General Assembly Update #1

Dear Neighbor, the House of Delegates has had a fast start to this year’s General Assembly. Please enjoy this first update and lookout for more updates to come:
On February 9th, we passed HB 159 which bans guns on college campuses. While Congressional Republicans and Trump’s Administration are trying to undo the progress America has made on gun control — it is important that we stand up for Maryland values and strengthen gun laws.
Administrators, Students and Campus Police Chiefs Agree With This Legislation.
Across the country, 95% of college presidents support a gun ban on college campuses, 79% of college students would not feel safe with concealed guns on campus and 89% of campus police chiefs believe preventing guns from being on campus is the best practice. With overwhelming margins of support by administrators, students and campus police, this is true bipartisan legislation.
Gun free campus = less sexual assaults, less suicides and less accidents waiting to happen.
Overwhelming evidence shows that guns on campus do not deter sexual assault. 89% of campus sexual assaults involve drugs and alcohol — 33.9% perpetrated by intimate partners. 11.4% of college students seriously consider committing suicide, and in Texas, a study found that concealed carry permit holders are 181% more likely to be arrested for weapon-related crimes.

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STRENGTHENING MARYLAND’S MIDDLE CLASS
Yesterday, we were proud to announce the bipartisan legislative package. These four bills target over 1 million hard-working Marylanders and provide economic security that will result in more growth.
Earned Sick Leave
The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act is long overdue for families across the state. This legislation allows over 700,000 Marylanders to no longer make an impossible choice: go to work sick or send an ill child to school, or stay home and sacrifice much needed income — or worse, possibly lose his or her job.
An independent poll concluded 83% of respondents (91% of Democrats 64% of Republicans)support allowing workers to earn a number of annual paid sick days.
This bill contrasts with Gov. Hogan’s by ultimately providing more for Maryland families. As reported by The Sun, “The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act would guarantee earned time off for 512,000 Marylanders, compared to 272,000 Marylanders under [Gov. Hogan’s Paid Leave Act].”
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-paid-leave-superheroes-20170202-story.html

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Earned Income Tax Credit
Delegate Hixson said it best, “Earned income tax credits are a fancy way of saying that working class Marylanders take home more of the pay they have earned”.
This policy — which the House passed in 2016 with overwhelming bipartisan support — benefits over 355,000 working Marylanders by helping them provide for their families and build a stronger financial future.
Hometown Heroes Act
Passed by the House unanimously last year with bipartisan support, it provides $15,000 income tax deduction for “Hometown Heroes” which includes law enforcement, fire, rescue or emergency service personnel approaching retirement.
This legislation lowers the age of those without qualifying children from 25 to 18, income levels from $17K to $23K and increases the refundable federal credit to 100% from 27%. This allows for 110,000 more Marylanders to qualify and the maximum tax benefit rises from $140 to $510.
Equal Pay Protection
Last year, the General Assembly passed this legislation which requires employers to pay men and women equally. Last year’s law brings more parity so women didn’t earn only 85 cents for every dollar earned by men in comparable jobs.
Under HB 398, job seekers are not required to disclose their previous salaries. This bill provides a level playing field so applicants are not judged solely on their last job — further empowering the progress made under the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.

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PROTECTING MARYLAND SCHOOLS FROM TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
Last week, we joined the teachers union to stand up against the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. This is the first appointment in U.S. history that required a tie-breaking vote from the Vice President for cabinet confirmation — which speaks to her unqualified appointment to the position.
It is our job to resist the Trump-DeVos-Hogan privatization of our schools — standing with our public schools and teachers — and rise our public education system back to №1 in the country. Our legislation will prohibit privatizing our public schools and prevent the state from forcing struggling public schools to convert to charters.
We will continue to reject the Governor’s call for a separate state charter school board that circumvents the local school board evaluation process.

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GOVERNOR HOGAN’S FACEBOOK
This past week, the Governor’s Facebook page has been a source of controversy, with 450 people blocked from the page. The Post reporting, “The Republican also uses the social media platform to quiet his critics.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/gov-hogans-office-has-blocked-450-people-from-his-facebook-page-in-two-years/2017/02/08/54a62e66-ed45-11e6-9973-c5efb7ccfb0d_story.html?utm_term=.ed0ec95d5d3a
A second article, also authored by the Post has profiled five individuals that have been blocked by the Governor for expressing themselves, one of which — a Lutheran Minister from Baltimore. “He quoted from Bible verses about the importance of sheltering those in need, but says that he didn’t attack the governor. His comment quickly blew up, drawing more than 100 replies before it disappeared about 45 minutes later. Since then, Parker says he has been blocked from leaving comments on the governor’s page.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2017/02/09/meet-some-people-blocked-from-gov-hogans-facebook-page/?utm_term=.e88c5757971a
The Sun’s editorial board also released their opinion Monday, stating “What Mr. Hogan is doing in terms of deleting comments is clearly not in the public’s interest, and to the extent that it insulates him from understanding issues that animate his constituents so much that they join in a “coordinated effort,” it’s not in his interests either.”
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-hogan-facebook-20170206-story.html

It is an honor to serve you in the Maryland House of Delegates. If there is anything I can do for you, please reach out to me directly: marvin.holmes@house.state.md.us

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