Prince George’s House Delegation Report
Delegate Melony G. Griffith, Chair
Members are awaiting word whether the legislature will re-convene in a special session or face a “Doomsday Budget” following last night’s uncertain end to the 90-day 2012 Maryland General Assembly Session, Delegation Chair Delegate Melony G. Griffith said.
“We are disappointed that our work requires the possibility of more time to resolve these key pieces of legislation,” Griffith said. “I know we all would have preferred to resolve this by the deadline.”
Amid debates over whether to allow casino gaming in Prince George’s County and negotiations over how to fund the state’s budget going down to midnight, the delegation was divided this session. Members met in March to be briefed on one of several late gaming proposals, Senate Bill 892, but no formal position was taken.
With the gaming bill stalled, the two chambers passed the state’s budget by midnight. But several key pieces of the budget concerning taxes and other revenues for the state failed to pass, including a proposal that set the amount of teacher pension costs to be shared with counties, along with revenue to local jurisdictions to smooth the transition.
It is now up to Gov. Martin O’Malley to decide whether to call a special session before the July 1 start of the fiscal year, or to allow a previous alternative “doomsday budget” with $500 million in cuts to education, colleges, grants and other state funding to take effect.
Before Sine Die, Prince George’s County’s 23 delegates passed 17 bills through the House and Senate, including a proposal by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III for tax incentives to lure new companies and growth to the county, a commission to advocate for adults with developmental disabilities and
a requirement for all county public schools to recycle.
The bills were among 34 the delegation examined during the 90-day session that ended Monday. In addition to their normal legislative duties, the 23-member delegation also collaborates on state-level laws that regulate County Affairs, Law Enforcement, and its two bi-county agencies, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Other bills debated by the delegation this year included a proposal that would have prohibited home alcohol delivery in the county and a proposal to allow charging a 5-cent tax on plastic bags that passed the delegation but did not get sufficient committee votes to pass on to the full House of Delegates.
“I’m pleased with the way our delegation united in a common understanding that we must invest in our future,” Griffith said. “But among our colleagues, our own members and our citizens, there is honest disagreement about whether a casino is a good investment for Prince George’s County.”
The 17 delegation bills passed this year included House Bill 898, which authorizes Prince George’s County to implement a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to attract companies and investors. The bill empowers the county to offer reductions in property taxes over the next five years for developments that bring at least 100 jobs to the county in select areas.
The legislation was one of the top legislative priorities this year for County Executive Baker, who worked with the delegates to refine the proposal.
Other bills passed by both the delegation and legislature include:
- House Bill 803: Pre-authorizing the Prince George’s County School Board to test a year-round school program in the county in the future.
- House Bill 805: Requiring Prince George’s County Public Schools to implement a recycling program at all facilities.
- House Bill 897: Allowing residents over the age of 62 to pay their county property tax bill in up to six installments.
- House Bill 903: Creating a citizens advisory committee to study and work with state officials on behalf of adults with developmental disabilities.
A complete list of all legislation and its current status is available on the county delegation website at www.princegeorgeshousedelegation.com
All bills still require the signature of Gov. Martin O’Malley to become law.
Prince George’s County House Delegation