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2010 SESSION HIGHLIGHTS

The 2010 Session of the Maryland General Assembly ended at midnight on April 12. The General Assembly considered almost 2,700 bills during the Legislative Session. This is a brief summary of select bills, which impact higher education operations or auxiliary activities.

LEGISLATION – PASSED

The following bills passed both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly during the 2010 Legislative Session:

HB 92 / SB 106 – Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit (PASSED)

This emergency Administration legislation creates a tax credit against the State income tax for employers who hire qualified individuals for qualified positions between the effective date of the Act (March 25, 2010), and December 31, 2010. To be eligible to receive the tax credit, the individual hired by the employer must be a resident of Maryland, receiving unemployment insurance benefits or have exhausted unemployment insurance benefits within the past 12 months, and not presently employed full-time.

Other provisions of the Act provide that the qualified individual must be hired for a full-time position. The employer must require the services of an employee indefinitely and without interruption for a period of at least 12 months. The position must be located in Maryland and must be newly created or have been vacant for at least six (6) months at the time the position is filled.

The value of the credit is equal to $5,000 per eligible employee hired, not to exceed $250,000 per taxpayer and not to exceed $20 million in total. The tax credit must be claimed in calendar years 2010 or 2011, and is refundable if the credit exceeds the total tax payable for that tax year.

HB 209 - General Obligation Bonds for Capital Projects - Required Reports (PASSED)

HB 209 requires that a grant of at least $500,000, to be used by a private hospital or institution of higher education to complete a capital project, must contain a provision that requires the grantee to submit reports to the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs regarding the extent to which the entity has used or will use any part of the funds for contracts with minority-owned businesses. The bill sunsets after three years.

HB 467 / SB 275 – Maryland Longitudinal Data System (PASSED)

This Administration bill establishes the Maryland Longitudinal Data System as a statewide data system containing individual-level student data and workforce data from all levels of education and the State’s workforce. The bill authorizes private institutions of higher education and private secondary schools to provide student data, but does not require participation.

HB 475 - Smart Green and Growing – The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 (PASSED)

This bill reestablishes the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program as the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program and extends the termination date of the program through fiscal 2014. The bill also expands and alters eligibility requirements for the program including allowing certain non-historic properties to qualify for the credit. The value of the credit is dependent on the type of rehabilitation undertaken and is equal to (as a percentage of qualified rehabilitation expenditures):

  • 20% for the rehabilitation of a single-family, owner-occupied residence;
  • 20% for the rehabilitation of a certified historic structure (increased to 25% if certain energy efficiency standards are met); and
  • 10% for the rehabilitation of a qualified rehabilitated structure.

A qualified rehabilitated structure is a building other than a single-family, owner-occupied residence that is located in: (1) a commercial area designated by January 1, 2010, either by the Secretary of Housing and Community Development as a Main Street Maryland Community or by the Mayor of Baltimore City as a Main Street; or (2) beginning in fiscal 2012, a sustainable community. The rehabilitation must retain specified minimum percentages of internal and external walls and internal framework during the rehabilitation. Nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive a refundable tax credit.

HB 1044 / SB 234 -- High Performance Buildings Act – Applicable to Community College Capital Projects – (PASSED)

This bill requires that community college capital projects that receive State funds comply with the State’s High Performance Building Act. It also allows community colleges to apply for waivers from this requirement under existing waiver procedures.

HB 1263 / SB 899 – The Education Reform Act of 2010 (PASSED)

This emergency Administration bill extends the probationary period of employment (nontenure) for public school certificated employees from two years to three years, requires that nontenured certificated employees be evaluated annually, and requires that student growth data be used in teacher and principal performance evaluations. The State Board of Education must establish a program to support locally negotiated incentives for highly effective classroom teachers and principals who work in public schools that are in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; categorized as a Title I school; or in the highest 25% of schools in the State based on the percentage of students who receive free and reduced-price meals.

SB 107 - Unemployment Insurance – Tax Deferment, Trust Fund Solvency, and Cost-Neutral Modernization Act – (PASSED)

SB 107 is an emergency Administration bill that makes changes to the State unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by allowing an “alternative base period” to be used to determine eligibility and expanding eligibility for UI benefits to include individuals enrolled in a qualifying job training program. The bill eliminates UI benefits for claimants who become sick or disabled, increases the penalty for claimants who are dismissed for misconduct or gross misconduct, and decreases the amount of disregarded wages a claimant may earn while receiving UI benefits. The bill also increases the minimum earnings necessary to qualify for UI benefits. The Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) must immediately offer employers payment plan options for UI contributions in calendar 2010 and 2011 and reduce the monthly interest penalty from 1.5% to 0.5% under certain conditions. The modifications to Maryland UI law provided in the bill make Maryland eligible for a one-time payment of $126.8 million in federal incentive funds.

SB 283 / HB 470 – Higher Education Investment Fund – Tuition Stabilization and Funding (PASSED)

This Administration legislation makes permanent an existing law, which transfers six percent of corporate income tax revenues to the State’s Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF.) The bill establishes a dedicated trust fund, the Tuition Stabilization Trust Account, within the HEIF for the sole purpose of stabilizing tuition and fees at Maryland’s public four-year institutions of higher education. In addition, the bill establishes legislative intent that tuition and fees for Maryland-resident students will not increase beyond the three-year average increase in Maryland’s median family income. The funds from the Tuition Stabilization Trust Account may only be expended in order to maintain the proposed tuition and fee levels. Additionally, the governing boards of the pubic senior higher education institutions must periodically review both Statewide and national peer tuition data in order to adjust tuition levels and increase financial aid funding as necessary in order to promote access to, and increase student demand at, Maryland public four-year institutions of higher education.

SB 321 – The Delegate John Arnick Electronic Communications Traffic Safety Act of 2010 – (PASSED)

This bill prohibits the operator of a motor vehicle in motion from using a handheld telephone beyond the functions of turning the phone on or off, or placing or receiving a telephone call. This prohibition does not apply to using a handheld telephone to place an emergency telephone call, including a call to the 9-1-1 system, nor does it apply to emergency services 1st responders within the scope of official duty. Violation of this law is a secondary offence with a first-offender fine of $40 and subsequent fines of $100 per act unless the violation directly contributes to an accident.

SB 412 – Teacher Certification – Career Professionals (PASSED)

This bill requires the State Department of Education to establish teacher certification for career professionals in specialized fields and adopt regulations to implement the legislation.

LEGISLATION – FAILED

The following bills died, because they failed to receive a majority vote in at least one chamber:

HB 273 – Public Safety – Pool Lifeguards – Regulation (FAILED) – The legislation would require pool owners to have one lifeguard on duty for each group of 25 or fewer individuals in the water.

HB 348 / SB 334 – Public Institutions Notify Community of Construction (FAILED) - This bill would impact Salisbury University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Towson University, and University of Maryland, College Park and would require those institutions to notify the community of proposed new construction or substantial exterior renovations that are adjacent to privately owned property.

HB 677 / SB 805 – Higher Education – Nonpublic Institutions of Higher Education – Free Speech (FAILED) – This legislation would prohibit private, nonprofit institutions of higher education that quality for State aid under the Sellinger formula from making or enforcing a rule that restricts the constitutional free speech rights of students enrolled on campus.

HB 759 – Political Subdivisions – Construction Projects – Demolition (FAILED) – This bill would require mandatory salvage efforts prior to building demolition in order to qualify for a demolition permit.

HB 946 / SB 385 – Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland Tax Credit (FAILED) - This legislation would create an income tax credit for 75% of the contributions made by a business or nonprofit organization to an eligible nonprofit organization that either: (1) provides scholarships to eligible students or teachers at a nonpublic K-12 school; or (2) provides grants to public schools to support innovative educational programs or public school teachers to assist in the cost of certification coursework.

HB 1040 / SB 215 – High Performance Buildings Act – Applicability to Recipients of State Aid (FAILED) – This legislation would require any new building or major building renovation that is funded solely or partially by a grant of a State grant must be built as a high-performance building.

HB 1102 – Business Regulation – Bookstores Purchasing Used Textbooks – Required Reports (FAILED) - This legislation would require bookstores to create and maintain transaction records when purchasing used textbooks valued at $50 or more.

HB 1159 / SB840– Budget Reduction Act (FAILED) – This legislation would alter or repeal many mandated State aid programs, including the Sellinger Program, and reduce future budget appropriations for various programs.

HB 1369 – Task Force to Study Standardizing and Accountability of Introductory Courses in Higher Education in Maryland (FAILED) – This bill would require public universities to adopt standardized courses for certain introductory courses.

HB 1409 et. al. – Stormwater Management (FAILED) – Numerous bills were introduced in the House and Senate to alter regulations proposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) concerning stormwater management. The legislation failed after MDE agreed to alter the regulations to address certain concerns of developers and major industries.

HB 1533 – Deficit Reduction Financing Act of 2010 (FAILED) – The House Republican Caucus introduced a budget reconciliation act to fix the State’s structural budget deficit. The legislation would alter numerous mandated funding formulas, including Sellinger.

HB 1550 / SB 1115 – MHEC Review of Duplicative Academic Programs (FAILED) – This legislation would allow any institution of higher education in Maryland to seek judicial review of a decision made by the Maryland Higher Education Commission concerning academic programs.

SB 191 – Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones (FAILED) – This legislation would prohibit guns on the campuses of public universities and community colleges.

SB 806 – Budget – Reductions of Appropriations (FAILED) – This legislation would alter the Governor’s authority to reduce the State budget through the Board of Public Works by providing that the Governor could not reduce an appropriation by more than 10 percent.

SB 1004 – Budget Reconciliation and Balancing Act (FAILED) – This legislation would reduce or eliminate State appropriations to several mandated programs or entitlements. In addition, the legislation would eliminate Sellinger aid to any institution with an endowment in excess of $1 billion. 

SB 1084 – MHEC Review of Program Proposals – (FAILED) - This bill would require the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to review objections to proposals for new academic programs or substantial modifications to existing programs through a deliberative fact-finding process that includes the receipt of witness testimony and the weighing of evidence. The bill repeals the provision of law that makes MHEC’s decision on unreasonable duplication final and not subject to further administrative appeal or judicial review.

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