This week, three more of Senator Bailey’s bills passed the full Senate. On Thursday, Senate Bill 51, which would allow the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission to act as property manager for the Regional Agricultural Center being built in St. Mary’s County, passed the Senate unanimously. On Friday, Senate Bill 15, which would require the State Police to notify holders of a handgun permit before the expiration of their permit, and Senate Bill 861, which authorizes the St. Mary’s County Commissioners to borrow money to construct public facilities in the County both passed the Senate unanimously.
Much of this week’s debate in the Senate was focused on Senate Bill 414, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021. This bill would implement a wide-ranging set of environmental policies, including a mandate to dramatically reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions. The bill also redirects funds from the Bay Restoration Fund, which is currently spent on projects to keep nitrogen and phosphorus out of the Chesapeake Bay, into tree planting efforts in the State. Senator Bailey voted against this bill. The Senator was successful in adding an amendment to the bill that will exempt paratransit vehicles, which are used to transport Maryland’s most vulnerable residents, from provisions of the bill that push for State government to transition zero-emission vehicles to ensure that these individuals can continue to have access to reliable transportation.
The Senate also resumed consideration this week on Senate Bill 10 – Election Law – Polling Sites – Firearms Prohibitions. Following last week’s debate on Senator Bailey’s amendment to exempt current and retired law enforcement from this bill, the Senate adopted an amendment this week that would allow off-duty officers to continue to be permitted to carry their service weapons in polling places. This removes a potential hurdle that this bill would have imposed on these officers voting while traveling to and from work. Senator Bailey voted against this bill that infringes on our Second Amendment rights.
Coronavirus Restrictions Lifted
On Tuesday, Governor Hogan issued an executive order lifting many of the remaining capacity limits on businesses and religious facilities. As of 5:00 p.m. today (March 12), capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. While the mask mandate and social distancing protocols are still in effect, large outdoor and indoor venues are permitted to operate at 50% capacity. More information on the Governor’s announcement is available at https://governor.maryland.gov/2021/03/09/governor-hogan-announces-lifting-of-capacity-limits-masking-and-distancing-protocols-maintained/
Unfortunately, no update was given on the reopening of our Senior Centers at the time. The Senator will continue to advocate for a safe, phased reopening of these Centers as soon as is practicable.
Maryland Income Tax Deadline Extension
On Thursday, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced an extension to the deadline to file Maryland Income Tax returns. These returns must be filed by July 15, 2021. No interest or penalties will be assessed if returns are filed and taxes owed are paid by the new deadline. More information on this extension is available from the Comptroller’s office at https://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/MDCOMP-2c630db?wgt_ref=MDCOMP_WIDGET_C7