2022 Legislative Session Week 6 Newsletter

Things are slowly feeling normal again in Annapolis. We’re still masked up and taking other precautions, but it’s good to be back on the floor with my colleagues making legislation in this historic chamber. It’s hard to believe that we’re already almost halfway through! Still, my focus remains on getting good work done on behalf of the people of Maryland. 

Legislative Bond Initiative

I am working with Senator Kathy Klausmeier and my fellow District 8 Delegates to secure $1,000,000 for athletic facilities upgrades at Perry Hall High School. This will cover a complete upgrade to the school’s track, as well as minor upgrades to the tennis courts and other facilities. We are so excited to see this funding from the state’s capital budget flowing into District 8!

HGO Committee Update

My committee, Health and Government Operations, had a week of long bill hearings. In a voting session, we passed a number of bills which will go on to a full floor vote later in the session. The bills we passed through committee this week include:

HB279: Veterans Affairs – Office of Communications and Public Affairs – Veterans Advocacy and Education Act

This bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to actively help veterans and their dependents learn about and access education and training benefits to which they are entitled, among other changes to the Department operations. I was delighted to co-sponsor this bill, which passed unanimously.

HB245: Program for Preventing HIV Infection for Rape Victims – Alterations and Repeal of Sunset

This bill would repeal the termination date of the Pilot Program for Preventing HIV Infection for Rape Victims, repeal a limit on subsidies for care providers for treatment and follow-up care in these cases, and alter reporting requirements for the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services. I was delighted to co-sponsor this bill, which passed unanimously.

HB247: Insurance – Medicare Supplement Policy Plans – Open Enrollment Period Following BirthdayThis bill would require insurance carriers to extend an open enrollment period to participants for 30 days after their birthdays and to make available to them supplemental policy plan options for enrollment within that window. I was delighted to co-sponsor this bill.

Baltimore County Delegation

The Baltimore County Delegation was joined this week by Baltimore County Public Library Director Sonia Alcantara-Antoine, who shared updates about the amazing work our public libraries have done throughout the pandemic to support our communities, with incredible programming both online and in-person. Their flexibility and ingenuity with resources is honestly inspiring, and I really encourage you to go see how our libraries could be positive in your life.

The legislature passed a bill last year which gave local libraries the right to license and provide e-books (HB518). This new program is amazing – anyone can join the library and read their books online, which has huge implications for getting reading materials into the hands of those who may not be able to go out and buy books or get to libraries. I really encourage everyone to take advantage of this wonderful program.

Thank you to Director Alcantara-Antoine for joining us. In particular, I want to highlight the Mobile Library Law Center, which as a lawmaker struck me as an incredible idea. This is just another example of how to get resources and assistance to folks who may not know where to turn to help tackle the challenges in their lives. I asked Director Alcantara-Antoine about doing more to support our housing insecure populations through public libraries, and she reaffirmed her commitment that libraries should be a resource for everyone, regardless of background or circumstance. This is the compassion and dedication I love to see in our community leaders.

Click here to watch my exchange with Director Alcantara-Antoine.

My thanks also to the directors of our local branches, including Parkville-Carney, White Marsh and Rosedale, for meeting with me to discuss the services offered at these specific locations, including resources related to connecting with the State Department concerning passports, as well as notary services. It was wonderful to learn more about the great work they are doing in our communities, and again, I really encourage you to take advantage of these resources.

County Retiree Cost of Living Adjustment

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced this week that the Employees’ Retirement Board voted to approve a three percent cost of living adjustment for eligible retirees, effective July 1, 2022. In the last decade, eligible County retirees have only received a single one percent cost of living adjustment, so this is huge news. My thanks to our County Executive for continuing to look out for vulnerable folks in our communities.

Click here to learn more.

Citizen Spotlight

I had the honor of joining Senator Kathy Klausmeier, County Councilman David Marks and my fellow District 8 Delegate Carl Jackson to acknowledge the incredible work of Kirsten Roller, who was pivotal in bringing together the Officer Caprio Playground Project at Gunpowder Elementary School.

I was so proud to fight for the funding for this project along with my colleagues in District 8. No one deserves thanks more than Kristen, who I remember visiting with many times in my district office and in Annapolis. It filled me with pride to see the results of those meetings come to fruition when we opened the playground last year, and I was honored to present a citation to Kirsten this past weekend.

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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