It has been an honor and a pleasure serving the citizens of Harford and Cecil Counties during this 444th Session of the Maryland General Assembly. Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past 90 days.
The 2022 legislative session has come to a close and we have been working hard for District 35 and all of Maryland. In this session, I sponsored 7 pieces of legislation and co-sponsored an additional 35 pieces of legislation. Most of these initiatives were geared toward increasing public safety, reducing taxes on individuals and small businesses, reducing regulations on our farmers, getting violent criminals off our streets, protecting the second amendment, and giving our parents more transparency when it comes to their child’s education.
What follows is a summary of key pieces of legislation that were introduced during the 2022 Session. Between the Senate and the House, 3,113 pieces of legislation were introduced. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on future legislation, please do not hesitate to contact our office by email at email@example.com or by phone at 410-841-3603. Once again, thank you for allowing me to represent you here in Annapolis.
Senator Jason Gallion
Legislation I Sponsored
SB295/HB44 – Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Emergency Service Transporters – Reimbursement
SB 295 increases the Medicaid reimbursement rate for EMS transports; the first such increase in the rate for first responders since 1999. The legislation also allows for reimbursement of the “treat but not transport” or “patient refusal” of Medicaid patients. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this more often due to the opioid epidemic when first responders treat patients but they refuse transportation to a facility. Additionally, this legislation allows mobile integrated health to be reimbursed, leading to a decrease in emergency wait room times. This is a huge win for our rural counties and the State as a whole.
SB229/HB184 – Environment – On-Farm Composting Facilities – Permit Exemption
SB 229 was an attempt to reduce regulations on our farmers by requiring the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations to exempt an on-farm composting facility from the requirement to obtain a permit if the on-farm composting facility uses 40,000 square feet of area or less for active food scrap composting. This bill passed the Senate unanimously but no further action was taken by the House of Delegates.
Status: Passed Senate; No action from House
SB296/HB558 – Land Use – Agritourism – Definition
SB296 will expand the state definition of agritourism to include overnight farm stays. Agritourism continues to be a great tool to allow our farmers to supplement their income.
SB497/HB592 – Deer Management Permit – Hunting on State Land Leased by Permit Holder – Authorization
SB497 allows an individual who hunts deer under a Deer Management Permit to use a shotgun or breech-loading center-fired rifle to hunt deer throughout the year on State land. This bill will help to protect crops grown on state land from the increased deer pressure damaging crops.
SB908/HB603 – Harford County Board of Education – Appointment of Members – Alterations:
This legislation will replace the appointing authority of the Harford County Board of Education for the three appointed members from the Governor to the Harford County Executive. This will bring more local control to the Harford County Board of Education and allow our parents with public school students in the county to have a stronger voice in regards to issues facing our public schools.
Notable Legislation I Co-Sponsored
SB327 – Public Safety – Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport a Handgun – Qualifications
SB337 – Motor Fuel Tax Rates – Consumer Price Index Adjustment – Repeal
SB338 – Handgun Permit – Preliminary Approval
SB339 – Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022
SB532 – Election Law – Polling Places – Proof of Identity
SB735 – Repeal the Netflix Tax Act of 2022
SB736 – Real Local Tax Relief for Working Families Act of 2022
SB786 – Education Public Schools – Curriculum Publication (Curriculum Transparency and Publication Act)
SB1010 – Motor Fuel Taxes – Tax-Free Period
SB392 – Judicial Transparency Act of 2022
Harford and Cecil County Funded Budget items
- Broad Creek Scout Reservation Wastewater Treatment Facility – $275,000
- The Miracle League Baseball Field – $100,000
- Bel Air Library Renovation – $1,414,000
- Discovery Center at Water’s Edge – $750,000
- Aberdeen B&O Train Station Improvements – $500,000
- Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club Renovation – $400,000
- Klein Family Crisis Center – $300,000
- Freestate Challenge Academy – $1,750,000
- Harford Community College – Chesapeake Welcome Center – $7,813,000
- New Harford County District Court – $12,000,000
- Turkey Point Light Station – Bell Tower Reconstruction – $100,000
- Cecil County Shooting Range – $1,000,000
- NorthBay Educational Center – $2,300,000
- Bainbridge Redevelopment – $7,500,000
- VFW Post 8185 Improvements – $92,000
- Elk Neck State Park Wastewater Treatment Plant – $3,394,000
2022 Legislative Session Recap
In a year of historic budget surpluses, the General Assembly passed Governor Hogan’s $61 billion budget. This budget included items such as funding being restored for providers serving victims of crime. The budget again made record investments in public schools and save 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 leaving $211 million in the General Fund.
The stand-out feature in this year’s budget to me is the $350 million in tax relief. This includes an income tax credit for retirees, a work opportunity tax credit for businesses that hire individuals with barriers to employment, and sales tax exemptions on diapers, baby products, medical devices, oral care products, and diabetic products. While I would have preferred a more expansive tax reduction that would have benefitted more households, in a high-tax state like Maryland any tax cut is a good thing.
Cost of Living and Tax Relief
As Marylanders and small businesses are still recovering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, record inflation of 8.4% is driving up the cost of groceries, gas, goods, and services. With a once-in-a-generation budget surplus, I remained committed to returning those funds to taxpayers and providing relief to all Marylanders as they continue to adjust their monthly budgets to the rising cost of living and doing business.
There was good news on this front as the General Assembly and Governor Hogan passed $350 million in tax cuts this year – a record for Maryland. While I was proud to support these tax cuts, I firmly believe that more should have been done to return a larger portion of the $ 7 BILLION budget surplus to Maryland’s taxpayers.
Maryland is one of the only states that ties its gas tax to inflation. This means that every July 1st the gas tax increases at the rate of inflation without a vote by the legislature. Senate Republicans opposed this tax when it was proposed in 2013 and continue to oppose it now on principle and because of the additional financial burden it places on Maryland’s working families.
I am proud to have cosponsored the complete repeal of the automatic gas tax which would have saved Marylanders $37.5 million in FY23 and $117 million by FY27. Unfortunately, this bill died in committee, along with another proposal that would have paused the automatic gas tax increase for two years.
There was temporary good news on the gas tax, however. Republicans and Democrats came together and agreed on a 30-Day Gas Tax Holiday that ran through April 16th and saved Marylanders 36 cents per gallon during that time.
Unfortunately, the General Assembly did not act on the Republican proposals to extend the gas tax holiday, so Marylanders are now facing a large jump in gas prices.
Retiree Income Tax Cuts
I have long-supported meaningful tax relief for Maryland’s retirees who are all too often taxed out of Maryland and forced to relocate to other states. Bills to remove income taxes on retiree income have been introduced by Republican members and Governor Hogan for many years, and finally, this year, Democrats came on board and supported retiree income tax relief.
Individual Marylanders making less than $100,000/year in retirement income will receive a $1,000 subtraction off the income taxes they owe, and married couples making $150,000 or less will receive a $1750 subtraction. For some, this will be a complete elimination of income taxes and for others, it will be a significant reduction.
While I support more substantial tax relief for Maryland’s retirees, this is a step in the right direction.
Other Tax Cuts
I also supported opportunity tax credits for businesses who hire individuals with barriers to employment as well as sales tax exemptions on diapers, baby products, medical devices, oral care products, and diabetic products that were passed into law this Session.
Senate Republicans also proposed tax credits to support Maryland’s hospitality and tourism industries and legislation to allow counties to offer “hometown hero” property tax credits for veterans, first responders, and public safety professionals.
Repealing the “Netflix Tax”
Following a grassroots effort over the interim, I co-sponsored legislation to repeal the Netflix Tax that was passed during the 2021 Session during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic after it was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan in 2020. The “Netflix Tax” charges a new 6% sales tax on digital content including streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, and Hulu as well as digitally downloaded content such as audiobooks, e-books, and computer software.
The Netflix Tax also taxes critical tools for small businesses such as QuickBooks, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and much more, further adding to their costs of doing business during this time of rising inflation.
If passed, the repeal would have returned $100 million/year to Maryland’s working families, but unfortunately, the bill died in the Senate’s Budget & Taxation Committee.
Paid Family Leave
SB 275 – Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022) creates a state-run insurance program, funded by what will be a new $1.6 BILLION payroll tax paid by employers and employees, to cover up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a 12-month period. Under some circumstances, individuals could qualify for up to 24 weeks of leave.
Individuals can take leave due to their illness or take care of a family member whose illness requires continued treatment by a professional. The leave can also be used to cover maternity and paternity leave. The payroll tax will be covered by employees and employers, at a cost-sharing proportion set by the Department of Labor every two years. Depending on the decision of the Department, employers will cover 25%-75% of the premium, with employees covering the rest. The amount of the weekly benefit depends on the employee’s salary or wage and is capped at $1,000 per week beginning January 1, 2025. The cap increases to $1,500 per week beginning January 1, 2026. In the years beyond, increases in the weekly benefits are indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
It covers a wide variety of “families”, well beyond biological, adopted, step, or custodial. Under the bill, a person could take time off to care for a family friend who acted as a parent to them when they were young. They could take time off to take care of a long-lost foster sibling. The bill also throws a lot of uncertainty at Maryland’s job creators. Many businesses are already struggling to find and keep employees, and this bill allows for 12 weeks of leave during which time the employer must keep the employee’s job open to them. There are limited cases where the employer can terminate the employee. The bill does not require the employee to have worked for the current employer for any amount of time before taking the leave, so an employee could start work and then begin the 12 weeks of leave a few days into the new job. The bill also fails to set the contribution ratio in statute, allowing it to change every two years.
Businesses could see their contributions rise to up to 75% of the premium if that is what the Department decides.
Businesses are already operating under a tremendous amount of uncertainty. This bill fails to balance the needs of the employees and the employers and is a bad idea for Maryland.
Citing these concerns as well as the rushed nature of the bill’s passage and implementation process, Governor Hogan vetoed SB 275. Unfortunately, the General Assembly voted to override his veto on party lines.
Addressing Maryland’s Violent Crime Crisis
A violent crime crisis continues to plague our State. We know that the majority of these crimes are committed by repeat, violent offenders who fear no consequences for their violent actions – a sentiment perpetuated by the “defund the police” movement and so-called “police reform” legislation that was passed last year.
I’m proud to continue to stand with our law enforcement professionals and support commonsense legislation that would get repeat, violent offenders off our streets.
This year, it seemed as though Democrats were finally willing to address this issue, however, they passed watered-down proposals that would not deliver the bold action needed to make an immediate impact on this crisis and focused on soft on crime proposals and bills that added onerous new regulations on law-abiding gun owners.
There was some short-lived good news, however, in the Senate when long-time Republican proposals, including making the theft of a handgun a felony and closing the “drug dealer loophole” where drug dealers were exempted from enhanced penalties for committing a felony with a firearm were amended onto SB 861 – Public Safety – Firearm Crimes – Enforcement Center, Offenses, and Procedures – that went on to pass out of the Senate. Unfortunately, those provisions were stripped out by the House in the final hour of the Session.
So once again for the third year, commonsense public safety proposals that passed the Senate languished in the House, while violent crime continues to surge throughout the State.
A key element of Governor Hogan’s Crime Package over the past few sessions has been the Judicial Transparency Act which would require the sentencing records of individual judges to be published. This data would help the public and other state leaders understand sentencing trends and identify judges handing down more lenient sentences to violent offenders.
I supported this legislation and a watered-down version in the Senate. In the amended bill, individual judges’ sentencing data would not be published, rather it would be shared in aggregate and sentencing trends could not be pinpointed by individual judges.
Unfortunately, after passing the Senate, no action was taken in the House.
Democrats in Annapolis proposed legislation outlawing “ghost guns,” or unregistered firearms, as the magic solution to end the violent crime crisis.
While there was a legitimate concern to be addressed – the ability of violent actors to purchase handgun kits online that could be easily assembled at home and used in violent activity, the bill as originally written would make collectors, gunsmiths, and craftsmen criminals.
Senate Republicans were able to amend the bill in committee to offer some protections for law-abiding gun collectors and enthusiasts, however, the final version of the bill requires that all firearms, except for antique guns manufactured before 1968, will require a serial number by March of 2023.
I voted against this legislation because I have concerns that law-abiding gun owners could be negatively affected, while other legislation targeting repeat violent offenders continues to be ignored.
Governor Hogan chose to allow SB387/HB425 to take effect without his signature.
Juvenile Justice Reform
There were two major Juvenile Justice bills passed during the 2022 Session- SB 53 –
Juvenile Law – Child Interrogation Protection Act and SB 691 – Juvenile Justice Reform.
SB 53 prohibits law enforcement officers from interrogating youth until they have consulted with an attorney, and the law enforcement officer has given notice to the parent or guardian that the youth will be interrogated. Interrogations are allowed if the officer is seeking information to protect against a threat to public safety.
I’m proud to support the rights of parents and due process for minors, but provisions that require consultation with an attorney before an interrogation effectively eliminate law enforcement’s ability to interrogate a youth. With juvenile crime on the rise, this bill removes a crucial investigative tool for law enforcement.
Governor Hogan vetoed SB 53 citing the same concerns in his veto letter: “After careful consideration of the dueling priorities of protecting both youth constitutional rights as well as public safety and criminal investigations, it is clear that SB 53 fails to strike an appropriate balance that protects the youth and public safety of the state.”
Unfortunately, Governor Hogan’s veto was overridden before Sine Die.
SB 691 – Juvenile Justice Reform was an omnibus bill that establishes new sentencing rules for youth, including a ban on incarceration for minor offenses, sets a minimum age for criminal charges, emphasize community-based treatment, and create time limits for probation terms.
The main piece of legislation, the so-called omnibus bill, would establish new sentencing rules for youth, including a ban on incarceration for minor offenses. It would also set a minimum age for criminal charges, expand access to diversion initiatives and create time limits for probation terms.
I opposed the bill on the grounds that during a time of increasing juvenile crime, especially with older teens, this bill removes “grown-up consequences for grown-up actions.” Senate Republicans were able to amend the bill to give judges more discretion in setting probation terms for juvenile offenders for more serious offenses.
SB 691 was then passed by the House and Governor Hogan will let it become law without his signature.
In a preemptive effort to protect abortion rights should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the General Assembly considered two bills this session dealing with abortion, which is already settled law in Maryland.
The “Abortion Care Access Act” SB 890/HB93 is a radically expansive bill that would establish the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program & Fund and requires the Governor to include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of $3.5 million to fund the training program. The bill also removes the requirement that abortions only be performed by a physician and would now allow for any “qualified provider” to perform an abortion. Finally, the bill requires the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to cover abortion care services without a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirements.
I opposed this bill because this legislation represents a major healthcare policy shift of allowing healthcare professionals other than physicians to perform abortion procedures.
The term “qualified provider” is defined as a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, licensed certified midwife, physician assistant, or any other individual who is licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized by law to practice in the State; and for whom the performance of an abortion is within the scope of the individual’s license or certification. This is a dangerous and unnecessary path for Maryland to travel. For many of the “qualified providers” mentioned in this bill, including nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives, their scope of practice does not include the performance of abortions.
The Abortion Care Access Act passed both the Senate and the House after multiple failed attempts by myself and colleagues in both chambers to amend the bill.
Governor Hogan shared our concerns that this expansion of abortion access, particularly the ability of non-physicians to perform abortion procedures and vetoed the bill. However, the General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto before the end of Session, so this law will go into effect.
HB 1171 – Declaration of Rights – Right to Reproductive Liberty was a proposed amendment to the Maryland Constitution guaranteeing abortion rights. The amendment would add the following language to Maryland’s Constitution:
“That every person, as a central component of the individual’s rights to liberty and equality, has the fundamental right to reproductive liberty which includes the right to make and effectuate decisions regarding the individual’s reproduction, including but not limited to the ability to prevent, continue, or end their pregnancy. The state may not, directly or indirectly, deny, burden, or abridge the right unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
If the bill passed, this Constitutional Amendment would be on the ballot for voters to approve in the General Election in November. The bill passed the House but fortunately, no action was taken in the Senate.
This was the second year the General Assembly addressed legislation proposing “Climate Solutions Now.” Last year, the sweeping bill failed to pass in the waning hours of the 2021 legislative session and was reintroduced in 2022.
I support a clean and healthy environment, but could not support a sweeping bill that would have a devastating economic impact without making a meaningful impact on climate change.
The Senate bill was heavily amended in the House and the final version accelerates Maryland’s already ambitious environmental goals and sets out to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent of 2006 levels by 2031 – an increase from the current goal of 40 percent.
Owners of large commercial and apartment buildings would be required to cut their carbon emissions or face fines. The state’s fleet and public school buses would be mandated to transition to electric vehicles by certain years. The state would pay millions to organizations working in communities with neglected environments on projects such as planting trees, mitigating air pollution, or insulating low-income housing. And the legislation would take new steps to set the state on course to be carbon neutral by 2045.
The costs of these significant retrofits and upgrades will be passed down to Maryland’s job creators and working families in the form of utility rate increases and rent hikes. These increases come at the absolute worst time as Marylanders are already struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living and doing business in the face of record inflation.
My colleagues and I offered many amendments in committee and on the floor to minimize the financial impact and create a regional compact where the legislation would not move forward until neighboring states adopted the same standards, increasing the likelihood that these measures would make an impact on improving the environment. Unfortunately, amendments in the Senate were largely rejected along party-line votes and the bill passed both chambers.
Despite opposing the bill and calling it an “energy tax,” Governor Hogan did not veto the bill and instead let it go into law without his signature.
Legalization of Marijuana
The legalization of marijuana was one of the most anticipated issues of the 2022 Legislative Session. Two bills moved forward: HB1, which creates a referendum for voters to approve an amendment to the Maryland constitution legalizing recreational marijuana. More regulations will follow in future Sessions that will address the results of a disparity study to be conducted in the near term.
Provisions in HB 837 will only be enacted following a successful ballot referendum created by HB 1 on the November 2022 ballot where Marylanders will be asked if they want to add the legalization of recreational marijuana to the Maryland Constitution. HB837 includes the following provisions:
- Individuals can legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. Possession of between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces would be subject to a civil citation, and any amount over 2.5 ounces would be subject to existing laws regarding possession with intent to distribute.
- A Household can grow up to two marijuana plants
- Automatic expungement of past convictions of marijuana possession
Senate Republicans questioned the need for a referendum and the appropriateness of a Constitutional Amendment declaring the right to use recreational marijuana. We also pointed out the referendum for what it is, an election-year stunt to get more Democrat voters to the polls in November.
Governor Hogan did not take action on HB 837 and will allow it to become law without his signature. Ballot initiatives, like the one passed in HB 1, cannot be vetoed by the Governor.
The 2022 Legislative Session was bookended by once-in-a-decade Congressional and Legislative Redistricting. The process was defined by a tale of two redistricting commissions – the non-partisan Citizens Redistricting Commission appointed by Governor Hogan, and the Legislative Redistricting Commission appointed by Democrat leadership in the General Assembly.
A Congressional map addressing the boundaries of Maryland’s eight seats in the US House of Representatives, drawn by Democrat politicians in Annapolis, was debated and passed during a special legislative session in December 2021. Senate Republicans opposed this gerrymandered map that sought to eliminate Maryland’s single Republican seat when Democrats only outnumber Republicans statewide 2-1. The map was passed over these objections, and lawsuits were later filed challenging the map.
In a victory for fair representation, 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. Democrat leaders were forced to redraw the map to address the court’s concerns and 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. Again, the gerrymandered map drawn by Democratic leaders was the map that advanced and was passed over Republican objections.
Additional lawsuits were filed challenging the state legislative maps, which were ultimately thrown out by the Maryland Court of Appeals allowing the maps drawn by the Majority Party with little to no input from Republicans to become enacted. With the dust settled on redistricting the primary election will now be held on July 19th, 2022.