Maryland Works Legislative Update
The 45th Day of the 2023 Session recently passed, officially marking the halfway point for this year’s session. However, with the slow start to this post-election year session, very few bills have been voted. The next three weeks will be a whirlwind of activity with bill hearings, committee voting sessions, and long Senate and House floor sessions.
While there are few bills this year directly impacting Maryland Works and the State’s preference program, there are several bills impacting individuals with disabilities and the Minority Business Enterprise Program. We will continue to monitor these bills throughout the legislative process.
- SB 438/HB 743. These cross-filed bills require each State procurement unit to include the dollar value of its contracts with Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE) in the total dollar value of its procurements for the purpose of calculating the unit’s performance relative to the State’s minority business enterprise (MBE) goal. The bills are sponsored by Senator Antonio Hayes, who has introduced the bill in prior years, and first-year Delegate Scott Phillips. While no action was taken on this bill in prior years, the Senate hearing on February 22nd featured more supporters than in the past and no testimony from MCE. The House hearing is scheduled for March 6th.
- HB 1123. This bill implements some issues raised by Senator Hayes in support of SB 438/HB 743 by, among other things, mandating inmate labor in Maryland Correctional Enterprises be paid the State’s minimum wage. House Bill 1123 will be heard by the Appropriations Committee on March 9th.
- SB168/HB 504. These bills codify the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council as an independent unit of State government. The Council was established in 1971 by Executive Order and currently operates under the Department of Disabilities. Senate Bill 168 passed the Senate unanimously. The House bill was heard on February 28th, no action has been taken.
- SB 934/HB 1222. These bills mandate funding and staffing levels for the Division of Rehabilitation Services within the Department of Education. House Bill 1222 will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee on March 8th. The Senate bill was late-filed and has not been scheduled.
- SB 283/HB 418. These bills establish the Behavioral Health Workforce Investment Fund to provide reimbursement for costs associated with educating, training, certifying, recruiting, placing, and retaining behavioral health professional and paraprofessionals. Senate Bill 283 has already passed the Senate unanimously. No action has been taken yet by the House.
- SB 479. This bill would elevate the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women’s Business Affairs to be a cabinet level agency. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Finance Committee on March 7th.
The legislative “crossover” date, the day by which bills must reach the opposite chamber to be considered “on time” is March 20th. No action has been taken on most bills, so there is much work to be done in the next three weeks. The House will consider the State operating budget first this year, and decisions will begin next week. On March 9th, the Bureau of Revenue Estimates is expected to announce a substantial revenue write-down, which will likely limit the passage of bills with significant costs associated. New, long-term spending commitments will similarly be discouraged.
Session concludes this year on April 10th.