The Arc Maryland's Weekly Legislative Update
For the Week of March 9 - 15, 2020
Every Monday in the Insider, check out updates on key legislation affecting the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and professional supports, learn about upcoming advocacy events and receive notices about Federal and other initiatives of The Arc Maryland and The Arc of the United States!
The Annapolis Insider Bill Tracker
News, Events, and Action Alerts
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” Every year since then, March has served as a time to educate our communities on the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and reflect on the progress we have all made toward improving equity for all.

Stay tuned into our Social Media pages throughout the month for posts on DD Awareness, ways to celebrate all we have accomplished, and to plan for our continued work to "create a world where children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have and enjoy equal rights and opportunities!"
Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day in Annapolis
March 20th
Join us next week for our annual celebration of World Down Syndrome Day at the State House on Friday, March 20th at 10:15 AM! Marylanders with Down syndrome and their families will be accepting proclamations from the Maryland General Assembly and Governor's Office declaring Saturday, March 21st, 2020 Down Syndrome Day in Maryland. Lunch will follow in the Senate building.

A few days prior to this celebration we will be visiting members of the general assembly to deliver colorful and creative socks for everyone to wear on Friday . If you would like to help with the distribution effort, please contact Luc Chausse at . Be sure to wear your most creative and colorful socks so we can all Rock our Socks in solidarity! Find out more and RSVP below.
Bill Votes - Updates of the Past Week
HB1300 / SB1000 : Blueprint for Maryland's Future - Implementation

Status: HB1300 Passed in the House with several amendments (96-41) , It has not moved out of Senate Committee yet.
Position: Support

On Friday night, shortly before 10:00 PM, the massive education reform bill was passed in the House by vote of 96-41 with all Democrats voting for the legislation and all Republicans voting against it. "The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future" bill (with a price tag of about $3.8 billion) will expand pre-kindergarten programs and career education for children in high school, increase pay and career laddering for teachers, and boost state funding for schools with high concentrations of poverty.

Also included in the bill is a proposed new education funding formula, which would guide the increased state and local education spending and direct more resources to low-income students, those in special education programs and those learning English.

Also on Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to advance a revenue package that would implement combined corporate reporting in the state, increase the state’s tobacco tax and apply it to vaping products, tax certain digital goods similar to tangible goods such as music downloads and pay-per-view purchases, and apply a sales tax on some luxury services.

Taken together with other revenue-generating bills under consideration, $700 million in new state revenue would be expected by 2025, covering a substantial portion of increased state spending for public education.

This sweeping legislation, if enacted, will completely change the nature of public education in Maryland for years to come by addressing funding inequity, mandating expanded preschool services, requiring behavioral health services with a recognition of the need for trauma-informed care, addressing teacher training issues, and creating an accountability structure that was missing from previous efforts to overhaul the state’s education funding structure.

The Arc Maryland appreciates the recognition that in order to stay on track for college and career readiness, a world-class educational system will require additional supports and services for students with disabilities, many of whom are also from families who are low income and from families where English is not the primary language, also groups identified as requiring additional resources. There is a provision in Section 5-225 (House Bill) that requires each school to use the funds provided under the section to provide the services provided by each student’s individualized education program or Section 504 plan. 

We are glad to see that the Accountability and Implementation Board will be required through the bill to consider stakeholder input into the implementation plan for the Blueprint. We are also glad that the Blueprint addresses teacher preparation. Many of the issues faced by the families served by The Arc are the result of school staff who do not have sufficient training to meet the needs of the children with disabilities in their classrooms and we believe that enhanced teacher preparation will help to ensure that each child has access to a high-quality, free and appropriate public education.
HB0771 / SB0158 : Lodging Establishments - Accessible Rooms for Individuals With Disabilities - Bed Height

Status: HB0771 Passed in the House with amendments (136-0), In Senate First Reading FIN
SB0158 Passed in Senate with Amendments (47-0), In House First Reading EMC

Position: Support

This legislation would require that lodging establishments ensure that beds of an accessible height be available to people who use wheelchairs to transfer in and out of with ease. Amendments made to the HB0771 provided a longer runway of time for hotels to come into compliance with the accessibility requirements.
Top Hearings and Decision Meetings
HB1171 / SB0959 Public Health- Demonstration Program and Developmental Disabilities

Status:  In Senate, Hearing 3/10 at 1:00 PM, FIN, Room 3 East, Miller

Position: Support with Amendments

This bill (as amended) would create a statewide advisory council on Self-Directed Services and re-establish definitions that were adjusted in recent waiver amendments for support broker eligibility for those interested in directing their own services and supports, and qualifications of staff and vendors.

Amendments proposed by SDAN are currently not available on the Maryland General Assembly website, but will be available at the time of the hearing.
HB1563 / SB879 : Public Health – Maryland Infant Lifetime Care Trust Funded by HSCRC and Maryland Patient Safety Center Duties

Status: In House, Hearing 3/9 at 2:00 PM, JUD, Room 101
SB0879 was heard in the Senate on 3/5 at 1:00 PM, JPR, Room 2 East, Miller

Position: Letter of Information

The bill would establish the Maryland Infant Lifetime Care Trust and provide for the governance, administration, and purposes of the Trust. It would establish certain requirements and procedures regarding certain settlement agreements for claims arising out of a birth-related neurological injury and require the Insurance Commission to assess a certain fee on certain hospitals and the Maryland Patient Safety Center to convene a Perinatal Clinical Advisory Committee.

Background and Position: Last year, a Baltimore jury awarded $229.6 million in connection with a baby who suffered a brain injury during birth at Johns Hopkins Bayview. This decision and award continues to have serious ramifications for Maryland’s obstetrics and other related health care professionals and facilities. Although the original award was subsequently reduced, it still exceeds $200 million and hospitals including Johns Hopkins are struggling to cover malpractice insurance costs that have risen dramatically as a result. There is a growing fear that this will result in a reduction or elimination of obstetric services available, especially in the availability of high quality care for mothers with high risk pregnancies.

With the creation of the Maryland Infant Lifetime Care Trust proposed through this bill, instead of receiving an award of a lump sum for a birth injury victim’s future medical costs, victims would receive a guarantee of lifetime care covered by the trust. Hospitals that deliver babies would pay in to the trust and the trust would keep insurance costs down sufficiently to keep doctors and hospitals in the state to provide quality care.

For a recent news article on the bill, click HERE .

The trust would be modeled roughly like the New York Medical Indemnity Fund, and The Arc Maryland has the following comments to offer:

As we consider it a very important that individuals injured during birth have access to quality care and supports for their lifetime, be believe having access to a trust would provide some protections and assurances of access to immediate and ongoing care. Lump sum awards are difficult to calculate and there is always a risk they will not be enough for the care that is, and will continue to be needed. A trust would reduce guess work, although an estimate of that lifetime cost will still be needed to calculate attorney fees.

In New York (in 2011), the fund as established applied solely to children born in a hospital. A few years later, that limitation was abolished through amendments to the law. Although the change increased the total possible pool of children who may be eligible for the Fund, it was an important change so that home birth options could continue to be covered and available to families, and so that professionals who assist in home births are able to be part of a larger pool (for insurance cost purposes.)

Also in New York, the law was amended to include (under "qualified trust benefits") coverage and payment for “habilitation, respite, . . . [and] transportation costs for purposes of health care related appointments” This would be an important component for individuals and families to have access to within Maryland's trust as developed, however these benefits aren't fully articulated in the Maryland bill as currently written.

Finally, reimbursement rates for professional services must be enough for victims to receive specialized and high quality care throughout their lifetime . In New York, an amendment to the law required that "all services shall will be paid at “the eightieth percentile of all charges for the particular health care service performed by a provider in the same or similar specialty and provided in the same geographical area as reported in a benchmarking database maintained by a nonprofit organization specified by the superintendent of financial services” (N.Y. Pub. Health L. § 2999-j(4))."

These necessary changes all substantially increased the costs to the New York Fund. In order for the Maryland fund to have sufficient resources to meet the needs of trust recipients, it will be critical to consider these ongoing costs in the calculation for contributions to the trust.

For a helpful report on the NY Medical Indemnity Fund, click HERE .
SB0459 : Public Schools - School Resource Officers - Firearms Required

Status: In Senate, Hearing 3/10 at 1:00 PM, JPR, Room 2 East, Miller

Position: Oppose

This bill would require a Baltimore City school police officer or a school resource officer to carry a firearm while present on the premises of the school to which the officer is assigned.

The Safe to Learn Act of 2018 includes a provision that “each local school system” report high schools having assigned officers or adequate law enforcement coverage. Baltimore City Public Schools (“BCPS”) has created a policing strategy, which today includes both armed and unarmed police officers that they deem appropriate to create a safe and nurturing school environment for students that already face higher exposure to guns and violence.

As the only local school system with its own dedicated police force, BCPS students experience greater police contact than any other student body across the state. Even in the wake of the incident at Frederick Douglass High School last year (where armed officers were present) The Arc Maryland and its coalition partners (CRSD) remain concerned that:

  1. Increasing the presence of lethally armed police officers in public schools would serve to needlessly exacerbate the trauma experienced by many BCPS children;
  2. Proposed legislation is a shift away from the proven restorative approaches BCPS has adopted in its Blueprint for Success; and
  3. Policymakers will use the district’s limited resources to arm officers rather than prioritize needed educational and socio-emotional supports.

A school environment is safer when schools work to transform and maintain a positive school climate. Study after study shows that a positive school climate is associated with lower incidents of aggression, bullying and violence.  Front-end changes like investing in restorative practices and better coordination with Baltimore City Police to ensure safety in communities surrounding schools is the best strategy for protecting all students and staff. 
DDA Budget - FY21

Status: House Committee Decision Meeting 3/13 at 1:00 PM APP, Room 120

Last week, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted to move the DDA budget favorably out of Committee. In her remarks, Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairperson, Melony Griffith referred to the BRFA tally sheet and stated, "We kept our promise to providers to increase the rates by 4% on July 1, 2020 and rejected all BRFA provisions that did otherwise." This decision was incredibly important to our community as we faced a 2% cut of the 4% increase included in the draft budget, and budget analysts had recommended to the committee that they restore the cut, but delay the funding of the 4% until January.

On Friday, March 13 at 1:00 PM. The Health and Social Service Subcommittee will make their budget recommendations to the full Appropriations Committee and at 2:00 PM, the House Appropriations Committee will make their decisions on the DDA Budget.

This week, please write and call your representatives in the House Appropriations Committee and ask them to "keep the promise"; reject the BRFA and keep the 4% increase for DDA providers when they make their budget decisions.

House Appropriations Committee Contact Information
Please click on the names below for committee member contact information.
Chairperson:   Maggie McIntosh
District 43, Baltimore City

Vice Chair:   Michael A. Jackson
District 27B, Calvert and Prince George's

District 39, Montgomery

District 21, Prince George's and Montgomery

District 1A, Garrett and Allegany

District 41, Baltimore City

District 32, Anne Arundel

District 2B, Washington

District 42A, Baltimore County

District 36, Kent, Queen Anne's, Cecil, and Caroline

District 44A, Baltimore City
District 30A, Anne Arundel

District 9A, Howard and Carroll

District 16, Montgomery

District 3A, Frederick

District 42A, Baltimore County

District 1C, Allegany and Washington

District 6, Baltimore County

District 27A, Charles and Prince George's

District 39, Montgomery

District 18, Montgomery

District 23A, Prince George's

District 44B, Baltimore County
Recap of the Previous Week- Hearings
HB0984 / SB0796 Developmental Disabilities Administration- Program Changes and Required Reports

Status  : Hearings last week on Wednesday(House HGO) and Friday (Senate FIN)

Position: Support with Sponsor Amendments

HB1147 / SB0401 : Places of Public Accommodation and Public Buildings - Single-Occupancy Public Restrooms - Availability (The Accessible to All Act)

Status: HB1147 In House, Hearing was 3/3 at 1:00 PM, EMC, Room 231
SB0401 In Senate, Hearing was 2/12 at 1:00 PM, JPR, Room 2 East, Miller

Position: Support with Sponsor Amendments

This bill r equires that single use restrooms in public buildings be labeled with gender-inclusive signage. Amendment to both House and Senate bills will require that signage include a universal bathroom and non-gender image such as a toilet, in addition to accessibility features such as braille so that people who cannot read can identify the room is a bathroom. Gender-neutral bathrooms would be an asset in the community for people with opposite sex caregivers who need caregiver support to use the bathroom facilities.
HB1118 /  SB0885Motor Vehicle Administration- Voluntary Disclosure of Developmental Disability

Status:  HB1118 In House, Hearing was 2/26 at 1:00 PM, E&T, Room 251
SB0885 In Senate, Hearing was 3/3 at 12:00 PM, JPR, Room 2 East, Miller

Position:   Support with sponsor amendments

This bill would create information cards available online and at all MVAs for the voluntary use by people with I/DD and autism to enhance communication between a police officer and the person.

The purpose of the card is to have the driver place their insurance card, registration and driver license with the card, so they can hand it to the officer during a traffic stop. On the outside of the card are helpful tips and instructions for both the officer and driver on how to successfully communicate with each other.
HB1314 / SB0757 : Election Law - Voting Systems - Accessibility for Voters With Disabilities

Status: HB1314 In House, Hearing was 3/3 at 1:00 PM, W&M, Room 131
SB0757 In Senate, Hearing 3/5 at 1:00 PM, EHEA, Room 2 West, Miller

Position: Support

This bill would require all voters to use a universal ballot marking device that is accessible to voters with disabilities to vote at early voting centers and election day polling places to ensure that access is provided to voters with disabilities in accordance with a certain provision of law while prohibiting certain ballots from being set apart or distinguishable, in size and form. The bill ensures that access is provided to voters with disabilities in accordance with a certain provision of law.
HB1098 : Use of Public Funds – Playground and Athletic Field Surfaces – Authorizations, Preferences, and Prohibitions (Safe and Healthy Fields Act)

Status: In House, Hearing was 3/5 at 1:00 PM, APP, Room 121

Position: Support with Amendment

There are some synthetic field materials that release toxins as they break down and have been found to cause exacerbation of certain conditions such as ADHD. The bill states that a state or locality responsible for the construction of playgrounds or athletic fields (to the extent practicable) shall give consideration and preference to the use of state of the art natural surface materials to construct a playground or athletic field with public funds . Furthermore, state funds may not be used to finance any part of a project using a synthetic surface.

While natural surfaces are important, there are also some synthetic surfaces that do not pose risks when broken down in the sun and elements that have adequate drainage to create a level and safe playing surface. The bill may create unintended consequences by denying funds to all synthetic surface installation projects. A proposed amendment will address acceptable synthetic materials for playground and field use consideration.
HB0691 / SB0576 : Health Occupations – Nurse Practitioners – Certifications of Competency and Incapacity

Status: HB0691 In House, Hearing was 3/3 at 1:00 PM, HGO, Room 241
SB0576 Passed in Senate (44-0)

Position: Anticipate a position of Support with Amendment, pending the outcome of a meeting with the House bill sponsor later today

There are inconsistencies in the bill that make it unclear whether or not at least one physician would be required to make a certification of incapacity. We have spoken to the House Sponsor and understand an amendment will be presented to clarify that at least one physician will be required. We are also asking for guidelines for what training and education the nurse practitioner would need to have to be qualified to make this determination as currently LCSWs (already authorized) have special training in disabilities and mental health, but not all nurse practitioners have this training and education if they regularly practice in another area (dermatology for example).

While one amendment ( passed with the Senate bill) addresses the concern that at least one of the professionals be a physician, the amendment does not address the concern that the Nurse Practitioner have credentials in mental health and disabilities to be considered qualified to make determinations of capacity.
HB1171 / SB0959 Public Health- Demonstration Program and Developmental Disabilities

Status:  HB1171 In House, Hearing was 3/4 at 1:00 PM, HGO, Room 241
SB0959 In Senate, Hearing 3/10 at 1:00 PM, FIN, Room 3 East, Miller

Position: Support with Amendments

Pictured are Patti Saylor and other parents, testifying in support of HB1171 with amendments. This bill (as amended) would create a statewide advisory council on Self-Directed Services and re-establish definitions that were adjusted in recent waiver amendments for support broker eligibility for those interested in directing their own services and supports, and qualifications of staff and vendors.

Amendments proposed by SDAN are currently not available on the Maryland General Assembly website, but will be available at the time of the hearing.
Hearing Schedule
March 9th

JUD, 2:00 PM, Room 101
HB1563 : Public Health – Maryland Infant Lifetime Care Trust Funded by HSCRC and Maryland Patient Safety Center Duties
March 10th

JUD, 1:00 PM, Room 101
HB0893 : Washington County - Adult Public Guardianship Review Board - Membership


EHEA, 1:00 PM, Room 2 West, Miller
SB0459 : Public Schools - School Resource Officers - Firearms Required

FIN, 1:00 PM, Room 3 East, Miller
SB0733 : Public Health - Care of Medically Fragile Individuals (Channing's Law)

SB0851 : Human Services – Department of Disabilities – Accessibility Programs

SB0959 : Public Health – Demonstration Program and Developmental Disabilities

SB0965 : Day Care Centers for the Elderly and Day Care Centers for Adults - Reimbursement
March 11th

FIN, 1:00 PM, Room 3 East, Miller
SB0818 : Residential Treatment Centers and Facilities – Sexual Abuse and Harassment – Reporting and Prevention
March 17th

W&M, 1:00 PM, Room 131
SB0056 : Election Law - Petitions and Ballot Questions - Plain Language Requirement

SB0264 : Frederick County – Elderly or Disabled Renters – Grants
Please note: the following abbreviations identify the legislative committees in the Assembly:

House of Delegates:
  • APP - Appropriations Committee
  • EMC - Economic Matters Committee
  • E&T - Environment and Transportation Committee
  • HGO - Health and Government Operations Committee
  • JUD - Judicial Committee
  • W&M - Ways and Means Committee

  • B&T - Budget and Taxation Committee
  • EHEA - Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee
  • FIN - Finance Committee
  • JPR - Judicial Proceedings Committee