After three days of debate, the Senate voted 23-22 on Wednesday to effectively kill a bill that would extend a Montgomery County non-discrimination housing policy to the entire state.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park, would prohibit landlords from rejecting prospective tenants based on the source of their income, whether it is Social Security, child support, federal housing vouchers (known as Section 8 vouchers), or any other form of payment.
The Senate voted Wednesday to send the bill back to the committee, where it is unlikely to be heard again during the last two weeks of the session, Raskin said.
Montgomery County has had a similar policy on the books for more than two decades and it has worked, Raskin said.
“This program has been a great success and we want to take it statewide,” Raskin said, noting that poverty has been deconcentrated where the law is in place. “The landlords are happy with it, the tenants are happy with it.”
Eleven states and several Maryland jurisdictions, including Howard and Frederick counties and the cities of Frederick and Annapolis, have a similar law on the books.
Opponents of the bill said the proposal would effectively force all landlords in the state to participate in the voluntary federal Section 8 program, subjecting properties to more regulations.
“If they want this for their county, they can adopt it, in a heartbeat,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Dist. 26) of Chesapeake Beach, who voted to send the bill back to the committee. “It’s a local issue, and they need to move forward on it on a local basis rather than mandating this issue on the Eastern Shore, southern Maryland, Western Maryland, where it might not be an issue.”