2022 End of Session Update


The 2022 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly has successfully concluded. My colleagues and I considered many important issues touching the lives of Marylanders. Out of the over 1,500 bills proposed and discussed in the House of Delegates, 835 went on to pass both Chambers and be sent to the Governor.


I am proud of the progress we made. We rallied around critical and ambitious climate, clean energy, and environmental protection legislation to help reach our state’s climate and sustainability goals. We ushered in efforts to support low and middle income families by increasing food security, childcare options, and financial stability. And, we followed through on our commitment to create a world-class educational system by building on the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, our historic investment in our schools. We accomplished all of this while maintaining a balanced budget and restoring our financial reserves.


With all that we have accomplished, I recognize there is still more work to be done to achieve a truly equitable, just, and sustainable Maryland. I appreciate your ongoing support, partnership, and trust in my ability to help move us closer to this vision.


Highlighted here are some of the important legislation we considered this Session. All legislation listed passed and has been sent to the Governor, unless otherwise indicated. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are bills I introduced.


Climate and Energy


SB 528 - Climate Solutions Now Act: strengthens Maryland’s commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change by setting ambitious and achievable goals to reduce greenhouse gasses and meet the goal of net-zero statewide emissions by 2045. Key elements from my bill, *HB88, were folded into this bill, including comprehensive electric distribution system planning, requirements to optimize federal funds, and a focus on ensuring upgrades support our clean energy goals in an equitable way.

*HB 31/SB 256 - Expanding Clean Energy Microgrids for LMI Communities: expands microgrid development in LMI (low to moderate income) neighborhoods and develops opportunities for community ownership of solar. Microgrids are localized grids that can disconnect from a traditional grid and operate independently during grid outages, such as those caused by extreme weather.

*HB 108/SB 524 - Supporting Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Marylanders: helps low-income residents save energy and lower their energy costs. It coordinates and consolidates a range of federal and state funding sources to support energy efficiency improvements in low-income households.

*HB 138/SB 283 - Universal Access to Utility Assistance: would require the Maryland Dept. of Human Services to establish a way to provide utility assistance to all income-qualified Marylanders, regardless of immigration status. Unfortunately, we did not see this progress this session but I will continue to fight for increased access for all.

HB 696/SB 948 - Electric School Bus Pilot Program: establishes a 3-year pilot program to begin transitioning Maryland’s 7,300 school buses from diesel to electric.


Working Families


SB 275 - Time to Care Act: establishes Maryland’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which provides Marylanders with 12 weeks of paid leave for personal and family emergencies.

HB 90/SB 255 - Office of the Public Defender - Placement and Collective Bargaining: allows lawyers in the Office of the Public Defender to collectively bargain for pay, benefits, and working conditions.

HB 145/SB 1 - Prevailing Wage – Stop Work Orders: allows State regulators to issue a “Stop Work” order and financial penalties at a public works job site where contractors violate prevailing wage requirements.

HB 172 - Income Tax Deduction- Union Dues: creates a state income tax deduction for union dues.

HB 611/SB 259 - Prevailing Wage - Applicability: expands the prevailing wage for public work contracts to include mechanical contracts such as HVAC, plumbing, and refrigeration.


Health


HB 937/SB 890 - Reproductive Health Care Access: protects access to reproductive health care by ensuring there are enough practitioners trained and licensed to provide abortion care. It also removes financial barriers by requiring Medicaid and private insurance plans to cover abortion care without cost-sharing or deductible requirements.

HB 6/SB 150 - Dental Coverage for Adults on Medicaid: expands Medicaid to include dental care coverage as nearly 800,000 Marylanders who receive Medicaid are without it.

*HB 129/SB 12 - Mobile Crisis Units: requires mobile crisis units to be designed to minimize interactions between law enforcement and people experiencing behavioral health crises, prioritizing a mental health response. It also requires 911 systems to develop policies to triage behavioral health crises and to dispatch the most appropriate services.

HB293/SB241 - Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services (9-8-8 Trust Fund): establishes the 9-8-8 Trust Fund to maintain 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

*HB 694 - Medical Debt Protection: requires the Health Service Cost Review Commission and other relevant agencies to establish a process to identify patients who were eligible for free care and should not have been billed and requires hospitals to refund the patients’ money.

HB 765/SB 166 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Doula Services - Coverage: allows for the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to cover the cost of services offered by doulas such as education, prenatal coaching, and care for a birthing parent.

HB 746/SB 682 - Trans Health Equity Act of 2022: would have required the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide gender-affirming treatment in a nondiscriminatory manner using current clinical standards. Unfortunately, the General Assembly did not advance this legislation this year. However, I support this legislation and will work with colleagues next year to move on this important issue.

HB 1080/SB 778 - Healthy Babies Equity Act: expands access to prenatal and postnatal care for pregnant people and their babies, regardless of their immigration status.


Education


HB 1450 - Blueprint for Maryland's Future - Implementation: ensures funding for the historic investments in public education envisioned by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

HB 1290 - Public School Construction: increases state funding for school construction projects.

*HB 150/SB 124 - Grants for School-Based Food Waste Diversion: creates a grant program to support school-based initiatives to prevent, reduce, and compost pre- and post-consumer food waste.

HB 734/SB 912 - Maryland Student Investment Act: increases funding to the state’s financial aid programs to make college more affordable for Maryland students.

HB 1349/SB 831 - Education Support Professionals - Bonus and Report: gives a cash bonus to our food service workers, teaching assistants, student advocates, and other education support professionals for the next two years.


Child Care


HB 89/SB 480 - Child Care Stabilization Grants: provides grants to child care providers at risk of closing, especially those serving primarily low-income populations in areas of high poverty.

HB 725/SB 506 - Therapeutic Child Care Program: provides a grant program for child care providers who support students with developmental disabilities.

HB 993/SB 919 - Child Care Capital Support Revolving Loan Fund: creates a no-interest revolving loan fund for child care providers participating in a state-supported scholarship program.

HB 995/SB 920 - Child Care Scholarship Program: expands Maryland’s child care scholarship program so students on the edge of eligibility will be automatically enrolled.

HB 1100/SB 806 - Bonuses for Child Care Providers and Employees: fences off $16 million in the budget for child care providers to use for employee retention and new hire bonuses


Housing


HB 674/SB 384 - Stay of Eviction Proceeding for Rental Assistance Determination: prevents some eviction proceedings when a tenant is waiting for rental assistance.

HB 703/SB 563 - Judgment for Tenants and Proof of Rental Licensure: requires landlords to submit evidence of compliance with local rental property licensure requirements, before filing certain types of eviction actions.

HB 724/SB 662 - Access to Counsel in Evictions Special Fund: requires the Comptroller to distribute $14 million dollars of abandoned property funds to the Access to Counsel in Evictions Special Fund for fiscal year 2024.

HB 932/SB 592 - Require Landlords to Accept Federal Rental Assistance for Failure to Pay Rent: requires landlords to accept federal rental assistance checks, just like any other allowed payment method, provided by a tenant to avoid eviction.

HB 928 - Discrimination in Housing- Citizenship, Immigration Status, and National Origin: prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status when buying or renting a dwelling.

HB 1097 - Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity: creates a task force to address inequality in property value appraisals and ensure Marylanders get fair appraisals regardless of race or other demographic.


Environmental Protection


HB 596/SB 783 - Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights: sought to put a referendum on the 2022 General Election ballot to amend the state constitution to establish that every person has an inalienable right to a healthy and sustainable environment. I was very disappointed this bill did not move forward, but am dedicated to continuing my advocacy of it in the future.

HB 649/SB 492 - “Zombie” Permit Ban: improves the Maryland Dept. of the Environment water pollution inspection and ends “zombie” permits, water discharge permits that have expired but continue to be used.

HB 716 /SB 367 - Patuxent River Commission - Membership: adds the Patuxent Riverkeeper as a permanent voting member to the Commission, ensuring a voice for conservation advocates.

HB 1228/SB 830 - Oyster Restoration: provides funding for the state to make infrastructure upgrades to help achieve the goal of producing 5 billion baby oysters by 2025.


Environmental and Historical Preservation


HB 727/SB 541 - Great Maryland Outdoors Act: addresses infrastructure, capacity, and accessibility needs within the Maryland Park Service by, among other measures, increasing the number of full-time park employees and requires the Dept. of Natural Resources to develop a comprehensive strategic plan.

HB 784 - Irreplaceable Natural Areas Program: requires the Dept. of Natural Resources to designate “irreplaceable natural areas” on state-owned land and to establish management objectives for these areas as a way to preserve Maryland’s native biodiversity.

HB 1088 - African American Heritage Preservation Program Funding: provides $4 million in new funding to preserve more sites in Maryland significant to African American history, culture and heritage.


Criminal Justice Reform and Public Safety


HB 1 - Legal Cannabis Constitutional Amendment: puts a referendum to legalize recreational cannabis on the 2022 General Election ballot. It would allow individuals 21 or older to possess and use small amounts of cannabis.

HB 837 - Cannabis Reform: addresses criminal justice and public health issues that will apply if the legal cannabis referendum passes. It allows possession of up to 1.5 ounces of recreational cannabis without penalty and expunges the conviction of those previously found guilty of simple possession of marijuana. While I am pleased with much of what this bill does, I was disappointed by the Senate amendments that increased fines for smoking marijuana in public and allowed odor as a probable cause for a police search.

HB 158/SB 554 - Maryland New Start Act of 2022: creates grants and microloan programs to support entrepreneurship development programs for formerly incarcerated people.

HB 269/SB 53 - Child Interrogation Protection Act: protects children taken into custody for questioning by notifying parents, allowing legal consultation, and advising them of their Miranda Rights.

HB 425/SB 387 - Ghost Gun Ban: bans unregistered, untraceable ‘ghost guns’ and creates a system to register guns made from kits or loose parts with a serial number.

HB 459/SB 691 - Juvenile Justice Reform: implements sweeping reforms and takes action towards juvenile justice based on recommendations from Juvenile Justice Reform Council, including limiting the terms of juvenile detention and probation.

HB 1021 - Enhanced Security Requirements for Licensed Firearms Dealer Shops: requires firearms dealers to put security features like video cameras, burglary systems, and safes in their shops to prevent their firearms from being stolen.


Food Systems


*HB 147/ SB 121 - Farm to Food Security Act: invests in three initiatives to reduce food insecurity and enhance the resiliency of Maryland’s food system: increasing Maryland Market Money, which doubles the value of federal nutrition benefits spent at farmers markets; establishing a Farm to School grant program; and creating a farm to food bank grant program.

HB 540/SB 437 - University of Maryland Extension- Urban Farmer Assistance: requires the UMD Extension to hire 2 agents dedicated to urban farming.

HB 855/SB 942 - Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Grant Program: expands a Dept. of Agriculture grant program to increase the viability of urban farming and community gardens and improve access to urban-grown foods.


Immigration


HB 114/SB 129 - Access to Counsel in Immigration: would have established and funded a program to provide access to legal representation in state courts for individuals detained in the U.S. and facing deportation. I was disappointed this did not progress this session and I will continue to support legislation like it.

HB 559/SB 265 - Probation Not Deportation: would have ensured equal legal treatment regardless of a person’s immigration status. It allows defendants to enter into a probation agreement without formally being convicted. This would limit federal deportations of defendants in the state. I was proud to cast my vote in support of this bill in the House, however the bill failed to progress in the Senate before the end of session.


Voting Rights


HB 35/SB 158 - Protecting Voting Rights: requires the State Board of Elections and local boards of elections to provide at least the same number of in-person precinct polling locations as the 2018 election. While states across the country have experienced an increase in anti-democracy legislation in recent years, Maryland continues to be a leader in ensuring equal access to the ballot and expanding voting opportunities.


Unemployment


HB 253/SB 655 - Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefit Extension: ensures Maryland will access federal funds for extended unemployment insurance benefits during extended periods of high unemployment.

*HB 955 - Ensuring Due Process in Unemployment Insurance Determination: would have ensured people who have filed for unemployment insurance receive adequate notice and due process protections when their cases are reviewed. This particular bill did not progress this session, but unemployment insurance reform will continue to be a top priority for me.


Transportation


HB 141/SB 23 - Equity in the Transportation Sector: requires the Maryland Dept. of Transportation to consider equity when state transportation plans, reports, and goals are developed.

HB 254/SB 874 - Vision Zero Implementation Act: requires the State Highway Administration to conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian and bicyclist fatality that occurs on state roads and make the reviews public.

*HB 656/SB 880 - SAFE Roads Act of 2022: aimed to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. It would require the State Highway Administration to invest more resources into pedestrian and bike safety and implement policies for greater short term and long term safety design. While this bill passed through the House, I was disappointed that it did not get through the Senate before the end of session. I will work to move it in the future.

HB 778/SB 514 - Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act: requires the Maryland Transit Administration to make short-term investments in rail infrastructure throughout the state and establish longer-term goals to enhance rail lines and service.


Solidarity with Ukraine


HJ 8/SJ 11 - Solidarity with the Government and People of Ukraine: declares Maryland stands in solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine as they resist the unprovoked invasion of their territory by the Russian Federation.

HB 1482/SB 1005 - State Retirement and Pension System - Divestment from Russia: requires the State Retirement and Pension System to review its investment holdings to determine the extent to which these funds are invested in Russia-restricted investments and take divestment actions.


Animal Protection

*HB 22/SB 67 - Prohibition on Declawing Cats: prohibits declawing cats - the cruel procedure of amputating the last section of each toe bone in the cat’s paw that can cause permanent pain and behavioral changes in the declawed cat. Maryland is now the second state to prohibit this practice.

HB 52/SB 381 - Wildlife Trafficking Prevention: protects animals by putting fines on the sale of animal parts for protected species like rhinos, lions, and elephants.

HB 1062/SB 877 - Animal Cruelty Petition for Costs of Care of Seized Animal: requires owners to pay back the costs of care when their animals are legally taken away because of abuse.


Budget


SB 290 - Budget Bill Fiscal Year 2023 - This year’s budget achieves structural balance and preserves reserves for the state. It also increases funding for a number of state priorities including increasing funding for public schools, saving funds for future education costs, investing in higher education, maintaining quality child care options for families, and assisting the economically vulnerable.


Montgomery County-Specific Legislation


*MC 8-22- Making Montgomery County Business Improvement Districts (BID) More Democratic: improves BID governance by requiring a wider range of stakeholders - including commercial tenants - to participate in decision making and election of Board members. A BID is a self-taxing district designed to enhance the economic vitality of a specific commercial area.


Bond Initiatives/Grants for District 20 Capital Projects


ACSGW Parking Lot: $57,000 to renovate the Adventist Community Services parking lot and install a semi-permanent canopy to improve food pantry distribution. Clayborne Ave Trail Bridge Replacement: $300,000 to install an upgraded bridge to replace an existing narrow bridge crossing on the Long Branch Trail at Clayborne Avenue to maintain a vital community connection across the stream valley between schools and parks. East County Food Storage: $200,000 to provide a shared cold storage unit for food distribution efforts, which will reduce food waste and increase food access points. Easter Seals lnter-generational Center (IGC): $175,000 to renovate the Easter Seals Inter-Generational Center, which provides services to underserved families, in downtown Silver Spring. MoCo Food Processing Facility: $150,000 to develop a food aggregation/incubation hub. This investment in food processing infrastructure will boost sustainable local food production and increase market opportunities for local farmers. Long Branch Local Park Renovations: $250,000 to renovate the Long Branch Local Park, provide environmental restoration efforts, and add necessary amenities. Long Branch-Arliss Neighborhood Park: $362,701 to construct a skate park within Long Branch-Arliss Neighborhood Park. Long Branch Parks Initiative: $2.5 million to support parks in the Long Branch area.

Delegate Scholarship


As a Member of the House of Delegates, I am able to provide my constituents with academic scholarships. This scholarship is available to students who are planning to attend a Maryland community college, four-year university, or graduate school during the 2021-2022 school year. Applications must be completed and submitted by May 10th, 2022. Applications can be completed online: http://bit.ly/CharkoudianScholarship2022


Thank You



To the advocates and volunteers whose activism kept me informed about District 20 priorities and helped me formulate my position on legislation, I am extremely grateful for your hard work and commitment. I am also thankful for the dedication of my Interim Chief of Staff, Rose Stutz; Legislative Aide, Brittany Baker; and wonderful interns, Adwoa Debrah and Ruqaiyah Dasti.


I hope to have many opportunities to engage with you as I plan for the next Session, if I am re-elected. Over the coming months, I will continue to reach out to all corners of District 20. I also encourage you to reach out to me. The best way to contact us is via email at lorig.charkoudian@house.state.md.us. You may also leave a message at (410)-841-3423.


Thank you for putting your trust in me. It has truly been an honor to represent you in Annapolis.


Onward,

Lorig Charkoudian