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What the Heck Just Happened?

The Maryland State House this week. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

State legislators churned through hundreds of bills in the last several days of their abbreviated session, passing an astonishing 660 pieces of legislation in the final four days alone.

Who has time to catalog them all? Here are capsule looks at 25 key pieces of legislation:

House Bill 1: School construction

Provides for an additional $2.2 billion in school construction funding, authorizing the use of bonds that would be paid off from casino revenues.

Senate Bill 208/HB 4: Long gun sales

Requires background checks for people acquiring rifles or shotguns from private sales or transfers.

SB 161/HB 5: Hate crimes

Prohibits the public display of an item or depiction of an item, like a noose or swastika, on property without the permission of the owner. Violators can face up three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

SB 329/HB 187: Olivia’s Law 

Named for Olivia Paregol, the University of Maryland student who died from an adenovirus, the legislation requires colleges and universities to create plans to address the outbreak of infectious diseases.

SB 530/HB 231: HOME Act

Extends the state’s Fair Housing Act to prevent housing discrimination based on a renter’s source of income — discrimination that usually targets families on public assistance.

SB 212/HB 233: Strangulation a felony

Creates a first-degree category of felony assault for the act of strangulation.

SB 234/HB 280: Driver’s license suspension bill

Promoted by Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), the bill repeals the authority of the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend a driver’s license for nonpayment of a traffic citation or judgment and lays out a process for setting appropriate fines and payment schedules.

HB 282: Developer contributions in Prince George’s County

Repeals a ban on developers and other real estate interests making campaign contributions to the Prince George’s County executive when the developer has a project pending before county government.

SB 402/HB 448: Telehealth 

Authorizes the use of telehealth by all types of health care practitioners, enabling Marylanders to get health care services in their home.

SB 64/HB 40: Witness intimidation

Makes it easier for law enforcement authorities to crack down on witness intimidation.

SB 987: Preakness

Authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $375 million in bonds to pay for renovations at the state’s leading thoroughbred racing tracks, Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park, and keep the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

HB 81: Sodomy

The bill repeal decades-old statutes making certain sex acts illegal.

HB 732: Tobacco tax

Increases the tobacco tax and creates sales taxes for E-cig and vaping products.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), with Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) looking on, signs emergency legislation laying out his powers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor’s office photo

SB 1080/HB 1663: Governor’s power in COVID-19 outbreak

Lays out certain powers the governor can take during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

SB 669/HB 1095: Prescription Drug Affordability Board

Provides a funding source for the state’s new Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

HB 1260: HBCUs 

The bill provides an extra $577.7 million over the next decade for the state’s four historically black colleges and universities, with the aim of settling a years-long lawsuit against the state for disparity in funding and resources.

HB 1300: The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

The signature education legislation of the session, a sweeping reform plan produced by the Kirwan Commission.

SB 300: Chlorpyrifos ban

The legislation bans the use of chlorpyrifos, a toxic, nerve-agent pesticide.

SB 531/HB 1444: CROWN Act

Informally known as the CROWN Act, this bill bans discrimination based on hairstyle.

SB 684: Women’s prerelease center

Requires the Division of Correction to operate a prerelease facility for women who have been incarcerated.

SB 872/HB 959: Affordable Care Act protections

The legislature approved a measure to enshrine the key elements of the Affordable Care Act into state law. The measure could prove significant protection to Maryland consumers in the event the Supreme Court rules the Obama-era law unconstitutional.

SB 907: Maryland State Crime Plan

Establishes the Law Enforcement Coordinating Council to prevent and reduce crime by focusing on interagency communication and intelligence-sharing.

SB 929: PROTECT Act 

Addresses a range of law-enforcement challenges in Baltimore City.

SB 1065/HB 1658: Dedicated funding for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Provides an extra $5.5 million in state aid for the BSO over the next five years.

HB 1083: Gangs

Makes changes to criminal statute governing investigations and prosecutions of gangs.


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What the Heck Just Happened?