The End of the 2024 Session

We have finally come to the end of the 2024 Session in Annapolis.

** The End of the 2024 Session


It Has Been an Honor

Dear Friends,

We have come to the end of the 446th Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly.

It was an honor to continue to serve you this Session now in a new capacity as State Senator, serving our Appalachia Region of District 1 encompassing Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties. Your calls, e-mails, and letters have been instrumental in making decisions to benefit the residents of our District, Region, and our State. I was proud to be a member of seven separate committees and caucuses this year:

* Judicial Proceedings Committee

* Executive Nominations Committee

* Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review

* Joint Committee on Program Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation,

* Joint Committee on Children, Youth, and Families

* Maryland Veterans Caucus

* Fire/EMS Coalition

Our primary responsibility, as the Maryland General Assembly, is to pass a balanced budget while maintaining our priorities in education, public safety, healthcare, and protecting our natural resources. Despite limited revenue, we were able to greatly reduce our structural deficit.

** Fire/EMS Coalition


I have been proud to be a member of the Fire/EMS Coalition over the past few years in my time in Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland Fire/EMS Coalition unites Republicans and Democrats in support of fire/emergency services legislation that benefit all first responders. It is an honor to assist our first responders in making sure that their priorities are supported and passed int the Maryland General Assembly. The Coalition is made up of Delegates and Senators who meet every Monday during Session with seven voting organizations that vote on what the Coalition will support. The voting members are:

* Maryland Fire Chief’s Association (MFCA)

* Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA)

* State Fire Marshal (OSFM)

* Maryland Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI)

* Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMMS)

* Metro Fire Chief’s Association

* Professional Firefighters of Maryland

The Fire/EMS Coalition has been led dutifully by Delegate Marvin Holmes and was humbled when he agreed to allow me to take over as chair of the Coalition at the beginning of this Session. I was honored to have his blessing and a unanimous election by the seven voting members of the Coalition. I look forward to continuing to lead next year and fight for our first responders.

** Budget, Taxes, and Fees



Passing the state’s operating budget is the only duty the General Assembly is constitutionally required to complete during the legislative session.

Structural Deficit

In simple terms, a “structural deficit” occurs when projected revenue is less than anticipated spending. Much of Maryland’s operating budget is driven by formulas that are set in law. These formulas are set to increase every year no matter where the revenues stand. When the Legislative Session began, Maryland had experienced three consecutive revenue write-downs, where the anticipated revenues were adjusted downward based on economic factors and tax receipts. Revenue estimates were reduced again in early March, bringing it to four consecutive write-downs. Maryland also faces significant ongoing budget deficits due to the costs of the multi-billion-dollar Blueprint for Education. By Fiscal Year 2028, the structural deficit is estimated at over $3 billion – meaning that expected revenues will be $3 billion lower than what the state plans to spend.

There are a multitude of ways the Governor and the General Assembly can address a deficit. The most taxpayer- friendly way would be to reduce planned spending by either reducing planned increases, level funding, or making cuts. Another way is through transfers from other accounts that have fund balances. With regard to the Blueprint, the deficit could be resolved by just spreading out the implementation, and expense, from 10 years to 15 years. Despite these common-sense options, historically in Maryland, the most favored means to address a deficit is by raising taxes, fees, and sometimes even tolls.

For Fiscal Year 2025, the budget deficit was approximately $500 million. The Governor’s budget as submitted addressed this shortfall primarily by not putting an annual allotment of money into the Rainy-Day Fund, the state’s savings account. He also moved money from other funds and rearranged some spending formulas. The Operating Budget the Governor introduced did not rely on or include tax or fee increases.

The Senate passed an amended version of the budget which also did not include tax or fee increases. The House of Delegate’s version of the budget did not rely on tax or fees to balance the FY 2025 budget but did include tax and fee increases to balance the budget in future years – these taxes and fees were included in a separate bill, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2024 (BRFA). After several weeks of negotiations between the two chambers, the House and Senate agreed to an FY 2025 Budget that did not rely on taxes and fees to balance. They did “compromise” on the BRFA that included a smaller number of tax and fee increases.



The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) is a companion bill that is introduced with the budget. Generally, the purpose of the is to make temporary changes in law that allow for budget formulas to be adjusted as well as other changes that make the budget balance.

The BRFA can also be a vehicle for tax and fee increases, as it was this year. Even before the Session started, some members of the General Assembly were calling for tax increases to fund transportation projects and fill the future budget gaps created by the Blueprint. The Democratic leadership in the House took numerous tax and fee increases from other bills and plugged them into the BRFA.

House Democrat’s BRFA Taxes:

* Combined Reporting – instituted global combined reporting on corporations.

* Transportation Network Company Impact Fee – imposed fees on passenger trips (Uber/Lyft) that originate in the state. The fee is 75 cents for each trip unless the trip is provided using an electric vehicle or it is a shared passenger trip. In those cases, the fee is 50 cents per trip. The fees are indexed to the CPI.

* Eliminated the trade-in allowance on gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles as of July 1, 2024. The trade-in allowance for zero-emission vehicles is 100% until July 1, 2029. The trade-in allowance for hybrid vehicles is 25% until July 1, 2029. There is no trade-in allowance on any vehicle after July 1, 2029.

* Increased the vehicle excise tax from 6% to 6.5% as seen in HB 925 – Vehicle Excise Tax – Rate Increase. This is an 8% increase.

* Increased vehicle registration fees – more expansive than what was under HB 28 – somewhat lower fee increases, but a broader overall number of registration fees increased.

* Established surcharges for zero-emission vehicles, effective September 30, 2025 – $125 for Zero-Emission Plug-in or Fuel Cell; $100 for plug-in hybrid; $75 for non-plug hybrid. Fees are adjusted for inflation after 2025.

* Increased the civil penalty for speed camera violations in work zones from a maximum of $40 to $250 effective January 1, 2025.

* Increased fines for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and requires at least 20% of those fines to the Maryland Trauma Physician Services Fund. Also increases the motor vehicle surcharge that feeds that fund.

* After weeks of negotiation between House and Senate leaders, a compromise was reached. House and Senate Democratic leaders agreed to a smaller package of tax and fee increases.

House/Senate Compromise BRFA Taxes:

* Increased the cigarette tax by $1.25 per pack.

* Increased from 12% to 20% the sales and use tax on electronic smoking devices.

* Increased taxes on Other Tobacco Products Established a per-trip tax on Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft

Raised the Dealer Processing Charge from $500 to $800*

* Established Annual Surcharge on electric vehicles, $125 for zero-emission vehicles and $100 for plug-in vehicles.

* Increasing the annual vehicle registration surcharge from $17 to $40.

* Increasing 25 vehicle registration fees from 21%-120% depending on the vehicle.

*This is an authorization for automobile dealers to increase an optional fee they charge customers from $500 to $800. The benefit to the State is that the vehicle excise tax applies to the dealer processing charge, so the increase generates additional excise tax revenues.

While we can breathe a sigh of relief that the damage was limited to the list above, we expect to see these tax increases, or others like them, proposed next year.


Moore Fee Increases

While the Governor did not include taxes or fees in his budget, his administration has proposed numerous fee increases in regulation and through legislation.

Over the last year, Governor Moore’s administration has proposed nearly 250 fee increases through Maryland’s regulatory process alone. These are fee increases that require a change in regulation, not in law and do not get a direct vote from the General Assembly. Instead, these increases come before the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR). Most of these are increases in professional licensing fees for individuals and businesses. These fees go into special funds for the licensing agencies themselves and do not directly feed into the budget, though it is possible that these funds could be raided to fill budget holes in future years.

Governor Moore’s Department of Transportation has also announced its intention to raise $81 million in fees including things like parking fees at BWI airport. While some of these fees may have to pass through the regulatory process, they do not require legislation.

The Moore Administration’s Renters’ Rights Stabilization Act (HB 693) increases surcharges paid by landlords when they file District Court actions against tenants. The General Assembly reduced the overall fee increases in the bill, but they were still significant. The surcharge for filing a summary ejectment for failure to pay rent cases increases from $8 to $43 (438%). Surcharges for other civil cases in District Court increase from $18 to $28 (56% increase) and from $55 to $85 in circuit courts (55% increase).

Other Taxes and Fees

Over 50 bills to increase taxes, tolls, and fees were introduced. While some of these bills passed the House, only a few received final passage, including:

* HB 1/SB 235 – Maryland Paint Stewardship establishes a paint tax of up to $2 per container to fund a program to dispose of paint properly.

* SB 423 – Real Property – Recordation – Procedures authorizes a county or municipality to collect a certificate fee of up to $55.

** End of Life Bill Does Not Pass


I am 100% pro-life and that does not stop after a child is born. I hold that conviction all the way until natural death. This year Senate Bill 443: End-of-Life Option Act (The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings and the Honorable Shane E. Pendergass Act) and it’s cross-filed, House Bill 403, was brought forward to allow regulated assisted suicide in the State of Maryland. Through much discussion and debate in Judicial Proceedings Committee, the committee I am proud to sit on, we came to the decision that Maryland should support the natural end of life and not someone committing suicide. Life is precious from beginning to natural end. I hope that this state will recognize that with birth in the future.



** Ten Bills and Two Cross-Files Pass


As a sophomore Senator it is difficult to get bills passed let alone the ones that are your priorities. That was why I submitted 34 bills this year to try and accomplish as much as possible. I was able to get nine bills passed, nevertheless. While it may not have been as high a success rate, it is the same amount of bills that were passed last year. I am very happy the General Assembly passed these excellent bills, and I will push for some of those that did not make it next year. The bills that passed are as follows:

Senate Bill 402: Correctional Training Commission – Membership – Alterations

Senate Bill 402 ( alters the governing body of the Correctional Training Commission so the members of the commission appointed by the Governor will represent five different geographic regions. The Regions represented will be called Capital, Central, Eastern Shore, Southern, and Western. The Western Region includes our three counties of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington. Going forward, each county will be accurately represented in the commission.

Senate Bill 428: Garrett County Alcoholic Beverages Act of 2024

Another local bill for Garrett County, Senate Bill 428 ( establishes a Class B license in Garrett County. The bill establishes a Class B-resort beer license, a resort beer and wine license, and a beer, wine, and liquor festival license in Garrett County. This bill will alter the hours of sale for alcoholic beverages on Sundays for certain licenses as well as requiring that at least one applicant be a resident of the State of Maryland. This will also prohibit alcoholic beverages from being brought into places of adult entertainment to be consumed or transferred.

Senate Bill 502: Allegany County – Property Tax Credit – Evergreen Heritage Center

A local bill for Allegany County, Senate Bill 502 ( authorizes the Allegany County Commissioners (or a municipality) to grant by law a property tax credit for any property that is owned by the Evergreen Heritage Center. This will encourage continuing interest in education, conservation, and preservation in Allegany County.

Senate Bill 504: Motor Vehicles – Recreational Vehicle Dealer Agreements

Last year, similar legislation was passed by both houses of the General Assembly, however an amendment in the Senate did not get reviewed in time before the end of Session. What Senate Bill 504 ( will do is to establish a new regulatory system that will apply to RV manufacturers, distributors, and dealers. The regulation will also establish new procedures, timelines, and requirements that govern written dealer agreements and warranties on RVs and other manufacturer-dealer relationship matters. Similar bills have passed in 18 states including our neighbors in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia.

Senate Bill 521: Garrett County – Sheriff’s Salary – Alteration

A local bill for Garrett County, Senate Bill 521 ( alters the salary of the Sheriff of Garrett County. It will increase the Sheriff’s salary to 80% of the salary of the State’s Attorney of Garrett County and it repeals the unnecessary need for a study to be conducted to decide whether an increase in the Sheriff’s salary is necessary or not as they are already studying the salary of the State’s Attorney.

Senate Bill 558: Garrett County – Procurement – Bids and Contract

This was a local bill requested by the Garrett County Commissioners. When advertising for contractual services, Garrett County’s minimum dollar value had been $25,000. Senate Bill 558 ( will increase the minimum amount to $50,000 thus making Garrett County more competitive and will help align our county with the rest of the State of Maryland.

Senate Bill 799: Health Occupations – Limited License to Practice Dentistry – Services for Adults

As you know one of my personal passions throughout my time in the General Assembly has been dental care. If you have good dental health care, then the rest will fall into place. In the House I was your Dental Delegate and now I am proud to be known as Senator Smiles! I introduced Senate Bill 799 ( in order to assist in the shortage of dental providers for basic adult dental procedures while promoting experience for those new in the dentistry field. In certain Maryland communities, there are not enough dentists to effectively treat our population. Thus, this will eliminate some barriers for dental to students to gain hands-on experience before eventually starting a dental career. Our communities will benefit greatly in health care from this bill!

Senate Bill 873: Courts – Immunity from Liability – Maryland Safe Haven Program

As I have stated before, I am proud to be pro-life. This is a huge reason why I put forth Senate Bill 873 ( . This bill makes Maryland the 18^th state to have “Baby Boxes” as an anonymous, yet safe, way to surrender a newborn for up to 60 days after the birth of the child. These are monitored, climate controlled “boxes” where the baby will be surrendered. When the baby is in the box, an emergency alarm will be sent to 911 so the baby’s will not be alone for too long. This is highly important for the safety of these abandoned children, so they have a chance at a good and healthy life ahead of them. It provides a safe and anonymous alternative for young women who are currently unable or choose not to raise a child for various reasons.

Senate Bill 1071: Hospitals – Opioid Overdose – Medication-Assisted Treatment

A bipartisan bill I was proud to get passed was Senate Bill 1071 ( . In this bill I wanted to address the opioid-related overdoses that are, unfortunately plaguing our state and district. The bill will require hospitals to possess and administer medication that is helpful in treating those who are effected by opioid addiction. The Governor’s budget will include $500,000 from the Opioid Restitution Fund to provide the adequate funding for this bill. I am so proud to have this passed unanimously and assist in the end of our opioid epidemic.

Senate Bill 1134: Allegany County – Allegany Regional Recreational Economic Development Authority – Established

Another local bill, this time for Allegany County, Senate Bill 1134 ( establishes the Allegany Regional Recreational Economic Development Authority. The Authority’s job is to support the development and construction of regional recreation facilities for the benefit of area residents and the county economy. This would include indoor and outdoor athletic fields as well as other recreational tourist facilities. It will be great for increase of tourism which will eventually bring in dollars for the local economy.

House Bill 1205: Allegany County – Alcoholic Beverages – Class BWLT Beer, Wine, and Liquor Tasting Permit

While this is not directly my version of the bill, it is the cross-file of it and in the same posture. House Bill 1205 ( is a simple Allegany County bill that authorizes a Class BWLT beer, wine, and liquor tasting permit to be issued by the Board of License Commissioners for Allegany County. The annual fee for this permit is $150 and a first-time holder of this permit must also pay a one-time issuing fee of $150. The board will adopt regulations to implement the bill.

House Bill 1330: Allegany County – Alcoholic Beverages Underage Employees

House Bill 1330 ( is another local bill, that also was a cross-file that passed, this is a simple bill that allows alcoholic beverage licensees to employee individuals who are 16 or 17 years old as long as they, the minors, do not sell or serve alcohol.



** Senate Bill 349 Does Not Pass BUT Causes Discussion


Disappointingly, Senate Bill 349: State Prescription Drug Benefits – Retirees ( , did not pass this year. I was proud to introduce this as it would have reinstated retiree health and welfare benefits to Maryland State Retirees (and their families) who began working for the State of Maryland prior to July 1, 2011. For background, these state workers lost their benefits back during the O’Malley administration and have since been fighting to get them back. I took it upon myself to make sure that these hardworking Marylanders across the state would receive their PROMISED benefits. As I have stated to many people, a promise made needs to be a promise kept. I proudly presented my bill and was so honored to see hundreds of state retirees come to give their testimony as well.

Unfortunately, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee did not agree and did not move the bill to the Senate floor for a full vote. However, there will be budget language that gives fixes for certain retirees, specifically the state police. While it is not a perfect fix one should be out more than $2,000 out of pocket. What is encouraging, however, is the amount of support it garnered among fellow Republicans and Democrats and a work group.

District 1 Wins

This year there have been great wins for our District. The Board of Public Works and the General Assembly approved many funds for projects throughout Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties. All three received a grand total of $1,628,066,387 from the Capital Budget. Broken down, Garrett County will receive $114,806,675; Allegany County will receive $592,396,346; and Washington County will receive $920,863,366 for this year. Local bond initiatives for our District are below:

* Drane House Restoration and Improvements Project (Garrett County):


* GCC Ballfield (Garrett County): $550,000

* Garrett County Fairgrounds (Garrett County): $200,000

* Reflections House (Garrett County): $100,000

* Underground Fuel Tank Replacement McHenry Barrack (Garrett County): $200,000

* Greater Cumberland Regional Airport (Allegany County): $100,000

* Midland Townhall (Allegany County): $25,000

* UPMC WMD (Allegany County): $750,000

* ACC Tennis Courts (Allegany County): $150,000

* Friends Aware (Allegany County): $225,000

* Greenway Stadium (Allegany County): $250,000

* Cumberland – Evitts Creek Phase IV Sewer (Allegany County): $500,000

* WMSR – Potomac River Bridge Repair (Allegany County): $1.5 million

* Community VFD District 12 (Washington County): $150,000

* Hancock Downtown Revitalization (Washington County): $75,000

* Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer VFD (Washington County): $35,000

* Smithsburg EMS Station 79 (Washington County): $100,000

* Doleman Black Heritage Museum (Washington County): $150,000

* Boonsboro Water Reservoir Replacement (Washington County): $1.5 million

* Springfield Farm Manor House – Williamsport (Washington County): $750,000

* Meritus School of Ostseopathic Medicine (Washington County): $500,000

* New Downtown Hagerstown Visitor Center (Washington County): $250,000

* Boonsboro Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure (Washington County): $300,000

* Williamsport Memorial Library (Washington County): $750,000