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2021 Legislative Session Newsletter

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Due to COVID-19, the Maryland General Assembly held an unprecedented Legislative Session this year in 2021. During this session, the halls weren't bustling with visitors and lobbyists in the typical fashion. Committee hearings and meetings were conducted via zoom and members of the House of Delegates were split into two separate areas for voting, the House Chamber and the annex.

As the newly appointed delegate of District 27B, Delegate Jones would like to share some highlights of the 2021 Legislative Session! Delegate Jones' Legislative Report Bills Passed During the 2021 Legislative Session Pandemic Relief and Recovery Bills In the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Marylanders have endured many unprecedented challenges over the past year. As a result, with my support, during the 2021 legislative session the Maryland House of Delegates passed the following Pandemic Relief and Recovery Bills to aid in the rebuilding of our communities during this time. Unemployment Insurance Reform Package The pandemic has shown us that Maryland’s unemployment system was unprepared for a statewide emergency and needs to be reformed. The Unemployment Insurance Reform Package will get relief to Marylanders who need it most, when they need it the most. Immediate and structural fixes that will help streamline the process and make the UI system more efficient include: · Modernizing the UI system to ensure that Marylanders can get the money they deserve · Improving customer service · Creating more accountability · Planning for the next emergency SB 218 – Income Tax- Child Tax Credit and Expansion of the Earned Income Credit

The House passed SB218 to expand Maryland’s $1.5B relief package to eligible Marylanders with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Without SB218, nearly 86,000 immigrant tax payers would be excluded from the RELIEF Act – including the highest earned income tax credit (EITC) in the nation. The pandemic has hit low-income families the hardest and all Marylanders – regardless of their status – should have access to these critical relief benefits. SB 496 – Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families (RELIEF) Act

The House of Delegates passed the bipartisan RELIEF Act providing over $1.5 billion in pandemic relief. The RELIEF Act infuses the State’s economy with $509.0 million in spending and provides over $1.0 billion in tax relief and credits: · Maryland becomes the highest state in the nation for its earned income tax credit, which puts cash in the pockets of low income Maryland taxpayers. · Maryland also raises its earned income tax credit for individuals with no children from nearly $100 to $530. · Unemployment insurance payments will be exempt from the State income tax, keeping over $225.0 million in the pockets of unemployed Marylanders. · Marylanders who qualified for the earned income tax credit in 2019 will be provided with stimulus payments of up to $500, putting over $175.0 million immediately in the hands low–income individuals and families. · Allows small businesses to keep sales tax collections of up to $9,000 over three months · Helps up to 100,000 small businesses & nonprofits to defer paying unemployment insurance taxes until the first three months of 2022 to help cash flow (they employ ¼ of MD workforce) · Forgives MD taxes on COVID loans and grants · Minority and Small Business Loans (MSBDFA): Converts up to $50,000 in Equity Participation Program loans to grants HB 1372 – Blueprint for Maryland's Future – Revisions addressing

After a year of distance learning due to COVID-19 school closures, a growing number of students are falling further behind. This legislation revises the Blueprint in response to the current state of education and gives students a path forward. The Blueprint 2.0 bill includes needed fixes to education funding that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and: · Provides more support to address learning loss; · Expands behavioral and mental health resources; · Closes the digital divide with more access to broadband and devices; and · Requires better reporting and data tracking for more accountability. HB 907/SB 817 - Unemployment Insurance - Study on System Reforms

House Bill 907 requires the Department of Labor and the Department of Legislative Services to study unemployment insurance reforms and report its findings to the General Assembly. HB 908/SB 816 - Unemployment Insurance - Employer Contributions and Reimbursement Payments

House Bill 908 requires the Department of Labor to implement flexible payment plans for employers to pay their unemployment taxes. Allowing employers to pay their unemployment taxes incrementally over time instead of paying one lump sum will help more businesses as they recover from the pandemic. HB 1002 - Unemployment - Insurance Revisions and Special Enrollment Period for Health Benefits

House Bill 1002 makes improvements to the unemployment insurance process by expanding language and disability access, establishing greater customer service standards, providing more accountability within the appeals process and requiring more information about any over-payments that occur. The bill helps unemployed Marylanders make sure that they continue to have health insurance. HB 1138 - Unemployment Insurance – Maryland Department of Labor – Accountability and Oversight

House Bill 1138 requires the Department of Labor to have a disaster plan in place whenever a drastic increase in unemployment claims occurs. HB 1139/ SB 819 – Unemployment Insurance – Weekly Benefit Amount – Income Disregard

Senate Bill 819 raises the amount of weekly income an unemployment insurance claimant can earn from $50 to $200 throughout the duration of an emergency. This will allow more people receiving UI benefits to seek part-time work and supplement their UI benefits. HB 1143/ SB 771 – Unemployment Insurance - Work Sharing (Work Share Expansion Act of 2021)

Senate Bill 771 adjusts the amount of time an employer can temporarily reduce an employee’s work hours under the existing work share program - making State law consistent with federal law. This bill will allow more Maryland employers retain employees and help more employees get back to work following the COVID-19 pandemic. Police Reform and Accountability Bills Our country was overwhelmed by a wave of injustice over the past year, which has left our nation, State, and community feeling uneasy about the future of policing. It is time to make changes to ensure that proper protections are in place for citizens while providing necessary resources and training for police departments. I would like to encourage our law enforcement officers to continue working in dignity within the honor of serving our community through these new legislative policies. I will continue to support our law enforcement officers while also working to ease the concerns of civilians and working for justice within our community.

HB 670 – The Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021

House Bill 670 overhauls the police disciplinary process and makes Maryland the first state in the nation to fully repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. It replaces it with a civilian–driven, public–facing approach to police discipline. The bill also requires increased training and assessments for officers: · Fully repealing of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights · Enhancing civilian–driven transparency in police misconduct · Supporting civilian complaints · Imposing swift and uniform penalties for police misconduct · Police agencies can no longer destroy or expunge police misconduct and disciplinary records. Election Reform The Covid-19 Pandemic aided in the realization that election rights must be reexamined to determine whether or not they are servicing our community in the best means possible. These bills help to address the growing changes in both an efficient and safe means for everyone within our community. HB 745: Election Law - Early Voting Centers

This bill modernizes the state’s formula for Early Voting centers and will result in over a dozen new centers across the state for the 2022 election. The House has embraced early voting as a practical and helpful option for voters to improve accessibility to the ballot box. This legislation also requires local boards of elections to take into account equity and maximizing participation when placing Early Voting centers. Other factors local boards must consider include: historically disenfranchised communities, access to public transportation, and proximity to dense populations. HB 1048 - Permanent Absentee Ballot List The House passed HB1048 to make voting easier and more convenient by creating a permanent mail-in ballot option. Marylanders who want to vote by mail in future elections will not need to request a ballot for every election. Elections during the pandemic have shown us that our existing mail-in voting process works and that voters should be able to choose the option that works best for them. This is an important step towards a more accessible and equitable democracy. HB 1350 - Produce Bank Statements Requires campaigns to produce bank statements if they are assessed a civil fine by the State Board of Elections.

Noteworthy Bills for Delegate Jones These Bills were not able to pass during the 2021 legislative Session, I am working to place these items on the forefront of the agenda for the next legislative session. HB 980 Altering a certain definition of "application" to exclude participation in adopting and approving a countywide zoning map amendment, where the intent is to implement an approved general plan by repealing and replacing all zoning categories applicable to land in Prince George's County. HB 978 Authorizing the placement and use of speed monitoring systems on Maryland Route 382 (Croom Road) between Mount Calvert Road and Molly Berry Road in Prince George's County, subject to certain placement and signage requirements. This bill was held in the Environment and Transportation Committee. l Iook forward to working with them in the 2022 session to pass this bill out of committee and on the House floor. For more information visit our

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