News from Annapolis!
We are still in the early weeks of session. Many bills are still being drafted and are not yet ready for public hearings. Since the start of Session on January 9th, my committee, the Finance Committee has been holding briefings about issues that come under our jurisdiction. It is also a good time to hear reports from the various State agencies about their issues and progress. Last week we heard a report from the Health Department on the Prescriptions Drug Monitoring Program; the program is working very well and we expect legislation to extend the program. This will allow doctors to see what other opioids have been prescribed and allows pharmacies to follow up on doctors that may be overprescribing or patients that may be “doctor shopping”. This week we are starting daily public bill hearings.
It was a pleasure meeting with Ms. Heather Carnaghan, Teacher of the Year from Anne Arundel County! She is a teacher at Monarch Global Academy in Laurel. She was introduced on the Senate Floor and we were happy to personally congratulate her.
The Governor introduced his budget on Friday, January 18th, now the budget committees begin their work. The 2020 Budget is $46.6 Billion and represents a $1.8 billion dollar or 3.9% increase. Here are a few highlights:
The Spending Affordability Committee set goals of eliminating the structural deficit, but the budget leaves a structural deficit of about $62 million. The budget committees will look for cuts to the budget that eliminates the structural deficit.
The Governor’s Budget proposes tax relief for retirees, contributors to college savings plans, small businesses, companies locating in distressed areas and individuals with student debt. The proposals are phased in with revenue losses of $35 million in s 2020 and $138 million by 2024.
K-12 education formulas are fully funded. The budget also dedicates $438 million for school facility needs and $13.5 million for school safety. All mandated State aid to local government is funded.
The Governor is funding the $125 million of the funding for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in the General Fund, not the Transportation Trust Fund.
Some items not in the budget: The $200 million reserved for Kirwan implementation and funding for the State retirees for prescription coverage. The House and the Senate will spend about 60 days reviewing the budget and making sure the legislators priorities are in the budget.
While funding education has always been our priority, the theme for this 439th Session is “Building a Stronger Middle Class.” The Democratic Leadership has agreed on the following bills and initiatives for 2019:
Protect pre-existing conditions
Curb the cost of prescription drugs
Increase tobacco purchasing age to 21
Raise minimum wage to $15
Ban creation of 3D printed and ghost guns
Reduce child care costs for parents by increasing the tax credit
Make Maryland Styrofoam free
Highlighted Legislation: The Cost of Insulin
Diabetes effects nearly 13% of the adult population of Maryland, that’s over 600,000 people. To combat this disease, a steady supply of insulin is needed and for many Marylanders living with Type I or Type II Diabetes, the cost is just too high and their prescriptions go unfilled or they ration their supplies. That is why I will be introducing a bill this week aimed at reducing the price of insulin for patients in Maryland. My bill will exclude the application of the deductible or copay from the patients cost of insulin.
If you need help paying for your insulin visit the American Diabetes Association website for information. All three of the major manufacturers have programs to help.
Visitors to my office this week included representatives from the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. We discussed how we can better serve our students in the county.
The application for my Senatorial Scholarship is up on my website: https://www.pambeidle.com/scholarship You must file the FAFSA by March 1st and the deadline for receipt is April 1st.
My office is staffed by Nancy Lipin Crawford, my Chief of Staff, and Joe Cadman, my Legislative Aide. My office is open full time during the Session. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns. My contact information is: pamela.beidle@Senate.state.md.us or 410.841.3593. You can also find updates at my website www.pambeidle.com and on Facebook at Senator Pam Beidle.
It is truly an honor to serve you in the Maryland General Assembly,
Senator Pam Beidle
11 Bladen St
Room 202, James Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21411