Maryland Legislation Spotlight
Together, we can make a difference! At The Harford Center, we closely follow legislation that affects our community.
We're keeping an eye on several bills this legislative session. Please contact your elected officials to voice your support for or opposition to these bills (as well as any other bills that matter to you). While in-person appointments are limited this session due to COVID restrictions, elected officials are still taking calls, emails, and zoom appointments over the next few weeks. Peruse the bills we're following below, and find a link to the contact information for your elected officials at the end of this article. Thank you for your support.
House Bill 0247 aims to improve the experience of voters with disabilities by requiring election judges to give priority in line to voters with mobility challenges.
House Bill 0511 would allow individuals with permanent physical disabilities to take a $1,000 personal exemption on their taxes.
Senate Bill 0327 adds "disabled adults" to the definition of vulnerable adults and allows people to sue for financial damages to vulnerable adults by those who exploit them financially using tactics of abuse, manipulation, intimidation, isolation, or neglect.
Senate Bill 0441 would increase DDA funding to most individuals who choose to self direct their services.
Senate Bill 0610 aims to extend the deadline by which hotels have to provide a certain number of beds that are accessible (determined by height). The passage of this bill would not change the requirement, but would extend the deadline for compliance due to significant revenue loss in the hospitality industry since the COVID pandemic began.
House Bill 0660 aims to increase funding and capacity for organizations that train and provide support animals to veterans with disabilities.
Senate Bill 0300 would require that Individualized Education Plans have a "continuity component" to be implemented in emergency situations. This is designed to correct some of the unanticipated issues that have been occurring throughout the pandemic. In that same spirit, Senate Bill 0209 would require that students with disabilities be given the option of a continuation of services beyond their original anticipated graduation date if schools are closed for an extended period of time.
Senate Bill 0098 prohibits pre-kindergarten programs that receive state funding from discriminating against protected classes, one of which is disability.
House Bill 0237 would require the Department of Education to establish an advisory group to develop a handbook for best practices in early literacy and dyslexia.
DD DAY Update
Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature happened virtually this year on February 9. In addition to the bills above, the Disability Council and other advocates expressed support for the following bills:
House Bill 321 requires certain public buildings to have changing facilities in their restrooms for adults as well as children, and that a list of buildings that have those facilities be available online to assist the community in planning outings.
Senate Bill 496 is an emergency COVID relief bill that would provide $5 million in grants to DDA providers. The same bill provides assistance to businesses and low-income individuals.
Remember: Every single bill is available for the public to read at this website. You can search by topic and bill number and you can switch states or search nationwide. Keeping up with legislation is a great way to see for yourself what our elected officials are doing!