2022 Legislative Session Week 9 Newsletter

Between long floor debates on key issues, packed committee sessions and three hearings on my own bills, it’s safe to say that this was a busy week!

I was excited to see that my bill to provide Medicaid coverage for self-measured blood pressure monitoring kits passed in subcommittee. It should now get through committee and make its way to the floor for second reading. We are well on the way to passing this bill! My thanks to everyone who has been in touch with my office recently. I appreciate your patience and support as I’m hard at work in pursuit of my legislative priorities and the priorities of my constituents and communities.

2022 Bill Spotlight: Movie Theater Open Captioning

On Wednesday, the Economic Matters Committee held a hearing on my bill to provide open captioning at some movie screenings in Maryland, which would help us be a national leader in making the movies more accessible.

House Bill 1238 would require most motion picture houses in the state to offer open captioning, meaning captions right up on the big screen, for two screenings per movie per week. This would help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community be able to enjoy going to the movies, something many of us take for granted. But this initiative has a bigger scope. Captions can improve literacy for children and English language learners of any age. My hope is that by welcoming these groups to the movies, we can help our theaters recover from the devastation of the pandemic.

Thank you to everyone who joined me to testify in support of this bill. We heard from both deaf and hearing people, and I commend the advocates who have worked hard to build support for this bill. I am looking forward to a favorable report.

Click here to view the hearing.

2022 Bill Spotlight: Home and Hospital Teaching Program

On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on my bill to authorize a study of the state’s Home and Hospital Teaching Program for Students, with a focus on how to transition students back into the classroom after long periods of virtual learning.

House Bill 1327 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. As it exists now, the program does not prepare students for reintegration into a classroom learning environment, especially in cases of students whose behavioral or emotional condition makes it difficult for them to attend school. We need to see exactly where the program struggles so that we may address those difficulties as efficiently and mindfully as possible in the future. 

Thank you to the star witness who joined to testify in support of this bill. I was delighted to see that there was no opposition and no significant concerns raised by my colleagues on the committee. I am looking forward to a favorable report.

Click here to view the hearing.

2022 Bill Spotlight: Sagar Ghimire Act

Also on Thursday, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on my bill to create a workgroup to study the implementation of Extreme Risk Protective Orders, with a focus on coupling these interventions with mental health support for individuals in crisis.

By all accounts, Sagar Ghimire was a bright young man with a promising future. An aspiring data scientist who had just graduated from Claflin University, Sagar moved to Baltimore County in hopes of attending graduate school. While settling into a new home in Woodlawn, Sagar was killed in a shooting by a neighbor with a history of erratic and violent behavior. He was 24.

The perpetrator had been on the radar of law enforcement. Neighbors reported that he often confronted them, accusing them of spying on him. One resident, who had registered concerns to the police, told The Baltimore Sun that the situation was “like a ticking bomb.” Tragically, Sagar was caught in the blast, and his family was left to wonder why, if the clues were there, was no action taken that might have prevented this incident? I put this question to our local law enforcement, as well as to our Baltimore County State’s Attorney and County Executive. I could not get a clear answer. This bill would take a step toward providing that answer.

This is a complicated issue touching on law enforcement, mental health support, and firearm regulation, and requires more in-depth study to understand the factors at play. House Bill 1344 would create a workgroup to review the implementation of Extreme Risk Protective Orders, a monumental piece of legislation that 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.

My thanks to the witnesses who joined to testify, including those victims and family members who had to relive the tragic events of that incident. I look forward to working with the committee members to ensure that this bill receives a favorable report.

Click here to watch the hearing.

Postal Service Update

My thanks to Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as our Congressional Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Kweisi Mfume, for helping address concerns about the inefficiency of the United States Postal Service (USPS). This week, the Postal Service Reform Act passed the Senate floor on a vote of 79 to 19 and is now on its way to the President’s desk. This will invest $107 billion in an overhaul of the USPS. I am excited to see this bill assist Marylanders who have been struggling to pay their bills on time, refill prescriptions, and access other basic services which still rely on the mail.

Last year, I spoke with the manager at the Parkville branch of the USPS, as well as a representative for the Baltimore district. My District 8 colleagues and I sent a formal letter to our senators and congressional representatives requesting their assistance. In a recent discussion with Senator Van Hollen, he assured me that he would make it a top priority to get this through the Senate. My thanks to the Senator and his colleagues for their dedicated work on this!

Citizen Spotlight: Cub Scout Pack 247

It was an absolute honor to join Cub Scout Pack 247 for their 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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