Annapolis Insights: Legislative Newsletter – Week 5

Dear Constituents,

It was a thrilling week as I recently introduced two new bills, HB0264 (Places of Public Accommodation – Motion Picture Houses – Captioning) and (School Buildings – Solar Technology – Solar Panels on Schools). Despite a hectic schedule with floor sessions and Committee hearings, I met with as many constituents as possible. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and I am committed to working toward a better future for our state.

Celebrating Our Partnership with MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

I am delighted to share my recent meeting with Stuart M. Levine, the President of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. It was a privilege to present the state flag to him during his visit to my district office. We were proud to support the construction of the new Surgical Pavilion. This cutting-edge facility features 14 operating suites with the latest technology, such as robotic and telesurgery, private pre- and post-op recovery rooms, a bridge connection to the patient tower, and more. The state has invested $13 million in this $70 million facility, and it has been providing exceptional medical services to our community. MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center plays a vital role in District 8 and the Baltimore region. It’s crucial that we continue to collaborate to ensure that our residents receive the best medical care possible. I am proud to have this exceptional medical center in our district and grateful for its dedication to providing quality healthcare services.

HB0264 and HB0300 Testified: Inclusion and Sustainability

I had the pleasure of presenting my bill HB0264, Places of Public Accommodation – Motion Picture Houses – Captioning, in front of the house economic matters committee. I am grateful to everyone who testified and the broader community for supporting this bill.
The bill requires movie theaters to offer open captioning on the big screen. This will benefit deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, seniors, English learners, and children by allowing them to follow the audio content in real-time without the need for a separate device. Open captioning will also improve their enjoyment and engagement with the movie-going experience, making them feel more included. I understand the pandemic has significantly impacted the movie theater industry, but this bill will help attract more customers and support local businesses. The requirement only applies during the first seven days after a motion picture premieres. Additionally, suppose the place of public accommodation controls, operates, owns, or leases at least two motion picture houses in the state. Offering open captioning is a small step toward creating a more inclusive and accessible experience for everyone.

Similarly, I presented my House Bill 0300 in front of the Appropriation Committee this week, which aims to promote environmentally friendly practices in the construction of schools in Maryland. The bill requires local school systems to consider installing solar panels on the roof of each school constructed from July 2025 to June 2034. If a local school system decides not to install solar panels, it must explain its decision to the State Commission on School Construction. This bill is expected to positively impact the environment, education, and finance and serve as a step towards a more sustainable future. The implementation of this bill demonstrates the importance of considering the environment in all aspects of society and the responsibility to future generations to ensure the construction of eco-friendly structures.

HGO Passes Key Bills to Improve our Public Health System

Today, the Health and Government Operations Committee(HGO) held its first voting session and successfully passed the following bills out of the committee.

HB 214, of which I am proud to be a co-sponsor, passed the committee. This proposed bill in Maryland seeks to modernize the state’s public health activities and response to challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will establish a commission that will evaluate the state’s response to COVID-19, maternal health, and drug overdoses, and provide recommendations for improvement. In addition, the commission will examine the critical functions of public health, such as health monitoring, communication, emergency preparedness, and equity. The bill’s purpose is to enhance Maryland’s public health system and provide public health workers with the necessary resources and support to serve the community during crises effectively. Thank you, Del. Kelly, for your leadership.

HB0279 Prescription Drug Affordability Board(PDAB) – Upper Payment Limits

The PDAB is working towards making prescription drugs more affordable for consumers. The board implements an upper payment limit, which sets the maximum amount that government entities or others will pay for a drug. The PDAB was established in 2019 to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, but the veto of HB1095 by Governor Hogan in 2022 hindered progress on the issue. I am proud to support this bill because the enactment of the bill can result in cost savings for consumers, better access to necessary medications, increased competition among pharmaceutical companies, and more transparent drug pricing information to support informed decision-making by healthcare providers and policymakers. HB0279 is a positive step forward, and Del. Cullison deserves recognition for her leadership.

HB0611 State Board of Nursing – Sunset Extension, Licensure Exceptions, and Board Operations and Membership

Due to the shortage of nurses and caregivers caused by various factors, such as the complexity of the healthcare industry, and increasing demand for care, COVID-19 House Bill 611 aims to streamline the licensing process for nurses and other board licensees in Maryland. The bill temporarily transfers the authority of the Board’s operations to the Maryland Department of Health, prioritizes the resolution of the Board’s infrastructure needs, and allows nurse graduates to practice while they prepare for the national licensure exam. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this crucial bill. I thank Chairman Pena-Melnyk and Del. Kelly for their hard work. This bill is seen as an essential step towards innovative healthcare reform in the post-pandemic world and has widespread support for its passage.

Young Minds Observe Democracy in Action: Towson High’s Law and Public Policy Visits House Gallery

This morning, the House gallery was filled with excitement as 9th graders from Towson High’s Law and Public Policy arrived for a visit. They attentively observed our 11 am session, getting a firsthand look at how our government operates.
The Law and Public Policy has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Over the years, it has nurtured the growth of many talented and visionary leaders. Our gratitude goes out to Julie Kromsky, the dedicated program director, for her hard work and commitment.

A Heartfelt Thank You to the Baltimore and Harford County Police Departments

We are deeply grateful to the Baltimore County Police department and Harford County Police Department for their unwavering hard work and commitment during the recent multi-jurisdictional investigation. Your tireless efforts to serve and protect our community are truly appreciated. I also thank Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski for updating the Baltimore County House Delegation on the incident. Our thoughts, prayers, and support go out to the brave officers who were injured in the line of duty. We wish them a speedy recovery and want to recognize the daily sacrifices made by all members of law enforcement to keep us safe. We are relieved that the suspect has been apprehended.

Case Work

We are closely coordinating all casework requests and are dedicated to assisting you in any way we can. Whether it is helping you navigate the unemployment website, connecting you with resources for utility assistance, or providing information on local programs, we are here to support you.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe

As we continue to work through the challenges of the Covid epidemic, it is essential to note that we are making progress in the fight. I would like to commend the medical community for the unprecedented levels of research that has gone into developing and dispersing vaccines. And to our medical providers for the exceptional care that has been administered to those that have been afflicted. As we move forward, it is important that everyone who can be vaccinated so that we can stop the spread of this virus, and put this difficult part of our nation’s history firmly in the past.

Your Voice Matters

Thank everyone for reaching out with their thoughts on legislation, and all of your advocacy is heard and greatly appreciated. Whether at the federal, state, or local level, our government operates at a higher level with an informed and active constituency. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, concerns, or requests for help. My staff and I are here to help, and I can be reached via email or by phone at 410-841-3524.

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