2022 Legislative Session Week 4 Newsletter

Is it me, or did April showers come early this year? I hope everyone is staying dry as we head into the weekend. Despite the weather, our work in the legislature continues, with a busy week on the books and another in the works. Next Friday is our bill filing deadline, so I’m getting my ducks in a row to finalize my legislation for the session.

Committee Highlights

The Health & Government Operations Committee held hearings for almost 20 bills this week, and I was pleased to join my colleagues in the Health Occupations and Long Term Care Subcommittee, chaired by Delegate Arianna Kelly. However, the standout from the week was a briefing we received from the Department of Legislative Services on the state budget.

I was proud to fight for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an investment in our schools of $32 billion over 10 years. Despite this, I was shocked to see that the Governor’s FY23 budget leaves out $140 million for key components of the Blueprint. I asked why we would pass up a chance to give our students the strongest foundation for future success? The answer I was given: The administration did not fund things that they did not believe were mandates. They only funded what they had to. I guess student success is not a priority for Governor Hogan, despite our $4 billion budget surplus. Nevertheless, I am committed to restoring the full Blueprint funding.

Click here to watch the briefing for yourself. My question begins at 25:18.

Today in an HGO Committee voting session, we passed the following bills:

  • HB21 – State Board for the Certification of Residential Child Care Program Professionals – Membership and Official Seal (Delegate Cullison)
  • HB32 – Mental Health Law – Petitions for Emergency Evaluations – Electronic Record (Delegate Bagnall)
  • HB106 – Health Insurance – Nonprofit Health Service Plan – Board of Directors (Delegate Cullison)
  • HB119 – Insurance – Annuities – Nonforfeiture – Interest Rate (Delegate Qi)
  • HB155 – State Board of Examiners for Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensers, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Music Therapists – Revisions (Delegate Sample-Hughes)
  • HB163 – Public Information Act – Required Denials – Sociological Information and Distribution Lists (Delegate Carr)
  • HB167 – Commission to Establish a Maryland Women Veterans Memorial (Delegate Bagnall)
  • HB180 – Interstate Medical Licensure Compact – Sunset Extension and Reporting (Delegate Bagnall)
  • HB227 – State Government – Legal and Employee Holiday – Juneteenth National Independence Day (Delegate Harrison)
  • HB246 – Open Meetings Act – Notices, Closed Sessions, and Minutes – Retention Periods, Online Posting, and Public Inspection (Delegate Carr and Lehman)

County Delegation Updates

My thanks to Senator Ben Cardin for joining the Baltimore County Delegation to give us the view from Capitol Hill. As a ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Cardin updated us on efforts to build a unified national response to the brewing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. He also took questions about President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will bring billions in development funding to our state. 

We also discussed problems with mail service in the Baltimore area and nationally, issues which have improved somewhat but are far from resolved. I spoke with the manager at the Parkville branch for USPS as well as a representative for the entire Baltimore District. My colleagues and I in District 8 sent a formal letter to Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, requesting their help rectifying these issues. So much of our day-to-day lives rely on the USPS. This isn’t about playing a blame game but finding an effective and enduring solution.

I appreciate Senator Cardin’s commitment to working with us on addressing these issues and advancing Baltimore County’s priorities.

My thanks also to Dr. Gregory Branch, Baltimore County Health Commissioner, for joining us to share an assessment of the county’s COVID-19 response. I am grateful to have the esteemed Dr. Branch leading our county through this crisis, and ask everyone to please continue following the health guidance. Above all, please be kind and respectful to healthcare workers. These folks have put up with a lot in the last couple of years, and deserve our gratitude for their hard work.

Side-Note: Lunch with Johnny O.

It was wonderful to meet with Baltimore County Executive Johnny O. over breakfast with my District 8 colleagues Senator Klausmeier and Delegate Jackson.

We had a great discussion of our communities’ priorities, and we are grateful for the County Executive’s help in expediting projects that we’ve already gotten state funding for like improvements at Double Rock Park and Linover Park or a new turf field at Parkville High School, as well as his support on projects that we’re fighting for this year like a new track at Perry Hall High School and funding for community centers in Harford Park and other neighborhoods. My thanks to the County Executive for his leadership, and for taking the time to visit us in Annapolis.

Scholarship Applications

My office will be accepting applications for 2022-2023 scholarships until March 31, 2022, along with my fellow District 8 Delegates Joseph Boteler, II and Carl Jackson. 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 a full- or part-time student 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 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 reach out to Delegate Bhandari (Harry.Bhandari@house.state.md.us), Delegate Boteler (Joseph.Boteler@house.state.md.us) or Delegate Jackson (Carl.Jackson@house.state.md.us) 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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