With Monday’s chamber crossover deadline approaching, Senator Bailey continued to work to advance his legislative agenda. A number of the Senator’s bills passed out of Committee this week, including Senate Bill 517 – Criminal Procedure – Location Information, Senate Bill 581 – Public Safety – Law Enforcement Agencies – Positive Community Feedback, Senate Bill 582 – Natural Resources – Recreation on Private Land – Hunting, and Senate Bill 673 – Natural Resources Police Force – Employees – Authority of Secretary. In addition, three other bills, Senate Bill 455 – Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License and Recreational Fishing – Pilot Program and Task Force, Senate Bill 579 – Vehicle Equipment – Highway Maintenance and Service – Green Flashing Lights and Senate Bill 876 – Water Pollution – Civil and Administrative Penalty Surcharge – Oyster Repletion Fund, passed the full Senate unanimously.
In addition, Senator Bailey presented his final three bills of the session to Senate committees. On Wednesday, the Senator presented Senate Bill 913, which would give operating funding to Historic Sotterley in St. Mary’s County for the next three years, to the Budget and Taxation Committee. On Thursday, Senator Bailey presented Senate Bill 914, which strengthens Maryland’s drunk driving and boating laws, and Senate Bill 960, which allows for the expungement of natural resources offenses, to the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Budget Passes Senate
This week, the Senate passed this year’s operating budget for the State. The budget is balanced as required by the Maryland Constitution. Notably for District 29, the budget includes language requiring an audit of the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission to ensure the appropriate and efficient management of Historic St. Mary’s City. The budget now goes to the House of Delegates for their consideration.
As part of the discussion about the budget on the Senate floor, Senator Bailey voted to support an amendment which would have removed provisions which allowed State funding to go to elective abortions. Unfortunately, this amendment was unsuccessful and these provisions remain in the budget.
Gas Tax Holiday
Today, the Senate passed legislation to initiate a 30-day gas tax holiday in Maryland. Senator Bailey was proud to support this important legislation to bring relief from high gas prices to Marylanders. This bill was signed by the Governor today, and as emergency legislation, it goes into effect immediately. The holiday will be in effect from today, Friday, March 18, 2022 until 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 16, 2022.
The Senator also voted for an amendment that was proposed to this bill that would have repealed the annual automatic gas tax hike that is tied to inflation. Unfortunately, this amendment was not successful. Senator Bailey will continue to support efforts to bring tax relief to the residents of District 29 and all Marylanders as the session continues.
Divestment from Russia
On Thursday, the Senate passed legislation to direct the State Retirement and Pension System to divest from any investments that they had in Russian businesses. This effort was undertaken as part of the State’s opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Senator Bailey was proud to vote for and co-sponsor this legislation.
Route 5 Intersection Project Update
This week, the Maryland Department of Transportation released the following update regarding the ongoing construction on Route 5 in Leonardtown:
“MDOT SHA’s contractor will continue storm drain and pipe installation within the work zone, starting Sunday night March 20. Crews are permitted to work between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday nights for the storm drain work. This phase of work is projected to take approximately two weeks and may require possible nightly lane closures. We will continue to ensure access for businesses, the hospital, and residences.
Crews are also nearing completion of the work at the driveway entrances and are notifying residents as they progress.
The next major step for the project is an upcoming traffic shift this spring so MDOT SHA can begin widening along the northbound side of MD 5. Our current schedule is planning for this work to take place in mid-April.
Overall we continue to work toward a Summer 2022 completion, with the traveler benefit of new lanes in late August.”