• Stephen Buckingham

General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die (until January 2021)

At 5:00 pm today, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned early due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving a lot of legislation hanging. However, we did get six of our priority bills passed. In addition, five other positive bills related to our issues passed. Below is the list, sorted by Task Force Issue:

Climate change:

  • HB 1029/SB 224 - Clean Energy Jobs - Workforce Development – Scope - Clarifies the term "clean energy industry" and modifies the requirement that apprenticeship jobs training programs prepare workers for careers in the solar and wind sectors of the clean energy industry to also include geothermal and energy efficiency careers, making them eligible to receive support through the Clean Energy Workforce Account.

Criminal Justice:

  • HB 49 - Criminal Procedure- Pretrial Release- Pretrial Risk Scoring Instruments - requires a jurisdiction that uses a “pretrial risk scoring instrument” to determine the eligibility of a defendant for pretrial release to have an independent validation study of the instrument conducted at least once every five years. The bill also adds “pretrial risk scoring instrument validation” as an authorized purpose for grants from the Pretrial Services Program Grant Fund and makes corresponding changes to provisions governing the fund.

  • Priority: SB 684 - Correctional Services - Prerelease Unit for Women - Facilities and Services (Gender-Responsive Prerelease Act) - Requires the Division of Correction to operate a comprehensive rehabilitative prerelease unit for women that is a separate structure in which specified services are provided, has security features for specified female inmates, and matches security level on a validated gender-responsive risk measure. The DOC is also required to make evidence-based and gender-responsive services available to female inmates at the prerelease unit for women. The bill also alters existing requirements for comprehensive rehabilitative prerelease services to require the services to utilize “evidence-based programs and practices” and “innovative programs and practices.”

Education:

  • Priority: HB 1300 - Blueprint for Maryland's Future - Implementation - The Blueprint is built on the principle that every child deserves the best education regardless of zip code to compete in a global economy. It invests an additional $4B in early childhood education, college and career readiness, increasing teacher salaries and providing more support for students who need them (special ed, EL, at-risk) and increased accountability and oversight.

Gun Violence:

  • Priority: HB 4/SB 208 - Public Safety- Rifles and Shotguns- Sales, Rentals, and Transfers - requires that a licensed firearms dealer facilitate the "transfer” of a rifle or shotgun. “Transfer” means a sale, a rental, a furnishing, a gift, a loan, or any other delivery, with or without consideration. A dealer may charge a reasonable fee for facilitating a transfer of a rifle or shotgun. The bill establishes penalties for violations.

  • HB 1629 - Office of the Attorney General - Firearm Crime – Study - Require the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to study information regarding firearm crimes committed in the State since August 1, 2015, as specified, and identify specified information for each 9-1-1 request for emergency assistance involving a firearm crime.

  • SB 708 - Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund and Advisory Council – Alterations - Mandates $3 million in the annual State budget to the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund for oversight of the Fund, public outreach and education and technical assistance and best practice education for grantees. It also authorizes Baltimore City to use funding appropriated for the Safe Streets Initiative to cover its related expenses.

Health Care:

  • Priority: HB 959/SB 872 - Health Insurance - Consumer Protections - establishes the consumer protection provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are currently specified through cross-references in Maryland law. It also establishes nondiscrimination provisions. The bill generally applies to any health benefit plan offered in the small group, individual, or large group markets and specifies exceptions for grandfathered plans. The Insurance Commissioner is authorized to enforce these provisions and must adopt specified regulations.

  • Priority: HB 196/SB 124 - Maryland Health Benefit Exchange- Assessment Applicability and Report on State-Based Individual Market Health Insurance Subsidies - requires the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE), by December 1, 2020, to report certain information to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Health and Government Operations Committee as it relates to establishing State-based individual market health insurance subsidies in the State. The bill also clarifies that the health insurance provider fee assessment applies to health insurance products that were subject to a specified federal fee as in effect on December 1, 2019.

  • Priority: HB 1095/SB 669 - Public Health - Prescription Drug Affordability Board and Fund - repeals the requirement that the Prescription Drug Affordability Board determine a funding source and report to specified committees of the General Assembly with a recommendation on legislation necessary to establish a funding source by December 31, 2020. Instead, the bill requires the board to assess and collect an annual fee on specified entities to fund the board. All fees must be paid to the newly established Prescription Drug Affordability Fund. If the board receives funding for its initial establishment from the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), the board must repay the funds over a three-year period beginning June 1, 2021.

  • HB 1100 - Prescription Drug Affordability Board - Meetings, Legal Advisor, Reports, and Technical Changes - repeals the requirement that the Prescription Drug Affordability Board hire legal counsel. Instead, the bill specifies that the Attorney General is the legal adviser to the board and must designate an assistant Attorney General as counsel to the board. The bill clarifies that the board may set upper payment limits in accordance with a specified plan of action. The bill also reduces the frequency by which the board is required to meet from at least once every six weeks to at least four times per year and delays the date by which the board must complete specified actions, including its study and report on the entire pharmaceutical distribution and payment system in the State and policy options being used in other states and countries to lower the list price of pharmaceuticals.

Unfortunately, no bills passed related to Economic Justice, Immigration, or Medical Aid in Dying.


Thanks to everyone for all your hard work!

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