Maryland Legislative Weekly Wrap-Up
— All committee hearings are live-streamed on the Maryland General Assembly website. If you are unable to attend hearings, please visit http://mgaleg.mar yland.gov to stay updated.
Senate Bill 343 — Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) will be heard in Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee next week. I will be testifying in favor of this legislation at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7. This proposed bill will expand the BRF eligible costs to include 100 percent BRF grant eligibility for secondary wastewater treatment plants that are upgrading to Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) technology. SB 343 would significantly make upgrades to minor Wastewater Treatment Plants making them more affordable to users. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you would like to testify, or provide written testimony to the committee.
I will also be testifying in front of the Budget and Taxation Committee next week on three separate Income Tax Legislation. Senate Bill 236, 237, and 238 will be heard in committee at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8. These Income Tax initiatives would help level the playing field for all Marylanders. If you wish to submit written testimony to the Budget and Taxation Committee, please contact my office.
Highway User Revenue Legislation
A number of bills to restore Highway User Revenue funds will be submitted to the General Assembly this year. Each proposal brings with it different perspectives on restoring funds and re-investing in local infrastructures. Restoring Highway User Revenues will assist local governments with proper maintenance and enhancing safety for all motorists. Unfortunately local roadways are lacking proper maintenance and many public infrastructures are neglected. The Budget and Taxation Committee will review each proposal and work to find the best solution to help offset State funding reductions and declining revenues. I believe this is package is essential for economic development on the Eastern Shore and rural areas. I will be following this issue closely and will provide updates in future weekly wrapups.
Governor Hogan’s Education Package
Governor Hogan announced new initiatives last week to improve educational opportunities within Maryland.
Currently, Maryland has one of the weakest public charter school laws in the nation, making them unable to compete for millions of dollars in federal Charter School Program grants. The Public School Charter Act will create the independent Maryland Public Charter School Authority, which will increase autonomy for the schools. The legislation also allows funding to flow directly from the state, rather than the local board of education, which has generally funded charter schools with less money.
Maryland Education Innovation Fund, announced by the Governor, encourages innovation in the classroom. The allocation will be used to provide grants to seed education innovation throughout the state. The grants offered are one-year, up to $10,000. The bill also provides funding for the P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program. This program combines high school, college, and workplace skills which are required for 21st centur y jobs.
Click on this link to read more about the Governor’s recent Press Releases — http:// governor.maryland.gov/categor y/press-releases/.
Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, welcomes Dorchester County Page Lemya Reeves of East New Market to her team.