Annapolis Insights: Legislative Newsletter – Week 6

Dear constituents,

Welcome to the Week 6 Legislative Newsletter for the Maryland General Assembly. As the session moves into its sixth week, we have been hard at work tackling a range of important issues, from public health and safety to education and economic development. 

I am pleased to share that this week, the HB0279 Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) -Upper Payment Limits bill passed the House Chambers, and I was honored to support it both on the subcommittee and committee levels. The bill enforces an upper payment limit, which sets the maximum amount that government entities or others will pay for a drug. The PDAB was initially established in 2019 to address the increasing cost of prescription drugs, but progress was hindered by Governor Hogan’s veto of HB 1095 in 2022. I am proud to support this bill as its enactment can lead to cost savings for consumers, better access to necessary medications, increased competition among pharmaceutical companies, and more transparent drug pricing information, allowing healthcare providers and policymakers to make informed decisions. 

Senate Confirms Nine of Governor Moore’s Cabinet Nominees

At Monday night’s Senate floor session, the chamber confirmed nine of Moore’s Cabinet nominees with unanimous approval and no discussion. These nominees had previously received preliminary approval from the Executive Nominations Committee last week. The confirmed nominees are as follows: Carmel Roques as Secretary of Aging, Kevin M. Atticks as Secretary of Agriculture, Helene T. Grady as Secretary of Budget and Management, Kevin Anderson as Secretary of Commerce, Laura Herrera Scott as Secretary of Health, Katie Savage as Secretary of Information Technology, Portia Wu as Secretary of Labor, Josh Kurtz as Secretary of Natural Resources, and Susan C. Lee as Secretary of State. The Senate committee also considered another nine acting secretaries out of the 21 that Moore has named, and they are scheduled for total confirmation votes. 

LBI for Improved Facilities in District 

I had the privilege of visiting two schools in our district and meeting with the Principals of Fullerton Elementary and Parkville Middle School. During the visits, I listened to our schools’ needs and gathered feedback, and as a result, I am proud to announce that I have requested two bond bills for each school. These bills aim to upgrade the facilities, thus improving our students’ educational experiences. Senator Kathy Klausmeire has cross-filed the bill on the Senate side, and I have received support from District 8 House colleagues and local elected officials. I am excited to work towards a better future for the students in our district.

Health and Government Operation Committee

 The work continues in the Health & Government Operations Committee. This morning, the House Government Operations Committee (HGO) unanimously passed HB0019, a bill of which I am proud to be a co-sponsor. The purpose of this bill is to repeal the current requirement for licensing requirements to be sent via first-class mail to licensed psychologists in Maryland. Instead, the bill proposes using electronic filing, which is quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective. This change would align Maryland with other states using electronic filing for credential renewal, such as New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Idaho. The bill still allows for first-class mail to be used in cases where electronic communication is impossible. This bill aims to streamline the licensing requirements for psychologists and make them more accessible and efficient. 

Similarly, I am proud to have co-sponsored bill HB0026, passed by the committee. The bill proposes an alternative pathway for individuals with a doctoral degree in psychology who need more training in mental health services. This pathway allows them to obtain additional education and training in a psychology department accredited by the APA or CPA to specialize in mental health service provision. The primary aim of the bill is to increase access to mental health care, maintain the quality of care, and potentially increase diversity in the provider community. In addition, the bill has the potential to save time and money for individuals, provide financial relief for those who are less able, and expand the mental health workforce in Maryland without burdening the Board of Examiners.

 Equity and Fairness in Legalizing Cannabis Industry

In this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly focuses on legalizing Maryland’s cannabis industry, which is set to begin on July 1, 2023. This new program aims to reduce illegal drug sales while promoting fairness by prioritizing equity in licensing, taxation, and regulation decisions. It also offers equal opportunities for businesses to compete for cannabis licenses. As developments unfold, I will keep you informed.

Baltimore County Public Library Briefs House Delegation on Capital Improvements 

This morning, Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, the Baltimore County Public Library CEO, provided an informative briefing to the Baltimore County House Delegation on the capital improvements required for the library system. With an average age of 50 years and a per capita space of .55 square foot, significantly below the Maryland standard of 1 square foot, the library system needs significant improvements to ensure it meets the demands of a modern community. She outlined the challenges facing the system and proposed solutions that would bring the library system up to date, providing a range of resources and services beyond books that are essential to the community. With the support of State, County, and private funding, a range of capital improvements are underway or under consideration, including renovations to Catonsville, Woodlawn, Reisterstown, Loch Raven, Randallstown, Rosedale, and White Marsh branches, feasibility studies for Essex and Lansdowne branches, and assessments for updating and expanding Towson, Randallstown, and North Point branches. These improvements, including updated furnishings and parking lot improvements, will ensure that the Baltimore County Public Library system remains a valuable community resource for generations.

UMBC Alumni Reception Celebrates Grit & Greatness

I was excited to attend the Annual Annapolis Alumni Reception with other distinguished guests, including Lt. Governor Aruna Miller, Madam Speaker Andrienne Jones, University of Maryland system Chancellor Dr. Jay Perman, new President Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby, Dean Kimberly R. Moffitt as well as my fellow legislators and alums. As a proud alumnus of UMBC, it was a special honor to celebrate the Grit & Greatness of UMBC alums and students whose careers served the State of Maryland and was particularly special this year as we had the pleasure of meeting UMBC’s new President, Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby. Dr. Ashby’s unique perspective and wealth of experience as the first woman to serve in this role was inspiring, and her commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion at UMBC was evident. In addition, it was an excellent opportunity to network with fellow alums and learned about their diverse career paths, showcasing UMBC’s dedication to excellence. Overall, it was a memorable evening highlighting the impact UMBC alums have in making a difference in their communities and industries.

Assistance with Accessing Critical Resources in District 8

Do you or a neighbor face difficulties accessing critical resources such as the MD unemployment website, utilities, food, or state and local programs to which you’re entitled? If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance. Our team in District 8 is closely coordinating all casework requests and is available to provide support, especially during these challenging times. So don’t struggle alone; let us help you get the needed resources.

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. To apply, please visit the following link:

Stay Aware, Stay Safe

As we continue to work our way through the challenges of the Covid epidemic, it is important 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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