The 2012 Legislative Session
Legislative District 19 • Montgomery County
he General Assembly of Maryland, at its 430th session, January to April 2012, considered over 2,600 bills andresolutions that affect many areas of importance to Marylandcitizens. Of these bills, 725 were enacted. The General Assembly alsopassed additional measures in two summer special sessions to bring the total of enacted legislation to 729, most of which took effectOctober 1, 2012. As we move forward to the 2013 legislative session in January,please let us know your thoughts and concerns after reviewing someof the highlights of 2012.
Montgomery County will receive $968.5 million in Statesupport in fiscal 2013, including $662.8 million in direct aid,$162.3 million in retirement payments, and $143.4 million inoperating assistance for mass transit programs. This funding isequivalent to the amount of revenue generated from a $0.60 county property tax rate. Over the last five years, combined direct andretirement State aid for Montgomery County has increased by $177.7million, or 27.4%, even though the State was confronted with major fiscal challenges.
Since the General Assembly places a highcommitment on adequately funding public schools and providing a quality educational program for all children, a large portion of Stateaid is targeted to public schools. In fiscal 2013, county public schools will receive $595.2 million for operations and $43.1 million forschool construction. Montgomery College will receive $43.5 millionfor operations, as well as $14.2 million in capital funding, including $1.9million for renovation of the science and applied studies centerat the Germantown campus and $12.4 million for a science centerand a student services center at the Rockville campus. The county library system will receive $2.7 million in operating funds and $1million in capital construction funding for the Silver Spring Library.State-funded retirement payments for county teachers, librarians, andcommunity college faculty will total $162.3 million.
Police protection and fire and rescue aid willtotal $11.2 million.
The State budget includes $135.1 million forprograms focused on health, mental health, developmentaldisabilities, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, prevention anddisease control, and child welfare services.
Quality of Life:
Local highway grants will total $4.8 million infiscal 2013 and local Program Open Space grants will total $2.5million. To support mass transit programs in the county, the State will also provide $143.4million in operating assistance forMetrorail, Metrobus, and Ride-On. Additional funds will aid parksand playgrounds, waterway improvement projects, and water quality projects, including $5.3 million for the Blue Plains wastewatertreatment plant.
The State budget includes $40,000 forrenovations to the Edwards Building at Homecrest House, whichprovides affordable housing for low-income seniors who can no longerlive independently. Also included in the State budget is $250,000 forthe Lower Montgomery County Bikesharing System along portions of Metrorail’s Red Line, helping to allow individuals to connect withtransit, jobs, and activity centers by bicycle.
Child Abuse (Justice’s Law):
The list of persons who can beconvicted of the felony of first degree child abuse is expanded toinclude a family member or household member. The maximumpenalty increases for first degree child abuse resulting in death of thevictim from 30 years imprisonment to 40 years imprisonment.
Marijuana - DeMinimis Quantity:
There will be reducedmaximum penalties of 90 days incarceration and/or a $500 fine forpossession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Previously, maximumpenalties were one year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. If thecourt finds that the defendant used or possessed marijuana out of medical necessity, the maximum punishment is a $100 fine.
Mephedrone (Bath Salts
): Maryland will join 39 other states inbanning certain bath salts, the common name for synthetic drugssuch as mephedrone and other similar chemical compounds that aresold in powder or tablet form. Under the new law, these compounds will become statutory Schedule I controlled dangerous substances.(These drugs have been found to produce increased blood pressure,delusions, paranoia, and psychosis.)
:The Civil Marriage Protection Actestablishes that only a marriage between two individuals who are nototherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State and includesnumerous exemptions, protections, and immunities toaccommodate religious groups and affiliated organizations. The bill’seffective date is January 2013 or after any lawsuits over the successful
Senator Roger MannoDelegateSam AroraDelegateBonnie L. CullisonDelegateBen Kramer