Legislative Update


The 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session is off to a quick start with over 1600 bills introduced in less than a month. Bill drafting requests by members are at an all-time high, so the number of bills introduced by next week’s bill introduction deadline could easily double. With the first couple of weeks of Session focused on informational briefings by State agencies, the next several weeks now will be dominated by long days of bill hearings.

Governor Moore announced a 16 bill legislative agenda which includes a series of public safety initiatives and packages of bills to address affordable housing issues, infrastructure and economic development, and public service. Legislative leaders have announced packages of bills to address consumer protection issues and juvenile justice. Discussions on how and when to address shortfalls in both the State’s General Fund and Transportation Trust Fund continue. House leaders have expressed interest in exploring new revenue options to address both shortfalls, but comprehensive solutions are not expected to be seriously considered until the 2025 Session.

The Preferred Provider Program is again receiving legislative attention this year, specifically Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE). Senator Antonio Hayes has introduced three bills, each targeting MCE. The first, Senate Bill 194, would require the Pricing and Selection Committee to grant a waiver if the price of supplies and services offered by MCE is at least 10% above market rates. The second, Senate Bill 420, would remove MCE from the State’s Preferred Provider Program. Both bills would be damaging to MCE and potentially threaten its viability. The final bill, Senate Bill 486, requires MCE’s Management Council to research the number of private sector entities that offer goods and services also available from MCE, compare the cost of those goods and services, and review and comment on the potential benefits of the State utilizing private enterprises. 

The first two bills have been heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, but the committee hasn’t acted on either bill. During his public testimony, Senator Hayes praised the work and mission of both Maryland Works and Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, and indicated his dissatisfaction is strictly limited to MCE’s preference. Despite these assurances from Senator Hayes, legislation targeting any of the Preferred Providers could always spark a broader discussion that could include Maryland Works and BISM. Maryland Works and its lobbying team will continue to carefully monitor these and other bills throughout the legislative session.

The legislature will adjourn “sine die” at midnight on Monday, April 8th.

Source: Manis Canning & Associates