The 2011 Session of the Maryland General Assembly ended at midnight on April 11. The General Assembly considered almost 2,400 bills during the legislative session. MICUA tracked more than 80 bills that impact higher education, auxiliary operations, nonprofit organizations, and private employers. This is a brief summary of the most substantive bills impacting MICUA member institutions.
SB 132/HB 87 - Job Applicant Fairness Act (PASSED)
This bill prohibits an employer from using an individual’s credit report or credit history as a basis to deny employment to an applicant, discharge an employee, or determine compensation or the terms of employment. The bill establishes certain exemptions, which allow an employer to consider the credit history of an applicant or employee if the employer has a bona fide, job-related purpose for requesting or using such information.
SB 557/HB 665 - Commission on Maryland Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence (PASSED)
This bill establishes the Commission on Maryland Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence. The Commission must, among other things: (1) Review current federal and State laws, standards, and policies for inconsistencies and preemption issues; (2) Provide recommendations regarding strategic plans to promote cybersecurity innovation, including attracting private investments, recovering from attacks on cybersecurity, and clarifying roles of State agencies; and (3) recommend methods of promoting innovation through public-private partnerships, the education system, and research and development. The Commission must report interim findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2012, and final findings and recommendations by September 1, 2014.
SB 695 - Higher Education - Regulation of Public, Private Nonprofit, and For-Profit
Institutions of Higher Education (PASSED)
This bill protects Maryland consumers by establishing appropriate oversight and regulation of for-profit institutions. The legislation defines private nonprofit and private for-profit institutions of higher education and clarifies that “independent colleges and universities” are private, nonprofit colleges and universities that serve a public purpose. The bill also creates a guaranty fund to reimburse students at for-profit institutions of higher education who are entitled to a refund of tuition and fees due to the for-profit institution’s breach of agreement or contract with the student or the State. In addition, the bill prohibits any institution of higher education from paying a commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based on enrollment.
Senate Bill 695 also addresses the use of State student financial aid by specifying that an award may not be used to attend an out-of-state institution, but may be used at any in-state institution, regardless of whether the institution is a public, private nonprofit, or for-profit institution. This provision terminates in five years. At that time, State student financial aid may only be used at public and private nonprofit institutions in the State. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and by an overwhelming margin in the House of Delegates. The Governor has stated that he will sign the legislation into law.
SB 994/ HB 1213 - Sales and Use Tax - Alcoholic Beverages - Supplementary Appropriation
This bill increases the State tax rate for alcoholic beverages from 6 percent to 9 percent, which generates an estimated $85 million in revenue annually. The revenue generated in fiscal 2012 must be used for school construction, disabilities services, and education assistance to local school systems. The bill is expected to provide an additional $47.5 million for school construction in fiscal 2012, helping to reduce pressures on the State's fiscal 2012 capital budget. The legislation does not establish a specified distribution in the out-years.
Although the additional revenue is not required to balance the fiscal 2012 operating budget, the allocation of funds from the bill will reduce out-year deficits for the operating budget as well.
HB 621 - Fire Safety - High Rise Buildings - Mobility Impaired Individuals (PASSED)
This bill requires the owner of a residential high-rise building with rental units to provide written notice to all high-rise building residents of the right of residents who are mobility impaired to request a rental unit on the first five floors when one becomes available.
HB 1156 - Task Force to Study the Creation of a Regional Higher Education Center in Northeastern Maryland (PASSED)
This bill establishes a process for examining the immediate and long-term higher education needs in northeast Maryland through the creation of a task force with representatives of government, higher education, and the corporate community. The President of MICUA, or the President’s designee, is a member of the task force.
HB 1347 - Southern Maryland Higher Education Council (PASSED)
This bill establishes a Southern Maryland Higher Education Council to develop plans that include short-term and long-term strategies for improving access to higher education in Southern Maryland. The bill requires the Council to examine whether or not the current higher education institutions and centers in Southern Maryland, including the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, are meeting the higher education needs of the region. By December 1, 2011, the Council must submit an interim report on its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, with a final report due by December 1, 2012. The President of MICUA, or the President’s designee, is listed as a member of the 12-member Council.
The following bills died, because they failed to receive a majority vote in at least one chamber.
SB 239/HB 252 - Crimes - Possession of Loaded Handgun or Regulated Firearm - Enhanced
This bill would specify that a person who violates the prohibition against wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun without a permit, whether concealed or open, on or about the person or in a vehicle on a road, highway, waterway, or airway, if the handgun is loaded with ammunition, is guilty of a felony and subject to a nonsuspendable, nonparolable, mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months.
SB 311 - Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones (FAILED)
This legislation would prohibit guns on the campuses of public universities and community colleges.
SB 387/HB 910 - High Performance Buildings Act - Applicability to Recipients of State Aid
This bill would require certain capital projects that are partially funded or financed by a grant of
State aid to meet or exceed the current version of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver rating or an equivalent rating as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management and the Secretary of the Department of General Services.
SB 616 - Equal Opportunities Employment Act (FAILED)
This bill would require that contracts for capital projects that receive at least $5.0 million in State or federal funds be awarded to business entities that provide economic opportunities for low- and very low-income individuals in at least 5% of the skilled and unskilled positions. It also declares the intent of the General Assembly that, to the extent practicable, recipients of federal or State funds for capital projects must contract with business concerns that provide economic opportunities for low- and very low-income individuals.
SB 856 - Maryland Higher Education Commission - Review of Program Proposals (FAILED)
This bill would require the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to adopt regulations specifying that MHEC must review academic program proposals and any objections received in accordance with a deliberative fact-finding process that includes receiving witness testimony and the weighing of evidence. In addition, the bill allows decisions by the Commission to be subject to administrative appeal or judicial review.
SB 984 - Budget Reconciliation and Balancing Act (FAILED)
This bill would alter appropriations, revenues, the use of specified funds, and the State Retirement and Pension System. In addition, the legislation makes other adjustments to reduce State spending. The bill reduces State appropriations for the Sellinger program for independent colleges and universities by setting the formula at an amount not less than 10% of the per student funding at selected public four-year institutions of higher education in fiscal 2013 and every year thereafter. The bill limits eligibility for the Sellinger program to institutions that have a total endowment of less than $1 billion and states that the total allowance for the Sellinger program shall be $20.8 million in fiscal 2013.
HB 803 - Criminal Law - Possession of a Handgun - Institutions of Higher Education and
This legislation would extend the prohibition of the wearing, carrying, or transporting of a handgun on public school property to institutions of higher education and hospitals. Wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun at a hospital or college would be a misdemeanor offense.
HB 1294 - Deficit Reduction Financing Act of 2011 (FAILED)
This bill would reduce or alter State appropriations to several mandated programs or entitlements. The bill reduces State expenditures for the Joseph A. Sellinger formula for independent colleges and universities by setting the formula at an amount not less than 10% of the per student funding at selected public four-year institutions of higher education in fiscal year 2013 and every year thereafter. The bill increases the multiplier from 9.2% per FTE in fiscal year 2012 to 10% in fiscal year 2013.