News from Annapolis!
The 2021 General Assembly session has been marked by strict COVID restrictions and countless hours of zoom meetings. Despite these challenges, we are working hard to represent our constituents and help those impacted by the COVID pandemic. One of the benefits of a mostly virtual Legislative Session is that you, our constituents, can watch committee meetings, floor sessions, and voting sessions all online.
As in past years, you can track the bills progress and watch their hearings on the MGA website.
This session, I have introduced 12 bills, here is a brief overview:
SB 204 Health Care Facilities – Assisted Living Programs – Memory Care and Alzheimer’s Disease Unit Regulations
SB 204 lays out five (5) requirements for assisted living facilities that advertise as “Memory Care Units:”
Staff training requirements for staff that work with dementia patients,
Staffing pattern requirements adequate to meet waking and non-waking hours,
Appropriate frequency and type of activities for residents, so important now due to COVID isolation,
Procedures for nighttime monitoring,
Admission and discharge criteria.
Significant additional fees are charged for these units; families placing their loved ones, some of our most vulnerable citizens, in these special care units should be assured they receive the appropriate care needed for dementia disease. You can watch the hearing here.
SB 292 Civil Actions – Tortious Injury to or Death of Pet – Compensatory Damages (Buddy’s Law)
This bill is called Buddy’s law in honor of a local pet who was shot by an individual, received veterinary care but ultimately died. Buddy’s owner was saddled with veterinary bills that exceeded $20,000 and the legal limit he could claim in civil court was $10,000. Buddy’s law raises that cap from $10,000 to $25,000. You can watch the hearing here.
SB 488 Family Law – Marriage – Licenses and Records
This is a simple bill to update Maryland marriage licenses and certificates law, bringing it into current practice. You can watch the hearing here.
SB 489 Anne Arundel County – Alcoholic Beverages – Class MT License
This bill will permit the Anne Arundel County’s Liquor Board to establishing a beer and wine license for movie theaters. Staff training, the number of beverages and consumption on the premise are all limited by the bill. As movie theaters current receive restaurant licenses this theater license provides regulations specific to the venue.SB 489 is currently scheduled to be heard on March 5th at 2:00 pm in the Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
SB 501 Towing or Removal of Vehicles from Parking Lots – Placement of Signs – Regional Malls
SB 501 will require large regional malls to place the towing signage at each entrance to a parking area. This changes the requirement for posting one sign every 7,500 sf of parking area. Malls such as Arundel Mills would have been require to post an additional 500 signs in the parking lots. You can watch the hearing here.
SB 550 - Sheila E. Hixson Behavioral Health Services Matching Grant Program for Service Members and Veterans – Establishment
SB 550 establishes a matching grant program for local nonprofit organizations that provide behavioral health programs to service members and veterans. The hearing for SB 550 will be on February 23rd at 1:00pm in the Senate Finance Committee. You will be able to watch it live here.
SB 586 Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program – Exemptions – Older Drivers
This is a simple piece of legislation that lowers the minimum age to 65 for an owner of a motor vehicle to be exempt from mandatory emissions testing requirements provided the vehicle is driven 10,000 miles or less. You can watch the Senate hearing here.
SB 704 - Nursing Homes - Transfer of Ownership - Site Visits and Surveys
This legislation requires the Maryland Department of Health to conduct a series of site visits and full surveys of nursing homes that are purchased by an out of state entity that does not own another nursing facility in the State of Maryland. Recent events have shown that out of state private equity groups purchase Maryland nursing homes then look for cost cutting measures to increase profits and reduce costs. The hearing for SB 704 will be on February 25rd at 1:00pm in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 705 - State Airports - Commercial Activity - Rental Vehicles and Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing
This legislation will level the playing field at BWI for rental cars and peer-to-peer car sharing operators. The hearing for SB 705 will be on March 3rd at 1:00pm in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 748 - Public Health – State Designated Exchange – Clinical Information
This legislation provides for the electronic transfer of medical documents from state and federal agencies. The hearing for SB 748 will be on March 3rd at 1:00pm in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 836 - State Board of Dental Examiners - Disciplinary Action - Disclosure Requirements and Licensee Profiles
SB 836 is a consumer protection bill, it requires the State Board of Dental Examiners to disclose disciplinary actions taken by the board to the public within 10 days of an action taken place. You may have read about a local dentist with years of complaints and disciplinary actions. Today other local dentist are trying to assist the most egregious cases. The hearing for SB 836 will be on March 2nd at 1:00pm in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
SB 888 - Anne Arundel County - Speed Monitoring Systems - Maryland Route 175 (Jessup Road)
This bill authorizes Anne Arundel County to place speed cameras thru a residential area of Route 175 (Jessup Road) between the Route 175/295 interchange and the Anne Arundel/Howard County line. The hearing for SB 888 will be on March 4rd at 11:00pm in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
You are able to watch the committee hearing live or they are recorded and you can watch them at your convenience. The process of submitting written testimony or signing up for oral testimony is new so please visit the specific Committee for their instructions. All testimony, written or oral, needs to be provided 2 days prior to the hearing between the hours of 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Unemployment Update- RELIEF Act Signed into Law
The RELIEF Act of 2021 passed the legislature last Friday and was signed into law by the Governor on Monday, February 15. This $1.5 billion relief package provides Marylanders and local businesses who need it the most immediate financial relief. The RELIEF Act includes:
State income taxes on Unemployment Insurance income received during 2020 and 2021 will be waived for single filers who report under $75,000 in income and joint filers who report under $100,000. Taxpayers who have already filed their 2020 State tax returns can file an amended return for a full refund of Maryland state income taxes.
Direct Stimulus Payments Information - This is a one-time payment to low-to-moderate incoming working individuals and couples of $300-$500. The Comptroller’s office is processing these payments and they are expected to be deposited or mailed this week or next.
Unemployment Assistance Grant Information The RELIEF Act provides $1,000 Unemployment Grants to 32,000 recipients who have been stuck in limbo with the unemployment system.
Small businesses that collect less than $6,000 in sales tax per month can keep up to $3,000 for March, April, May.(Businesses should claim this benefit on their quarterly filings with the Comptroller.)
Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees are eligible to postpone unemployment tax payments for 2021 until January 2022
Small businesses which participated in state loan or grant programs do not have to pay taxes on that money
Minority and Small Business Loans: up to $50,000 from the Equity Participation Programs loans become grants to support these important businesses
To see if you or your business qualify for assistance visit: https://www.marylandtaxes.gov/RELIEFAct/index.php
I will be hosting a Vaccine Webinar with Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Anne Arundel County Health Officer and Senator Elfreth on Wednesday March 3rd at 6:00pm live on Facebook. Send any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup meets every Monday at 4:00pm to ensure oversight and accountability to the Department of Health. You can watch when it’s live here.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health is utilizing their COVID-19 Health Line 410-222-7265 to assist elderly Marylanders and those eligible residents who do not have access to the internet in registering with the County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can still register with the following public and private vaccine distribution sites in Anne Arundel County.
UMD Baltimore Washington Medical Center
The application for my 2020 Senatorial Scholarships and complete instruction can be found on my website: PamBeidle.com. To qualify you must file your FAFSA by March 1st, attend school in Maryland, and file your completed scholarship application by March 31, 2020. Scholarship may only be used at a Maryland College or University. All scholarship applications will be reviewed by my Scholarship Committee and awards will be made by June 1st.
If you currently receive a Senatorial Scholarship you do not have to reapply, they are four year awards
My office remains in Room 202 of the James Senate Office Building. Unfortunately, this Legislative Session, we cannot have constituents stop by and meet in person but my Chief of Staff Nancy Lipin Crawford, my Legislative Aide Joe Cadman and our Session Aide Molly Cannon will be happy to assist you and help with any issues or questions you have. You can email my office at email@example.com or call 410-841-3593. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news and session updates.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Senator from District 32,
Senator, District 32
Vice-Chair Executive Nominations