At bill signing, top leaders celebrate capital budget, new health care and public safety laws

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Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) signed 140 bills into law on Monday, including Maryland’s 2022 capital budget.

“This is a very big deal,” said Ferguson. “It is the single biggest job-creating piece of legislation that we will jointly sign, and it was a true honor and pleasure … to enact a job creation capital budget that was mutually agreed upon and is an incredible incredible investment in the people of Maryland and our infrastructure.”

The $4 billion capital budget provides for the expansion of affordable housing projects, funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration, capital to begin designing a women’s pre-release correctional center in Anne Arundel County, and through various programs, about $1 billion for public school construction.

“Every single part of the state will be touched by this capital budget, and we should be very, very proud of the work that we’re going to do together to tell Marylanders that we get the job done,” Ferguson continued.

While the camaraderie among the trio was tangible, Jones made a pointed remark about the state’s high crime rate when celebrating the signing of House Bill 1018.

Sponsored by outgoing Del. Ned Carey (D-Anne Arundel), the legislation will require the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services to release reports that include performance measures on its grant programs.

Additionally, the legislation signed Monday will create scorecards to track local crime statistics and indicators of equity in the state’s justice system, among other measures.

“If we’re going to talk about crime, the state needs to be a better partner in preventing crime,” Jones said at the start of Monday’s ceremony.

Hogan, Jones and Ferguson have been at odds in recent years about how to address the state’s rising crime rate, with Hogan in particular preaching harsher penalties for repeat violent offenders. Jones said that House Bill 1018 will “give localities more tools and information in the toolbox and make the state a better partner” as communities work toward preventing violent crime.

Monday’s bill signing ceremony also represented wins for health care advocates in Maryland, as Hogan and the state’s presiding officers enacted legislation to continue to allow emergency medical technicians to administer vaccines and to cap copays for 30-day supplies of insulin for people covered by health insurance plans.

Some other notable bills enacted Monday include:

  • Senate Bill 134, which will require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to create a training curriculum for law enforcement on state laws pertaining to cyberstalking;
  • House Bill 166, which will establish a director of Dementia Services and Brain Health at the Maryland Department of Health;
  • House Bill 157, which will establish a $100 fine for parking a non-electric car in a designated electric vehicle charging space;
  • Senate Bill 636, which will require the Department of Health to create plans to reduce wait times for waiver programs related to services for autism, medical daycare and community-based services.

Hogan has until May 30 to act on the rest of the legislation passed during the recent General Assembly session. Another bill signing has tentatively been scheduled for May 26.

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