2009 General Assembly Session Report from ELCA Advocacy in Maryland (updated)
Death Penalty- A repeal bill was amended into an evidence bill for the death penalty, slightly restricting the universe of cases eligible for capital sentences. While this bill may limit the number of death sentences sought, it did not address the legal and justice flaws identified for the General Assembly by its Death Penalty Commission. We continue to support repeal in any forum that becomes available.
Care of Creation- Legislation establishing a State policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 passed with strong support. The policy program will be completed by 2012 and assessed in 2015. The General Assembly also voted to require that new and replacement septic systems must meet standards for nitrogen removal, a policy critical to the viability of the Bay. Communities and individuals were granted standing at hearings for environmental reviews and appeals. Lead was further restricted in children’s products; mercury was further regulated.
Energy- Current, uniform “green building” standards were adopted. “Green jobs” becomes a priority for the State and its welfare-to-work training. Energy efficiency programs, aided by federal stimulus funds, were increased. Utility service terminations were prohibited during temperature extremes. Customers can now apply for assistance with utility arrearages more than once. Transit-oriented development will be encouraged.
Sufficient Livelihood- Part-time workers became eligible for unemployment benefits; and the maximum benefit was increased. The rights of disabled workers were strengthened. [“Green jobs” workforce development became a State priority.]
Access to Medical Care- Federal stimulus funds will support the expansion of Medicaid enacted last year. Funding for the Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program was secured.
Community Peace and Safety- Disabled people were granted protection under the discrimination/hate crimes code. Judges were granted authority to confiscate firearms at the issuance of protective orders in domestic violence cases. The duration of these peace orders was extended.
Immigration- Maryland will come into compliance with federal Real ID requirements while allowing Maryland residents with valid drivers’ licenses to renew them until 2015.