Priority Bills Near Finish Line as Sine Die Approaches

And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street


After Crossover Milestone, Priority Bills Advance

With crossover date behind us and less than three weeks left of the legislative session, several of MSEA’s priority bills passed in one chamber are now making their way through the opposite chambers.

House and Senate versions of the Freedom to Read Act, Senate Bill 738/House Bill 785, crossed over and have been assigned to committees. SB738, sponsored by Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery), will be heard March 27 in the House Ways and Means Committee. HB785, sponsored by Del. Dana Jones (D-Anne Arundel), has been assigned to the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee. It is needed to protect against the politicized attacks from right-wing activists around the state who have tried to ban books and make it more difficult for readers and students who seek to study honest and accurate history.

Expanded Educator Licensure Pathways Advance in Both Chambers

MSEA’s priority to expand pathways for educators to enter the profession, House Bill 945/Senate Bill 771, which as amended are identical bills, crossed over. HB945 is assigned to the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee, and SB771 is in the House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation would expand the pathways open to aspiring educators while keeping standards high (see previous Up the Street coverage). Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City and County) sponsored the respective House and Senate bills.

Targeting Educator Shortages, Grow Your Own, Stipends Legislation Advances

MSEA’s grow your own legislation, House Bill 1157, sponsored by Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery), crossed over and is assigned to the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee. This legislation addresses the shortage of educators by supporting education support professionals who want to become teachers.

Senate Bill 377/House Bill 75 is on track to expand stipend eligibility to aspiring educators who begin their studies at any state community college. Last year’s bill for aspiring educators established stipends for students at just some community colleges and four-year colleges. Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery) sponsors the Senate bill, which will be heard on Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee. The House version is sponsored by Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) and is assigned to the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee.

Community School Family Housing Assistance to Have Hearing

On Tuesday, Senate Bill 370, legislation to help community school families keep stable housing, will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee, and the crossfile, House Bill 428, will be heard in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. MSEA has advocated for this legislation to establish a rental assistance fund to help community school families, in acknowledgement of the connection between education policy and housing policy. Housing costs place huge burdens on the economically disadvantaged, and a recent poll found that 81% of Marylanders are finding housing less affordable; 72% see a role for state government to play. The Rental Assistance for Community School Families Program aligns with the goals set by the Blueprint to address holistically the conditions that affect students as they strive to pursue their dreams. SB370 is sponsored by Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), and HB428 is sponsored by Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery).

Conference Committee to Settle on Fiscal Year 2025 $63 Billion Budget

As predicted revenue shortfalls in the out years loom, the House voted Thursday 122-8 to pass an amended Senate version of the $63 billion fiscal year 2025 budget, Senate Bill 360/House Bill 350. The House also voted 89-45 to pass an amended Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA), Senate Bill 362/House Bill, 352. As expected, the House version of the BRFA included new revenue sources, amounting to about $1.3 billion, from iGaming (passed by the House as a separate bill) and a progressive corporate tax reform that aims to have big businesses pay their fair share. The House action takes a long-term approach to ensure that Maryland can keep its commitments to our schools, students, transportation, and other priorities.

A House-Senate conference committee will have to come to final agreement on the state spending plan. The amended version of the budget that will go to conference fully funds the state portion of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future for several more years, restores $10 million in community college funding in FY25, and makes a less drastic reduction to the Cade funding formula for community colleges in future years.

Pre-K Credential Law Need Not Create Hardship for Experienced Providers

MSEA is advocating for recognition and flexibility for highly experienced pre-kindergarten paraeducators as the state pursues the Blueprint goal to have highly qualified pre-k providers. MSEA is urging passage of House Bill 1441, to amend Maryland law that currently requires pre-k paraeducators/teaching assistants to have either a child development associate (CDA) or an associate’s degree (AA) by the 2027-2028 school year. HB1441 would exempt pre-k paraeducators in public programs from the CDA/AA requirement if they have at least 15 years of experience in early childhood education by the 2027-2028 school year. HB1441 has passed the House and is currently being considered by the Senate. To ask your senator to support HB1441 use this link.


AIB Announces Grants for Technical Assistance; Reviews Part I of LEAs’ Implementation Plans

The Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) has opened Phase II of its technical assistance grant program to find experts to assist local education agencies (LEAs) developing implementation strategies to achieve the five Blueprint pillar goals. Grants seek experts in strategic budgeting, career ladder development, college and career pathways, and early childhood education.

All 24 LEAs met the deadline Friday to submit Part I of their 2024 implementation plans, which can be seen on the AIB website. Part II of the LEAs’ plans is due May 1, and requires more detail and responses to 23 questions, down from 164 last year. LEAs must present plans for the educator career ladders negotiated with their local union partners by July 1.

Sen. Kelly to Leave for Moore Administration

In May, Sen. Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery) will leave the Senate to become executive director of the Maryland Commission for Women. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will nominate a successor for Kelly’s seat in the 16th District whose name will be forwarded to Gov. Moore. Del. Sara Love (D-Montgomery) has indicated that she will submit her name for consideration, and her district-mates have expressed their support for her.


Carpenters Union, and Moms Demand Action Endorse David Trone for Senate

This week in the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) received the endorsement of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, representing more than 42,000 construction workers. Also, this week, gun safety advocates Moms Demand Action issued Trone a Gun Sense Candidate Distinction for his U.S. Senate bid. A complete list of Trone’s endorsements is on his campaign website.