End of Session Newsletter – 2023

Dear constituents,

I am deeply grateful to my 8th district constituents for the privilege to serve another year and for your invaluable support as we wrap up the 2023 legislative session. Your willingness to share your thoughts on the bills I introduced and supported has played a crucial role in their successful passage. This newsletter edition will cover session highlights and critical legislative updates. We’re proud of our achievements and their impact on our constituents and communities. However, we acknowledge that there’s more work to be done. We’re excited to keep building on our progress in Annapolis.

This year, I was proud to sponsor bills that received broad bi-partisan support on issues of health and education, passing five out of eight bills in the House of Delegates with little or no opposition and getting through four of those five and to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. In addition, I am pleased to share that my colleagues in District 8 and I successfully secured close to 2 million in funding for local capital projects. Together with my fellow legislators, we tackled critical challenges facing our state, such as the ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing support for low- and middle-income families, taking steps towards addressing the climate crisis, and making efforts to improve our healthcare system.

As ever, your input remains the most significant determinant of my legislative priorities. I appreciate your efforts in reaching out to me to express your opinions, discuss your concerns, and clarify your expectations. Your feedback, as my constituents, is precious in enabling me to perform my elected representative duties effectively. We may not agree on everything, but serving you is my honor.

My Impactful Contributions as a Legislator

Five of my bills this session passed in both chambers and four will be enacted into law. These include: 

House Bill 1151  allows for reimbursements to pharmacists creating greater availability of healthcare in the state.  

House Bill 633 brings Maryland’s reappointment and credentialing for physician staff in line with federal guidelines.   

House Bill 300 rolled into House Bill 458, which provides for installing alternative energy sources to be harvested and used on all state-owned buildings.  

House Bill 967  establishes October 5 as Dashain Day, which celebrates and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. 

House Bill 274an additional bill of mine, passed the House and Senate unanimously. This bill would establish a task force to study Maryland’s emergency room wait times. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it to the Governor’s desk due to unforeseen circumstances. I am committed to requesting that the HGO committee send a letter to stakeholders to ensure the research mandated by the bill is completed.

I take pride in being a co-sponsor of 108 bills, with 76 passing both chambers and already signed into law or en route to the Governor’s desk. Among these bills is the State Board of Social Work Examiners’ temporary license to practice social work, ensuring that essential services are available to Marylanders and preventing interruptions. Additionally, I am delighted to have played a part in expanding the Open Meetings Act and the Maryland Sign Language Interpreters Act.

 Governor Wes Moore prioritizes economic mobility through job retraining, small business support, and filling job vacancies.

Governor Wes Moore prioritized economic mobility through his focus on work, wages, and wealth. He plans to address job retraining, support entrepreneurs and small businesses, and fill job openings in state government agencies. As a proud cosponsor of his priority bills, including HB 547, HB 552, and HB 546, I am excited to collaborate with Governor Moore in serving my district and Maryland. I believe that continued cooperation between the legislative and executive branches is essential for the prosperity of our state, and I am committed to fostering a collaborative approach as a State Delegate.”

Successful Efforts  to Prevent Proposed East Palestine Train Derailment Processing

Along with other members of the Baltimore County Delegation, I also took a stand against the proposed East Palestine train derailment processing in our state. Despite the limited timeframe we were given, I am pleased to report that our united efforts prevented the plan from moving forward. Again, this is a prime example of elected officials working together to protect the people of Maryland and preserve our environment.

Legislative Bond Initiative: 

I was proud to support Maryland’s $880 million capital budget, which earmarked $1.59 million for construction projects that were priorities for my colleagues and me in District 8. These projects included: 

$100,000 for the Overlea High School Scoreboard-Gymnasium Upgrades 

$90,000 for the Parkville Middle School Digital Sign 

$250,000 for the Rosedale Community Center for Wellness and Physical Education

$150,000 for Dunfield Recreational Activity Center planning and creation of the facility

$1,000,000 for Franklin Square Hospital to develop their Adolescent Psychiatric Services Enhancement

FY 24 Budget Highlights

I am proud to have voted for the final recommended budget of $62.5 billion, which was passed by the Maryland General Assembly and will soon take effect. This year’s budget secures our state’s financial future while continuing to make critical investments in Maryland’s economy as well as our transportation, education, technological, infrastructure, and physical and behavioral health sectors to support working Marylanders and their families. Notably, the approved budget includes $900 million for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education plan. This budget is expected to significantly impact funding essential programs and initiatives that will benefit Maryland residents, particularly in areas like education and transportation. I proudly voted for the bill.

Maryland’s final budget maintains $2.5 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and over $350 million in General Fund balance, meeting Spending Affordability targets set by the legislature. The budget includes almost $200 million for tax relief, $660 million more for public schools, and a $243.7 million increase in state support for higher education. The budget invests $14 billion in Medicaid and over $80 million to strengthen the State’s behavioral health system. Additionally, the budget reflects $122 million in aid to local police departments and $160 million to improve State government cybersecurity. There is also conservation and climate change funding, with $160 million to support State parks and forests and $60 million for Chesapeake Bay restoration projects. Lastly, $421 million is allocated for negotiated salary increases for the State workforce, including an additional step increase. 

HGO Committee

The Health and Government Operations Committee is one of the busiest committees in the General Assembly. This past legislative session, we tackled a number of key priorities that will help bolster the health of people, communities, and public institutions across our state. From capping the cost of prescription drugs to bolstering our state’s cybersecurity, helping folks with hospital bills, and increasing transparency at the state and local levels, I am proud of our committee’s work this year. 

We passed several outstanding bills, among which were several noteworthy pieces of legislation.


House Bill 279 removes the sunset to allow the first-in-the-nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board to continue its work to help lower the cost of prescription drugs for Marylanders. I was proud to cosponsor the bill. 

House Bill 376 prohibits health insurers and providers from imposing a copayment for diagnostic breast examinations. Although screening mammograms are covered by health insurance, when those results indicate an abnormality, the next step is diagnostic imaging and other expensive tests. Far too often, the high cost of the follow-up tests prevents people from scheduling that vital appointment, as the average out-of-pocket cost for diagnostic imaging range from $240-$1000. It ensures that insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that provide coverage for diagnostic and supplemental breast examinations cannot impose a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible requirement for the follow-up examination.  I was proud to vote and defend this bill as the floor leader. 

House Bill 333 establishes requirements related to the reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs paid by certain hospital patients who were eligible for free care, including requirements related to the consideration of data and the reporting and disclosure of certain information; authorizing the Commission to impose a fine of up to $50,000 per violation if a hospital fails to provide refunds to qualifying patients; making a violation of the Act an unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice subject to penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 374 expands the applicability of the provisions regarding audits of a pharmacy or pharmacist to all pharmacy benefits managers, requiring the Secretary of Health to adopt certain regulations for pharmacy benefits managers that contract with managed care organizations that establish requirements for conducting audits of pharmacies or pharmacists; establishing requirements and prohibitions regarding audits by pharmacy benefits managers; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.

House Bill 382 requires the Maryland Department of Health and the Prescription Drug Affordability Board jointly to study certain information regarding the payment of prescription drug claims under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program during calendar years 2021 and 2022 and how to address certain inconsistencies; and requires the Department and the Board to report the findings of the study to the Maryland Medicaid Administration and certain committees of the General Assembly by October 31, 2023.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  

House Bill 693 alters the membership of the State Board of Pharmacy to include a registered pharmacy technician, authorizing a licensed pharmacist, under certain circumstances, to delegate the entry of certain data into databases or patient charts to be performed at a remote location to a registered pharmacy technician and a registered pharmacy intern; prohibiting registered pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician trainees from making decisions requiring the professional judgment of a pharmacist; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 811 requires a hospital to include testing for fentanyl as part of a urine drug screening; and requiring the hospital, if a urine drug screening detects fentanyl, to report the deidentified test results to the Maryland Department of Health through the State-designated health information exchange.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 1148 establishes the Commission on Behavioral Health Care Treatment and Access to make recommendations to provide appropriate, accessible, and comprehensive behavioral health services that are available on demand to individuals in the State; establishing the Behavioral Health Care Coordination Value-Based Purchasing Pilot Program in the Maryland Department of Health; requiring the Department to apply for certain federal planning grant funds; requiring the Department to apply to participate in a certain demonstration program; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 774 requires the Maryland Department of Health or the Office of Health Care Quality to investigate whether residents in an assisted living program have been subject to neglect, exploitation, or abuse if the assisted living program is operating without a license; subjecting certain assisted living programs operating without a license to immediate prosecution under a certain provision of law under certain circumstances; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 322: Requiring the Maryland Department of Health to expand access to and provide reimbursement for intensive in-home services, case management, and wraparound services; requiring, beginning in the fiscal year 2024, the Behavioral Health Administration to fund 100 slots in the mental health case management program for children or youth at risk of out-of-home placement who are not eligible for program services; requiring the Governor to include funding in the annual budget bill for certain behavioral health services; etc.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  

House Bill 693: Altering the membership of the State Board of Pharmacy to include a registered pharmacy technician; authorizing a licensed pharmacist, under certain circumstances, to delegate the entry of certain data into databases or patient charts to be performed at a remote location to a registered pharmacy technician and a registered pharmacy intern; prohibiting registered pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician trainees from making decisions requiring the professional judgment of a pharmacist.  I was proud to cosponsor and defend this bill as the floor leader. 


House Bill 547 will reduce childhood poverty and help Maryland families by making the 2021 expansion of Maryland’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) permanent. It expands the state’s Child Tax Credit to cover taxpayers with children 5 and under with a federally adjusted gross income of $15,000 or less. The bill retains the existing credit for children older than 6, which only applies to children with disabilities, and removes the $530 cap for adults without qualifying children.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.   

House Bill 552 establishes the Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program within the state Department of Commerce to support technology projects better, develop innovation infrastructure and bring needed jobs across the state. The program will leverage state dollars for grants to businesses, local governments, non-profits, and academic institutions for infrastructure and technology programs. The bill pairs with the existing Innovation Investment Tax Credit (IITC) and Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit (BIITC) to expand access to capital and bring about significant tech-driven investment in Maryland.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.

House Bill 546 provides access and exposure to public service for young Marylanders by creating a service year option for high school graduates to work for community organizations and nonprofit groups. The program will serve as a springboard for participants to enter post-service year employment, higher education, or apprenticeships. This will create a lifelong culture of service in our young people and our communities across the state. The service year option will incorporate a flexible design for programs that appeal to a broad spectrum of young people with a wide range of career interests.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 


House Bill 243 moves the Baltimore City Young Readers Program and the Young Readers Matching Grant Program to the State Library Agency and increases the appropriation for the statewide Young Readers Grant Matching Program, which sends a free book every month to children under 5 to enhance reading, literacy and learning readiness at home to families that opt into the program.  I was proud to support this bill.

House Bill 448 requires a nonpublic school in which a child receiving special education services is placed to pay its teachers a salary equivalent to the local school salaries, phased in as specified over three years, beginning in 2025. These teachers are public school funded and should be paid the same salary as their counterparts who teach in public schools.  I was proud to support this bill.

House Bill 770 works to achieve the goals of the Blueprint to ensure that every child has access to high-quality prekindergarten. It expands access to full-day pre-kindergarten for more students in need by allowing homeless students, income-eligible students with disabilities, and income-eligible students who come from a home in which English is not the primary spoken language to qualify for free full-day pre-K.  I am honored to have cast my vote in support of this bill.


House Bill 261 requires producers of any cement or concrete mixture used in state construction projects to submit product declarations that identify the products they use. One of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions is the concrete industry. This bill will allow the state to identify better and prioritize those bidders who are more environmentally friendly in the procurement process. I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill. 

House Bill 723 modernizes our forest preservation strategy, updating forest goals and definitions to provide clarity and reflect new data. The bill stipulates that all development projects must proceed with no net loss of trees and reauthorizes the practice of forest mitigation banking to achieve this goal. It also ensures local governments significantly greater flexibility to pursue solutions that meet local needs and advance.  I was proud to support this bill.

House Bill 793 increases Maryland’s offshore wind capacity and directs the state to find solutions for transmitting offshore energy to land. To support our transition to a clean energy economy, the rapid deployment of renewable energy and investments in infrastructure must be prioritized. This bill supports the expansion of offshore wind power by setting an offshore wind goal of 8.5 GW by 2031, initiating a state process to build coordinated transmission infrastructure, and investing in the full build-out of the existing offshore wind lease areas.  I was proud to support this bill. 

HB 908 establishes an equitable community solar program to increase access to renewable energy. Community-based, innovative solutions like community solar are critical to diversifying our energy portfolio. Makes the community solar pilot program permanent with equitable access to renewable energy.  I was proud to vote for this bill. 


House Bill 58 enhances the public access and transparency rules for the Maryland State Ethics Commission. The bill requires that the public parts of the Commission’s meeting be web-streamed live for public access.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  

Senate Bill 554 reimburses members of the National Guard for their health and dental premiums up to $60 per month. This first-in-the-nation program will support our National Guard members and is an important recruitment and retention tool for service members.  I was proud to vote for this bill. 

HB 058 establishes enhanced requirements under the Open Meetings Act for the State Ethics Commission. It requires the Department of Information Technology to provide technical staff, support, and equipment necessary to live stream the open meetings of the State Ethics Commission.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  

HB 1244 requires the Governor to proclaim January 27 as Maryland Holocaust Remembrance Day annually and requires the proclamation to include a declaration of the purposes of Maryland Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  

HB 843 establishes the Baltimore Regional Water Governance Task Force to study approaches to water and wastewater governance in the Baltimore region and requires the Task Force to report its findings and recommendations to the Mayor of Baltimore City, the County Executive of Baltimore County, the Governor, and the General Assembly on or before January 30, 2024.  I was proud to cosponsor this bill.  


House Bill 1 removes the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Data shows that the average age a victim of child sexual abuse will come forward is between 50 and 70 years old. Removing that statute of limitations for child sexual abuse will allow those victims to get justice regardless of how much time has passed.  


House Bill 502 makes Maryland the first state in the country to reimburse fraud victims for stolen SNAP benefits. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to automatically restore the benefits of SNAP recipients if shown that the benefits were lost due to theft. The state will use federal funds to help nearly 4,000 Marylanders get back more than $2.5 million in stolen SNAP benefits.  I was proud to support this bill. 

House Bill 554 expands the state’s tax exemption for military retirement income to encourage more military veterans to retire here in Maryland. Currently, retirees under age 55 may be exempt from up to $5,000 of military retirement income, and retirees over age 55 may be exempt from up to $15,000. The legislation would eliminate the age distinction and allow for the exemption of up to $25,000 for the taxable year beginning after December 31, 2022, and $40,000 for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2023.  I was proud to vote for this bill. 

House Bill 680 provides increased student loan debt relief to new and existing state workers. The bill extends taxpayers’ time for loan repayment from two to three years. It prioritizes state employees who graduated from institutions with at least 40% student Pell Grant recipients, thereby targeting workers who need the tax credit the most and incentivizing students from colleges and universities who have been historically disenfranchised and overlooked to work in state government.  I was proud to vote for this bill.

House Bill 601 provides for fair and equal treatment for same-sex spouses in the administration of their retirement benefits by addressing the inequities in our system which existed before the legalization of same-sex marriage. It is a corrective bill that addresses the surviving spouse benefits for participants in the state police retirement system, the law enforcement officers’ pension system, and the judges’ retirement system. It makes benefits to these surviving spouses retroactive to their date of retirement. It ensures that all state police, law enforcement officers, and judges receive fair and equal treatment in administering their pensions. I was proud to vote for this bill.

House Bill 556 creates an equitable licensing, tax, and regulatory framework for the new cannabis industry. The bill incorporates the best recreational cannabis practices from other states and learned lessons from the Maryland medical cannabis implementation. The legislation allows license seekers to apply for a combined medical and recreational adult-use license. It includes a low tax rate that will help discourage an illicit market while helping fund support for social equity applicants and traditionally disenfranchised communities.


My office awards scholarships to students from District 8 as part of a program offered by the Maryland General Assembly. The 2023-2024 academic year application deadline is April 30th,2023.

Here are 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, Jackson, and Allen) 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 once you submit this form, 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.


If you are interested in an opportunity to serve your district and see firsthand how things work in a legislator’s office, please do not hesitate to reach out. Internships are offered at different points throughout the year.  

Thank You 

I cannot express enough gratitude to my constituents in Maryland’s Legislative District 8. You are the reason I bring my full energy and passion to Annapolis every day of the session, and representing you in our capital is the honor of my lifetime. So much has changed in the world since my first session in 2019, but my unwavering commitment to serving you, fighting for your priorities in Annapolis, and meeting your needs in our communities in Baltimore County remains steadfast.

Please never hesitate to reach out to me at harry.bhandari@house.state.md.us with any questions, comments, or concerns. I’ll likely see you at the Overlea Farmer’s Market, the next High Schools game, or on the run in Double Rock Park. Please say hello! There’s nothing I enjoy more than meeting my constituents and hearing your feedback.


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