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Friday, March 10, 2017
Senator Eckardt, Legislative Update
Senator Adelaide Eckardt, District 37 Legislative Weekly Update March 8, 2017
I am honored to have received the 2016 MedChi Legislative Award for my efforts on behalf of rural medicine, Medicaid patients, and the public health of Maryland. MedChi is a non-profit organization that helps advocate for physicians, their patients, and the public health.
Senate Bill 717 – Task Force on Internet, Wireless, and Cellular Service on the Eastern Shore
Senate Bill 717 was presented to the Senate Finance Committee this week. This proposed legislation would establish a task force to study and make recommendations to improve Internet, wireless, and cellular services and accessibility on the Eastern Shore. The Department of Information Technology (DoIT) would provide the staff for this important initiative. We will be proposing amendments that outline the 12-15 person task force that will examine the lack of reliable and accessible broadband service, and seek federal funds.
Senate Bill 954 – Talbot County – Deer Management Permit – Use of Rifles
I presented Senate Bill 954 to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee this week. Senate Bill 954 would authorize an individual who is hunting under a Deer Management Permit in Talbot County to use a rifle approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The individual must (1) hold a valid Maryland State Shooter Qualification Card and (2) is harvesting deer under the permit subject to the conditions set forth in the permit. Deer management permits are a valuable tool for farmers in Maryland that are experiencing severe economic loss due to deer involvement.
Senate Bill 823 – Task Force to Study Tax Sales in Maryland
Senate Bill 823 was heard in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Senate Bill 823 establishes a task force to study tax sales in Maryland. The task force would be required to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly. This proposed legislation will examine Maryland’s tax sale system as many local jurisdictions are struggling with vacant and abandoned properties, and individuals are losing their homes due to unpaid taxes. A representative from Dorchester County will be part of this important task force.
Senate Bill 957 – Counties and Municipalities – Land Bank Authority
Senate Bill 957 was presented to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee this week. This bill outlines the establishment of a land bank authority applicable to a municipality or county in the state. Two or more local governments will be allowed to enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement to create a single land bank. Land Bank Authorities provide counties and municipalities a unique and flexible tool to alleviate blight. Community organizations will work with the counties and municipalities to repair homes, provide affordable housing opportunities within the community, and decrease the number of abandoned properties. Senate Bill 957 will help Dorchester County and counties throughout Maryland create opportunities for economic growth.
UPDATE - Senate Bill 436 – Income Tax – Credit for Nurse Practitioner or Licensed Physician in Preceptorship Program – Alterations
Senate Bill 436 passed the Senate last week and will be presented in the House Ways and Means Committee on March 22 at 1:00pm.
Senate Bill 587 – Education – Libraries – Reorganization of Governance Structure Senate Bill 587 is an important piece of legislation, which I have co-sponsored this session. This bill will grow and expand public libraries in Maryland. The bill replaces an outdated system by transferring control of the public libraries from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) onto a new, independent State Library Agency and State Library Board. Seventeen states have an independent library system and a University of Maryland study found these systems to be the most successful.
Senate Bill 601 - Property Tax Credit - Elderly Individuals and Veterans – Eligibility Senate Bill 601 reduces requirements, for a county and municipality, to grant a tax credit to homeowners. Under this bill a homeowner is required to live in the same county for 25 years in order to receive this credit. Originally, a homeowner would need to live in the same dwelling for 40 years. This important initiative provides local governments with a tool to help our seniors stay in their communities.
LEGISLATION OF CONCERN
Senate Bill 784 – Department of Juvenile Services – Youth Services Bureau – Budget Appropriation Senate Bill 784 requires the Governor to appropriate any funding in the State budget for an eligible Youth Services Bureau (YSB) in the budget for the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). This bill could jeopardize the funding for Local Management Boards throughout the state. Currently, funding for youth services are provided to local jurisdictions through the Governor’s Office of Children. Local Management Boards assess the needs of the community and help provide services for children, youth, and families in Maryland. Reducing the funding for Local Management Boards will in result in drastic consequences, such as the removal of valuable programs and loss of services for many.
Senate Bill 474 - Cigarette Restitution Fund - Establishment of Behavioral Health Treatment Account and Funding for Substance Use Treatment Services Senate Bill 474 requires the Cigarette Restitution Fund (CRF) to include a separate account to be used for substance use treatment. This bill however takes away monies from current programs funded through the CRF. Substance use providers and those with serious persistent mental illness are included in the budget, and the CRF is not needed to fund these programs. The purpose of the CRF is to reduce the societal burden associated with tobacco use, and this bill weakens the CRF’s ability to do so.
All are welcome to submit written testimony to the designated Senate and House Committees. Feel free to contact my office at 410-841-3590 for more information. Please also visit the the Maryland General Assembly website regarding written testimony - http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frm1st.aspx?tab=home