2022 Legislative Session Week 8 Newsletter

March is shaping up to be a busy month! I had one bill hearing this week, with three more coming up next week and another the week after that. Plus, we’re in committee and on the floor almost every day considering and voting on legislation, all seeking to lift up our communities and standards of living in Maryland. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any thoughts or concerns you have – I value every chance I get to hear from constituents, even when the session is at its busiest. Meanwhile, I will as ever be hard at work.

2022 Bill Spotlight: Pharmacist Pay Parity

This week, the Health & Government Operations Committee held a hearing on my bill to introduce pay parity for pharmacists, bringing us up to date with a dozen other states which have made significant progress on this issue.

House Bill 1219 addresses a disparity in reimbursement for care services between pharmacists and other health care providers. Maryland pharmacists make healthcare more accessible, keeping our communities safer. They have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting vaccination, treatment, testing, as well as helping folks manage chronic conditions at a moment of great strain for our healthcare system. Despite this, unlike other providers, pharmacists are not reimbursed for many services. This bill will change that.

Thank you to everyone who joined me to testify in support of this bill, and I was delighted to see that there was no opposition, nor concerns raised by my colleagues on the committee. I look forward to continuing my work on this initiative.

Click here to view the hearing.

MGA Cybersecurity Package

Our state has recently suffered a range of cyber-attacks which have left our systems vulnerable, sometimes causing irreparable harm to the operations of our agencies in healthcare, finance, and education. This problem is local, with Baltimore County Public Schools still recovering from a huge cyber-breach that took down many systems last year. With this in mind, I’m proud to see cybersecurity with a new legislative package.

This package works to modernize Maryland’s information technology infrastructure, protect state agencies and local governments from cyber-attacks, and ensure a framework is in place for future administrations to make long-term investments toward cybersecurity efforts. Reforms to cybersecurity are necessary and long overdue. By centralizing the state system, we will be able to respond more efficiently to attacks and coordinate with agencies across the state. These bills strike a balance between strengthening our ability to protect state agencies as well as giving locals necessary control over their system and providing a place to share resources, cyber infrastructure grants, and emergency assistance when necessary. 

The framework provided by this legislation has three main components:


Establishes a governance structure for statewide cybersecurity efforts by codifying the Office of Security Management (OSM) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) under the Department of Information Technology (DOIT). The CISO will coordinate statewide cybersecurity efforts for executive branch agencies and head the Maryland Cybersecurity Counsel, which will streamline cybersecurity efforts across executive branch agencies.


Creates an oversight commission consisting of experts in cybersecurity, legislators, industry leaders. The CISO, DOIT, and Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), will be required to present to the body and provide annual reports of the state cybersecurity infrastructure. This bill also establishes a “fee for service” grant program provided at-cost by the state, to assess local governments cyber infrastructure and make grants available to jurisdictions who take advantage of the program.


Codifies the ‘Fusion Center’ to coordinate data sharing across government entities and assess threats and ensure emergency support is available for cyber breaches through the emergency preparedness unit MDEM. The bill also requires the MDEM cyber preparedness unit to assist local governments to be prepared and respond to incidents and establishes a fund for local cybersecurity emergency preparedness.

Baltimore County Delegation

Thanks to Congressman John Sarbanes for joining the Baltimore County Delegation this week with updates from Washington.

He touched on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reaffirming his commitment to working with lawmakers of all stripes on the Hill to stand in defense of democracy and human rights. I have seen firsthand the fragility of a young democracy, as well as the beauty that can flourish when free citizens are empowered to raise their own voices in self-determination. With this in mind, I stand wholeheartedly in support of Ukraine and am praying for peace and prosperity in the nation’s future, as well as for the safety and security of all those caught in the crosshairs of the conflict. I was pleased to see Governor Hogan hold a vigil for Ukraine this week, with the Statehouse illuminated in Ukraine’s colors of blue and yellow. I also commend Congressman Sarbanes for his resolve on this.

We also discussed problems with mail service in the Baltimore area and nationally, issues which have improved somewhat but are far from resolved. Last year, 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 our Congressmen and Senators, requesting their help rectifying these issues, and I was glad to see Congressman Sarbanes join with his colleagues recently in passing a bipartisan $57 billion Postal Service overhaul. 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.

Click here to watch our discussion with Congressman Sarbanes.

My thanks also to Mr. Terry Hickey, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Housing and Community Development, who shared a briefing on the county’s efforts to promote housing stability and affordability, address abandoned and blighted buildings, and generally advancing homeownership in our communities. I’m so glad to see the County Executive prioritizing this effort, and am especially excited to see that over $102 million has been allocated into programs and initiatives that support these goals. Thank you to Mr. Hickey and everyone who is taking up this difficult but essential work.

UMBC Alumni Reception for Dr. Hrabowski

It was such an honor to attend a reception for Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, the retiring president of my alma mater, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Hrabowski has devoted three decades of leadership to UMBC and has done some amazing work bringing us into the top tier of the nation’s schools. As a lifelong student and teacher, I appreciate Dr. Hrabowski’s commitment to making the opportunities of education more accessible to everyone, and I am so inspired by his work. Thank you, Dr. Hrabowski and Dean Dr. Moffitt for hosting such a wonderful event, and for everything you’ve done for students in Maryland!

Citizen Spotlight: Cub Scout Pack 26

It was an absolute thrill to join Cub Scout Pack 26 for their Blue/Gold Ceremony and Arrow of Light Ceremony last weekend along with Delegate Carl Jackson, Senator Kathy Klausmeier and Councilman David Marks. This next generation of leaders continues to inspire me with their dedication and perseverance, especially throughout the last year or two. We can all take pride in the accomplishments of these amazing young people, and we are so lucky to have them and their families here in our community. Congratulations, scouts!

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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