2022 Legislative Session Week 2 Newsletter

And we’re back! Just like that, the 2022 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session is in full swing. Most of our meetings are still taking place virtually, but it’s great to feel the energy buzzing through the halls and chambers of the House. 

I have six bills on the docket now, and could always pick up one or two more as we go. I’m diving headfirst into my work on the Health & Government Operations Committee, with placements on the Insurance and Health Occupations Subcommittees. It’s great to be back at it alongside my fellow legislators with all different backgrounds and beliefs. I’m proud to be part of such a remarkable group of lawmakers united by a deep dedication to the people of Maryland.

Maryland Budget

This week, the Appropriations Committee begins its work on next year’s budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). The Senate moves the budget first this year. Here’s what stands out from my review of our budget status: 

  • Spending in the Governor’s FY23 operating budget proposal totals $58.2 billion. This is approximately 5.5 percent less than fiscal 2022, and leaves us cash reserves over $4 billion.
  • Education is not fully funded. The Governor’s FY23 budget does not include $125 million in funding for the Education Effort Adjustment component of the Blueprint (Kirwan), and also fails to fund $15 million in other Kirwan programs. I stand firmly in support of Kirwan, and am committed to fighting for the full funding required.
  • The budget provides $832 million for enhancements to State employee compensation. This is much needed considering the administration has been unable to fill over 10 percent of its positions, which is a significant safety concern for Marylanders.
  • The budget also provides $60 million to assist child care providers and support the child care subsidy program. I am so glad to see our resources continuing to support early childhood development in our state.

Capital spending totals $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds and $1.1 billion in cash and other revenues. The capital budget is the State’s single best job creation tool so we will be working to ensure this funding goes to worthy projects. I will fight to make sure District 8 gets a piece of this pie.

2022 Bill Spotlight

HB 28: Pharmacists – Aid for the Cessation of Tobacco Product Use

I’ve already given my first testimony of the 2022 session in support of my bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe nicotine replacement therapies. This will make it easier to get the costs of these products covered by insurance without a trip to the doctor. Research shows that it’s harder for lower-income folks to access nicotine replacement therapies, while it’s also minority communities who bear the worst health effects of tobacco use. With this bill, we want to address these inequities and help more people stop smoking, improving quality of care and patient outcomes to create a healthier, happier Maryland.

My huge thanks to everyone who joined me to testify in support of this bill. A big thank-you also to Delegate Robbyn Lewis for co-sponsoring, and to Senator Mary Washington for crossfiling in the Senate. I am looking forward to a favorable report from the committee.

Click here to watch our testimony.

Baltimore County Delegation

It’s always a pleasure to join with my colleagues in Baltimore County for discussion of local issues and the bills which might address those issues. This week, we were joined by members of the Baltimore County Board of Education to discuss a measure which would give voting rights to the Board’s student member. It seems like there are sound arguments in favor and against this, and I encourage my constituents to reach out and share your thoughts with me before we make a decision on this.

Introducing Our Intern: Tristan

I’m so excited to introduce Tristan, our intern for this year’s legislative session. He hit the ground running this week, and I’m already impressed by his enthusiasm and commitment.

Tristan is a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County majoring in Political Science. He is extremely passionate about resolving issues in the community and leaving a positive impact on everybody he meets. This passion prompted Tristan to pursue an internship with my office, and I’m thrilled to have him on my team, particularly because he is based here in District 8. His interests include public policy and international relations, and in his spare time he enjoys playing video games and sports with his friends.

A warm welcome to Tristan, and my thanks to him for what I know will be great work throughout this year’s legislative session.

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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