University President Dr. David Wilson; and Maryland Association of Community Colleges Executive Director Dr. Bernie Sadusky.

The governor’s proposal includes legislation to make student debt interest payments tax-deductible for all Marylanders earning less than $200,000 per year, funding to cap tuition growth at Maryland colleges and universities at a maximum of two percent, and targeted investments in priority projects at Maryland’s higher education institutions.

“Having a college education is more important now than ever before, but the harsh reality many face today is that earning a college degree often goes hand-in-hand with accumulating crippling college debt,” said Governor Hogan. “We believe that our new Student Debt and Tuition Relief Initiatives will provide much-needed relief from student loan debt, and will help us continue to make college in Maryland more affordable.”

In 2015, the Hogan administration immediately began working to ease the burden of student debt, which in many cases has become a burden to homeownership, by creating a mortgage initiative to help Marylanders with $25,000 or more in student loan debt, resulting in $90 million in mortgages closed. In 2016, the administration launched the Maryland SmartBuy initiative, a first-in-the-nation program that allows eligible buyers to purchase move-in-ready homes while eliminating their student loan debt burden. The first SmartBuy purchase was made on September 30, 2016.

“I thank Governor Hogan for his administration’s continued investment in higher education, and I applaud his efforts to ensure that even more Marylanders have access to the world-class education our universities have to offer,” said Chancellor Caret.

Governor Hogan’s 2017 Student Debt and Tuition Relief Initiative and higher education investments include:

Student Debt Relief Act of 2017: Under this proposal, the vast majority of Marylanders will be able to deduct 100 percent of the interest paid on their student loan debt from their income tax return. Beginning in 2018, Marylanders making less than $200,000 and couples making less than a combined $250,000 per year will not pay any Maryland income tax on their student loan interest payments. This proposal is expected to save Marylanders, many of whom are currently struggling to pay off college debt, $20 million each year.

Tuition Relief Initiative: Governor Hogan also announced his plan to make Maryland’s public colleges and universities more affordable by providing major tuition relief for the second year in a row. Maryland universities requested to raise tuition by as much as five percent in 2017, but Governor Hogan announced that the state would partner with these institutions to invest an additional $17.5 million dollars to allow 14 Maryland colleges and universities to cap tuition growth at two percent including all 12 University System of Maryland institutions, as well as Morgan State University and St. Mary’s College.

Investing in Higher Education: The governor announced an investment of more than $380 million in the 2017 Capital Budget for higher education projects across the state, including:

  • $89 million for construction of the new Biomedical Sciences Education facility at the University System of Maryland, Universities at Shady Grove Education Center;
  • $40 million to continue construction of the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County;
  • $26 million to start construction for a new science facility at Towson University;
  • $9 million to begin construction of Morgan State University’s Student Services building;
  • $25 million for continued construction of the James Clark Bioengineering Building at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Additionally, Maryland’s community colleges will receive $56 million to fully fund all of their requested projects for the year, with an additional $8 million for projects at Goucher College, McDaniel College, and St. John’s College.

Hogan Announces 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative

Press Release - January 5, 2017

Package Includes Incentives to Create Thousands of Jobs, STEM Education Funding, Workforce Development & Cyber Initiatives

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today unveiled the 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative, a comprehensive legislative package that will provide incentives for the creation of thousands of jobs and $5 million in strategic investments in education and workforce training to put even more Marylanders back to work.

As the centerpiece of this initiative, the governor announced the More Jobs for Marylanders Act, a proposal to create thousands of jobs and attract businesses by eliminating all state taxes for ten years for new manufacturing employers that create jobs in high unemployment areas. The legislation will also include tax incentives for current employers who expand their workforce in these areas, including Baltimore City, where the governor made this announcement at the Living Classrooms Foundation’s education and job-training facility in Baltimore’s Perkins Homes neighborhood.

“We are very excited about this Maryland Jobs Initiative which will help us create thousands of jobs, particularly in those areas of our state where we desperately need them the most,” said Governor Hogan. “There should be very broad bipartisan support for these common sense, job-creating proposals. We look forward to working closely together with our local partners and with our colleagues in the legislature to make this Maryland Jobs Initiative program a reality.”

The governor was joined by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz, Commerce Secretary Mike Gill, Baltimore City Senator Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, and Baltimore City Council President Jack Young for the announcement.

The governor’s 2017 Maryland Jobs Initiative include the following proposals:

More Jobs for Marylanders Act: As the centerpiece of Governor Hogan’s Maryland Jobs Initiative, this proposed legislation will to create thousands of jobs where they are needed most by eliminating all state taxes for ten years for new manufacturing employers that create jobs in high unemployment areas. To encourage existing Maryland manufacturers to add more jobs in these targeted employment zones, the governor’s proposal provides a tax credit for any new jobs they create. It also enables these companies to accelerate the deductions of their capital assets to free up capital for investment in new technology needed to create the jobs of the future. Qualifying jurisdictions currently include Baltimore City and Allegany, Dorchester, Somerset, and Worcester counties.

P-TECH Expansion: Governor Hogan announced additional investments to open six new Pathways in Technology Early College (P-TECH) high schools throughout the state, as well as funding to support students currently enrolled at existing P-TECH schools. P-TECH, co-developed by IBM, is an innovative, nationally recognized education model that blends high school, college, and work experience into one innovative program where graduates obtain a two-year associate degree in a STEM career field at no additional cost. P-TECH Dunbar and P-TECH Carver, both located in Baltimore City, opened for the 2016-17 school year.

“We thank the governor for his strong leadership,” said Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM Foundation and vice president of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs. “The new economy requires us to equip our nation’s students with skills to succeed in college and new collar jobs, regardless of income or zip code. Governor Hogan, together with state and city leaders, is providing Maryland students with opportunities, critical to their future and economic success.”

Maryland Partnership for Workforce Quality: The governor announced a $1 million investment for this program to encourage businesses to invest in employee training, ultimately making Maryland more competitive by ensuring that the state’s workforce has access to the most up-to-date skills needed in an ever-changing job landscape.

Cyber Jobs Training Grants: The Hogan administration will make a $3 million investment to provide funding for cyber job training grants, modeled after Maryland’s nationally recognized Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) workforce training program. More than 1,700 unemployed or underemployed workers have received training through the EARN program, and this cyber-specific EARN grant will address skills gaps in growing industries like security engineering and software development to provide the qualified workforce needed to continue growing Maryland’s vibrant cyber industry.

“Maryland’s workforce is one of our strongest assets and a key reason why we are able to attract some of the best cyber and technology companies in the world, but it is critical that we expand and grow our skilled workforce to meet the demands of 21st century jobs,” said Secretary Schulz. “The governor’s initiatives will allow us to close the skills gap and get more Marylanders working in these exciting industries.”

Cybersecurity Investment Incentive Program: This proposal improves an existing program by making tax credits accessible to investors in cybersecurity startups. Modeled on Maryland’s successful biotechnology tax credit, this initiative will continue to grow Maryland’s cybersecurity community, support small businesses, and incentivize investment in innovation.

“Governor Hogan’s leadership has ushered in a new era of economic development achievement in Maryland, and the proposals the governor announced today will enable our state to attract even more new jobs and innovative businesses, and build the most skilled workforce in the country,” said Secretary Gill.

Governor Hogan Announces 2017 Environmental Agenda

Press Release - January 3, 2017

Legislative Package, $65 Million Investment To Protect Maryland’s Environment

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced key elements of the administration’s environmental agenda for the 2017 legislative session, which includes targeted investments and market-based solutions to protect and preserve Maryland’s environment and natural resources. The governor’s 2017 Environmental Package includes initiatives to grow jobs in green industries, promote the use of electric vehicles, invest in renewable energy innovations, and promote clean water commerce. In total, the proposals outlined by Governor Hogan represent nearly $65 million of investment in Maryland’s environment.

“The proposals in our package are innovative, forward-thinking solutions to ensure that Maryland continues to lead the way to safeguard our environment,” said Governor Hogan. “I look forward to working with legislators to get these common sense measures passed. We owe it to the next generation to continue to find cost-effective ways to protect Maryland’s environment and stimulate economic growth.”

Governor Hogan’s 2017 Environmental Package is comprised of four initiatives designed to protect Maryland’s natural resources while fostering economic and job growth. In addition to these targeted proposals, $41 million will be invested in Tier 1 renewable projects through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, as part of $44 million Exelon must pay in liquidated damages to the State of Maryland. The first of these initiatives is a $3 million targeted investment in Maryland’s EARN Program to train 1,500 workers for jobs in the solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other green industries. This proposal would be Maryland’s first significant investment in workforce training for green jobs.

Governor Hogan also announced his plan to introduce the Clean Cars Act of 2017, which will increase the investment in the Electric Vehicle tax credit program by over 30 percent and double the Charging Station rebate. Increasing these tax credits will make the purchase and use of electric vehicles more affordable and convenient, encouraging Maryland consumers and businesses to invest in this environmentally friendly mode of travel.

“Making it easier and more affordable to invest in alternative energy is essential to move Maryland toward a cleaner energy future,” said Maryland Energy Administration Director Dr. Mary Beth Tung. “The governor’s legislative package goes a long way toward encouraging cleaner, greener, and smarter use of our energy resources.”

In addition, Governor Hogan announced $7.5 million in funding to create the Green Energy Institute (GEI), a collaboration between the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) and the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC). The mission of the Green Energy Institute will be to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations in Maryland.

Finally, the governor unveiled his plan to introduce the Clean Water Commerce Act, which will allow up to $10 million of the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to purchase nutrient reduction credits, enabling the state to meet its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan goals by 2025 through innovation and public private partnerships.

“Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, Maryland has already made great strides to restore the Chesapeake Bay and protect our precious natural resources,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “The initiatives proposed in the governor’s legislative package will ensure that Maryland continues to make generational progress in improving our environment.”

Governor Hogan’s 2017 Environmental Package follows two years of marked progress in environmental protection and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Shortly after taking office in 2015, Governor Hogan brought together stakeholders from the business, agricultural, and environmental communities to address the issue of phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay, resulting in enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations to improve water quality while bolstering rural economies.

Under the Hogan administration, Maryland has invested $53 million in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund – the highest level of investment since the fund was established – marking the first time in state history that funding dedicated specifically for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay has not been diverted to the General Fund.

In May, the Chesapeake Bay received its highest score for water quality in nearly a quarter century, according to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the Bay have dropped dramatically compared to recent years.

Governor Hogan has also made it a top priority of his administration to promote land conservation and preserve green spaces across the state. The administration enacted legislation to protect against further raids of Program Open Space and restored $60 million to that program. In 2015, the Hogan administration enacted legislation that expanded and codified the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and last year took proactive steps to ensure Maryland’s position as national leader in combating greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, Governor Hogan is leading the effort to seek innovative and cost-effective solutions at the Conowingo Dam to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution from states upstream, which flows down the Susquehanna River and poses a serious threat to the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Governor Hogan Announces Emergency Legislation to Repeal "Road Kill Bill"

Press Release - December 14, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today reaffirmed that the administration’s top legislative priority for the 2017 session of the Maryland General Assembly will be the immediate and full repeal of House Bill 1013, more commonly known as the Road Kill Bill. At a State House press conference, the governor joined Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn in announcing the administration’s plan to submit emergency legislation to repeal the Road Kill Bill and return the prioritization of transportation projects back to local jurisdictions. The bill was passed and became law over the governor’s veto during the 2016 legislative session.

“Today I am here to announce that we will submit emergency legislation for our top priority for this legislative session, which is to push for the full and immediate repeal of this disastrous bill which will absolutely be responsible for the elimination of nearly all of the most important transportation priorities in every single jurisdiction all across the state,” said Governor Hogan. “It will wreak havoc on the entire state transportation system and usurp important authority away from local governments and away from the executive branch of state government, giving authority instead to lobbyists and special interest groups.”

“The repercussions of this law are quite simply disastrous for our state, and I can assure you that on behalf of our citizens, I will not stop fighting until this catastrophic bill is repealed,” the governor continued.

Due to an extremely flawed and biased scoring system implemented by the law, major priority transportation projects will be canceled in every jurisdiction in the state. Under the legislatively mandated scoring system, 66 out of 73 transportation projects are fully canceled, including pivotal projects such as:

  • Anne Arundel County: Widening of the Severn River Bridge, Upgrade of MD 3 from US 50 to MD 32, Traffic flow improvements to MD 175 from MD 295 to MD 170, Expanding capacity on MD 198 from MD 295 to MD 32, Widening of MD 295 from MD 100 to I-195 and Hanover Road interchange
  • Baltimore County: I-795 interchange at Dolfield Boulevard, Widening of I-695 from I-83 to I-95, Widening of I-695 from I-95 to MD 122, Widening of MD 140 northbound from Painters Mill Road to Garrison View Road, Study to replace I-70/I-695 Triple Bridges
  • Frederick County: Capacity improvements on MD 180 & MD 351, Improvements to US 15 between I-70 and MD 26, Widening of MD 85 from English Muffin Way to Grove Road, Widening of MD 85 from Crestwood to Spectrum Drive, Widening of I-70 to six lanes between Mount Phillip Road and I-270
  • Howard County: Improvements to US 1 from the Prince George’s County line to the Baltimore County line, Widening of MD 32 from Linden Church Road to I-70, Capacity improvements on MD 32 from MD 26 to I-70, Congestion relief on I-70 from MD 32 to US 29, Widening of US 29 from the Middle Patuxent River to Seneca Drive
  • Montgomery County: Watkins Mill Road interchange on I-270, Safety, capacity, and operations improvements to MD 28/MD 198 between MD 97 and I-95, Capacity improvements to I-495 at the I-270 Spur and Virginia line, US 29 interchange at Musgrove Road and Fairland Road, MD 97 interchange at MD 28
  • Prince George’s County: Upgrades to US 301 through Waldorf, including improvements at MD 5 and at MD 228/MD 5BU, Upgrades to MD 3 from US 50 to MD 32, Capacity improvements to US 50 from the D.C. line to MD 704, Upgrading MD 5 to a multi-lane freeway from US 301 at T.B. to north of I-95/I-495, Capacity improvements on MD 201/US 1 from Capital Beltway to north of Murikirk Road, Improvements to MD 210 intersections from I-95/I-495 to MD 228, Widening of US 301 from north of Mount Oak Road to US 50, Upgrading MD 4 to multi-lane freeway from MD 223 to I-95/I-495

Earlier this year, at a November 18 legislative hearing, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn outlined the law’s severe and fatal flaws and strongly advocated the need for full and total repeal. Under questioning by legislators, the secretary repeatedly stated that there is no possible method by which the department could create regulations implementing the law that would not result in the vast majority of these priority of projects being cancelled.

“The one-size-fits-all ranking system mandated by this law is wrong for Maryland drivers, wrong for employers relying on needed improvements to local roads and bridges, wrong for tourists and visitors traveling to our state, and wrong for Maryland taxpayers who expect their dollars to be spent in an fair and equitable manner on projects that will improve their daily lives,” said Secretary Rahn. “This administration is committed to funding top priority projects in all regions of the state, and the only way that can happen is if this deeply misguided law is repealed.”

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