The midpoint of the 2016 legislative session in Maryland passed this week with a number of notable items to report:
On Tuesday, the Senate sponsor of a bill that sought to impose unprecedented rules governing admissions policies for nonpublic schools withdrew his bill ahead of its committee hearing after facing tremendous pressure from the faith-based communities. The proposed bill would have barred private schools from receiving all current and future state funding if they restricted admissions on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation and other factors. Single-gender schools and faith-based institutions that give preference to members of their own faith, would have been barred from all of the funding they currently receive.
On Wednesday, over 700 nonpublic school students and teachers converged on Annapolis for their annual student advocacy day. The event featured a press conference at Lawyer’s Mall adjacent to the State House where Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and other notable officials came to address the gathering.
On Thursday, the Senate sponsor of the physician assisted suicide bill discovered that the votes on the Judicial Proceedings Committee were simply not there, and withdrew the bill. This signified a great victory for the opposing coalition, including Agudath Israel, which mounted a great defense. Later on Thursday, the House Health and Government Operations Committee held the hearing for the “Hatzalah Bill”. An outgrowth of Agudath Israel’s recent community tour with the governor’s office, the bill to force Baltimore City government to properly recognize the Jewish community-operated volunteer Emergency Medical Service group as a non-commercial emergency rescue squad (thus availing them of numerous benefits) was sponsored by Delegate Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg and heard by the committee.