Annapolis Insights: Legislative Newsletter – Week 3

Greetings from Annapolis!

As we dive into the heart of this legislative session, I am filled with excitement and pride to represent you. My team and I are working hard in Annapolis to address the important issues in our community.. Remember, our office is always open should you need any assistance. We are right in the middle of the session, engaging with critical legislation and making strides for the betterment of Maryland. As always, I welcome and encourage you to contact my office to share your opinions.

Health, Government, and Operations Committee (HGO) Highlights

This week, the Health and Government Operations Committee heard a series of bills aimed at refining health insurance regulations in Maryland:

– HB0023 proposes modifications to the rules regarding dental coverage in health plans, suggesting that health plans need not offer separate dental benefits already covered by dental plans and removing the mandate for specific dental benefits for children in health plans. The goal is to simplify health plan regulations.

– HB0240 seeks to restrict the cancellation of health plans by insurance companies if a policyholder’s partial payment, made before the end of the grace period, falls less than $10 short of the total monthly premium. Policyholders would then have 30 days to pay the remaining balance after receiving a notice. This measure is designed to prevent cancellations over minor payment shortfalls.

– HB0030 aims to align state health insurance regulations with federal law, updating compliance dates, incorporating the No Surprises Act, modifying special enrollment period triggers, and allowing for enrollment period extensions under certain conditions. This bill intends to improve the functionality and fairness of Maryland’s health plans.

2024 Legislative Highlights

AI Bills

I know AI is important for our society, but we need to use it carefully to avoid potential problems. As your representative, I’m taking steps to address these concerns and make sure we use AI responsibly. Currently, I am in the process of drafting bills aimed at protecting the public while also ensuring the responsible use of AI in government. One of these bills focuses on safeguarding consumers from malicious online bots designed to deceive individuals about the identity of artificial entities. These bots often aim to mislead individuals into making purchases, sales, or influencing votes in elections. This legislation aims to curb such deceptive practices.

Additionally, another bill is being developed to establish a research process led by the Department of Technology. This process will thoroughly evaluate the potential risks and benefits associated with the integration of AI into government services. By conducting this research, we aim to make informed decisions that prioritize both the advancement of technology and the protection of our citizens.

AAPI, Latino, and Black Caucuses

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting with the AAPI caucus members  to discuss legislative priorities for the 2024 session. In partnership with the Latino and Black Caucuses, we are committed to advancing legislative priorities that will enhance the lives of all Marylanders. Our collaborative efforts will address critical issues such as healthcare access, economic development, educational opportunities, environmental justice, housing stability, transportation, and language inclusivity. Initiatives will specifically target improvements in maternal health, prescription drug affordability, cancer screening, prevention of housing evictions, support for small businesses, and ensuring government services are accessible to all through language support. Through these concerted efforts, we aim to reduce disparities, promote economic growth, and provide equitable opportunities in education and healthcare, benefiting communities across Maryland.

Advancing Accessibility: Legislation for the Visually Impaired

Advancing Accessibility: Legislation for the Visually Impaired had the distinct honor of meeting with the Maryland Federation for the Blind to delve into crucial conversations surrounding legislation aimed at enhancing accessibility for the visually impaired. During our engaging discussions, we focused on a comprehensive agenda that encompasses various key initiatives. Notably, our efforts include championing the Textbook Equity Act, which seeks to ensure that educational materials are accessible to all, fostering a more inclusive learning environment. Our commitment extends to advocating for secure electronic ballot returns, acknowledging the importance of enabling visually impaired individuals to exercise their right to vote independently and confidentially.

Honoring Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger

As Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger steps into retirement, I want to express my deep appreciation for his outstanding service and the positive influence he has had n my journey. From my early days with the Young Democrats of Baltimore to my current role as a state Delegate, Congressman Ruppersberger has consistently inspired me with his dedication and leadership. His impact extends far beyond the policies he’s shaped; it deeply resonates in the hearts he’s touched, mine included. I commend the Congressman for his unwavering commitment to public service and thank him for his the lasting impact in our community.

Empowering Maryland’s Youth:  the Boys and Girls Clubs

I had the privilege of engaging with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maryland, witnessing their impactful work with our youth. Their dedication to providing safe, educational, and empowering environments is truly inspiring. Supporting this organization is crucial for nurturing future leaders and ensuring they have the resources to grow and reach more young Marylanders.

Engaging with Our Youth

I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with one of our accomplished seniors, Aaron Robinson, who is currently serving as a pager in the Maryland General Assembly. Meeting him on the floor today was truly inspiring, and I couldn’t be prouder of his dedication and hard work. It’s remarkable to witness students like Aaron showcase the incredible achievements they are capable of. His role as a pager not only reflects his personal commitment but also serves as an encouragement for other students to explore similar opportunities.For those interested in becoming a pager, there’s an open invitation to reach out to the Maryland General Assembly for more information. The program not only provides a unique insight into the legislative process but also offers a chance for students to actively participate and contribute to our state governance. 

Opportunity for Excellence: Apply Now for Delegate Scholarship Program

In collaboration with Delegate Nick Allen and Delegate Carl Jackson, my office is now accepting applications for the District 8 Delegate Scholarship. This scholarship aims to assist as many local students as possible, as we have done in previous years. Therefore, we encourage interested students to submit their applications early. 

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. 

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  harry.bhandari@house.state.md.us or by phone at 410-841-3524.

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Newsletter 2024 Week_3

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