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Friday, April 07, 2017
Senator Eckardt, Legislative Update
Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt, District 37 Legislative Weekly Update
It was wonderful participating in the Kale Gleaning at the Bartenfelder Farms in Preston!
CAPITAL BUDGET BILL - DISTRICT 37 PROJECTS
Both the Senate and the House passed the $1.065 billion Capital Budget Bill (House Bill 151) last week and included several projects for our area; Talbot County - Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum - $250,000.00 and for Dorchester County - Chesapeake Grove Senior Housing and Intergenerational Center - $1 million. In addition the legislature designated $13 million for Legislative Capital Bond Initiatives. Multiple projects in our district received funding through this highly competitive legislative initiatives including:
Talbot County - St. Luke’s Preschool - $20,000.00
Caroline County - Benedictine School - $300,000.00
Wicomico County - Lower Shore Clinic Day Program for Seniors with Disabilities Facility - $100,000.00
HEROIN AND OPIOID CRISIS LEGISLATION
Earlier this year, Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency in response to Maryland’s heroin, opioid, and fentanyl crisis. The General Assembly has a package of heroin and opioid legislation to address the substance use disorder crisis in Maryland. These bills, in conjunction with Governor Hogan’s pledged $50 million over five years to support the prevention and recovery of these disorders, aim to reduce the harm of these disorders. SENATE BILL 967 – HEROIN AND OPIOID PREVENTION EFFORT (HOPE) AND TREATMENT ACT OF 2017
This bill establishes several deliberative actions to address prevention, early intervention and treatment of heroin and opioid use and abuse. It will direct an assessment of our current Drug Court practice in the counties to determine the need and ways to expand the services and intervention delivered through these programs.
SB 967 requires an institution of higher education that awards specified degrees to offer education credits related to substance use disorders. These credits are to include effective treatment for substance use disorders and pain management.
The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is directed to establish, at least, 10 crisis treatment centers around the State that are staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The Department must also establish a toll-free health crisis hotline to assist callers in identifying appropriate resources for substance use and mental illness disorders.
Certain health benefit plans must provide 1) residential treatment care and 2) outpatient and intensive outpatient services that include diagnostic evaluation, opioid treatment, and medication evaluation and management. SB 967 also requires hospitals to have a discharge protocol for individuals treated for a drug overdose. The bill requires the Governor to include in the FY 2019 budget and each year thereafter specified rate adjustments for community behavioral providers.
SENATE BILL 1060 – HEROIN AND OPIOID EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY ACTION ACT OF 2017 (START TALKING MARYLAND ACT)
SB 1060 (1) requires the State Board of Education to expand an existing program to encompass drug addiction and prevention education in public schools that specifically includes heroin and opioid addiction and prevention; (2) requires each local board of education to establish a policy requiring each public school to store naloxone and authorize a trained school nurse to administer it; (3) requires each local board of education to hire a community action official or regional community action official, as specified; (4) requires the Governor to include a general fund appropriation of at least $3.0 million in the FY19 budget for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to award grants to local boards of education to implement the bill’s policy and training requirements; and (5) requires each institution of higher education in Maryland that receives state funding to establish a policy that addresses heroin and opioid addiction and prevention, including awareness training for incoming students, obtaining and storing naloxone, and campus police training, as specified.
Thanks for visiting us, Meg! It was a joy to have you shadow me here in Annapolis.
SENATE BILL 521 – COMMUNITY COLLEGES – SMALL COMMUNITY COLLEGES – FUNDING
SB 521 alters the amount of unrestricted state aid granted to small community colleges beginning in FY19 to help bring fairness to the allocation of grant funding to all community colleges. Amendments were adopted to equally distribute the specified amount to the seven community colleges. Chesapeake College and Wor-Wic Community College would receive $647,986 in the budget.
SENATE BILL 1197 – PUBLIC HEALTH – MARYLAND MEDICAL CANNABIS COMMISSION – MEMBERSHIP, LICENSING, AND STUDIES
The Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been hampered by lawsuits since the Maryland General Assembly established a commission to grant medical cannabis licenses to growers, processors and dispensers throughout the State. The commission was established to grant up to 15 licenses to growers in Maryland. However, two of those fifteen growers were removed from the list due to the fear of inadequate minority representation. One of the companies that was awarded a pre-approval license had already picked a site location and developed a plan to produce medical cannabis. This company is currently suing the commission.
SB 1197 would address the concern for lack of ownership diversity by requiring the commission to take specified actions related to steps to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity. Five more medical cannabis grower licenses would be allowed to be issued, including the two companies that were given pre-approval licenses before removal.
HOUSE BILL 1144 – PAYROLL RECOVERY ACT
HB 1144 allows State employees, if their paychecks are incorrect, to be entitled to damages in the amount of 30% of wages that were not paid during a regular paid period. This bill applies to employees that received wage underpayments on or after January 1, 2016, but before July 1, 2017. This Act shall take effect July 1, 2017. HB 1144 passed the House and will be debated on the Senate floor soon.
Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt
District 37 – Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, Wicomico Counties