Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan described it as “probably our most successful session out of all four years.”
The Democratic-controlled legislature in Annapolis could say the same.
From dedicated funding for Metro to a one-year fix to stabilize the state’s health-care exchange to plans to stem violence in schools and prevent sexual harassment in state government, Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass key legislation ahead of November’s elections, which include the governor’s race and all state legislative seats.
Below is a list of other bills that were approved with less bipartisan support — and a few that didn’t make it to the governor’s desk.
● Gun control 2.0: Maryland’s already tough gun-control laws became tougher with the passage of a bill that bans bump stocks and other rapid-trigger devices. A bump stock was used in last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. The legislature also passed a bill designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who are deemed a danger to themselves and others.
● Crime-fighting measures: A bill designed to help reduce violent crime in Baltimore died, but elements of the bill — including tougher penalties for repeat violent offenders — were approved by the legislature. Progressive lawmakers and members of the black and Latino caucuses balked at the initial bill, but some voted for the measure after the addition of an amendment that expanded expungements of criminal convictions.
● Schoolyard fights: One of the biggest battles of the session pitted Democratic leaders against Hogan (R) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D). It centered on how and when schools should be built and who should be responsible for deciding. In a party-line vote, the General Assembly removed the governor, comptroller and treasurer from the process.
Under a separate bill, voters will decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to require the state to use its share of casino funds for public schools.
● Ban on conversion therapy: One of the most emotional moments of the session was when Del. Meagan C. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel), the youngest member of the legislature, spoke in support of a bill that would ban conversion therapy for minors by licensed medical professionals.
Simonaire told her colleagues that she is bisexual and said that when she told her parents last year, they suggested conversion therapy. Her father, state Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel), opposed the bill and disputed aspects of his daughter’s account of their conversations.
● Driving the vote: A bill that allows Maryland residents to automatically register to vote when they interact with state agencies, including the Motor Vehicle Administration, became law without Hogan’s signature.
●Minor marriages: Lawmakers failed to agree on the age at which teenagers should be allowed to be married. The Senate passed a version of a bill raising the limit to 16, and the House approved a similar measure raising the bar to 17. That means the current law — which says 15-year-olds can marry if they receive parental consent or if a girl is pregnant — remains in place.
● The “Jared Kushner” bill: The legislature took no action on a bill, named for President Trump’s son-in-law, that was intended to stop judges from ordering the arrest of tenants who owe their landlords up to $5,000 in unpaid rent.
● Presidential tax returns: A measure that would have required presidential candidates to publicly release their federal income tax returns to be on the ballot in Maryland failed in the House.
The Senate passed the bill in March, but the House never took action on the measure, which was widely viewed as a slap at Trump.