Friday, February 28, 2014

Week 8: Delegate McDermott's Field Notes

 

Week 8 Field Notes

Field Notes
Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
By Delegate Michael A. McDermott
 
Week 8 February 24-28, 2014
Monday Evening Session:
House Bills 1477-1496 on First Reader
Tuesday Morning Session:
House Bills on Second Reader
House Bills on Third Reader:
Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #9
HB 296
Motion vote previous question (Delegate Minnick) Adopted
Third Reading Passed (100-35)
HB 453
Third Reading Passed (129-6)
HB 583
Third Reading Passed (99-36)
Third Reading Calendar (Senate Bills) #3
SB 183
Third Reading Passed (136-0)
SB 184
Third Reading Passed (137-0)


Tuesday Afternoon Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-500 would create 12 additional District Court Judgeships on the western shore. The total expense is estimated at around $4 million per year.

HB-537 is one of several submitted bills which seeks to address the Richmond II court case requiring defendants to be allowed legal representation at any stage before the court. This bill would require a mandated appearance before a District Court Judge within 24 hours. The cost is said to rise from over $5 million in 2015 to over $21 million in 2019.

HB-705 would provide for minors and the disabled who are victims of crimes to have legal advocates who can request criminal injuries compensation before the court.

HB-746 seeks to create an evidence based risk assessment in determining pretrial release for criminal defendants.

HB-803 would increase fees and charges in the courts for the purpose of funding the Victims Criminal Compensation Fund. The fees collected are raised by roughly 50% or greater.

HB-810 would change the definition of “undue influence” as it relates to crimes against the elderly if the victim is at least 68 years of age. The expanded definition would cover issues such as property transfers that do not directly benefit the victim.

HB-897 would enhance the penalties for a person convicted of Malicious Destruction of Property for a 2nd or subsequent offense.

HB-967 would remove the defense in cases of Malicious Destruction of Property that a person was a co-owner of the property if the actions committed deny the other owner(s) of use of the property.

HB-985 would repeal a section of law which requires the representation and appearance of the Public Defender to represent a defendant “provisionally” as required.

HB-1186 would repeal a significant section of law which created the District Court Commissioners in 1971. This is one of the bills seeking to address a portion of the DeWolf court decision.

HB-1232 would create a new Division of Pretrial Detention to be utilized to conduct Administrative Hearings as a means of releasing defendants prior to their seeing any officer of the Court in a criminal matter. This also seeks to address the DeWolf decision.

HB-1245 would provide certain protocols for receiving and submitting certain notifications and forms to the courts through digital means and through the designated court system.

HB-1277 would provide that if a Public Defender represents an individual before a judicial official for the purpose of a bail or bond review, the representation of the individual ends at the conclusion of the hearing.

Eastern Shore Delegation Meeting with Gov. O’Malley:
The delegation met with the governor in the Signing Room adjacent to his office. The meeting focused on the Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT) and the impact it could have on the state and specifically on the Eastern Shore. Most contributed to the dialogue and the governor seemed engaged. It appeared that some of the information we confronted him with was being heard for the first time or at least in a context that required some degree of reflection. I told the governor that he was “a bold governor” and that his actions were often not built upon a foundation properly laid for those who the regulations and changes fall upon. I told him our farmers and our watermen feared the administration and felt their futures were uncertain as a result of his actions. He stated that that President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If you are going to lead from the front, make sure your people do not lose sight of you…”. In response, I told the governor that “farmers and watermen are having a hard time even seeing you with binoculars”.  He did not disagree and he stated that perhaps his administration had moved too fast in some areas. He did appear to be genuinely concerned on the loss of confidence the Eastern Shore appears to hold in regard to his policy enactments. Delegate Conway told him they needed to slow down the process and not be in a hurry in their decision making. We spoke at length about the proposed Fiscal Impact Study that if going to be conducted by the Department and is due for completion by July. I asked the governor to carefully consider the impact statement when it is completed lest our people consider the process as nothing short of “smoke and mirrors”. He said, “I give you my word…the study will be reflected in our actions going forward”.

We also advocated for an increase in the funding levels that are being applied to the community colleges verses the funding levels being provided to the 4-year schools. The governor expressed a desire to build up the community colleges and recognizes their importance to local jobs.

There was a limited discussion on the land based big wind project ongoing in Somerset County (Bay Wind) and concerns that the concerns expressed by the Southern Maryland Delegation may derail this project which promises to bring significant revenues to Somerset County and the lower shore. The governor seemed perplexed that this was being held up under the circumstances.

Wednesday Morning Regular Session:
House Bills 1497-1503 on First Reader

Senate Bills on First Reader

Wednesday Afternoon Judiciary Hearings:

HB-682 would create an automatic Expungement of certain records of the Motor Vehicle Administration that are now performed manually. It would also allow for Expungement of a record even if there are other charges pending.

HB-733would establish special penalties for any Maryland State official who is convicted of DWI or a related penalty. The minimum sentence would be 60-days for a first offense. The bill is ironically being offered by Delegate Don Dwyer  who has been convicted of DWI while serving as a delegate from Anne Arundel County.

HB-835 would create alter the charge of Criminally Negligent Manslaughter by Vehicle to make it Criminal Negligence Resulting in Death. It would eliminate the “failure to perceive” portion of the bill. According to some who testified, this standard has made it difficult to prosecute. Others opposed the changes to the bill.

HB-957 seeks to increase the penalties for third offense DWI laws as well as an increase in penalties when a minor was a passenger in the vehicle. It would expand the ability of the judges to utilize incarceration as a penalty tool.

HB-1014 would allow a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) for alcohol concentration to be utilized for the purposes of probable cause testimony in court. It would also allow it to be used in a probation revocation hearing. These tests are often used at the roadside to determine blood alcohol concentrations before making an arrest for DWI.

HB-1015 would require anyone convicted of DWI while transporting a minor to be subject to the installation of an Ignition Interlock System as a part of their penalty.

HB-1053 seeks to provide specific penalties for the failure of a worker in established professional capacities to fail to report suspected child abuse. The bill would also set up a Task Force to study certain training requirements for those professionals who are “mandatory reporters” (teachers, nurses, etc.) under the law.

HB-1212 would increase the penalties and create a new law for those convicted of driving while texting who are involved in a motor vehicle accident which results in death or serious injury. A conviction would result in a 12 point assessment on a driver’s license and a potential 3-year sentence.

HB-1244 would change the age by which a person may apply to the Criminal Compensation Board to the age of 25 as opposed to the current age of 21 (if the offense occurred when the minor was 17).

HB-1284 would require the Department of Human Resources or the local Department of Social Services to notify the primary care physician of a child specific information relating to the child which may impact on the continued and ongoing care of the child.
Thursday Morning Session:

Bills on First and Second Reader
Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #10
HB 25
Third Reading Passed (127-0)
HB 43
Motion Special Order until 2/28 (Delegate Dumais) Adopted
HB 45
Third Reading Passed (128-1)
HB 315
Motion Special Order until 2/28 (Delegate Szeliga) Adopted
HB 355
Third Reading Passed (129-0)
HB 416
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 420
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 428
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #11
HB 104
Motion Special Order until 2/28 (Delegate Kipke) Adopted
HB 125
Third Reading Passed (129-0)
HB 165
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 172
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 175
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 176
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 243
Third Reading Passed (109-21)
HB 246
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 265
Third Reading Passed (128-3)

Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #12
HB 439
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 454
Third Reading Passed (119-12)
HB 460
Third Reading Passed (127-1)
HB 461
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 530
Motion Special Order until 2/28 (Delegate Anderson) Adopted
HB 552
Third Reading Passed (130-1)
HB 641
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 660
Third Reading Passed (130-0)


Thursday Afternoon Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-631 would remove the provisions in the law which prohibit a court from refunding a bail bond unless certain criteria are met. A judge may have a bond refunded up to 180-days from the court date with just cause and if extensions are requested. This would extend that date indefinitely.

HB-695 would prohibit the tampering with any evidence at a crime scene or potential crime scene.

HB-697 would make it a crime to make a threat to commit an act of mass violence. Some examples were provided about threats made online by individuals which created significant havoc in a community and school system.

HB-714 would prohibit a person from attempting or using an interactive computer service to obtain information for the purposes of committing identity theft of another.

HB-782 would create an additional crime of Third Degree Sex Offense while Committing a Burglary.

HB-787 would create a commission to study the use of “isolated confinement” in our state corrections facilities.

HB-807 would create the crimes of Home Invasion and Armed Home Invasion. We heard from many victims about these types of crimes. Currently, there are many charges that are applicable and cover the various elements of a home invasion (such as Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, 1st Deg. Burglary, etc.)

HB-921 would authorize the Department of Corrections to issue a Certificate of Completion for inmates who may successfully complete their parole or probation. It is viewed as an incentive and a means of assisting inmates as they attempt to gain employment.

HB-955 would prohibit a person from using another person’s personal identifying information (various forms) to solicit another person to commit a crime. The example would be someone posing online as another person and providing confidential information to another person in an effort to entice the person to commit a crime against another.

HB-962 the bill would require a person who desires to be hired as a state correctional officer to submit to a polygraph exam.

HB-993 would prohibit a Registered Sex Offender from participating in any Halloween activities.

HB-1105 would disallow a person from being able to participate in a Home Detention Program if the person was convicted of committing a crime while on Home Detention.

HB-1137 would clarify that one who robs an individual of a illegal drugs, or breaks in a house to steal drugs, etc. is still a crime even though the target of the robbery or theft was an illegal substance.

HB-1141 would repeal the termination date for the law which authorizes a Parole Commissioner to impose any unserved portion of a sentence on an inmate that was originally imposed. We heard testimony from the department that this was a very effective tool for the department to use for violators.

HB-1183 would expand the application of Felony 2nd Degree Assault to include emergency workers, firefighters, etc.

HB-1187 would prohibit the trafficking (sale, offering for sale, etc.) of human organs (living or deceased).

HB-1264 would require a police officer (if requested by a mortuary science practitioner) to remain at a location where an individual has died and the body is present until the body has been removed from the scene.

My Bill Hearing on HB-858:
Currently, a judge in Maryland is restricted as to the probation time period they may impose for persons convicted of crimes. There are a few crimes where a probation may be extended by several years if the judge determines it would be appropriate. This bill would add the charges involving Child Pornography to the list of charges where probation could be extended at the courts discretion. There was no opposition to the bill and I was joined at the table by the State’s Attorney’s Association, and victim advocates.

Bills Voted Favorable in Judiciary Committee on Thursday Evening:
HB-27, HB-49, HB-151,HB-185, HB-307,HB-309, HB-352, HB-385, HB-647, HB-781, HB-1004      
Friday Morning Session:
Special Ordered Bills:
House Resolutions
Special Order Calendar
HB 43
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 104
Third Reading Passed (113-19)
House Resolutions
Special Order Calendar
HB 315
Third Reading Passed (83-48)
HB 530
Third Reading Passed (132-0)

Friday Morning House Bills on Third Reader:
Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #13
HB 6
Third Reading Passed (132-0)
HB 105
Third Reading Passed (100-32)
HB 150
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 203
Third Reading Passed (132-0)
HB 255
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 401
Motion Special Order until 3/4 (Delegate Braveboy) Adopted
HB 467
Third Reading Passed (127-1)
HB 475
Third Reading Passed (130-2)
HB 476
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
Third Reading Calendar (House Bills) #14
HB 480
Third Reading Passed (112-20)
HB 487
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 556
Third Reading Passed (130-0)
HB 617
Third Reading Passed (131-0)
HB 628
Third Reading Passed (132-0)
HB 704
Third Reading Passed (129-0)
HB 765
Third Reading Passed (125-6)
HB 1057
Third Reading Passed (124-6)
HB 1147
Third Reading Passed (129-0)

There was a bill on the floor regarding veterans.  Here is what I had to say about veterans funding in the state of Maryland.
Questionable Bills Passed Friday:
HB-315 changes the law so that illegal aliens who claim that they were the subject of abuse, neglect, or some level of abandonment, are to be viewed as “juveniles” in Maryland. This distinction allows them Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) as a designation under federal law to assist certain undocumented children in obtaining lawful permanent residency. It was brought up that a 20-year old who is kicked out of the house because they don’t want to work would be considered “abandoned” under the code and could then achieve residency status. Again, illegal aliens are allowed greater provision than citizens who cease being a juvenile in most cases at the age of 18.

HB-104 changes the requirements for the position of “Budget Analysts” hired by the state to perform services for the people of Maryland. I say it “changes”, but, in fact, it eliminated any of the statutory requirements. Before this change, a person who was going to provide these services to the state and our $35 billion budget had to have at minimum:
(i) have at least 3 years’ experience in personnel and other 1 subjects that are related to the operation of a business organization;  
(ii) be a graduate of a recognized school of business 3 administration or have the additional experience that the Secretary requires; and
(iii) meet any other qualifications that the Secretary sets.
The changes to the law strike all of the qualifications! Changes such as these are ripe for political abuse as persons can be hired with zero qualifications and no experience based upon provisions of state law. This was quite striking.
Friday Afternoon Judiciary Committee Hearings:
HB-760 would establish that any civil union entered into by another state or country are subject to the laws dealing with domestic relations in Maryland. This would include annulment, separation, and divorce.

HB-958 would allow a man to be excluded from  having any legal standing as a father of a child for purposes of guardianship or adoption  if the child was conceived as a result of his rape of the mother.

HB-1007  would establish a Grandparent Visitation Right in Maryland. Many grandparents feel displaced and cut off from their grandchildren following a divorce or separation involving their married children. This would provide certain visitation rights to grandparents.

HB-1052 would establish the Maryland Uniform Collaborative Law Act. In short, this is a legal process whereby the two parties in dispute (domestic related or other) agree to collaborate. When this occurs, all of the communications are confidential between the parties and cannot be used against either one in court. The process is designed for candid agreements between parties to forgo more extensive litigation. If the collaboration breaks down, the attorneys cannot represent their clients in court on the matter.

HB-1270 would require the Department of Human Resources to be responsible to pay for the needs of a child in their custody and not charge the child or create a debt on the child’s behalf. Currently, Maryland government will utilize any payments or revenue a child receives to off-set the cost of their upkeep while in custody of the state.

HB-1294 would require a Juvenile Court to hold any juvenile in a juvenile facility and would eliminate the flexibility given to the judges in these cases. Often, juveniles over 15, depending upon the charges, are held in adult corrections facilities pending hearings .

HB-1295 would repeal a section of the law which does not allow a court case which has been moved into the criminal courts to be brought back to the juvenile courts (a reverse waiver).

HB-1301 would allow a court which is determining the child support amounts in a case to also consider custody and visitation arrangements. 
 

1 comment:

vadi said...




Thanks for your excellent guide man




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