News from Annapolis - March 12th 2019
News from Annapolis!
I just wanted to take a moment and update you on the General Assembly. We’ve really picked up the pace in Annapolis. We only have 27 days left to pass a budget and vote on the bills before the Senate. In the last two weeks alone, I testified on 6 bills I am sponsoring, including my bill to reduce the price of Insulin for Marylanders (SB 410). I still made time to donate a few children’s books to local Anne Arundel County public schools in celebration of “Read Across America Day” with the Cat and the Hat.
My first bill passed the Senate!
SB 305 – Real Property – Homeowners Associations – Number of Declarant Votes. This is a very simple bill that amends the Common Property part of Statute. Currently the law says developers, when voting on a Homeowners Association matter, are entitled to the same number of votes as lots that have been subdivided and recorded in the land records of the county in which the homeowners association is located; and have not been sold to members of the public. My bill qualifies that developers get one vote for every “legally subdivided” lot not lots that were once planned but are no longer showing on development plans.
Baltimore Washington Parkway
We have had many constituents contact us regarding the conditions of the State Highways especially the Baltimore Washington Parkway. The responsibility for the parkway is divided between the National Park Service and the State Highways Administration (SHA). The Parkway, within Anne Arundel County, is under National Park Service (NPS) from the Prince George’s County line to the MD 175 interchange ramps. The SHA District 5 portion is from MD 175 north until the Baltimore County line; and the portion that continues into Baltimore County falls within District 4 until it reaches the Baltimore City line. We have been working with State Highways and Senator Van Hollen’s Office to improve the situation.
SHA shared that they have a planned resurfacing project on 295 and that there is a Route 175 and Route 295 interchange reconstruction project. SHA does routine litter collection on the state routes, it is an ongoing project as unfortunately people continue to litter which gives the appearance that nothing is being done.
Senator Van Hollen’s Office shared with us that the Park Service admits that potholes are a serious problem that they are working hard to address. During the winter months they have crews up and down the road filling in potholes. They admit this is not a long-term solution, however because the “fill” is often dislodged quickly by harsh weather or heavy traffic use. Over 120,000 vehicles use the Parkway daily.
In 2010, the National Parks Service identified the need to completely rehabilitate the Parkway and request more than $24 million for this project. They have been working since 2011 to rehabilitate it in 2 or 3 mile sections. The cost to rehabilitate the remainder of the parkway is estimated at $11.4 million. The current NPS strategy is to fund approximately $3.5 million each year until the entire length of the parkway is repaved. The section between 197 and 198 is scheduled to be repaved late summer 2019.
If you see street light that continues to out, it may not be as simple as changing a light bulb. In a recent conversation with a SHA representative we discovered that thieves are stealing the copper wiring out of the lights.
You can report issues to:
NPS at (301)344-3948 Greenbelt Headquarters
MDOT SHA at http://marylandsha.force.com/customercare/request_for_service
Anne Arundel County Roads: https://www.aacounty.org/services-and-programs/potholes
Important legislation Update:
SB 946- State Prescription Drug Benefits – Retiree Benefits – Revisions
This is emergency legislation that will ensure the health of the state pension and retiree health systems. The rising cost of prescription drugs is an issue across the country. That is why I co-sponsored legislation to reduce the price of Insulin for Marylanders and that is why I support this legislation.
SB 946 creates two new programs to assist current and future retirees who were hired prior to July 1st, 2011 by limiting out of pocket prescription drug costs.
Current Medicare eligible retirees, spouses, and dependents, can enroll in a new State Retiree Prescription Drug Coverage Program that will limit out of pocket annual prescription drug costs to the same limits as the State employee prescription drug plan – currently a limit of $1,500 per individual and $2,000 per family.
Employees who retire after January 1st, 2019 can enroll in a new State Retiree Catastrophic Prescription Drug Program that will limit out of pocket drug costs once they, their spouses or dependents are Medicare eligible to the Medicare Part D catastrophic coverage level- approx. $2,500
These Programs are authorized to provide reimbursements for the out of pocket limits in each program through Health Reimbursement Arrangements under the IRS Code which means they are not taxable to the retiree or the retiree’s dependents.
This legislation will also have DBM hire an outside entity to provide one-on-one consulting to Medicare eligible retirees for at least 3 months prior to and during Medicare Part D open enrollment period in person or on the phone to assist retirees in selecting a Medicare Part D plan based on their specific medications and needs. This would only be applicable to the first year in which State Medicare eligible retirees enroll in Medicare Part D.
SB 1030 – The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
This Bill would enact the Kirwan Commission’s policy recommendations. It was heard in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 6th, but has not been voted on yet. You can keep track of this bill here.
SB 285- The Styrofoam ban passed the Senate by a vote of 34-13 and now crosses over into the House of Delegates. I voted in favor of this ban because it’s the right thing to do to preserve our environment for generations to come. If the bill passes the House and is signed into law, it will take effect July 2019. Businesses will have a full year to use their supply of Styrofoam.
SB 280 – The “Fight for $15” – The House passed a version of the Fight for $15 bill last week and it was heard last week by the Finance Committee. I’ve met with many groups advocating for every side of this issue and I am grateful for every constituent that reached out to voice their opinion. Noticing what was lacking in the House version, I supported the amendment to increase the percentage of the budget for DDA salaries and the committee voted favorably on the bill as amendments. The bill has been sent the Senate Floor.
This past week, I had the honor of recognizing some of our amazing Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Shout out to Severna Park High School, Severna Park Middle School, Central Middle School and Magothy River Middle School for earning 5 star rankings on the 2018 Maryland Public School Report Card.
As always, my office is open, if you are visiting the General Assembly and would like to stop by! Nancy Lipin Crawford, my Chief of Staff, and Joe Cadman, my Legislative Aide are on hand Monday to Friday to answer any questions you have. 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