Maryland Works Legislative Update
With less than 2 weeks remaining in the 2023 Maryland General Assembly Session, and legislators are working to finalize the state’s operating and capital budgets. Governor Moore’s first budget of nearly $63 million, proposed in January, was based on a $820 million balance in the state’s general fund. But on March 2nd, the state Board of Revenue Estimates recued that by $77 million, mostly based on anticipated lower income tax revenue. The governor and the legislature have since worked to restructure the budget, with the final agreement expected to be reached the week of April 3rd.
Following finalization of the operating and capital budgets, the final days of Session will be a rush to pass the final priorities of Senate and House members. The members will be in floor sessions for several hours each day and will work right up until midnight on Monday April 10th.
There have been few bills this year directly impacting Maryland Works and the State’s preference program. Efforts this Session have been focused on educating new members and staff on the state’s preference program. However, there are several bills impacting individuals with disabilities and the Minority Business Enterprise Program that our lobbying team has been actively monitoring. Below is a summary of the status of those bills and what we expect the final action will be on each item.
- 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. Neither bill is expected to pass at this point.
- 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. The bill’s fiscal note indicated significant costs to implement the bill and the bill is not expected to pass.
- SB 168/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 both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. The House bill is in the Senate and is expected to pass as well.
- SB 934/HB 1222. As introduced, these bills mandated funding and staffing levels for the Division of Rehabilitation Services within the Department of Education. The Senate removed the mandate and instead made the funding and staffing increases discretionary, meaning the Governor will maintain the authority to determine appropriate funding and staffing levels in future fiscal years.
- 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. Each bill has passed its chamber of origin and are expected to pass before the conclusion of Session.
- SB 451/HB 429. These bills add the State Comptroller as a member of the Procurement Improvement Council. The Senate bill has passed both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for approval.
- SB 479. This bill would elevate the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women’s Business Affairs to be a cabinet level agency. No action has been taken on the bill.
Source: Manis, Canning & Associates