Friends & Neighbors,
My second legislative session representing residents of Silver Spring and Takoma Park in Annapolis has come to a close.
I passed several bills advancing election reform, helping the homeless, streamlining government for businesses, reducing our nonviolent prison population and more. I also fought back against legislation seeking to advance corporate welfare, tax cuts for millionaires, re-criminalization of marijuana, anti-consumer policies, and a reduction in unemployment benefits for certain Maryland workers.
More importantly, throughout the 90-day session I forged strong relationships with colleagues in both parties and across the state. Below you can read about some of my work this year, but first take note that Early Voting in the Presidential Primary begins this week:
Early Voting Starts This Week
Election day in Maryland is Tuesday, April 26th, but early voting is available Thursday, April 14 to Thursday, April 21 (10am - 8pm) at the Silver Spring Civic Center and other locations:
See you at the polls!
Delegate David Moon
Bills I Passed This Year
Letting Voters (Not Politicians) Choose Their Elected Officials – This year Maryland approved two amendments (HB260 & HB288) to the Maryland Constitution that I introduced with Senator Paul Pinsky. These bills are designed to give voters more say when we fill vacancies for U.S. Senate, Attorney General & Comptroller. Currently, when vacancies occur for these offices, the Governor gets to choose their replacements. My bills were combined into one bill that requires vacancies to be temporarily filled by a member of the same party as the outgoing official. After that we'd hold a special election to fill the remainder of the term at the next regularly scheduled election. Constitutional amendments must be ratified by the voters, so this policy change will appear as a question on the ballot this November.
Helping Maryland's Homeless Residents – I introduced a bill (HB680) with Senator Craig Zucker to waive the $24 fee on birth certificate copies for homeless Marylanders. Birth certificates are often needed to prove your identity for employment, health care, government services, child's school enrollment, and much more. I'm thrilled to report that this legislation to help our poorest residents was approved this year.
Modernizing & Streamlining How Businesses File Tax Returns – To make it easier for businesses to operate in Maryland, I worked with Silver Spring-based Denizens Brewing Co, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, and Senator Rich Madaleno on a bill to allow our state's numerous beer & wine makers and distributors to file their taxes online. Currently these businesses must fill out and mail multiple paper copies of tax returns, sometimes on a monthly basis. This common-sense tax reform unanimously passed the House and Senate, and it will hopefully save our small business owners time and effort.
Reining in Mass Incarceration & the Failed Drug War – This year Maryland passed a historic bill to reduce our incarceration of nonviolent offenders and promote public health alternatives to prison. I truly believe this is one of the most significant bills we will have worked on this decade. The Justice Reinvestment Act introduced by the House Speaker is expected to shift millions in funding from incarceration to public health. The bill steers drug offenders into treatment instead of prison, eliminates mandatory minimums for most nonviolent drug offenses, eliminates the crack vs. cocaine sentencing disparities, and more. Additionally, the legislation incorporates provisions and concepts in multiple bills I introduced this year:
- HB 255: Ease Release of Sick Inmates Physically Unable to Commit Crimes Anymore
- HB 307: Reduce Maximum Sentence for Possession of Drugs from 4 Years to 1 Year
- HB 254 & HB 269: Stop Re-incarceration for Technical Violations (eg: Smoking Marijuana While Out On Parole)
Taking Care of Developmentally Disabled Foster Youths – I worked with Senator Delores Kelley on legislation (HB 683) to ensure that Maryland takes care of its severely developmentally disabled foster youths. Currently, when these wards of the state turn 21 they may face a reduction in services that can put their health in jeopardy. My bill passed unanimously out of the House but died in the Senate during the closing minutes of session. I'll be back next year to win this battle!
Reducing Incarceration for Gambling in Maryland – This year I introduced a bill (HB 242) to remove the jail time & criminal penalties for petty gambling offenses. Under current law, any gambling is a misdemeanor offense that can land you with up to 2 years in prison. That includes everything ranging from playing ??poker and brackets to dice games for money. My legislation makes the punishment a civil citation that doesn't come with a criminal record for this nonviolent offense. While I'm not trying to encourage residents to gamble, it's crazy that this would be a jailable crime, when we legalized casino gambling that allows the government & corporations to make millions of dollars. This bill passed overwhelmingly in the House but died in the Senate. This is another issue I'll bring back next year. Stay tuned!
Other Important Bills I Co-Sponsored This Year
Alongside the bills I introduced this year, I co-sponsored dozens of important bills that my colleagues worked on. Below you can read about some of my favorites that passed:
- Promoting Women's Pay Equity (HB 1003 & HB 1004) – PASSED
- Reforming How Police Brutality Complaints Are Addressed (HB 1016) – PASSED
- Reducing Carbon Emissions & Increasing Renewables (HB 610 & HB 1106) – PASSED
- Preventing Drunk Driving – Noah's Law (HB 1342) – PASSED
- Curbing Dog-Fighting and Animal Abuse (HB 583) – PASSED
- Earned Sick Leave (HB 580) – This bill passed the House but died in the Senate.
Bills I Voted Against This Year
Unfortunately, the General Assembly passed a number of questionable laws this year. I voted against and fought numerous bills that I believed would not advance social & economic justice principles. Here are a few examples:
- Corporate Welfare for Weapons Manufacturers - SB 1112 gives a $37.5 million corporate welfare handout to an international weapons manufacturer headquartered in Virginia. Unfortunately, this bill passed.
- Luxury Yacht Tax Cut - HB 14 gives a tax cut for people buying luxury yachts. Unfortunately, this bill passed.
- Insurance Company Rate Increases - HB 1408 allows insurance companies to increase premiums up to 15% without having to give notice to their customers, for workers comp and business insurance products. Unfortunately, this bill passed.
- Reduced Unemployment Insurance Benefits – SB 679 & SB 777 will reduce the number of people eligible for unemployment benefits in Maryland. The bills specifically attempt to exclude workers at nail salons and courier services from coverage. Unfortunately, both of these bills passed.
- Race & Ethnicity Discrimination - HB 678 would've allowed bail bondsmen to ask about the race and immigration status of the accused before judges set the amount of their bail. This bill failed.
- Marijuana Re-Criminalization - HB 777 would've re-criminalized smoking marijuana, when the current penalty for smoking in public is a $500 ticket that does not come with a criminal record. This bill failed.
Stay tuned for future updates. In the meantime, I'll keep fighting for Silver Spring & Takoma Park's progressive values!
TUESDAY, APRIL 26 (7am-8pm)