April 12, 2024

Post Session Report

Dear Constituent,

At midnight on April 8th, the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session officially came to a close. We consider it a great honor to represent you in the State Senate and House of Delegates in Annapolis. This letter highlights major legislative initiatives that were considered over the last 90 days by the 47 Senators and 141 Delegates of the General Assembly.

State Budget

Operating Budget

The only constitutionally mandated task for the General Assembly to accomplish during the Session is passage of a balanced state budget. The Governor proposes a state budget, and the General Assembly can cut spending or move funds around but not add more spending. Our top priority as your Senator and Delegates is ensuring a fiscally responsible, balanced budget with no tax increases.

The Senate passed the FY2025 Operating Budget (SB 360) on March 13th. This $63 Billion budget included no new tax increases and spent over $1 Billion LESS than last year’s FY2024 budget. There was an increase in public safety funding, and $9 million to fund the BOOST School Choice Program, which grants scholarships for low-income families to help their children escape failing public schools.

The Senate also passed its Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act or “BRFA” (SB 362) which adjusts spending formulas and often contains fee increases and other changes for future years. Senator Ready voted against the original BRFA out of the Senate for these very reasons.

The House of Delegates then passed their version of the operating budget – which was similar to the Senate version. However, the House Democratic leadership wanted to raise taxes by billions of dollars on everything from car trade-ins to attaching the sales tax to virtually every service (nails & hair, auto mechanic, dry cleaning, plumbing, etc.) to raising corporate income taxes. They ended up settling for adding $1.3 Billion in new taxes and fees to the House version of the SB 362 BRFA – which Delegate April Rose and Delegate Chris Tomlinson voted against.

That led to significant negotiation between the House and Senate. The final version of the budget bill (SB 360) passed as completely balanced, with no tax increases, and spending less money than last year. We supported that. However, in SB 362 (the BRFA), the Senate refused to go along with most of the tax increases proposed by the House, but – while the larger tax increases were stopped – the final version BRFA bill (SB 362) does increase taxes and fees the following ways:

House/Senate “Compromise” BRFA Taxes:

  • Increases the annual vehicle registration surcharge from $17 to $40.
    • Increases 25 vehicle registration fees from 21% to 120% depending on the vehicle.
    • Establishes an Annual Surcharge on electric vehicles, $125 for zero-emission vehicles and $100 for plug-in vehicles.
    • Increases the cigarette tax by $1.25 per pack.
    • Increases from 12% to 20% the sales and use tax on electronic smoking devices.
    • Establishes a per-trip tax on Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft
    • Raises the Car Dealer Processing Charge from $500 to $800

All three of us (Senator Justin Ready, Delegate Rose and Delegate Tomlinson) voted against this final BRFA bill which included these tax increases. Prior to Session, Governor Wes Moore stated that he opposed raising taxes. We hope that he remains committed to that statement and vetoes SB 362.

Capital Budget

In the State Capital Budget, which funds infrastructure and construction, the Carroll County Delegation worked in a bi-partisan fashion to secure key funding for a series of important community projects. They range from helping critical infrastructure and public safety upgrades to fixing school playgrounds. Below are some of the projects that will receive Capital funds.

  • Westminster Broadband Infrastructure – $1,000,000
  • Winfield Volunteer Fire Department – $225,000
  • Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department – $100,000
  • North Carroll Rec Council – Turf Field Funding (Manchester Valley HS) – $100,000
  • Eldersburg Elementary School Playground – $75,000
  • Foxie G Foundation (Union Bridge) $250,000

Our Legislative Initiatives From Session

SB 39 – Senator Ready – Gun Theft Felony Act of 2024 (Passed Senate as part of SB 1097 but House of Delegates Democrats stripped it from the bill.)

Under current Maryland law, stealing or possessing a firearm falls under general theft statutes. Unless the firearm is valued at over $1,500, which many firearms are not, the crime is only a misdemeanor. SB 39 and HB 304 would have established a new felony theft charge with up to five years in prison for the first conviction, and 10 years in for a second or subsequent conviction. Stealing a firearm or possessing a stolen firearm should be treated as a serious crime with appropriate punishments. These bills did not pass out of their respective committees; but the provision was added to SB 1097 which passed the Senate unanimously. Unfortunately, the bill was heavily amended by House of Delegates Democrats and they took this common sense provision out of the bill. Once again, we will be fighting for tougher on crime bills in the next Session.

SB 1075/HB 1245 – Senator Ready and Delegate Tomlinson – Criminal Law – Distribution of Heroin or Fentanyl Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death (Victoria and Scottie’s Law) (Did not Pass)

Senator Ready and Delegate Tomlinson introduced Victoria & Scottie’s Law that would have created a new crime for distribution of heroin or fentanyl which results in another person’s death or serious bodily injury, with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. This bill was designed to go after drug dealers who are selling the worst of the worst to our loved ones. The families of victims who lost their lives to fentanyl or heroin from across Maryland came to Annapolis to share their tragic stories. Despite receiving bi-partisan support, the bill was never voted on. We will introduce this bill again next year as the fentanyl crisis continues to worsen.

SB 1074/HB 991 – Senator Ready – Agriculture – Food Processing Residuals Utilization Permit – Establishment (Delegates Rose & Tomlinson co-sponsored HB 991) (Passed) 

Establishes a permitting program for those who haul, store, and apply industrial sludge to land for use as fertilizer, putting Maryland on par with neighboring states that administer similar programs and closing a significant loophole that allows Maryland waters to be harmed.  Several Carroll County constituents contacted our offices about one farmer that has been spreading this fertilizer from early spring until late fall making it impossible to spend any time outdoors during these months due to the smell and flies. When we contacted the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) concerning this problem, it was discovered that there were similar complaints in other parts of the State. SB 1074/HB 991 will ensure that responsible farmers are able to use the material in a manner that limits community nuisance, complies with existing nutrient management regulations, and gives regulators the tools they need to crack down on bad actors.

HB 1200 – Delegate Rose – Truancy Reduction Act of 2024 (Did not Pass)

Alters the definition of “full-time equivalent enrollment” in the calculation for State education funding to include the average number of students enrolled in K-12 regular day school programs on September 30, December 31, and the last day of the prior school year. Under current law, State education funding is based on attendance only on September 30. Schools have the ability to get all their students to attend one day and receive funding for that number of kids. We were disappointed to see HB 1200 not make it out of the House Appropriations Committee.

Good News From Session

SB 744/HB 814 Juvenile Law – Reform (Passed)

With increased juvenile crime making the news daily, SB 744/HB 814 was introduced to make changes to the juvenile justice process, expand the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to cover youth between 10 and 12 years of age accused of specified crimes involving weapons, firearms, cruelty to animals, sexual offenses, and motor vehicle theft. It also shortens the number of days that Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) intake officers may make an inquiry after a complaint is filed, from 25 to 15 days and/or as soon as 2 days, adds increased penalties for several firearms violations previously only charged to adults, and extends juvenile probation periods when needed.

Delegate Tomlinson, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, was able to work with Committee leadership to see that an amendment was adopted that made sure convicted juvenile sex offenders were not able to return to the classroom.

In addition, our delegation was proud to vote for SB 1098. This bill prohibits someone who is incarcerated for 1st Degree Rape from being able to earn diminution credits, often referred to as “good time” credits.

SB 784 / HB 935 Comprehensive Community Safety Funding Act (Did NOT Pass)

This bill would have increased the State sales and use tax rate from 6% to 11% on any firearm, firearm accessory, and ammunition. The bill was drafted so that the bulk of this tax revenue would go towards to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Republicans fought hard against this bill, stating that the majority of Shock Trauma patients are from falls & accidents, not gunshot wounds. It would be outrageous for the General Assembly to pass the financial burden of funding Shock Trauma on one specific group of people – law-abiding gun owners. Luckily, this bill never left the House of Delegates.

Soft on Crime Bills Defeated

For many years, the MD General Assembly has passed soft-on-crime bills that hurt our communities and empower criminals. This year, we were able to prevent several of these bills from getting over the finish line. SB 123 would have allowed some of the most violent criminals to petition the court for early release if they were over 60 years old or after having served 20 years. HB 346/SB 404 attempted to reduce criminal punishments for drug kingpins who illegally distribute marijuana and crack. Republicans in both chambers worked hard to see that these bills were defeated.

Bad News From Session

SB 738 / HB 785 – Explicit Material Allowed “Freedom to Read Act” (Passed)

This law makes changes for school & public libraries by prohibiting librarians from being able to remove inappropriate material from the shelves prior to a review and sets up standards that limits what can be removed. This bill is in response to Carroll County’s school system that been wisely removing sexually explicit material from school libraries to prevent young children from being exposed to indecent content. Some amendments that were added to the bill so that Carroll’s policy on explicit materials can mostly continue but this bill takes away local control in several ways making it still a very bad bill despite its deceptive name.

Another bill, HB 558, also looked to take away local control but forcing counties to adopt a woke health/family life curriculum. Thankfully, this bill never passed out of the Senate.

SB 325 / HB 1 – Maryland Paint Stewardship “Paint Tax” – (Passed)

This legislation sets up a new tax on every can of paint sold, to fund a recycling program that will place paint collection sites in stores. With this bill, any company that sells paint in Maryland will have to join this new program that will be managed by a non-profit organization run by a trade association of large paint companies.

Making matters worse, in the 12 other states that have done this, recycling rates are abysmal. In California this non-profit entity collected nearly $35 million and only was able to recycle about 3% of the paint sold in the state. After defeating this bill several years in a row, it finally passed despite all three of us opposing it and voting NO.

SB 1062/HB 1432 – The Blueprint Accountability and Flexibility Act of 2024 – (Partial passage as part of SB 1102/HB 1426

The Blueprint Accountability and Flexibility Act would have provided stronger accountability for how nearly $4 billion in taxpayer funds are spent each year on public education, and also give local school districts more time to implement new Pre-Kindergarten programs. This bill follows multiple reports of misuse of funds in public education and addresses concerns from local school districts about not being able to implement Kirwan requirements under the current timeline. Unfortunately, SB 1062 did not move, however, through SB 1102/HB 1426, local jurisdictions will receive more time and flexibility for implementing the Blueprint, especially in the area of Pre-Kindergarten. Also, SB 1026/HB 1115 passed, that adds more accountability and reporting requirements for local public school districts. With a massive influx of state and federal funds flowing into our school systems, it’s imperative that citizens, parents, teachers and elected officials have a clear understanding on how those funds are being spent.

Our Biggest Concerns From 2024 Session:

  1. Democrat Leadership Has Still Not Gone Far Enough on Violent Crime

For the last several years, Republicans in Annapolis have called on the Democrat majority to work in a bi-partisan manner to address the violent crime plaguing our state. With record-breaking crime in Baltimore City that is spreading to other jurisdictions, the majority party remains focused on going after law-abiding citizens and their 2nd Amendment rights, as well as businesses involved in the firearm industry more than criminals perpetrating these actions. We saw this with the HB 430 that would have required an individual who wears or carries to have a $300,000 liability insurance plan (defeated) and with the Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024 (HB 947), that subjects firearm industry members to frivolous lawsuits and makes it extremely difficult for them to continue to do business in Maryland (passed).

Although there were some proposals targeting juvenile crime, the General Assembly must go much further to put bad guys behind bars. This Session was a slight shift towards the right direction, but we hope that in the coming years we are able to go further to achieve our goal of having a safer Maryland.

  1. Structural Budget Deficit Is Coming

For the past several years, the General Assembly has passed bills with massive, long-term spending mandates – which we have opposed. For example, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an education bill which was passed a few years ago, increases public K-12 education funding by $38 Billion over the next 10 years. Republicans have been fighting for years to keep spending mandates to a minimum and now the Democratic leadership is predicting that mandated spending in the budget will surpass tax revenue, meaning our state will be spending money that we do not have. We will continue to advocate for fiscal conservatism in the General Assembly and do everything we can to stop Annapolis from passing this burden onto the backs of taxpayers.


It is an honor and a great responsibility to serve you in the Maryland General Assembly and fight every day for conservative principles. We will do our best to continue updating you with future developments. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to our offices anytime.




Senator Justin Ready                    Delegate April Rose                    Delegate Chris Tomlinson










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