2022 Legislative Session Week 10 Newsletter

We’re really in the thick of it! It’s been a busy week with long voting sessions and debating key issues on the House Floor. Today is crossover, the last day to pass bills from the House and guarantee a hearing in the Senate. It feels so good to be making laws and fulfilling my commitments to my constituents and the people of Maryland. It’s such an honor to be here representing my communities in Annapolis, and a privilege I do not take for granted. Thank you to everyone who has supported me. We’re getting into the home stretch of the session!

2022 Bill Spotlight: Dashain Day

On Tuesday, the Health & Government Operations Committee held a hearing on my bill to recognize Dashain Day, an important cultural festival for South Asian communities around the world and here in Maryland.

Dashain is a celebration of good triumphing over evil which originated in Nepal and is part of many national cultural identities, including India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. While the festivities usually last for up to two weeks, House Bill 484 seeks to identify just one day, October 5, as Dashain Day in the state of Maryland. This will acknowledge and legitimize an important cultural practice of our South Asian communities, helping them feel at home in our state.

Thank you to those who joined me to testify in support of this bill, including two incredible students who I was proud to hear speaking up. This was my final bill hearing of the legislative session, and I was so pleased to receive a favorable report from the committee. Just a few days later, the bill passed on the House Floor 123-5.

Click here to watch the hearing.

2022 Legislative Session Status Update

This has been an incredibly productive session, and I am so grateful to my colleagues, supporters and everyone who has helped me get this far. At this point, with three weeks to go, I am proud to have passed three bills on the House Floor with broad bi-partisan support. Another three of my bills have passed second reading, and look set to pass with similarly wide margins.

A brief overview of my bills this session:

HB484: General Provisions – Commemorative Days – Dashain Day

As stated above, this bill would require the Governor annually to proclaim October 5 as Dashain Day, a festival originating in Nepal that celebrates and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. I was delighted to see this pass in a vote of 123-5.

HB534: Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring

This bill would require the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide coverage for self-measured blood pressure monitoring beginning in 2023. This would help 1.5 million people in Maryland with high blood pressure take control of their own health, significantly reducing their risk of heart disease or stroke. This passed unanimously.

HB1238: Places of Public Accommodation – Motion Picture Houses – Captioning

This bill would require all motion picture houses to offer closed captioning for each screening of a motion picture; and require that certain motion picture houses provide open captioning for two screenings per film per week. I was so excited to see this pass in a vote of 108-21.

HB28: Pharmacists – Nicotine Replacement Therapy Medication

This bill would grant licensed pharmacists the right to prescribe and dispense nicotine replacement products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Reduced smoking rates would curb the impacts of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and many types of cancers in our state. Up for a vote this week.

HB1219: Pharmacists – Status as Health Care Providers and Study on Reimbursement

This bill would alter certain definitions of “health care provider” to include pharmacists for the purposes of provisions of law related to health care malpractice claims, destruction of medical records, and HIV testing; and require the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, the Maryland Children’s Health Program, and certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for certain services rendered by a licensed pharmacist under certain circumstances. Up for a vote this week.

HB1327: Education – Home and Hospital Teaching Program for Students – Report

This bill would require the State Department of Education to study and make recommendations regarding the Home and Hospital Teaching Program for Students and instructional services and transition plans for students in the program. Up for a vote this week.

HB1344: Workgroup to Study Extreme Risk Protective Orders (Sagar Ghimire Act)

This bill would create the Workgroup to Study Extreme Risk Protective Orders; and require the Workgroup to report to the Governor and the General Assembly by May 1, 2023 on its policy recommendations for improving the use of Extreme Risk Protective Orders in the State. This bill, which was the subject of a recent Baltimore Sun report (read more below), is still being worked on in committee.

Gas Tax Break

I was proud to co-sponsor a 30-day suspension of our state’s gas tax, which passed unanimously. This will take effect immediately as a way to help bring down prices at the pump across Maryland, and we should easily be able to absorb the cost of this tax break with our historic budget surplus. Considering all the factors contributing to rising gas prices, this bill just makes good sense and will help ease the strain on pocketbooks across the state.

In The News

My thanks to The Baltimore Sun for their dedicated coverage of the tragic incident leading to the death of Sagar Ghimire last year, and my efforts to keep Sagar’s legacy alive in our state while preventing something like this from happening again. Enormous gratitude to Mr. Adhikari, who witnessed the event firsthand and has retold his story over and over in an effort to get justice.

House Bill 1344 would create a workgroup to review the implementation of Extreme Risk Protective Orders, a monumental piece of legislation which seeks to keep guns out of the hands of those who represent a significant danger to their communities. This workgroup would recommend ways to couple this intervention with mental health support for individuals who need it. It was heard by the Judiciary Committee last week, with testimony from Mr. Adhikari, Sagar’s family, and the County Executive’s office. 

Read the full Sun article by reporter Christine Condon here:

‘I just closed my eyes, and he shot the gun’: Survivor recounts Woodlawn gunman’s 2021 rampage, calls for reevaluation of ‘red flag’ laws

Remembering Tanya Jones

It was with a heavy heart that I joined the Community College of Baltimore County to mourn the passing of Dundalk Campus Director Tanya Jones, who worked tirelessly to support the citizens, and in particular the students, of our community. Tanya was a District 8 constituent who I met at an early voting center in 2018. We stayed in touch. She was a wonderful person, with a big smile and bigger heart. I was devastated at the news of her death. I was joined by Delegate Carl Jackson in presenting condolences from Speaker Jones and the entire House of Delegates.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” With all the willpower in the world, we cannot bring Tanya back to us. But she would want us to find happiness, and to share it with others. She was a champion of education and touched so many lives through this passion. Her untimely passing inspires me to continue this mission in my own work.

Thank you, Tanya, for everything you did. You are with God now, and live on in our hearts.

Scholarship Applications

My office will be accepting applications for 2022-2023 scholarships until March 31, 2022, along with my fellow District 8 Delegates. Read on for more information. You can click the link below or scan the QR code to find our application form.

A few things to note before you apply:

  • Applicants must be residents of Maryland’s Legislative District 8. You can double-check your address at mdelect.net, and if you live in any other district, we encourage you to apply for a scholarship with your district’s representatives.
  • Applicants must be accepted or enrolled as full- or part-time students at a college or university in Maryland. We are not able to offer scholarships to students attending schools outside of Maryland (unless they have Unique Major status).
  • Applicants should only apply once. All three District 8 Delegates (Bhandari, Boteler, and Jackson) share a single scholarship fund and use the same system to accept and adjudicate applications. All three offices will be able to review your application after you submit this form once, so there’s no need to apply three times.

Find our application form at this link: https://forms.gle/UvbvxSe8wgVsBqz9A

Also worth noting: legislative scholarships are non-renewable, meaning you must reapply each year. Filing for FAFSA is encouraged but not required; however, if you don’t file for FAFSA, you must create a Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) account for the scholarship award to be processed. Visit this page for more details.

Please don’t hesitate to follow up with any questions. And good luck!

Questions, Comments, or Concerns

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns throughout the legislative session, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at harry.bhandari@house.state.md.us. I am always happy to hear from constituents, and in the meantime, I’m sending you all my best wishes.

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