By Debbie Moore
Clinton reported that in the final two weeks of the 2018 legislative session, things are happening very quickly.
HB 430 / SB 379: Education – Child Care Subsidies – Mandatory Funding Levels: Both cross-over bills will be heard today. They have a revised Fiscal Note showing a reduced cost of the subsidy rate increases from $37.6 million to $23.1 million, thanks to the work of the bills’ sponsors and advocates and the number crunching done by Steve Rohde and Lacey Tsonis at MFN. The passage of the federal omnibus budget is expected to provide Maryland an additional $30 million a year for the next two years, which would cover the rate increase and more. These bills are still in play, and advocates are cautiously optimistic.
Please watch your email inbox for an alert asking the Governor to sign the bills, and move quickly to mobilize your constituencies to take action.
HB 519 / SB 422: Income Tax – Credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses – Income Eligibility: It is not looking like this will be the year to increase the Maryland CDCTC. The federal tax cut has caused lots of discussion about how state taxes need to be adjusted, and there are just too many competing tax credits being proposed this year. Hopefully we can get this good bill passed in a future session.
SB 373 / HB 547: Education – Head Start Program – Annual Appropriation (The Ulysses Currie Act): The House Appropriations Committee held hearings on both bills last week, and the Chair has expressed a commitment to helping to see the bill pass. This makes its chance of passage good.
HB 57: Large Family Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers – Green Product Cleaning Supplies – Regulations & HB 228: Child Care Centers – Definition of Child Care: Both these bills have gone to child care purgatory and are finished for this year.
The Senate and House have both passed the budget, and it is now in the conference committee. The budget narrative and budget language we discussed at the last Public Policy meeting are both included. The narrative will require MSDE to provide the General Assembly with more robust reporting on the Child Care Subsidy Program, and the budget language will withhold $800,000 from DECD until they put the work previously done by RESI out for a competitive bid.
HB 879 Task Force on Oral Health in Maryland (amended House title) / SB 544: Health Occupations – Advanced Practice Dental Hygiene: HB 879 was passed by the House with amendments that create a task force that advocates feel is heavily weighted in favor of the dentists who objected to it and will delay a task force report for two or three years. The Chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee has indicated to advocates that she will not move either of these bills and will instead ask the DLS to issue a report before next session on the important issues addressed by the bills, including the lack of dental services for low-income and underserved communities that have been referred to as “dental deserts.”
HB 775 / SB 859: State Employees – Parental Leave: These bills are still in play, with both having cross-over hearings next week. The Senate amended its bill to require a state employee to use up other available leave before being eligible for parental leave, but this onerous requirement would leave new parents without the sick leave they need for routine well baby pediatric visits and any other family illnesses. The House passed their version of the bill without these amendments. There is still time for this to be worked out in a conference committee, but the proponents will not agree to support a bad bill just to get something passed. (And they consider the Senate version a bad bill.) This could be one of the larger battles of the last days of the session.
H 1415 / SB 1092: Education – Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education: The Kirwan bill is still in play. The House bill crossed over before the deadline; the Senate bill did not. The benefit of the bill for early childhood advocates is that it preserves funding for pre-K expansion with State General Funds if the federal Department of Education eliminates its funding.
Flora Gee commented that her county grant managers said they believed that the grants will end at the end of FY 2019.
HB 1685 / SB 912: Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Coordination Services Grant Program Fund (Thrive by Three Fund): A subcommittee of the House Health and Government Operations Committee was holding a hearing on this bill this morning. The Senate passed its bill unanimously last week.
Please watch your email inbox for an alert on this bill, and move quickly to mobilize your constituencies to take action.
HB 856 / SB 647: Earned Income Tax Credit – Individuals Without Qualifying Children – Alteration of Minimum Age Requirement: The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee held a hearing on HB 856 yesterday and voted it Favorable With Amendments, conforming it to the amended version of SB 647. The House Ways and Means Committee heard HB 856 but has not voted on it yet.
Congress approved a two year Omnibus Budget last week.