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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.
WRITTEN TESTIMONY

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 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Press Release - Maryland State Firemen's Association

MSFA Remarks over Salisbury VFD Lock Out

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (the MSFA) was formed in 1893, and its members include over 300 volunteer fire, rescue, and EMS companies throughout the state. "The mission of the Maryland State Firemen's Association is to serve, promote, advocate, and represent the interests of the Volunteer Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services of Maryland."

Adhering to our mission statement, we the MSFA, intend to help any volunteer fire company and protect what is rightfully theirs as provided to them through the trust of our fellow citizens. Allowing a paid or career fire department to simply take what is not rightfully theirs is unacceptable and irresponsible.

On February 22, 2017, approximately 10 volunteer fire fighters from Salisbury Fire Department Inc., Company No. 1 (Salisbury Station 1) voted to end their affiliation with the City of Salisbury as of July 1, 2017, and to move out of city owned facilities into a new facility outside of the Salisbury city limits. There are three volunteer fire companies within the City of Salisbury. Each of those fire companies is a separate corporation and each of the volunteer fire companies receives financial assistance from Wicomico County and the State of Maryland, including funds provided by the Maryland Military Department to volunteer fire companies. Upon receiving notice that the volunteers would be leaving in July, the City of Salisbury immediately evicted the volunteers from the Station.

The President of the MSFA, Michael A. Davis, has reached out to the Maryland Military Department, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver, and the City of Salisbury. Maryland Military Department has been responsive and is researching the situation. Mr. Culver has expressed sincere interest to assist in this matter. Two calls to the City of Salisbury have not been returned despite expressing the urgency of this matter.

President Davis states “The Maryland State Firemen's Association does not condone the actions of the City of Salisbury locking out the volunteers and seizing the property of Salisbury Station 1. We kindly ask the City of Salisbury to allow the volunteers to have what is rightfully theirs, specifically equipment which was paid for by Salisbury Station 1 with county and state funding. We feel it is very unfortunate that the volunteer department wants to separate from the combination system but it is their right to do as they see fit to provide much needed emergency services to their citizens.”

60.5 % of fire and emergency services are provided by volunteers in the State of Maryland (data provided by usfa.fema.gov). Volunteer firefighters save counties an average of more than $60 Million annually. In this day and time, with declining volunteerism, an increase in training requirements, and average homes with 2 working parents, actions like these are detrimental to serving and protecting our neighbors. Volunteer Firefighter's, EMT's, and Rescue workers dedicate their lives to protecting their fellow man, woman, and child no matter the situation, economic status, or political interest.

The MSFA fully intends to use all available local, state, and nationwide resources available to help the Salisbury Station 1 with this matter, just as we would with any of our volunteer fire companies.

For additional information please contact: Michael Davis, MSFA President, mdavis@msfa.org

Anonymous said...

nothing on the gun day bills?