Dear Friends, The 2017 Session of the General Assembly, my third, is now behind us. I want to again thank the residents of District 12 for the privilege of representing Baltimore and Howard Counties in the House of Delegates.
I also extend my sincerest gratitude to the outstanding legislative support personnel in Annapolis including the librarians, bill drafters, clerks, policy analysts and committee staff. I want to especially thank my Legislative Director, Belawoe Akwakoku; Intern, Timothy Faircloth (Community College of Baltimore County) Legacy Leadership Volunteer, Catherine Weber; and Legislative Volunteer & Community Liaison, Alan Schneider, for their diligent efforts and invaluable contributions.
The House Health and Government Operations Committee (HGO) on which I serve came under new leadership this year and the subcommittee structure changed. I now serve on the Health Facilities & Pharmaceuticals Subcommittee and the Insurance Subcommittee. In addition, this summer I will be part of a legislative study group looking into a requested scope of practice expansion by optometrists.
Two ongoing projects of which I am particularly proud, are my work with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General to develop a comprehensive information piece on end-of-life planning options, and my work with stakeholders to developing programmatic and legislative proposals for the expansion of access to adapted vehicles for ambulatory dependent adults.
I am pleased to share with you some highlights of a rewarding and challenging 2017 session.
We passed a $43.5 billion Operating Budget for FY 2018-2019 that includes: • $837,093,000 for Baltimore County (2.7% increase) • $339,966,633 for Howard County (0.9 % increase) • $100 million projected General Fund balance • $860 million Rainy Day Fund balance • > $1 billion cash reserves • $6.4 billion for K-12 public education • 2.0%. cap on public colleges and universities tuition increases • $32.7 billion to four-year institutions • $96.4 million, a 1.7 % increase in direct aid to local school systems • $151 million increase for Medicaid to support increases in enrollments and provider rate increases • $16.5 million health care increase in response to the opioid crisis.
Maryland maintained its AAA bond rating, in recognition of our commitment to fiscal responsibility and smart financial management. We are only one of 11 states to do so.
MY LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
I am pleased to report the passage of the following bills on which I was a primary sponsor: HB1522 – Needs Assessment for Student School-Based Behavioral Health Services – authorizes a statewide needs assessment of the availability and quality of provision of in-school behavioral health services, both during and outside of the regular school year, across jurisdictions. The information provided by the assessment will be analyzed to help the State and local jurisdictions better recognize and meet the demand for of all students in need of such services. HB730 – Health Insurance – Coverage for Diabetes Test Strips – Prohibition on Deductible, Copayment, and Coinsurance, prohibits most insurance plans from charging co-pays and requiring deductibles be paid for coverage of diabetes test strips, an essential tool for proper management of the disease. HB 677 – Howard County – Noise Control – Outdoor Venues – Howard County 18-17 (Delegation Bill), introduced in response to constituent concerns regarding the noise levels from events held at Merriweather Post Pavilion (MPP). The legislation more tightly defines MPP which remains under exception from State noise regulations; lowers the allowed sound level from 95 dba to 85 dba within a quarter mile of the main stage and to 65 dba outside of the 0.75 mile radius between 9am and 11pm, and 55 dba between 11pm and 11:30 pm; and, better defines both the noise origin and distances to receiving property lines. HB581 – Maryland Medical Practice Act – State Board of Physicians and Allied Health Advisory Committee – introduced on behalf of the medical training institutions and in conjunction with the State Board of Physicians, corrects recent inadvertent errors to the Health
Occupations statute by removing requirements for duplicative background checks for physician trainees (e.g. medical students, interns and residents) and re-establishing exceptions by which practitioners duly licensed in other jurisdictions but not Maryland, may practice for limited purposes in this state (i.e. trainers and staff of professional sports teams and medical personnel in neighboring jurisdictions treating Maryland residents). The bill was merged into HB1265 / SB549, relating to Board of Physicians, and passed. I will continue to advocate for the bills that did not make it out this year, but which are consistent with many of my legislative priorities including, protecting the environment, education and job creation, improved access to healthcare and better health outcomes and fairness and integrity in our electoral process:
HB579 – Circuit Court Judges – Election, Qualifications, and Term of Office Supported by the Judiciary as a means of protecting and promoting an independent judiciary, this proposed bill seeks a change to the state constitution to eliminate contested circuit court judicial elections, in favor of retention elections like those used for appellate judges. The law would only become effective if confirmed by voters at the ballot box. HB955 – Family Law – Child Support – Age of Majority – Postsecondary Education – would raise the age to which a judge can award child support form the current 18 up to age 23, provided the child is enrolled full-time in post-secondary education. The intent of the bill is to better align child support to today’s reality that some post-secondary college or career education is needed to help young people become financially independent. Already, parental income is considered in awarding student financial aid for students over 18, even in cases of separation and divorce. HB966 – Commission to Study Legislative and Congressional Districting – This bill sought to address Maryland’s perceived status as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, by establishing two separate commissions. It did not make it out of committee. However, I joined in co-sponsoring an alternative bill, HB367, which authorized Maryland to join address congressional legislative districting as part of a compact with New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina. As a group, the compact members currently have near equal major party congressional representation, state legislature party dominance and gubernatorial seats, so If all 6 states act it will remove the partisan wrangling over redistricting reform and send a message to Congress and the rest of the country. While the bill passed the House and made it out of the Senate committee on the last day of Session, time ran out before a final vote could be taken. HB1044 – Oncologists – Dispensing and Insurance Coverage of Orally Administered Cancer Chemotherapy among other things, would have allowed oncologists to better time and coordinate chemotherapy delivery involving prescribed courses of oral chemotherapy drugs for their own and their colleague’s patients, by creating an exception to certain restrictions and prohibitions against physician dispensing and self-referral laws. Despite substantial amendments, this rather complex bill ultimately failed to gain the necessary stakeholder support and was withdrawn. The bill may be re-introduced in some form, if the proponents are able to address the opponents’ concerns. HB1070 – Environment – Mattress Stewardship Program – this amended version of a bill I introduced in 2016, would have established a task force to consider mattress disassembly and recycling programs around the country, explore the efficacy of such program as catalysts for job creation particularly for those with limited employment opportunities, and determine if a state
stewardship policy, prioritizing private and nonprofit sector participation, should be developed to reduce the large number of mattresses and box springs discarded and sent to landfills. HB1204 – Atrazine Study would have directed an analysis of the current scientific literature and other data on the health effects, and measuring of levels in environments throughout the state, of Atrazine, a herbicide used on corn and other crops and known contaminant of ground, surface and drinking water, which has been linked to harmful effects on fish, birds and amphibians and possibly to human birth defects, prematurity and low birth weight. Based on the findings, determination of any need for modification of State regulatory protections would have been made. HB1516 – Public Health – Health Record and Payment Clearing House – Pilot Program introduced a constituent’s innovative and comprehensive approach to health care administration, with potential savings of 10-15% of health care dollars, by leveraging technology and a point-ofservice payment model to trim the time, inefficiencies and redundancies from health care delivery, record sharing and provider reimbursement. It required creation of a pilot program, which, if able to demonstrate the expected improvements in care delivery and costs savings, could be expanded statewide or regionally. The legislation and its senate cross-file were well-received in committee, as administrative cost reduction, in addition to pharmaceutical price management, is an area of emphasis in our efforts to further slow the rise in, and to eventually rein in, health care costs. Hopefully, additional work to bring stakeholders on board will allow this to move forward in an upcoming session.
DISTRICT 12 LEGISLATIVE IMPACT AND BOND BILLS
The General Assembly amended the Capital Budget to allocate $15 million ($7.5million each from the Senate and the House) through bond bill matching funds for local projects. Despite a tight budget, my District 12 colleagues and I were pleased to secure funding this year for the following projects: • University of Maryland Baltimore County: $40,249,000 for an Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building • Howard Community College: $9,560,000 for renovation of the Science and Nursing Building • Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville: $250,000 for new Athletic Field turf • Harriet Tubman Community Center and Museum: $500,000 for the capital development of the Center. • Chrysalis Pavilion in Merriweather Park: $250,000 for installation of decorative lighting.
Other legislative action specifically impacting Baltimore or Howard Counties include: HB1299 Howard County Board of Education – Elected School Board – changes the elected Board of Education from a seven at-large and one student member board to a board of five members elected from each of the five councilmanic districts, two at-large members, and one student member. HB88 Education – Selection of Members to the Baltimore County School Board – specifies that the terms of the four members appointed at large who are in office on October 1, 2017 expire on December 2, 2018; that the Governor appoint four members to succeed the departing members, and serve a four-year term beginning on December 3, 2018, from a list of nominees
submitted by the Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission; prohibits a candidate for election to the board from also seeking appointment to the board during the same election year; and requires the commission to hold at least three public hearings, each in a different councilmanic district, prior to recommending nominees for appointment to the board and to designate one of its members as commission chair by a majority vote. HB850 Howard County – Board of Education Fund Transfers – Approval Process – extends, from 30 to 65, the number of days the County Council has to act on a written request for budget transfers made by the Howard County Board of Education, and authorizes the Council to approve or disapprove a written request for a budget transfer in whole or in part. HB1283 Alcoholic Beverages – Class 5 Brewery – in the interest of encouraging plans of Diageo to open a Guinness brewery and taproom (projected to be a tourist destination) in Relay, and to support the growth and expansion of the statewide craft and microbrewery industries, while protecting the interests of bars, wholesalers, retailers and small businesses, this legislation expands operative provisions for Class 5 Brewery licensees. It increases limits on samples during a tour or promotional event and the annual limit on barrels sold for on-premise consumption. It stipulates conditions for contract brewing, consumption of product brewed off-site, and tourist sales for off-premises consumption, and limits the hours of sales to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. HB436 Baltimore County – Alcoholic Beverages – Issuance of Licenses Near Places of Worship having received support from the proximate place of worship and businesses, the legislation authorizes conditions for an exception to the prohibition on transfer of a liquor license to an establishment that is located within 100 feet of a place of worship. The conditions limit such a transfer to restaurant, such as Catonsville Gourmet, whose sales are solely for on-premise consumption of liquor as part of a meal. HB797 Howard County – Alcoholic Beverages – Thresholds for Tasting – doubles the per offering and daily total volume limits of beer, wine and liquor served to an individual under a tasting license. HB566 Howard County – Property Tax – Exemption for Personal Property of Business Located in Historic District – allows the County to exempt from the Howard County property tax, personal property that is owned or leased by a business entity located in a local historic or a national register district. HB572 Howard County – Property Tax Credit for Commercial Real Property – Flood Damage -allows Howard County to grant a property tax credit for commercial real property that has been determined to suffer flood damage or sewer damage caused by flood conditions. HB1604 -Transfer Tax Exemption and Rate Reduction – Law Enforcement Officers and Fire and Rescue Services Members Howard County – establishes a county transfer tax exemption for county law enforcement officers or fire and rescue services members if 1) the property is the principal residence of a first-time home buyer in Howard County who is employed as a county police officer, county deputy sheriff, or a fire and rescue services member for a minimum of three years following the home purchase. In addition, the county transfer tax rate is limited to 0.7% for their second and subsequent residential purchase. HB1343 Howard County – Fire and Explosive Investigator – Authority – authorizes certification of county fire and explosive investigators as law enforcement officers under certain, but not all, provisions having the authority to make certain warrantless arrests, and carry firearms. Historic Ellicott City and surrounding areas: $500,000 for the construction of storm water and flood management systems.
Towson University: $26,000,000 for construction of a new Science Building and $300,000 for sports practice fields improvements Community Colleges of Baltimore County: $57,000,000 grant from the Community College Facilities Grant Program for various projects and improvements such as a Multi Roof Replacement at the Catonsville & Dundalk campuses and the Wellness and Athletic Center at the Essex campus. Catonsville District Court: $12,000,000 to continue construction and renovations. ARC of Howard County: $300,000 matching grant to renovate and expand the Environmental Education Center. Howard County Community Action Council Food Bank: $200,000 for renovations and improvements. Howard County Uplift Foundation: $25,000 for facility renovations.
OTHER NOTABLE LEGISLATION PASSED
Sexual Offenses and Victim Rights • Establishing that evidence of physical resistance by a victim of a sexual crime is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed • Requiring that a health care provider that performs the sexual assault collection exam provide information to the victim describing the laws and policies governing preservation and disposal collection kit evidence. • Extending the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse and assault when the victim was a minor. • Allocating $3 million per year of State funding for sexual assault services and crisis programs and establishing the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee to increase access to help for victims. Health • Requiring expansion of an existing school program to include opioid addiction and prevention education, enacting of local opioid addiction and prevention policy and public colleges and universities to have overdose-reversing drugs available for campus police and implement an education and prevention program for incoming students. • Providing $3.0 million in grants are for public service announcements and training for school health personnel. • Combating the opioid and heroin crisis by increasing funding for behavioral health community providers; expanding grants for drug courts and a statewide crisis hotline; requiring the establishment of crisis treatment centers across the State, and hospitals to establish overdose protocols. • Establishing a commission to monitor and develop recommendations mitigating any negative impacts of potential federal changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP). • Equipping the Attorney General to investigate, prosecute and prevent price gouging of offpatent prescription drugs. • Providing for continuation of family planning services should federal Title X funding be terminated
• Permitting patients to obtain non-FDA approved investigational drugs or devices from the manufacturers, outside of experimental trials, if the patient is terminal or under other dire circumstances Environment • Banning hydraulic fracturing “fracking” – the process of pumping pressurized fluids into the earth to create new or expand existing fractures in rock for the exploration or production of natural gas or oil- in Maryland. • Requiring adoption of regulations for periodic testing for the presence of lead in each “drinking water outlet” located in an occupied public or nonpublic school building, including specific regulations regarding follow-up actions for positive test results. • Increasing the state’s renewable energy goals to 25% by 2020 – allowing 1,300 more megawatts of renewable energy, which will reduce carbon emissions equal to 563,000 passenger vehicles in the State and, in the process, creating thousands of jobs across the wind and solar energy sectors, by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto. Maryland has more than 170 solar companies and over 4,000 solar jobs paying nearly $21 an hour. Education • Prohibiting students in kindergarten through second grade from being suspended or expelled from school except in extenuating circumstances. • Limiting to 2% of instructional hours the amount of time that may be devoted to mandatory testing.
Wages and Taxes • Requires employers of 15 or more employees to provide up to 5 days of earned sick leave, and employers with fewer than 15 employees to provide unpaid leave annually. Exempts seasonal businesses and employers that already offer comparable benefits are unaffected. Employees of 85% of Maryland businesses are already offered leave and now 693,000 additional Marylanders will be covered. • Creating a tax credit for small businesses that hire veteran employees • Creating a tax credit for those who renovate their homes with disability accessibility features • Providing a $15,000 income tax deduction on the retirement income of thousands of law enforcement, fire, rescue, and EMS personnel who are 55 years and older. • Providing $10 million of income, sales, and property tax credits per year for 10 years to manufacturers who move into Maryland from out of State and create new manufacturing jobs in counties with high unemployment • Allowing existing manufacturers in the State who create new jobs to claim an income tax credit for each new job created, along with depreciation tax benefits for new equipment placed into service.
INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS
Page Program: High school seniors of the Class of 2018 interested in being a page for the Maryland General Assembly during the 90-day 2018 session, which runs from January to April, should contact their county’s Page Coordinator regarding the application and selection process. Pages serve two non-consecutive weeks during session. Baltimore County: Mr. Rex M. Shepard: mailto:email@example.com; 410-887-4017 Howard County: Dr. Mark Stout, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org; 410-313-6632
Contact Annapolis Page/Intern Coordinator: Jane Hudiburg, email@example.com or 410-9465128 for additional questions or if unable to reach your county coordinator.
Internships for College Credit: If you are a college student interested in interning during the 2018 session, contact your school’s intern coordinator, career counselor, or department dean for an application. All placements are made during the fall semester. Applications should be sent to the MGA Human Resources Office by October 31. If you do not know the contact person for your school, contact Jane Hudiburg, Intern Coordinator (as above) or go to http://dls.state.md.us/Content.aspx?page=66.
Delegate Scholarships: I have again elected to distribute my Delegate Scholarships for high school seniors, full-time or part-time degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students, and students attending a private career school, through the Maryland Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), to help ensure an impartial process. All awards are based on financial need; therefore, applicants must submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For more information click Delegate Scholarships or copy and paste this link into your browser: http://mhec.maryland.gov/preparing/Pages/FinancialAid/ProgramDescriptions/prog_delegate.aspx
Legacy Leadership Institute on Public Policy: Open to Maryland residents aged 50+ seeking new careers as Legacy Service Leaders during retirement. Applicants apply and are interviewed each June. In the fall, Legacy Leaders attend classes and receive training at the University of Maryland College Park to participate as Legacy Leaders in the General Assembly during the following year’s session. Go to https://sph.umd.edu/department/hlsa/ca/about-legacy-leadership-institute-publicpolicy-program for information.
Shadow a Delegate: Contact my office if you would like to shadow me in Annapolis for all or part of a day during Session 2018, attending floor sessions, committee, delegation, caucus and stakeholder meetings, and see the inner workings of my office.
Maryland General Assembly: MGA has an excellent website, http://mgaleg.maryland.gov, which allows you to learn just about anything you’d want to know about your legislators, committees, legislative actions, the legislative process, and more.
I am always interested in your state legislative concerns and hope you will get in touch with me to share them. If you are having difficulty working with state agencies or have local concerns, my Legislative Director, or I Belawoe Akwakoku, may be able to assist you in reaching a resolution. Alternatively, we will do our best to put you in contact with someone who can. You may reach us by phone at 410-841-3378 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for allowing me to represent you!