Delegate Addie Eckardt’s Weekly Legislative Wrap Up for March 20, 2009

The following bills have passed in the House of Delegates and now go to the Senate for action:

HB 43 allows school buses in Talbot County to operate for 15 years. The Talbot County Board of Education could save at least $40,000 in student transportation expenditures annually by delaying new school bus purchases.

HB 110 repeals the termination date on Dorchester County’s 3-year extension, from 12 to 15 years, on the length of operation of school buses. Under current law, the extension expires June 30, 2011.The Dorchester County Board of Education will save approximately $46,800 annually due to a reduction in contractual student transportation costs.

HB112 changes the time of year that the Dorchester County Board of Education elects its officers from the beginning of each calendar year to December of each year.

HB757 Criminal Law – Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel- Fatigued Driving heard in the House Judiciary Committee was voted unfavorable. This bill clearly defines fatigued driving and increases the penalty for this offence. Over the years several bills have been introduced to increase penalties for deaths caused by vehicle or vessel incidents, but all have failed.

HB 184, regarding universal access to preschool, has passed the House. Currently only four-year-olds from families living at or below 185% of the federal poverty guidelines receive access to preschool in local public school systems. In response to a Task Force on Universal Preschool Education, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) submitted a draft business plan and cost estimates for expanding access to preschool for all four-year-olds in the State. This bill requires MSDE to consult with county superintendents and local governing bodies before publishing a final version of the business plan, which is due late this year. The Senate companion bill is SB 234.

With three weeks remaining in this year’s session, there is much work to be done between now and Sine Die. Over 1500 House bills need action and the Budget has to pass in both Houses. Budget decisions are being made in the House Appropriations Committee and (HB 100) the Budget bill and (HB101) will go to the House Floor for passage next week. The additional reductions made will reflect the revenue write downs from last week. HB 101 the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, a bill that is a companion to the budget bill (HB100) is the document that can in one single bill amend multiple sections of the law necessary to transfer and adjust various funds, and mandates for inclusion of funds necessary to balance the budget. The Governors Supplemental budget is anticipated also next week

For more information on this or other issues, Please feel free to contact Delegate Addie Eckardt’s office by calling 410-841-3343 or by emailing