Maryland lawmakers have just one week left to send bills to Gov. Larry Hogan (R). And unlike in past years, they can spend the final days focused on legislation with the $42 billion budget already approved and behind them.
Here are issues to keep an eye on before the session adjourns April 11:
1) Criminal justice overhaul: Substantially different versions of legislation eliminating and reducing some criminal penalties have advanced in the Senate and House, setting the stage for negotiations for a compromise version.
In a similar vein, police accountability measures are awaiting action in the Senate.
2) Paid sick leave: A crop of progressive Democrats has been aggressively pushing long-stalled legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.
The bill has been cleared for a vote before the full House of Delegates, but its chances remain questionable.
3) Heroin crisis: Addressing Maryland’s growing problem with opiod overdose deaths by improving treatment options is an area for bipartisan cooperation, as detailed in a weekend story by Josh Hicks. Among the legislative responses to watch this week is a bill requiring hospitals to draw up detailed recovery plans for addicts.
4) Transportation tussle: Democratic lawmakers are likely to try to override Hogan’s veto last week of a bill requiring the state to rank transportation plans before deciding which projects to fund.
5) Governor’s priorities: Democratic lawmakers appear set to adjourn the year without taking action on the Republican governor’s key priorities. They include Hogan’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to establish independent redistricting (which an attorney for the legislature cast doubt upon) and tax relief for retirees.
6) Fantasy sports: The lucrative online fantasy sports industry is fighting for legitimacy across the country, winning recognition in Virginia while other states shut sites down as illegal gambling.
A bill to refer the fate of the sites to Maryland voters has languished in the House, but that body can still take up a bill that passed the Senate to ban the sites outright.
7) Future of the Purple Line: The state Board of Public Works on Wednesday is set to take up the massive contract for the Purple Line in the Maryland suburbs.