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Legislative Update

2016 Session Highlights

MICUA closely tracked over 200 pieces of legislation related to higher education, non-profit organizations, private corporations, and employment matters as hearings were held, amendments were added, votes were taken, and bills crossed over from one chamber to the other. Another 80 pieces of legislation were monitored in a similar manner to ensure the bills were not altered in a way that could have a negative impact on MICUA institutions.  MICUA testified at over a dozen bill hearings, submitted written testimony on more than 30 bills, and attended or monitored over 50 other legislative hearings. A Priority 1 bill list is provided on the MICUA website. The bill list includes links to the bills and the testimony MICUA submitted during the 2016 session.

·         College Affordability

HB 1403 reestablished The College Readiness Outreach Program as “The Next Generation Scholars of Maryland Program” to allow eligible students in grades 7, 8, and 9 to prequalify for a Guaranteed Access (GA) GrantFor fiscal 2018 through 2023, the Governor must include $5.0 million in general funds to the program to be administered in a school system in which at least 50% of the students are eligible to receive a free lunch.  The fund will be used to award grants to nonprofit organizations to administer the program and provide students with high school graduation plans, offer summer work or internship opportunities,provide financial aid literacy assistance, administer career interest assessments, provide mentorship and one-on-one counseling, facilitate visits to college campuses and workplaces, and provide other support services to help students matriculate and graduate from an institution of higher education. This program will be an excellent opportunity to highlight MICUA’s Guaranteed Access Partnership Program. 

HB 335 expands the eligibility of the Maryland College Savings Plan income tax subtraction modification by allowing each person who contributes funds to a plan to claim the subtraction modification.  This bill will allow grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others who contribute to a child’s college savings plan to claim the income tax subtraction associated with their contribution.

SB 281 authorizes the Community Development Administration to provide financial assistance to homeowners for purchasing a primary residence and making payments on student loan debt.  The bill provides potential homeowners saddled with student loan debt a way to both purchase a home and simultaneously pay off student loan debt utilizing Maryland’s mortgage assistance programs.

SB 676 establishes a matching State contribution for eligible college savings accounts and creates a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 to help Marylanders better manage undergraduate student loan debt. The bill also requires the College Savings Plans of Maryland to develop marketing plans to increase participation. 

HB 1015 requires three State entities to study the expansion or creation of an appropriate bonding authority for the refinancing of student loans in Maryland. By September 30, 2017, a report with findings and recommendations must be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly.

HB 1079 authorizes the creation of a student loan refinancing authority in Montgomery County. Montgomery County must first study the implementation of such an authority, perform a feasibility study, assess the benefits of an authority to enhance recruitment and retention of county and school employees, and hold public hearings.  If established it would be the first authority for financing or refinancing student loans in Maryland.  Montgomery County modeled the legislation after the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority. 

·         Higher Education Policy

SB 427 prohibits a private career school or for-profit institution of higher education in the State from enrolling a student in a program in a field that requires State licensure or certification for employment, if successful completion of the program will not meet State educational requirements for licensure or certification. It also requires that institutions make a net price calculator publicly available on their website in a conspicuous location. 

SB 919 corrects an oversight of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by recognizing that student health insurance coverage may be offered through certain self-funded insurance plans.

HB 1400 establishes the “Seed Community Development Anchor Institution Fundto provide grants and loans to “anchor institutions” for community development projects in “blighted areas” of the State.  For fiscal 2018 through 2022, the Governor must include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of $5 million to the fund. 

SB 493 creates an induction program for first-year teachers in Maryland school districts that choose to participate in the program. Those teachers must be afforded at least 20% more time than other teachers to be spent on mentoring, peer-observation, assistance with planning, or other preparation activities.  The bill mandates an appropriation of $7.0 million annually for the program and increases the stipend for teachers who hold National Board Certification from $2,000 to $5,000.

HB 1488 establishes the Maryland Corps Program.  The program will provide at least 100 young Marylanders with meaningful service opportunities, stipends of up to $15,000, and scholarships of up to $6,000 toward a vocational certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree at Maryland postsecondary institutions. Annual funding for the program is up to the discretion of the Governor. 

SB 1052 creates a strategic partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to be called the University Maryland (UM).  To that end, the bill makes various changes and requires various planning activities to take place between the institutions.  The bill requires the University of System of Maryland (USM) headquarters to move to Baltimore City by July 1, 2017.  The bill mandates the appropriation of funds for various purposes beginning in fiscal 2018.  

SB 376 establishes Pathways in Technology Early College (P-TECH) schools and authorizes six State planning grants to eligible P-TECH Schools in fiscal 2017.  No more than two planning grants may be awarded in any jurisdiction.  To be eligible for a grant, the P-TECH school must be a public secondary school selected by the Maryland State Department of Education and must partner with an authorized institution of higher education. To meet the definition in the bill, a P-TECH school must have submitted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to MSDE by March 15, 2016.  Only two schools in Baltimore City currently meet this definition.  In addition, the P-TECH school must execute an MOU with one or more industry partners, one or more institutions of higher education, and a local board of education.  The MOU must include the following provisions: (1) substantive mentoring of P-TECH students; (2) at least one paid summer internship of at least six weeks duration per student; and (3) P-TECH students are first in line for consideration of a job at the industry partner after graduation.

·         Other Legislation

SB 370 requires the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to post on the DBM website notice of a proposed reduction to an appropriation at least three consecutive days before the reduction may be approved by the Board of Public Works (BPW).  This bill will help prevent unannounced reductions in funding from appearing before the BPW without public notice of the reductions.

HB 1003 expands Maryland’s equal pay for equal work law to prohibit wage discrimination based on gender identity, among other provisions. An employer may not provide less favorable employment opportunities based on sex or gender identity. Moreover, an employer may not prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee.

HB 409 enhances the criminal penalties for an adult who obtains, furnishes, or allows an individual younger than 21 to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at their residence. 

SB 587 prohibits a person from selling or offering for sale alcoholic beverages that are sold in powder or crystalline form to be used directly or in combination with water or any other substance until June 30, 2018. 

·         Failed Legislation

HB 230 -- Reduction in Financial Aid Notification

HB 231/SB313 --  Financial Aid Reduction ProhibitedPublic Institutions only

HB 283 -- Institutions of Higher Education – Official Transcripts

HB 449/SB375 --  Relief from Budget Mandates

HB 966 --  College of Southern Maryland –Bachelor’s degrees

HB 1142 --  Institutions of Higher Learning – Affirmative Consent Standard

HB 1149 --  Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology

SB 464 -- College Admissions Outreach Program for High Achieving Students

HB 108/SB 457 -- Capital Budget Construction Projects – Apprenticeship requirements

HB 197/SB 623 -- Maryland Pay Stub Transparency Act

HB 792/SB914 -- The Transparency Act of 2016

HB 580/SB 472 -- Maryland Healthy Working Families Act

SB 928 -- Task Force to Study the Nurse Shortage in Maryland

HB 1002 -- Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones

SB 512 -- Task Force to Study the Recruitment, Retention, and Promotion of Teachers

SB 783 -- Correctional Education Council – Adult Correctional Institutions – Study of Access to the Internet and Higher Education Courses