REVISED: Governor Moore Announces Moore-Miller Administration’s 2024 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Agenda

Published: 1/24/2024

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Wes Moore today announced the Moore-Miller Administration's 2024 Maryland General Assembly’s legislative agenda. The governor’s package of 16 bills, which completed cross-filing in the House this afternoon, advance the governor’s priorities to make Maryland safer, make Maryland more affordable, make Maryland more competitive, and make Maryland the state that serves.

"This legislative agenda marks the next chapter in our work to leave no one behind. This year, we remain laser-focused on the issues that matter most to Marylanders – with sixteen bills centered on making Maryland safer, making Maryland more affordable, making Maryland more competitive, and continuing to make Maryland the state that serves," said Gov. Moore. "Once passed, this legislation will move Maryland forward and position us to win the decade. I am grateful for the leaders and stakeholders who left their fingerprints on this agenda. Now, we must continue working in partnership to get these bills across the finish line."

The following pieces of legislation are included in the Moore-Miller Administration's agenda this session:

Making Maryland Safer

The Victim Compensation Reform Act (SB 471/HB 575) will modernize Maryland’s victims compensation program to make sure that victims of crime get the support they need to recover. The proposed legislation would make the process of receiving victim's compensation more efficient by removing unnecessary barriers and allowing for faster access to compensatory funds to support immediate needs like funeral or emergency relocation expenses. Victim’s compensation is proven to both help families in their recovery from crimes and to prevent future crimes. Strong victim compensation systems can also improve the likelihood that victims of crime will be willing to testify against perpetrators of crime.

The Growing Apprenticeships and the Public Safety Workforce (GAPS) Act (SB 470/HB 597) is focused on making sure that Maryland is training and supporting highly qualified law enforcement professionals to protect our communities. Police departments across the state are facing challenges with hiring and retaining officers. The bill proposes both short and long-term actions to help address the problem. First, it would reform the existing apprenticeship model for public safety officials with the goal of making apprenticeships a more viable pathway to law enforcement. Second, it would require the establishment of a model policy for law enforcement officer wellness programs to ensure officers receive the support they need in their often challenging work. The bill would also establish a workgroup to examine policies that can help recruit, train, and retain the next generation of law enforcement officers

The Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Intervention (SB 475/HB 583) will establish within the Maryland Department of Health a center to consolidate and better coordinate Maryland’s public health approach to preventing gun violence. The center will build upon the critical gun violence intervention programs that were pioneered in Maryland and help ensure that they are adequately funded and informed by the best available data. The new center will also serve as a partner to local governments, advocates, and medical professionals who are engaged in the work of hospital- and community-based violence intervention programs.

Making Maryland More Affordable

The ENOUGH Act (SB 482/HB 4601) is a first-in-the-nation state-level effort to end concentrated poverty. For too long, communities in Maryland have experienced multi-generational poverty and its consequences—which include higher rates of crime, fewer educational and economic opportunities, and decaying housing. Through place-based interventions in select communities across the state, the ENOUGH initiative will give communities the support and resources they need to identify the root causes of poverty in their neighborhoods and begin to address them. Because poverty does not look the same in every neighborhood, ENOUGH communities will work with community organizations, non-profits, anchor institutions, and other key community members to build a locally-focused plan of action for addressing poverty. Governor Moore has set aside $15 million in this year’s budget to fund the initiative in its first year.

The Housing Expansion and Affordability Act (SB 484/HB 538) seeks to directly address Maryland’s housing supply and affordability crisis to lower costs and expand economic opportunity for Marylanders across the state. This legislation will incentivize the construction of highly targeted new housing by removing barriers to development that have contributed to the current supply shortage. The bill also seeks to modernize land use law and expedite and simplify approval for transit-oriented development, development on former state-owned complexes, and housing development by 501(c)(3) organizations if certain affordability requirements are met, in addition to incentivizing development projects by allowing for greater density when certain conditions are met.

The Housing and Community Development Financing Act (SB 483/HB 599) focuses on strengthening state financing tools for housing construction and community development investments. The bill seeks to establish the Maryland Community Investment Corporation as a state Community Development Entity, which will unlock the ability to compete for tens of millions in federal funding through the New Market Tax Credit program. Upon award of federal funds, the Maryland Community Investment Corporation will make investments in low-income communities and community development projects across the state. The legislation also seeks to strengthen the Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund by allowing for debt payments and credit enhancements to be covered for qualified projects—in all, creating new tools for community and economic development in high-need communities.

The Renter’s Rights Stabilization Act (SB 481/HB 4517) addresses the immediate needs of renters who are experiencing housing instability. This omnibus bill seeks to 1) establish an Office of Tenant Rights in the Department of Housing and Community Development responsible for providing renters with information about their rights under law and creating a tenant's bill of rights; 2) address the high eviction filing rate in the nation by increasing the eviction filing fee and preventing it from being passed on to renters; 3) reduce the allowable security deposit from two months rent to one month; 4) create a powerful new pathway to homeownership by creating a statewide right of first refusal, allowing renters the right to purchase their home if being sold; 5) modify the state’s new rental voucher program to provide prioritization of vouchers for families with children under the age of five and for pregnant women.

The Mental Health – Emergency Evaluation and Involuntary Admission Procedures and Assisted Outpatient Treatment (SB 453/HB 576) is an omnibus behavioral health bill that will include a number of important reforms to help ensure that Marylanders who need behavioral health services are able to get them. The central component of the bill will be the legalization of Assisted Outpatient Treatment—a process used in 47 other states to allow for court-ordered outpatient treatment or individuals with severe mental illness who are not compliant with treatment and whose lack of compliance poses a potential danger to themselves or others. In addition to Assisted Outpatient Treatment, the bill addresses peace officer emergency transport, the scope of practice for psychiatric nurse practitioners, and the required admission of emergency patients.

Making Maryland More Competitive

The Pava LaPere Legacy of Innovation Act (SB 473/HB 582) seeks to honor the life and legacy of Pava LaPere by investing in Maryland's innovation economy and strengthening the opportunity for funding for the Baltimore Tech Hub. The legislation creates two new programs with the Technology Development Corporation: 1) The Pava LaPere Innovation Acceleration Grant Program to provide student tech startups with early-stage capital, and 2) the Baltimore Innovation Initiative, which will provide access to capital and wraparound services for technology startups associated with colleges or universities that are located within the Baltimore Metropolitan Statistical Area. These investments will help support both the Baltimore Tech Hub and companies and researchers across the state to compete for federal dollars and national prominence in artificial intelligence and biotech.

The Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act (SB 474/HB 579) would remove barriers to Maryland’s technology infrastructure growth by streamlining the regulatory process for approval of industries that rely on backup power generators. Major 21st-century infrastructures such as data centers rely on backup power generation in case of power outages—and current Maryland law makes it difficult to get prompt approval for generators. By simplifying the regulatory process, this bill will help ensure that the growing Mid-Atlantic technology industry, including data centers, is located in Maryland and promoting Maryland’s regional competitiveness.

The Transparent Government Act (SB 472/HB 581) is aimed at improving predictability for individuals and businesses seeking to build or grow businesses in Maryland. The legislation will require all state agencies to establish and publicize projected timelines for licensing and permitting applications and to share publicly whether they are meeting established timelines. Giving entrepreneurs a better sense of how quickly they can expect a response from state agencies will help them to better plan their business growth.

Making Maryland the State that Serves

The Maryland Road Worker Protection Act (SB 479/HB 513) implements the legislative recommendations of the Governor’s Work Zone Safety Work Group to protect Maryland road workers and initiate a culture change among motorists to adopt safer driving behaviors. The bill increases Maryland’s lowest-in-the-nation work zone automated speed enforcement fines from $40 to $290 to match the citation amount of a live officer stop. Repeat offenders with three or more citations would face fines of up to $1,000 for behavior that continually places road workers at risk. The legislation also expands enforcement flexibility to remove the requirement that cameras be manned. This bill reinvests the revenue from work zone automated speed enforcement fines back into funding highway and work zone safety programs. Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller chaired the Work Zone Safety Group.

The Protecting Election Officials Act (SB 480/HB 585) will address the epidemic of threats and harassment targeting election officials that pose a fundamental threat to Maryland’s ability to conduct free and fair elections. The bill creates a new misdemeanor charge in the Election Law Article for threats against election officials or their families, prosecutable by either States’ Attorneys or the Office of the State Prosecutor.

The Caring for Public Employees in Safety Professions (CAPES) Act (SB 476/HB 584) expands workers’ compensation presumptions for firefighters to cover thyroid, colon, and ovarian cancers. Growing scientific evidence suggests that firefighters experience an increased incidence of certain cancers as a result of exposure to carcinogens during their normal course of their work.

The Families Serve Act (SB 478/HB 604) supports Maryland’s military families by expanding job opportunities for military spouses. Military families make sacrifices to support the work of their service member spouses, and parents. The bill incentivizes both businesses and state governments to provide hiring preferences for military spouses, thereby improving employment opportunities and economic opportunities for military families.

The Time to Serve Act (SB 477/HB 580) ensures that state employees who also serve in the National Guard and Reserves are fully supported by the State in both of their areas of service. Under current State policies, these individuals often have to use their personal leave for time they spend meeting their military service obligations, so their personal leave is not available for other needs. The bill expands military leave for these individuals to 30 days—in line with the extent of their military service obligations.