Maryland General Assembly

The 2017 Maryland General Assembly has ended after a whirlwind 3 month session. Thank YOU for coming to Annapolis, making calls, sending emails, attending meetings, coming to our first statewide kickoff and our first statewide Purim lobby night, and everything else you did to move forward our agenda this year. Our successes are due to YOUR hard work and commitment! Read on to learn more about what went down during this year's MD legislative session.

And don't forget - the work doesn't end here! Join us as we keep the momentum moving at the local level.

Molly Amster, Baltimore Director

Laura Wallace, Montgomery County Community Organizer

Earned Sick Leave

  • Earned sick and safe leave PASSED the Maryland legislature with veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate! Many worked hard to make this possible, but particular thanks to lead sponsors, Delegate Luke Clippinger and Senator Thomas Middleton. But our work isn't done! Governor Hogan vetoed the bill, so we need to make sure the Assembly passes this bill again in the next session.

Standing up for Refugees and Immigrants

  • The Maryland Trust Act faced strong opposition from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Judicial Proceedings Chair Senator Bobby Zirkin, and was eventually stripped of key provisions, which led advocates to withdraw support from the bill. We appreciate the leadership of Delegate Marice Morales and Senator Victor Ramirez, the bill's lead sponsors.
  • Immigrant protections have moved forward in Baltimore County and the City of Hyattsville.

Rent Court

  • ​Months of work went into reaching a historic set of compromises between landlords and tenants to reform Maryland’s Rent Courts prior to the start of the legislative session. The agreed-to provisions comprised HB1487. Delegate Sandy Rosenberg led the effort to reach compromise and was the lead sponsor on the bill and we appreciate his efforts. Although we did not get the final bill passed, we achieved campaign wins that we can build upon going forward:
    • Due to our advocacy, the final language of the bill filed bill was changed to be in line with the agreements reached and didn’t further disadvantage tenants, which was a possibility.
    • The bill passed the House, 97-42!!
  • Ultimately, the bill died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, chaired by Senator Bobby Zirkin, who himself abstained from voting on the bill.
  • Another win was the defeat of SB706, a bill which, in some situations, would have shortened the required notice of eviction from 14 days to 7 days, and shortened the appeal period from 10 days to 4 days. SB 706 passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in a 6-5 vote with the Chairman, Senator Zirkin, voting favorably.
    • The bill passed passed The Senate, but due to advocacy from many, including JUFJ, the bill died in the House Rules Committee.

What’s next:

  • We will continue our efforts to improve tenants protections with a focus on Baltimore City, starting with a water affordability bill that would provide greater equity for tenants.

Police Accountability

  • We began the session supporting three important pieces of legislation to increase transparency and improve police accountability. We are saddened and angered to report that none of these bills moved beyond the committees they were assigned to.
  • One win on this campaign despite the fact that none of the bills achieved passage: The Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting HB1504, which would have made Baltimore’s Police Department a City agency. We appreciate the leadership of City Councilman Brandon Scott and Delegate Curt Anderson, who was the lead sponsor of this bill. Ultimately, the bill was withdrawn following strong opposition from Mayor Pugh and an opinion issued by Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office.

What’s next:

  • We will continue our efforts to make the police more transparent and accountable, focusing on Baltimore City. We will start with the consent decree with DOJ, engaging strongly in the process to choose a monitor and begin implementation. To get involved, email Molly.

Gun Violence Prevention

  • We had an important win to protect victims of domestic abuse. HB294, which keeps guns out of the hands of certain domestic abusers, passed in the General Assembly with the leadership of Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Kathleen Dumais. We expect Governor Hogan to sign the bill in May.
  • Unfortunately, the firearm transfer bill that would have required convicted violent offenders to turn over their guns to law enforcement or a licensed gun dealer, was unable to overcome regulatory obstacles in the last days of session.

What’s next:

  • We are exploring next steps in our work to prevent gun violence and advocate for victims of domestic violence. To get involved, email Laura.

A $15 Minimum Wage / Preemption

  • We successfully fought against a preemption bill that would have prevented Maryland cities and counties from passing any new wage and benefit laws.
  • After the preemption bill stalled in committee, we worked to pass a state-wide $15 minimum wage bill. That bill also stalled in committee, but as we have seen with the earned sick leave campaign, it takes sustained effort over a number of years to pass new wage and benefit laws in Maryland.
  • The Fight for $15 campaign now moves back to the local level. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh both vetoed $15 minimum wage bill passed by their respective councils in recent months.

What’s next:

  • JUFJ is organizing in Montgomery County in support of the $15 minimum wage bill that will be brought back up to the County Council this summer. If you’d like to get involved in the campaign, let us know.