2019 Lobbyist Report No. 1

Another Sunday, Funday – and the weather is bleh. (here in Maryland)
Here’s what you need to know about the week ahead and a recap of what happened last week.
Certainly the “2nd floor” was the talk of the town this week, beginning with preparation for the Inauguration, the Inauguration festivities (beginning with a prayer service at 9am and ending with the Inaugural Ball at MGM), and the release of the Governor’s FY2020 budget. Named for the location of their offices in the State House, the Governor and his team were flying high this week with talking points espousing bipartisanship, cooperation, and a need to rise above Washington’s dysfunction. Democratic legislators couldn’t help but note the lack of reserved seating for members of the General Assembly at the Inauguration – intentional or not.
We promised sunshine – the budget is fun isn’t it? Budget highlights from the Governor can be located here. Keep in mind, these are the talking points from the second floor. On a side note, there are some major changes this year to the process for capital budget requests – be sure to ask your friendly neighborhood lobbyist to learn more. ūüėČ
An ongoing topic of discussion continues to be the impact of the shutdown on state government. There is also considerable concern that although the state’s fiscal house is in good shape now, revenue estimates have us facing downturn in the upcoming years. Fiscal briefings are scheduled for all committees this week to provide a fiscal overview and outlook. We will be sure to provide the briefing and highlights.

There was an energy issues briefing this week in the House, with the Economic Matters Committee requesting an update on where a study is . . .¬† the interim report on the renewable portfolio standard study was scheduled to be released in December – the final is scheduled to be provided later this year in December. This report presents a challenge for advocates who would seek to increase the percentages the state would need to realize in terms of renewable energy (see, solar, sunshine?). When the legislature ok’s a study, it wants to know the money is being spent for a purpose and legislation often needs to wait for the study to be completed before it can progress. Stay tuned . . .the Senate has their briefing this week.

One ongoing topic of interest is cannabis. No, we don’t know when recreational cannabis will be legal but we have our ideas . . . now back to where things are right now. The Medical Cannabis Commission made a general presentation to the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee (JPR) this week. JPR now has jurisdiction over the medical cannabis program for the Senate, although the Finance Committee took over jurisdiction during the 2017 legislative session. Sen. Bobby Zirkin is the chair of the committee and has a long-standing working relationship with Greenwill.¬† When we spoke to him at the Inaugural Ball on Wednesday night, Chairman Zirkin was anticipating a lot of legislation to come his way. With his new Vice-Chair, Sen. Will Smith from Montgomery County, this dynamic duo will be at ground zero for a lot of the policy work that we know is sure to come this year.¬†

Here are a few of our favorite news stories from the week and what people were talking about: 
SMALL BIZ HURT BY FED SHUTDOWN: Kathleen Cairns of WBFF-TV reports that on Thursday afternoon, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen hosted a roundtable discussion in Baltimore with local small businesses and entrepreneurs who have been hurt by the current federal government shutdown. The meeting was held at the headquarters of a small business that provides software solutions for both the Small Business Administration and local small businesses.
LAWMAKERS MULL AVOIDING REFERENDUM ON SPORTS BETTING: General Assembly leaders are considering a fast-track proposal under which lawmakers would legalize betting on football, basketball and other sports without first seeking voter approval in the 2020 election, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun.
Here are 3 things you should know heading into the week: 
1. Happy Martin Luther King Day! Although tomorrow is a state and federal holiday, the Maryland General Assembly will be in Session tomorrow evening as usual. Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (District 37A) will be providing the annual address in the House.
2. Big briefings scheduled for this week. In addition to fiscal briefings: gaming, Kirwan, agriculture, Medicaid, the opioid program, etc. etc. Missed a briefing you wanted to see? Record the date and Committee of your briefing you want to watch and click here to access a recording of your briefing.
3. Bill hearings will start in earnest next week. For the latest on introduced bills, head to the Maryland General Assembly website and find the “Status of All Legislation” under ‘Active Topics’. This is where you’ll find a listing of all that has been introduced in the House and Senate.
Just for Fun: 
Want to know what we know? The Department of Legislative Services publishes¬†a handbook¬†for legislators. There are 9 volumes and we’re going to start a nerd study group/book club for anyone interested in learning more. Reply to this email and let us know. Conference calls will be set up for Mondays and we can go through the manuals together.