2019 Session Recap

Greetings from Annapolis.
It has been an honor and a pleasure serving the people of Harford and Cecil Counties during this 439th Session of the Maryland General Assembly. Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past 90 days.

The 2019 legislative session has come to a close and we have been working hard for District 35 and all of Maryland. During session I sponsored 6 pieces of legislation and co-sponsored an additional 75 pieces of legislation. Most of these initiatives were geared towards helping our veterans, farmers, state retirees, and improving our schools, protecting our constitutional rights, and reducing taxes.

What follows is a summary of key pieces of legislation that were introduced during the 2019 Session. Between the Senate and the House, 2,491 pieces of legislation were introduced. Of those, 864 passed and will be enacted at various points throughout the year.

If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on future legislation for next year, please do not hesitate to contact our office by email at jason.gallion@senate.state.md.us or by phone at 410-841-3603. Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be your representative in Annapolis.

Sincerely,

Senator Jason Gallion

District 35

Legislation I Sponsored:

SB133: Farm Area Motor Vehicles – Registration and Authorized Use

This bill makes permanent the 25-mile radius distance from a farm that a vehicle may travel while remaining eligible to be considered a farm area motor vehicle. The bill also makes permanent a requirement that an owner of an FAMV submit documentation that demonstrates active farming status as part of the vehicle registration process. This bill passed with no opposition.

SB407: Public Schools – Agricultural Education Programs

This bill’s purpose was to encourage each county board of education to implement an agricultural education program that prepares students for successful careers and informed choices relating to agriculture. This would be done by providing instruction and developing skills through integrated classroom and laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experiences, and leadership experiences and involvement in student organizations. This bill passed in the House unanimously but was voted unfavorable in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee in the Senate. Fortunately, we were able to get an amendment into the Education Blueprint for Maryland’s Future otherwise known as the Kirwan bill (SB 1030) to include “expanded opportunities for sciencebased, certified agriculture education”.

SB922: Public Health – Milk – Labeling

SB922 is a truth in labeling bill. Many imitation milk products claim to be a milk product but do not live up to the FDA definition of milk. The mislabeling of these products can and have led to nutritional deficiency diseases in consumers. The bill enters Maryland into a multi-state compact that if fulfilled would lead to the enforcement of fair labeling for these products. SB922 passed the Senate and the House with strong bipartisan support.

SB923: Harford County – Hunting – Deer Management Permits

This bill adds Harford County to the list of Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties that allow certain rifles to be used under a crop damage or deer management permit. These permits are only granted to Maryland landowners or agricultural lessees who are experiencing severe economic loss from deer to commercially grown crops. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that Maryland deer caused $7.7 million in agricultural damage statewide. By removing deer from these properties it will provide economic relief to Harford County farmers. This legislation passed with no opposition.

Funding Projects Awarded to the District

Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding

This year we were able to secure $100,000 in funding for the Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding (CTR) at Serenity Hill Farm project in District 35. The funds will be used for the acquisition of their forever home in Street, MD. Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding is a nonprofit organization that serves the community with adaptive recreation and farm-based education programming using horses. Not a typical horse farm, CTR serves people who have limited opportunity to experience learning and recreational activities with horses in a safe inclusive environment.

Our Town Early Literacy Center

The Cecil County Senate and House Delegations were able to secure $50,000 to be used towards the creation of an early literacy center designed to promote school readiness, inspire a love of reading in young children and their families, and empower parents to become their child’s first teacher.

Fighting For Our Second Amendment Rights

This year there were several pieces of proposed legislation that would have added more restrictions to owning a gun. Listed here are the two major pieces of legislation that were debated this Session:

SB737/HB786: Public Safety Rifles and Shotguns Secondary Transactions

This bill established requirements and prohibitions for the transfer, sale, and rental of a rifle or shotgun. If you wish to transfer a gun to another individual, you would have to do so with a licensed dealer present. This bill required gun owners to complete a background check before the second-hand transfer of a rifle or shotgun is completed. Due to this being an attempt to add more restrictions to law abiding gun owners: One version of this bill passed the Senate and another version passed the House, but the two sides were unable to concur on a final compromise bill before the end of session. I voted against the Senate bill.

SB1000/HB1343: Public Safety Handgun Permit Review Board Repeal

This bill repeals the Handgun Permit Review Board. If you are denied a permit to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, or a renewal of such a permit by the Maryland State Police, all appeals will now be sent to the Office of Administrative Hearings, therefore removing citizen oversight from the handgun permit process. I voted against this bill. Unfortunately, this bill passed 87-47 in the House and 30-16 in the Senate.

Prescription Benefits for State Retirees

SB946 creates 3 programs to limit out-of-pocket (OOP) prescription drug costs for State Retirees who began service before July 1, 2011 (the date that the benefit sustainability reform took effect), and their families. The Department of Budget and Management administers the State’s health benefits for employees and retirees. For the most up to date information regarding implementation of the legislation, visit the Department’s website at: https://dbm.maryland.gov/pages/default.aspx

Quick facts on these programs:

– All 3 of these programs cover Medicare eligible spouses and dependents (not just Medicare eligible retirees).

– Participants who reach the OOP limit under any of these programs will be reimbursed for OOP cost that exceed the limit.

– If the participant selects a Medicare Part D Plan that has a deductible, the deductible is included in the OOP limit.

$15 Minimum Wage

This year the Senate and the House passed SB280/HB166, which will raise the minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 by 2025. I did not support, nor did I vote for this bill. This bill could harm small businesses, disrupt the job market, and ultimately hurt the people it is trying to help. Frostburg University released a survey done here in Maryland at the end of last year. It shows how an increase in the minimum wage would affect Maryland businesses, which you can read here – https://deepcreektimes.com/wp-content/uploads/Minimum-Wage-Study-by-FSU-FINAL-REPORT- Nov-2018.pdf. We have received many letters, phone calls, and personal visits from economists, small businesses, county commissioners, and chambers of commerce who all advised the legislature to think twice before implementing this bill.

Physician Assisted Suicide

After much debate, bill SB311/HB399, which is the End-of-Life Option Act, better known as Physician Assisted Suicide, failed for the fourth year. HB399 passed in the House, 74-66. SB311 failed in the Senate, 23-23, with one person abstaining from the vote. This is an emotional issue for many people, and I met with constituents on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, I decided that if I had any doubt, that I will err on the side of life. I voted against this bill.

Sanctuary State Bills

ThisSessionwehadtwobillscomeforwardthatwouldessentiallyturnMarylandintoaSanctuaryState. What these two bills would have done is make it harder for local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration authorities. SB817/HB913 was never voted on, whereas SB718/HB1165 passed the House but was never brought to a vote in the Senate.

SB817/HB913: Correctional Facilities and Police Officers Procedures Immigration Status

This bill would prohibit a police officer from asking an individual about their immigration status, citizen status, or place of birth during a stop, search, or an arrest conducted in the performance of regular police functions. Also this bill would prohibit an employee or agent of a correctional facility, without a federal judicial warrant, from detaining a person beyond the person’s State-law release date or from notifying federal immigration authorities of the person’s State-law release date, location, or address only for immigration enforcement purposes.

SB718/HB1165: State Government Government Agents Requests for and Use of Immigration Status Information

This bill would prohibit a government agent from requesting information about immigration or citizenship status of a person or a person’s family members or acquaintances. This bill would also prohibit a government agent from detaining or questioning a person based on the actual or presumed immigration or citizenship status of that person or any other person.

Redistricting

The 2020 census and redistricting are quickly approaching. There were many good redistricting bills put forward this year, but unfortunately many of them were put off to the side and never voted on. I will continue to work with my fellow legislators to end gerrymandering in our state.