News from Annapolis
2016 Session: Week 4         Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
Highlights of Week 4 Below:
  • Maryland No-Fault Birth Injury Fund bill
  • Bills to be aware of . . .
  • Why are these bills so dangerous?
  • A few good bills
  • Testifying before Ways & Means on my bill
  • Visit from Howard community College Students
  • District 9A News
  • Events
  • Scholarship Information
Maryland No-Fault Birth Injury Fund bill press conference
          This bi-partisan bill establishes a  No-Fault Birth Injury Fund to adjudicate and provide compensation of claims arising from birth-related neurological injuries so that: (1) all  families can be fairly compensated, rather than only those who win the lawsuit lottery, (2) the compensation will be based on the actual needs of the infant throughout his or her life, and thereafter, and initial compensation to enable the parents to  prepare to live with the tragedy, and (3) the family will be compensated generally in less than a year, rather than after four to seven years of litigation.   (Bill HB 377)
Bills to be aware of . . .
At the end of this week, 1,343 bills had been introduced in the House of Delegates.  Many of the bills are "delegation" bills applying only to one county; some bills make only minor corrections or changes in the law; some bills are introduced by the Speaker "By Request of" the governor or an executive Department; a number of bills require a "study" or  a "task force"; many of the bills modify alcohol and hunting laws; there are some bills that do no harm; and there are some good bills.

Then, there are the irresponsible bills that undermine accountability, and the "feel-good" bills that, if passed, will continue to pile over-burdensome and unnecessary regulations onto all businesses (small businesses in particular); eliminate jobs; and continue to erode the business climate in Maryland.  This week produced an unusual number of those bills.

HB 1175   The "Fair Scheduling, Wages, and Benefits" bill ( 21 co-sponsors).  Of all the bills I have ever read, this one scares me the most.  This bill has 18 pages of new requirements that strictly regulate how private employers may schedule their employees.  Here are some of the bill's provisions.
  • There is no exemption for small businesses -- of any size. 
  • The employer must post a written schedule 21 days before the start of a work week.
  • If a change is to be made to that schedule after it is posted, the employer must pay the employee 1 hour of Predictability Pay" for each shift that is changed
  • If the employer must notify the employee that a shift has been canceled less than 24 hours in advance and if the employee chooses to show up, he or she must be paid for four hours of work, regardless of the actual hours worked by that employee.
  • An employer must offer additional hours of work to current employees before hiring new employees, subcontractors, or temporary employees; AND must post a notice for at least two days prior.  There is no provision regarding how or if overtime pay is relevant.
  • If more than one qualified employee applies for the extra hours, the employer must split the work among however many apply.
  • The rest of this bill requires the employer to keep a multitude of records, sets forth rebuttable presumptions against the employer, sets forth specific instances of violations, such as, "Each day the employer fails to keep a record." 
  • In addition to civil penalty damages, the law provides for "an additional amount of liquidated damages."
Unfortunately, the actions of one or some bad employers hurt people, and legislators want to prevent people from being hurt.  But the reaction here is to punish ALL employers, and lacks any comprehension of how businesses actually function.  Virtually no very small business could survive following these rules.  (Hearing scheduled for 3/09 at 1:00 p.m. in the Economic Matters Committee).

HB 580  "Healthy Working Families Act".  (81 co-sponsors)  This bill was defeated in the Economic Matters Committee last year.  Next to the one above, this bill imposes the next most burdensome requirements onto businesses.  Again, we would all hope that employees are able to take sick leave without having to fear for their jobs.  And no doubt, there are some employers who either don't allow sick leave, or who use it as an excuse to get rid of an employee, most employers, by far, allow for their employees to take sick leave. 
          This bill requires that all employers provide for their employees "sick and safe" leave earned at 1 hour per 30 hours worked.  Employers with more than 9 employees must provide paid leave; employers with nine or fewer employees can provide unpaid leave. 
          The problem with this, and bills of its kind, is that it is based on the concept that most employers are "bad," and that the requirements will help most employees.  Employers are no more "bad" as a class than legislators -- or employees.  By imposing a rigid leave system, many businesses will have to redesign or eliminate the plans or practices they currently have in place -- even if their employees prefer the existing plans.  By creating another legal requirement that businesses must follow, it creates another way for "bad" employees to take advantage of the system.  (Hearing set for 3/01 at 1:00 p.m. in Economic Matters).
HB 1013Who Runs Transportation (22 co-sponsors, including the Speaker).  Urban legislators are mad because Governor Hogan wisely eliminated the so-called Redline rail project from the transportation capital budget.  This bill will wrest all judgment and control of  determining our transportation needs, from the Department of Transportation and supplant it with a formulaic determination created by the legislature and requiring heavy investment in transit as opposed to roads.  This is how it works. The bill sets forth eight goals:
  • Safety and security
  • System preservation
  • Quality of service
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Community Vitality
  • Economic prosperity
  • Equitable access to transportation, and
  • Cost-effectiveness and return on investment
Major capital projects will be determined not by the interests of the jurisdictions throughout the state, or the people who come testify, or the judgment of the transportation experts.  They will be determined by a "Point System."  The Department is directed to give each potential project a score of from 1 - 100 for each goal, using the specific criteria listed within each goal.   This is where the bias arises.  For example, under "Quality of Service," I would expect to see something like "get's citizens where they're going fast and efficiently."  But it doesn't.  The criteria under "Quality of service," are:
  • How many more jobs are accessible within 45 minutes on highways or within 60 minutes via transit.  (50% of the score) [Working people don't need more job choices; they need the ability to get to the job they've chosen as fast and efficiently as possible.]
  • How many more jobs are available for disadvantaged populations within 45 minutes on highways or within 60 minutes via transit. (20% of the score)
  • The degree to which the project promotes multiple transportation choices. (30% of the score).
Under "Environmental Stewardship" is the criteria: "the degree to which the project advances the State environmental goals."    Under "Community Vitality" is the criteria, "the degree to which the project is projected to increase the use of walking, biking, and transit." And under "Cost effectiveness and return on investment there are only two criteria: (I) "the extent to which the project is projected to enhance access to critical intermodal locations for the movement of goods and services," and "the degree to which the enhancements to the project area are weighted against the per capita cost of the project."

Having spent four years as Dept. Secretary of Transportation /CEO of the Maryland Transportation Authority under Governor Ehrlich, this is an area with which I am very familiar.  I know the value of transit when it is used appropriately.  I also know that the pipedream of everyone getting out of their cars and onto a bus or train to travel to work ignores the most significant asset in today's world: TIME.   Transit serves less than 10% of our citizens and we currently spend more than 50% of our Transportation Trust funds on transit.  And if this law passes, the days of building or expanding roads is over.  (No hearing scheduled yet.)   

HB 1338   Mandated Transportation Spending on Rail.  This bill requires the Governor to include at least $100,000,000 in the budget over the four-year period, FY 2018 - FY 2021, to finance improvements to Maryland Area Rail Commuter service.
HB 1274.  New Program -- New TaxThis bill creates a new "Community Development Program -- and a new "Community Development Transfer Tax" to fund it. (No hearing scheduled yet.)

HB 1154   Establishes a new Strict Liability Claim.   This bill establishes a strict liability claim against manufacturers of lead pigment used in paint.  The term "strict liability" means that someone can be held liable for injuries that they had no direct responsibility for causing. 
     The law states, "The manufacturer of lead pigment SHALL BE LIABLE . . . for damages caused by the presence of lead-based paint in a residential building" -- regardless of whether the lead-based paint in the building contains any lead pigment made or sold by the manufacturer.  The manufacturer is liable if there is simply a possibility that its product was present in the paint.  And it is left up to the defendant manufacturer to "affirmatively" prove an impossibility (for instance if the company wasn't in business at the time).
     The manufacturer is liable for damages to for personal injury to an individual, to the owner of the building required to abate the problem, lost rent, and reasonable costs for future testing and removal -- regardless of the building owner's personal culpability in using the paint in the building.
     Individuals who owned the manufacturing company prior to the current owners are also liable. 
     In addition to an injured party, the State may also bring an action against a lead pigment manufacturer. (No hearing scheduled yet)

HB 891    What Happened to Accountability?  T he state of Maryland operates one and subsidizes a second major transit system: it operates the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and pays one-third the cost of the Washington Metro system (WMATA).. No mode of transit in either system produces sufficient revenue to cover its operating costs -- including the Washington Metrorail system, which does the best at around 75%.
       Nonetheless, in an effort to incentivize efficiency, the Legislature passed legislation creating a 50% "farebox recovery rate" for the MTA  This meant that all of its transit modes collectively must recover 50% of their operating costs from the farebox. In the ensuing years, the MTA never came close.
       Meeting the farebox recovery rate is a simple matter on paper - you raise the fare or lower the operating costs. But instead of insisting on a better performance, in 2008, the Legislature decided simply to lower the Farebox Recovery Rate -- to 35%. The MTA has never come close. And again, the legislature did nothing to require MTA to follow the law.
       Here is an example of why the MTA can't meet its farebox recovery goal. In 2009, MTA's negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) came to an impasse and they were required to go to "binding arbitration," meaning that whatever the arbitrator decides is final. And in 2010, in the middle of the great recession, an arbitration board awarded employees of the ATU Local 1300 an hourly wage increase totaling 11.5% and an increase in pension benefits of approximately 40%  And again, the legislature did nothing.
       This year, it appears the legislature might once again address the MTA's failure to meet its farebox recovery requirement by passing HB 891. HB 891 would simply eliminate the requirement altogether. Well, at least then MTA and the legislature could stop worrying about it!
       That's accountability? (No hearing scheduled yet.)

HB 1014    The "Bernie Sanders" college financing bill?   As nice as the idea of free college may seem to parents facing the overwhelming financial prospect of putting 1, 2, 3 or more offspring through four years of college, having the State contribute to families earning as much as $225000 per year is not they way to go. 
Why are these bills so dangerous?


As we saw this year, the Legislature overrode every one of Governor Hogan's vetoes.  It requires the votes of 3/5ths (60%) of the members of each chamber to override a veto. 

  • In the House, it requires 85 votes to override, or 57 votes to sustain.
  • Right now, we have 50 Republican votes -- 7 short of the votes needed to sustain Governor Hogan's vetoes.
  • In the Senate, it requires 29 votes to override, or 19 votes to sustain.
  • Right now, the Senate has 14 Republican votes, or 5 short of the votes needed to sustain Governor Hogan's vetoes.

Can't we get Democrat votes?  Yes . . . but never enough to sustain a veto.  The Speaker or the President of the Senate will "let" certain Democrats vote with Republicans to help them politically -- but never enough to change the vote.  For example, 4 Democrats voted to sustain Governor Hogan's veto of the bill allowing felons to vote . . . leaving us one vote short!   The Senate can 4 Democrats -- never 5.  And the House can get up to 6 Democratic votes -- never 7. 


With real two-party governance (enough members in each party that neither has absolute control over legislation), the majority party could still pass any piece of legislation -- BUT, the checks and balances of a Gubernatorial veto would have some teeth.  The majority would have to work with the minority members and would have to get some member(s) of the minority on their side.  With two-party governance, no longer could legislation be passed that is SUPPORTED SOLELY BY ONE PARTY. 

Howard County Community College Students Visit
        It was great to meet with four very bright, articulate and knowledgeable students from Howard Community College this past week.
         I encourage constituents to come visit me in Annapolis, take in a floor session, sit in on a committee hearing, and tour this superb old Statehouse. Contact Chelsea Leigh in my office for more information. 410-841-3556
Testifying on Bill 324 - Civics Test
To watch the hearing, click here 
District 9A News
Howard County Delegation Public Hearing -- What the Community is Saying
      The Howard County Delegation held a public hearing for citizen input on state-wide issues this past Thursday, February 11th.  A number of residents testified on a variety of subjects. 
       1.      Noise at Merriweather Post.   The topic most frequently mentioned was the level of noise produced by Merriweather Post Pavilion.  A law passed several years ago increased the decibel level the concert venue is now permitted to create.  Merriweather indicated that the increase was needed in  to attract top artists and to continue in business.  Residents from Columbia and Ellicott City protested that the sound they are now subjected to on certain event nights is well above appropriate limits and has even caused some members of the community to abandon their homes during those concerts.  Others testified that they can actually "feel" the vibrations from the bass sounds.  Two long-time residents of the community testified their support of Merriweather, which they called a Columbia landmark.
       2.     Locked Out of School Board Meeting.  Several residents continued to update the delegation about the ongoing issues with the current School Board and School Superintendent, Dr. Renee Foose.  At the recent School Board meeting, the Board was to vote on renewing the contract with Dr. Foose for another four years.  Many residents were  interested in observing this meeting.   Residents testified, however, that when they arrived at the Board of Education building, the Boardroom was already full of administrative staff who had arrived a half hour early to prevent the citizens from coming in.  Although other rooms were set up where people could watch the meeting on cameras, there was also testimony that at least one person was told by a guard that she could not come in at all.  The resident attracted the attention of someone in the building who told the guard to let her in.
          You can read an article from a mother who tried to attend the meeting, that appears in the Feb. 13 edition of the Baltimore Sun, "Lessons from Foose:  A mother from Ellecitt city took her kids to a school board meeting hoping to teach them about representative democracy; they learned something else entirely."
Series of Informational Meetings on Medicare:
The following meetings are  Sponsored by Howard County Office on Aging's State Health Insurance Assistance Program.  They will be held at the  Ellicott City 50+ Center, 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City.   Contact:   Barbara Albert, Office on Aging, 410-313-7391

Medicare 101: What You Can Expect from Medicare
Tuesday, February 9, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.  
Participants will learn about how Medicare Parts A (Hospital), B (Medical) and D (Prescription Drug), as well as related benefit programs and how to protect yourself against Medicare fraud

Medicare 102: Why Medicare Isn't Enough
Tuesday, February 16, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.   
Participants will learn about Medicare Part C/Health Plans and how Medicare Supplement Policies (Medigap Plans) can help cover out of pocket expenses.  
Using Medicare's Plan Finder
Tuesday, February 23, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Participants will learn how to use the 'Plan Finder' tool on  to compare Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.
Scholarship Information
District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship. Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking undergraduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply.  
Should you have any questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy at 410-841-3556.  Please be sure to have your completed application postmarked by April 10, 2016.

Please be sure to have your completed application postmarked by April 10, 2016.

Click here to download the scholarship application for the 2016-2017 academic year. 
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *  Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative Ai de:  Chelsea Leigh Murphy