Report From Annapolis 2.7.15

Dear neighbors:

Thank you again for the honor that you have given me to serve you and your family in the Maryland Senate. With several weeks of the 2015 legislation session now behind us, I welcome the opportunity to update you on our progress.

Hometown Heroes Tax Credit (SB115): Our first responders, including police, fire and rescue, work dangerous jobs to serve us every day. That’s why I introduced the Hometown Heroes Tax Credit, allowing for a simple subtraction modification from state income taxes. I’m pleased that the Governor made a commitment to support this credit in his recent State of the State address, and I’m proud of the 31 Senators, Democrats and Republicans from every corner of the state, who have co-sponsored SB115.

Adequate Transportation Funding (SB181): Throughout the recession, counties like Montgomery have had to make do with diminishing state “Highway User Grants.” For some 70 years, these state grants have enabled localities to address specific transportation challenges without having those projects authorized through the state’s annual budget process. While the Governor’s FY16 budget actually cuts Highway User Grants by $381,888, his supplemental budget provides $25 million, but only $4 million of which is to be shared among Maryland’s 23 counties. That is not a sustainable way for Montgomery to fund transportation. That’s why I authored SB181, which establishes a permanent, predictable formula for the distribution of Highway User Grants by phasing-in funding, back to pre-recession levels over 5 years.

Elder Abuse and Improved End-of-Life Transfers (SB101): Many states allow for a safe, easy, inexpensive and seamless solution to property transfers upon death: Transfer-on-Death (TOD) deeds. Under TOD deeds, an owner of real property is able to execute a deed to a named beneficiary who immediately receives title to the property upon the death of the owner, without the expense of lengthy probate. The use of TODs also prevents a range of elder abuse situations whereby seniors transfer title to their property, while living, to unscrupulous family members who engage in a variety of fraudulent and manipulative schemes. That’s why I introduced SB101, which aligns Maryland with many other states that recognize Transfer-on-Death deeds as a simple and safe means of transferring property upon death.

Public Health Protections From Biphenol-A (SB175): For many years, scientific studies have raised concerns about the widespread use of as Biphenol-A (BPA), an easily absorbed chemical used in the production of plastic and paper, and which is known to cause endocrine disruption.  While BPA has been banned in many products, high exposure and absorption levels have been linked to handling of cash register receipts printed on certain BPA-laden thermal paper. Although alternatives to BPA thermal paper exist in commerce, many retailers have not switched to BPA-free products. SB175 requires the phase-out of BPA receipts, addressing this very serious public health challenge.

Law Enforcement Pension Improvements (SB286): SB286 is a technical bill that corrects problems in eligibility and membership for law enforcement officers and the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension System.

State Employees Fairness in Financial Disclosures Act (SB342): In 2014, more than 80,000 state employees received a long-overdue Cost of Living Increase (COLA), only to have it repealed by Governor Hogan during his first week in office. If State employees included the COLA as income on a loan or other financial document they may be subject to civil or criminal liability for inadvertently overstating their future income. SB342, the State Employees Fairness in Financial Disclosures Act, insulates those state employees from prosecution or liability if a misrepresentation of income was made, relying in good faith, on the 2014 Cost of Living Increase.

Our Senate office serves as a resource to you and your community. Whether you require assistance with grants, legislation, scholarships, or casework, we are here to assist you, and are at your service.

For more information about our legislation, please visit www.RogerManno.com. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and your family in the Maryland Senate, and for your interest in our work.

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