The Arc Maryland's Weekly Legislative Update
 For the Week of April 1 - 5, 2019
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Session is winding down
Sine Die is at the end of the day, Monday, April 8

As we enter the final days of session, we want to thank all of our fellow advocates, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, the extended Arc family of providers, our DD Coalition and other partners, and legislative champions who have contributed to a very interesting session.  We have endured many ups and downs, successes and failures and we are confident we will emerge stronger from all.   

There will not be an "Insider" issue next Monday.  Instead, please watch for our Legislative Wrap Up report later next week which will detail actions on bills we tracked this session and provide highlights.

Also, please save the date for DD Day 2020:  February 12!  Same time, same place!

The "End-of-Life Options Act" Fails in Senate After Emotional Debate and Tie Vote

Last Wednesday, March 27, The Senate Floor held a vote on second reader of  SB 311, The End-of-Life Options Act, as amended by the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee.  The bill failed to pass, with voting split evenly at 23-23.  Senator Obie Patterson declined to cast a vote, noting that he was on the fence about the matter. 

The bill, as previously amended  included some safeguards sought by opponents to add additional protections for those who may be vulnerable to certain components of the bill.  A mendments would have  required a mental health evaluation of those seeking to end their lives, and included requirements that the physician witnesses not be related financially to one another (doctors of the same practice for example), a change in the definition of "terminal" to ensure a doctor is making a prognosis that a person's life will end in 6 months "to a reasonable degree of medical certainty'", the requirement that doctor's provide patients with information about alternatives to death (including available medical and treatment options), and removal of civil immunities for doctors and family members to name a few of the 8 total amendments made.  

The amendments that were approved were ultimately not enough to allay deep concerns about the foundation of the bill.

For The Arc United States' position on Medical Aid in Dying/PAS, and to better understand concerns related to people with I/DD, please click HERE.

To read more about the bill and the Senate bill amendments, please click HERE.

"Fight For $15" Bill Vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan, but restored by both the House and Senate

Last Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan Vetoed SB 280/HB 166, also known as the "Fight for $!5" Bill.   "Fight for $15," includes 4% yearly increases to DD Services Funding from FY20 to FY26 as the Minimum Wage is phased in. 

These percentage increases are less than what the Maryland community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and providers need for quality supports and survival of a quality system of supports and services.  Our advocacy over the next several years will therefore focus on increasing awareness of:
1.)  The importance of these services and supports; necessary for many individuals with I/DD to live, learn, and work in Maryland.
2.) The education, responsibilities, training and credentials of Direct Support Professionals as the backbone of our Maryland system of supports for people with I/DD.
3.) The increasing needs and numbers of people with disabilities who require community-based services and supports in Maryland.
4.) The needs of family members and their requirements for support, provided by  DSPs that allow those caregivers to continue to work and provide for their loved ones with I/DD.
5.) The need for the completion of our DD system "rate study" to identify the rates needed for quality services and supports for people with I/DD.  This study was ordered by our government in 2014 but has not been completed as of this date.

Governor Hogan detailed his reasons for vetoing HB166/SB280 in a joint letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates. Read the bill's veto letter from Larry Hogan HERE.  Unfortunately, our Governor did not include a concern of the insufficiency of Developmental Disabilities funding in his letter; further evidence that our insufficiently funded system and the DSP workforce crisis continue to be either misunderstood or under-valued by our elected officials.

The House and the Senate handily voted to override the Governor's veto the following day and the first increase to our state's minimum wage will phase in on January 1, 2020.
Please note: the following abbreviations identify the legislative committees in the Maryland General Assembly.Abrv

House of Delegates
  • Appropriations Committee - APP
  • Economic Matters Committee - EMC
  • Environment and Transportation Committee - E&T
  • Health and Government Operations Committee - HGO
  • Judicial Committee - JUD
  • Ways and Means Committee - W&M
Senate 
  • Budget & Taxation Committee - B&T
  • Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee - EHEA
  • Finance Committee - FIN
  • Judicial Proceedings Committee - JPR
The Arc Maryland Public Policy Team 
Ande Kolp, Executive Director
Bea Rodgers, Governmental Affairs Committee Chair
Laura Carr, Board President and Governmental Affairs Liaison
Grace Williams, Assistant Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
Edward Willard, Policy Analyst
Lori Scott, Liaison to the Education Advocacy Coalition

Want to join our Governmental Affairs Committee?  Call Luc Chausse at 410-571-9320 for more information.
The Arc Maryland | (410) 571-9320  | info@thearcmd.org  | www.thearcmd.org