2019 Legislative Session
During my first session in the House of Delegates, I sponsored 6 bills and co-sponsored 133 bills. Three of my bills became law.
More than 500 people a year die on Maryland roads. HB 885 sets a goal of no deaths or serious injuries on our streets by the year 2030. Montgomery County, the City of Baltimore, and the City of Rockville are already pursuing this goal by improving roadway design, adding sidewalks and bike lanes, educating people, and other means. Governor Hogan signed this bill into law, meaning that Maryland will be the fourth state to pursue Vision Zero.
Investing in startups
Startup companies are an important part of economic growth in Maryland and create about 20% of new jobs nationally. Yet young companies often struggle to access the financial resources they need to hire new employees. HB 886 would create a tax credit for angel investors who invest money in high risk, early-stage startups. Twenty-nine other states have a similar tax credit and those programs have been effective in attracting substantial investment in new companies.
I sponsored a bill (HB 322) to rename “absentee ballots” as “vote by mail ballots.” Using the term "absentee ballot" is a misnomer, as under current Maryland law any voter can request a ballot to be mailed to them, whether or not they are physically absent from their home precinct on Election Day. The proposed name change would make it clear to voters that they have the option to vote by mail if they so choose.
Municipal Taxing authority
At the request of the City of Gaithersburg, I sponsored a bill to allow municipalities to charge a hotel tax on Airbnbs and other short-term rentals. Because of a quirk in state law, only hotels with more than 10 rooms can be charged a municipal hotel tax. Given the rise in short-term rentals, municipalities should have the opportunity to collect revenues from these properties as well. HB 285 was passed by the General Assembly.
HB 523 would ban lead ammunition from being used by marksmanship programs affiliated with a public school. This legislation is needed because there are JROTC programs in public high school across the state that practice shooting inside the school with 100% lead pellets. Not only are the students in the program exposed to lead, but so is the rest of the study body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe exposure level of exposure to lead for children.
Helping a local business
HB 809 was requested by a local business that is having a problem with the Comptroller's Office. Under Maryland tax law, very few services are taxed--unliked goods, which are usually assessed a sales tax. The Comptroller's Office was assessing this business the telephone answering service sales tax even though answering phones for clients represents less than 5% of their business activity. State law does not currently define what a telephone answering service is; HB 809 added a definition to state law. It was signed into law by the Governor.