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2023 End of Session Letter

Dear Neighbor, 

On Monday, April 10th, 2023, the Maryland General Assembly concluded the 445th legislative session. I’d like to say how thankful I am to have the honor of representing our district, 27A, in the Maryland House of Delegates. It is a dream that I have had for some time now, and to see it realized meant a great deal to me. Everything I worked on this session, the bills, the budget, constituent meetings, etc., was for the betterment of my constituents and Marylanders. As you are reading more about some of that work below, please remember to take advantage of both the new and continuing programs that apply most to you!

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

The Members of the Maryland General Assembly worked closely in partnership with Governor Moore to produce a balanced budget that is bold without being reckless. Maryland’s Budget Bill, HB200 is one of the most important pieces of legislation the Maryland General Assembly must balance and pass each year. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have had a direct impact on this year’s budget. The budget aims to ensure that the state's finances are secure while also making important investments in areas like transportation, education, infrastructure, and health care. The budget includes funds for pay raises to attract and retain great workers in state agencies, as well as record investments in public education to help students succeed, both behaviorally and academically. It also includes new investments in addressing the mental health crisis in Maryland, expanding child tax credits to support families in need, and prioritizing the development of renewable energy to create a clean and sustainable environment. 

Here’s an overview of the FY2024 Bi-partisan budget: 

The final budget preserves $2.5 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and just over $350 million in General Fund balance, meeting the Spending Affordability targets set by the legislature in December.

Tax Relief: Almost $200 million has been reserved for tax relief at about the same level of tax relief as proposed by the governor. This includes funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and new tax cuts for veterans.


Public Schools: Direct support to local school systems increases by approximately $660 million – or 9% – from the prior year, resulting in a total investment of $8.7 billion for Maryland public schools. $900 million will go toward the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.


Higher Education: The budget provides a $243.7 million increase in state support to Maryland’s four-year public colleges and universities – a total increase of approximately 11% – and a $40 million – or 12% – increase for Community Colleges.


Health Care: 1.5 million Marylanders will benefit from a $14 billion investment in Medicaid; the final budget also includes more than $80 million to strengthen the State’s behavioral health system.


SNAP Benefits: The minimum benefit for SNAP (food stamps) will be permanently increased, and Marylanders who were victims of electronic benefits transfer skimming will be reimbursed – totaling more than $11 million in reimbursements.


Public Safety: The budget reflects $122 million in aid to local police departments, $46 million above the statutorily required amount. Over $40 million will go toward State support for victim services to ensure we support victims of domestic violence, rape, and other crimes. The Governor’s supplemental budget also included $11 million for the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) within the Maryland State Police to expand staffing, conduct trainings, and invest in technology infrastructure to keep Maryland safe from violent crime, cyber-attacks, and other threats.


Cybersecurity: The final budget includes $160 million to improve State government cybersecurity to protect the homeland.

Rebuilding Government: The final budget includes $421 million in negotiated salary increases for the State workforce, including an additional step increase negotiated in March 2023 targeted to those executive branch employees who have had the lowest salary increases in recent years in order to improve retention.

Conservation and Climate Change: Over $160 million will go toward supporting State parks and forests; $60 million will go toward Chesapeake Bay restoration projects; $15 million will go toward renewable energy programs.

Improving Our District 

The Charles and Prince George’s County Delegation’s held public hearings and reviewed legislation that would improve the quality of life for residents in our district. Here are some of the bills that will specifically affect our district. 

Beginning June 30, 2023, the governing body of Charles County will grant tax credits under HB947 Charles County - Property Tax for certain emergency responders and their unmarried surviving spouses with an income of $150,000 or less. 

The number of speed cameras on Maryland Route 210 (Indian Head Highway) in Prince George’s County will increase from three to six under HB435 - Speed Monitoring Systems. This bill also requires the State Highway Administration to report annually its recommendations for solutions to address accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the highway. 

Under HB437 Prince George's County Public Schools - Alterations to Title of Chief Executive Officer and Establishment of Office of Integrity and Compliance the title of the Chief Executive Officer is changed to the County Superintendent. The Prince George’s County Council must appoint an Integrity and Compliance officer. The Office of Integrity and Compliance will work to evaluate, examine, investigate, report on, and make recommendations on certain issues related to the Prince George's County public school system. 

HB1026 - Land Use - Development of Neglected Property authorizes Prince George's County to exercise powers to acquire and develop or redevelop, for a public purpose, certain neglected property located in the county that has been designated as a transit-oriented development and is located within a business improvement district. 

The Charles County Delegation was able to bring home a total of $4,485,000 to fund projects that will benefit our constituents and community: 

Historic Waldorf School: $200,000

Indian Head Grocery Initiative: $100,000

LIONS Camp Merrick Capital Improvements: $62,500

USBT Technology Training Campus at the Maryland Technology Center: $250,000

Charles County Circuit Courthouse: $1,000,000

Mattawoman Creek Art Center: $50,000

Magnolia Gardens: $500,000

Malcolm Elementary Electronic Sign: $30,000

Together the House and Senate were able to collectively secure a total of $2.1 billion for projects that will continue to create a Prince George’s County where we can live, work, and play.

Moving Maryland Forward

We achieved one of the most successful legislative sessions this year in our state’s history with the leadership of our governor and lieutenant governor. This administration has helped elevate service, rebuild state government, end child poverty, and build an economy that is both equitable and competitive. The House of Delegates introduced 1,301 bills and the Senate introduced 904 bills. Here is a comprehensive list of bills we were able to pass over the past 90 days for the state of Maryland: 

I am looking forward to the bill signing ceremony with Governor Moore for my bill, HB0809 State Procurement – Minority Business Enterprise Program – Extension and Reports. This bill changes the date of when certain rules for the Minority Business Enterprise Program will end. Maryland's Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program is a government initiative designed to help businesses owned by minorities, women, and disabled persons to access government contracts. The program provides technical assistance, training, and certification to these businesses, and sets specific goals for state agencies to include MBEs in their procurement process. The bill will initiate a study of the Minority Business Enterprise Program to evaluate the Program’s continued compliance with the requirements of the Supreme Court Croson decision and any subsequent federal or constitutional requirements. 

Many Marylanders know about the adverse effects that the War on Drugs and other faux campaigns have had on communities of color. HB556 - Cannabis Reform legislation, will allow people to apply for a license to sell both medical and recreational cannabis. The tax rate on cannabis will be kept low to discourage illegal sales, but the revenue collected will be used specifically to help support communities that have been negatively affected by the prohibition of cannabis. The application process for licenses will be made fairer to give people from these communities an equal chance to apply. This includes low application fees, priority consideration in the licensing process, technical assistance from the state, and grants and loans to help start new businesses.

This session I had the honor of supporting our military members through HB554- Income Tax - Subtraction Modification for Military Retirement Income (Keep Our Heroes Home Act). The Act aims to encourage military veterans to retire in the state by increasing the exemption from $5,000 to $12,500 for individuals under the age of 55 and from $15,000 to $20,000 for individuals over the age of 55. Through this legislation, Governor Moore has more than doubled the tax exemption that veterans under the age of 55 are eligible for and I know he is looking forward to signing this bill. 

Maryland is taking the lead in the nation by passing SB 554 – Health Care for Heroes Act of 2023 which reimburses members of the National Guard for their health and dental premiums up to $60 dollars per month. This program is a significant step towards supporting our National Guard members and an important tool for recruitment & retention for service members.

It is easy to simply say that one supports our public-school teachers, but this session, my colleagues and I wanted to demonstrate this materially. That is why I am glad to announce that HB1219 - Maryland Educator Shortage Act of 2023, passed both chambers and will soon be signed by the governor. This is an equity bill which creates a fund for a paid internship program for student teachers, removing the barrier of unpaid internships which so often prevent aspiring educators from low-income backgrounds from entering the profession through this vital avenue. Among many, many things, this bill enhances programs to recruit/retain new educators and establishes the Grow Our Own Educators Scholarship Program and Fund to provide scholarships to individuals who pledge to work full-time as a teacher in the State for a minimum of four years. We want to ensure our educators are as well-equipped and this bill is a huge step towards that mission.

HB384 - Institutions of Higher Education - Transcripts - Prohibition on Punitive Measures Related to Student Debt is one of the education bills that I am most excited for this session. Having been raised in a low-income household, I know firsthand how poverty can quickly become cyclical without proper outside intervention. This cycle is what I wanted to end when I co-sponsored HB384, which prevents colleges and universities from withholding transcripts because of outstanding debt. This practice of withholding transcripts prevents students from getting jobs or submitting applications to further their education. But this bill will allow us to find fairer practices for recovering student debt.


After hearing the outcry from so many Marylanders, SB959 – Higher Education - Maryland 529 Program will reform the Maryland 529 Program to address the program’s ongoing issues. It transfers the administration of the 529 program to Maryland’s State Treasurer. That includes all the duties of the existing board, the transfer of the employees – with all their benefits and seniority and all other powers and duties of the existing program and board. The bill also phases out the pre-paid plan completely by prohibiting any new pre-paid accounts beginning June 1, 2023.

Governor Moore’s SERVE Act- HB546 Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act of 2023 will provide access and exposure to public service for young Marylanders by creating a service year option for high school graduates to work for community organizations and nonprofit groups. The program will serve as a springboard for participants to enter post-service year employment, higher education, or apprenticeships. This will create a lifelong culture of service in our young people and our communities across the state. The service year option will incorporate a flexible design to allow for programs that appeal to a broad spectrum of young people with a wide range of career interests.

In order to achieve the goals of the Blueprint, HB770 – Publicly Funded Prekindergarten, Maryland Consortium on Coordinated Community Supports, and Career Ladder ensures that every child has access to high-quality prekindergarten. It expands access to full-day prekindergarten for more students in need by allowing homeless students, income eligible students with disabilities and income eligible students who come from a home in which English is not the primary spoken language to qualify for free full-day pre-K.

Following the groundbreaking Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health, the country was shaken by the callous stripping of women’s reproductive rights. After this session, however, residents of Maryland have options and protections when it comes to abortion and contraceptives. HB 705 - Declaration of Rights - Right to Reproductive Freedom establishes a constitutional right to abortion and other reproductive health care. I co-sponsored this bill because it allows Maryland voters to decide whether the fundamental right to reproductive freedom should be enshrined in our state constitution, which is the highest level of protection that we can give to Marylanders in the wake of the devastating U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer which overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

HB477 - Public Senior Higher Education Institutions - Reproductive Health Services Plans - Requirements focuses on reproductive services at higher education institutions. It requires public higher education institutions in the state, in consultation with their students, to develop and implement a reproductive health services plan. The plan would be designed to refer students to a broad range of reproductive health services, either on-campus or off-campus, and require universities to provide 24-hour access to over-the-counter contraception. 

Finally, HB812 Health - Reproductive Health Services - Protected Information and Insurance Requirements provides additional privacy protections for medical records relating to abortion services that are legal in the state of Maryland. This bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, would protect patients’ reproductive healthcare data from being used in criminal prosecution or civil litigation outside of the state. 

The goal with these pieces of legislation is to make Maryland a safe haven for those seeking reproductive health services.

In broader terms, this session, I sought to ensure that the Maryland healthcare system was equitable. 

With the passage of HB 376- Diagnostic and Supplemental Examinations for Breast Cancer, health insurers and providers will be prohibited from imposing a copayment for diagnostic breast examinations. Although screening mammograms are covered by health insurance, when those results indicate an abnormality, the next step is diagnostic imaging and other expensive tests. Far too often, the high cost of the follow-up tests prevents people from scheduling that vital appointment, as the average out-of-pocket cost for diagnostic imaging ranges from $240-$1000. HB376 ensures that insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that provide coverage for diagnostic and supplemental breast examinations cannot impose a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible requirement for the follow-up examination.

The passage of HB1- The Child Victims Act of 2023 will remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Data shows that the average age a victim of child sexual abuse will come forward is between 50 and 70 years old. Removing the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse will allow those victims to get justice regardless of how much time has passed. 

Governor Moore’s Family Prosperity Act of 2023- HB547 will reduce childhood poverty and help Maryland families by making the 2021 expansion of Maryland’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) permanent. It expands the state’s Child Tax Credit to cover taxpayers with children 5 and under who have a federally adjusted gross income of $15,000 or less. The bill retains the existing credit for children older than 6, which only applies to children with disabilities and removes the $530 cap for adults without qualifying children. 

The Prevent Electronic Benefits Theft Act of 2023- HB502/SB2 makes Maryland the first state in the country to reimburse fraud victims for stolen SNAP benefits. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to automatically restore the benefits of SNAP recipients if shown that the benefits were lost due to theft. The state will use federal funds to help nearly 4,000 Marylanders get back more than $2.5 million in stolen SNAP benefits.

The process by which people sign up for safety-net services such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and energy assistance programs will now be streamlined. HB 111/SB 26 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program, Maryland Children's Health Program, and Workgroup on Low-Income Utility Assistance establishes categorical eligibility, one application process will allow an individual to enroll in all services. Streamlining and creating one eligibility process will maximize the number of State residents who qualify for the Program. House Bill 111 will automatically enroll 65,000 SNAP recipients into Medicaid. This timely legislation will also help SNAP recipients already enrolled in Medicaid automatically renew their coverage. 

The Fair Wage Act (SB555) accelerates Maryland’s $15/hour minimum wage so more workers can earn a living wage. It moves the state’s $15 minimum wage up from its January 1, 2025, timeline to January 1, 2024. 

HB 982 State Employees – Programs and Scholarships for Human Services Careers and Probation Agents and State Contributions to Supplemental Retirement Plans supports our state workers and institutes targeted programs to fill needed positions, as we work to lower the historic vacancy rate in our state government. The bill restores the annual supplemental retirement match of $600 for all participating state employees. For employees who make at least $600 in contributions to their retirement or have paid down their student loans by at least $600, the State will contribute $600 to their retirement. Restoring the supplemental retirement match will help provide relief for those with crushing student loan debt and help them save for future retirement. The bill also creates a program to fill front line positions at our Department of Human Services by working in partnership with local school systems and community colleges to fill jobs that require a high school diploma; the State will then provide tuition assistance and other mentorship opportunities to allow an individual to progress within DHS’s existing personnel structure. Finally, the bill addresses the dangerous vacancy rates at Parole and Probation and the Department of Corrections by providing student loan repayment assistance for our parole and probation agents, who are required to have 4–year degrees.

Maryland workers paying union dues will now receive a tax deduction. HB2 - Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Union Dues will ensure we put more money back into the pockets of working families.

Election judges are the backbone of our election process. That’s why, HB1200- Election Judge Pay Increase will require counties to pay election judges at least $250 or more per day. Returning judges will receive an additional $100, setting the floor for returning judges at $350 minimum. As voting methods, such as mail-in, become more popular the workload for judges continues to increase. This bill will help recruit and retain election judges to keep the election system working efficiently.

Through HB9- Equity in the Transportation Sector, the Maryland Transportation Plan will be required to prioritize ways to achieve equity in transportation when developing overall transportation goals. The department will now be required to develop guidelines, equity analysis policies, and report on the impacts on riders with disabilities and minority groups who may be adversely affected by current transportation policies. Former Governor Hogan vetoed this legislation last year.

The owners of zero-emission vehicles will now be able to buy tags to drive in the HOV lane with the passage of HB 123- HOV Lanes-Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles. The program is expected to encourage more consumers to buy electric in order to cut carbon emissions which is critical in helping us reach our goal of 100% clean energy by 2035. 


Once implemented, HB169- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs will improve and better serve Marylanders utilizing the programs. This bill ensures equity in our energy efficiency program by investing state and federal funds to support weatherization for low-income families who struggle most to pay their utility bills. This bill has passed in both chambers and will soon be signed by the Governor. 

This has been a long but productive session. I am proud of the work my colleagues and I were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I appreciate all of your calls, emails, letters, and visits; your participation is critical in making this process work. Though the session has now ended, I will continue to be available for questions, comments, and constituent requests for assistance at It has truly been an honor representing our district and I look forward to seeing you back home during the interim. 

Yours in Service, 

Delegate Kevin M. Harris 


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