BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A measure to prevent authorities from detaining immigrants to ask about their immigration status and a bill to stop price gouging for prescription drugs were approved Monday in Maryland’s House of Delegates.
The votes came on a busy day when lawmakers worked late to meet the General Assembly’s crossover deadline. That’s a day when the House and Senate aim to approve bills they plan to send to the other chamber for passage this year.
Maryland lawmakers have about three weeks left in the 90-day session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 10.
If a bill doesn’t clear one of the chambers by Monday, that doesn’t mean it can’t pass the General Assembly and head to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. But it puts an extra layer of process in the way. That’s because bills that don’t pass a chamber by Monday are referred to the rules committees, where bills can languish without action.
Here’s a look at some of Monday’s action:
Authorities could not stop or detain people solely to ask about their immigration status under a bill the House approved 83-55. Frederick and Harford counties would be exempt from the legislation, because the two counties are participating in the federal government’s 287(g) program, in which the Department of Homeland Security trains local law enforcement to perform the work of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The measure also would block corrections officials from holding arrestees in jail without a court order simply because ICE officials have sent a detainer asking for someone to be held. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he would veto the bill, saying it would interfere with state and local law enforcement’s ability to cooperative with federal law enforcement. The House would need 85 votes to override a veto.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS-PRICE GOUGING
The attorney general would be able to take action if the manufacturers of an off-patent or generic drug make an “unconscionable increase” in price under a bill that passed the House on a 137-4 vote. An “unconscionable increase” is defined as an excessive increase not justified by the cost of producing or distributing the drug. Supporters say Maryland would be the first state in the nation to make off-patent pharmaceutical price-gouging something state officials could take action against.
A Maryland House panel shot down Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s redistricting reform bill. It would have put the redrawing of Maryland’s congressional districts in the hands of an independent commission in an effort to take the politics out of drawing districts every 10 years. Leaders in the Democrat-controlled legislature say partisan gerrymandering in drawing the districts is a national problem. They support a bill that cleared a Senate panel that would create a regional compact with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. If all six states pass similar legislation, each state would have a nonpartisan independent commission draw the state’s congressional lines.
The House voted 88-53 to prohibit discriminatory practices in the sale or rental of real estate because a person uses a government voucher to pay rent. Although Maryland law prevents housing discrimination because of race, sex, color, religion, marital status, gender identity or disability, there is no current provision prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income.
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