2023 Legislative Session Wrap-Up
The 2023 Maryland General Assembly Session concluded on April 10th, with 810 of the nearly 2300 bills and joint resolutions introduced reaching Governor Moore’s desk for final approval. There are traditionally fewer bills in the first year of a new governor’s term, and 2023 was no different. Apart from the COVID-19 shortened 2020 Session, this year saw the fewest bills passed since 2015, Governor Hogan’s first year in office. The governor held two bill signing ceremonies in April and will continue to sign (or veto) legislation through the end of May.
Legislators spent 90 days passing high-profile bills in the face of 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upset the state’s “concealed carry” gun policy and altered access to abortion in the U.S., as well as taking on the task of establishing a regulatory system for recreational use cannabis in Maryland. Priorities of Governor Moore that passed included an acceleration of planned future increases to the State’s minimum wage, tax incentives for low-income families, and a community service program for high school graduates.
On the budget side, higher than anticipated revenues continued to place the State in a strong fiscal position going in to the 2023 session. Cooperation between the Legislative and Executive branches was a theme that carried throughout the session, as the General Assembly sought to exercise its new constitutional authority to add to the executive budget. Recognizing that the sizable general fund balance was partially dependent on unreliable revenue sources and acknowledging the potential risks of high inflation and a possible recession, spending by both the Administration and the legislature during the 2023 session was focused on strategic investments in improving State services and the State workforce, capital infrastructure, and mitigating future demands on the general fund.
Few bills this year directly impacted Maryland Works and the State’s preferred provider program. Efforts during Session and throughout 2023 are focused on educating new legislators and staff on the state’s preference program. However, many bills impacted individuals with disabilities and other procurement preference programs that our lobbying team actively monitored. Below is a summary of the final status of those bills.
- SB 438/HB 743. These cross-filed bills required 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 were sponsored by Senator Antonio Hayes, who introduced the bill in prior years, and first-year Delegate Scott Phillips. FAILED
- HB 1123. This bill implemented 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. FAILED
- SB 168/HB 504. These bills codified 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. PASSED
- 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 would maintain the authority to determine appropriate funding and staffing levels in future fiscal years. The House took no action. FAILED
- SB 283/HB 418. These bills established 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. PASSED
- SB 451/HB 429. These bills added the State Comptroller as a member of the Procurement Improvement Council. PASSED
- SB 479. This bill elevated the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women’s Business Affairs to be a cabinet level agency. FAILED
- SB 510/HB 816. These bills required the development of a scorecard to evaluate State agencies performance toward meeting the State’s MBE goal and the veteran-owned small business enterprise goal. PASSED
Source: Manis Canning & Associates