• Pam Beidle

Sine Die 2019

Sine Die 2019 Letter

April 8th 2019

The 439th Session adjourned, Sine Die at midnight on April 8, 2019 on a very somber note. Our Speaker of the House, Michael Erin Busch, died of pneumonia the day before. Speaker Busch was a leader, friend, mentor and coach that loved Anne Arundel County and Maryland. Our County is better because Michael Erin Busch represented us as Speaker. I had the pleasure of serving on the County Delegation with Mike Busch for twelve years and he taught me great deal about how to bring people together to find solutions. His door was always open. He was a champion of the environment, equal rights and education. Mike Busch was our Speaker for seventeen years. He made significant contributions to our County in projects like Maryland Hall, the YWCA Domestic Violence House and funding for schools. Tom Marquardt said it best, “Politics didn’t define Mike Busch, Mike Busch defined politics. He governed with honesty, civility, an open mind and a drive to find common ground among camps of differing views.”

This is my final newsletter of the 2019 legislative session and it covers funding I helped secure for Anne Arundel County, the status of my legislation this session and the important legislation that you, my constituents, wrote, called or stopped by my office to talk about in the last 90 days. This was my first legislative session in the Senate (after 12 years as a Delegate) and I served on the Finance Committee and Executive Nominations Committee. We addressed a wide range of important issues this session; physician assisted suicide, a minimum wage increase, and school start time to name a few. There were 2,481 bills considered, 1430 in the House of Delegates and 1051 in the Senate.

2019 District 32 Funding

The Senate and House passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan and balanced $46.6 billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The effort was spearheaded by two female leaders, Appropriations Chair Maggie Macintosh and Budget and Taxation Chair Nancy King, and through their leadership, the General Assembly was able to fund our priorities without raising taxes. What's more, the Budget reserved $1.1 billion in the State's Rainy Day Fund and, as a result of this fiscal responsibility, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp recently shared the news that Maryland will maintain its AAA Bond rating.

The General Assembly budget achieved its spending affordability goal of leaving a fund balance of over $100 million. The overall budget grew by 4% to $46.6 Billion dollars for FY2020. Our budget prioritizes local schools, healthcare and infrastructure. The budget includes the $225 million for the Kirwan Blueprint, $11.2 Billion for Medicaid funding, and $3.7 Billion for local transportation construction and repair projects. In District 32 and Anne Arundel County, many local bond initiatives I sponsored received funding. In total the projects for our district and the County projects I supported totaled $30,425,000!

$400,000 to the Young Women’s Christian Association for Domestic violence safe house and shelter and an education and wellness center.

$1,000,000 for the new Brooklyn Park Athletic Complex.

$500,000 for improvements to the Glen Burnie High School Stadium.

$200,000 for the engineering and planning of the North County High School field house

$150,000 to Chesapeake Arts Center for building upgrades

$100,000 for Maryland City Athletic Complex lighting upgrades

$500,000 for the Cryptologic Museum

$75,000 for the Anne Arundel County Fairground

$27,500,000 for the Anne Arundel Community College Health Sciences and Biology Building

My Bills

Below are brief descriptions of the bills I sponsored this legislative session that passed both chambers of the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor's desk.

SB 305 – Real Property – Homeowners Associations – Number of Declarant Votes.

This is a very simple bill that amends the Common Property part of Statute. 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.

SB 309 - Anne Arundel County – Alcoholic Beverages – Racetrack and Racetrack Concessionaire Licenses

It is my hope that this bill will attract more people to Laurel Racetrack. It will expand their liquor license to allow vendors at the racetrack to sell beer, wine and liquor year-round instead of just on racing days. This will allow restaurants to stay open at the racetrack and for customers to enjoy the grounds on non-race days.

SB 523- Insurance - Investments of Insurers Other Than Life Insurers - Real Estate

Before this bill, property and casualty insurers were not allowed to invest in real property “for the production of income” while it was permissible for life insurers to do so. This bill simply takes the language already in Maryland law and extends it to property and casualty insurers. Similar bills have been adopted in 10 other states including Virginia.

SB 710 - Anne Arundel County – Ethics – Contributions and Participation in Development Applications

This bill was sponsored at the request of County Executive Stuart Pittman. It is enabling legislation that allows for the County Council and County Executive to impose campaign contribution restrictions on themselves. This legislation will allow the County Council to pass restrictions on contributions from developers, which is a priority of the County Executive.

SB 711/HB822 - University System of Maryland - Regular Employees - Grievance Procedures and Disciplinary Actions

This bill bring fairness to exempt employees who are inappropriately subject to discipline and termination without cause at the University System of Maryland (USM). The new system will mirror the practices in the State Personnel Management System covering state employees.

SB 712/HB671 Household Goods Movers Registration

This bill requires household goods moving companies to register with the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation before providing intrastate moving services. Some moving companies in Maryland would illegally increase the cost of your move after loading your belongings into their trucks, effectively holding your belongings hostage until you pay them more money. My bill will give customers recourse if this happens and hold moving companies accountable by requiring registration.

SB 911 Gender Diversity in the Boardroom – Annual Report

This bill is a reporting bill that amends the SDAT Personal Property Tax Form that businesses and nonprofits already file each year annually. This form already asks about board composition, so my bill will simply amend the form to include two additional questions:

The total number of board members; and

The total number of women on the board.

The ratio data will be collected by SDAT and shared with the Comptroller of Maryland who has agreed to draft a report to the General Assembly.

The purpose of this bill is to bring light to the participation of women on major decision-making bodies in Maryland. In 2018, Women made up an estimated 49% of the workforce and yet held only 16.8% of Maryland’s board seats, which lags significantly behind the national average of 22.5%.

SB 913 State Retirement and Pension System – Administration – Retiree Information for Direct Mailings

Before this bill, the Maryland Retired School Personnel Association (MRSPA), Maryland State Education Association - Retired (MSEA-R) and AFSCME Council 3 are allowed to send two blind recruitment mailing to reach out to potential members. These mailings are only allowed in April and November.

My bill removed the requirement that this be done only in April and November, allowing flexibility in the timing of the mailings. The number of mailings remains at “two times” per year. This is only an accounting change to facilitate the bookkeeping involved in blind mailings for recruitment of certain retirees.

SB 1000 - Public Safety - Handgun Permit Review Board – Repeal

There are several reasons to repeal the Review Board. The current Board has overturned the Maryland State Police (MSP) recommendations 82.5% of the time, sustaining the MSP recommendation in only 8% of the cases, with 6% of the appellants not appearing to the HPRB. This includes overturning denials and expanding modifications. In the prior report the State Police decisions were only overturned 54% of the time.

Effective October 1, 2018 a request for a handgun permit that was denied or overturned by the Permit Review Board could be appealed to the Office of Administrative Hearings. Since October, 22 cases have been appealed by the State Police to the OAH, 16 cases have been heard and 4 decisions have been rendered, all in support of the MSP decision.

Currently the Handgun Permit Review Board has 367 waiting for appeal hearings. The current process using the Board as oversight is unfair and takes too long. By transferring the first appeal to the OAH, cases will be heard more quickly. There are 55 Administrative Hearing officers, 40 have been trained in Handgun permit appeals. The office of OAH feels that they have the capacity to hear and rule on these cases. OAH is located in 4 regions around the State, so appellants will not have to drive to Crownsville on a Tuesday night. The Office of Administrative Hearings is a judicial branch designed to review laws in an objective and fair way. The Handgun Permit Review Board is a few untrained citizens overruling the State Police. My legislation does not change the qualifications that the MSP police use in deciding to issue handgun permits. It simply changes the appeal process.

SB 713: 5G Wireless Facilities - Permitting and Siting

All 5G bills (including my bill SB 713) in the House and Senate have been deferred to interim study. A work group of stakeholders and legislators will be appointed and meet in the interim with the goal of recommending one bill outlining the implementation of 5G wireless technology in Maryland. I plan on continuing this discussion after the General Assembly session ends and fighting to keep local autonomy involved in this issue.

Governor's Vetoes

SB 156 – Recognizing Annapolis Contribution to State Government

The Governor vetoed this bill and it was overridden by the General Assembly. This legislation is designed to offset costs incurred by the city of Annapolis specifically in support of State government. It requires an annual state appropriation of $750,000 for police, fire and other services paid by the City of Annapolis in support of the operation of State Government. This appropriation for essential services has been in state budgets dating back to 1980 but was zeroed out in this year’s budget.

SB 300- Prevailing Wage Rates - Public Work Contracts - Suits by Employees

The Governor vetoed this bill and it was overridden by the General Assembly. SB 300 is a simple bill that aims to give construction workers on public work contracts the same access to the court system as other workers in the public and private sector. Under the old law if employees under a public work contract are paid less than the appropriate prevailing wage, they must first file a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Industry and await a decision before pursuing a legal action. This bill cuts through the red tape and allows employees to sue their employer directly. It is critical that employees receive their rightfully-earned wages in a timely manner, for too long unethical contractors were able to abuse their workers and this bill’s goal is to fix that disparity.

HB 1052 – The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission

The Governor vetoed this bill and it was overridden by the General Assembly. This bill establishes a dedicated Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to regulate both alcohol and tobacco products. Commission members will be nominated by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Maryland Senate. This legislation is the implementation of the findings of the independent Task Force to Study State Alcohol Regulation, Enforcement, Safety, and Public Health. This Commission will increase transparency in regulating the alcohol and tobacco industries. It is ethically inconsistent to have a single elected official directly regulating alcohol. This Commission will align Maryland with how 47 other states regulating the industries.

SB 128 – Restoring Local Control of Maryland School Calendars

The Governor vetoed this bill and it was overridden by the General Assembly. SB 128 is in response to the Governor’s Executive Order that mandated schools start after Labor Day and conclude by June 15th. This bill returns the authority for deciding school calendars to the local Boards of Educations who best understand the needs of their students and their community.

HB 298 Oysters - Tributary-Scale Sanctuaries - Protection and Restoration

The Governor vetoed this bill and it was overridden by the General Assembly. This bill established five permanent oyster sanctuaries in Chesapeake Bay tributaries; in the Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River, and the Manokin River. This bill prohibits catching oysters in or removing oyster seed from these 5 sanctuaries.

Legislative Highlights:

SB 759 - Drug Affordability Board

The cost of prescription drugs have been going up year after year, making it harder and harder for people to afford life-saving medications due to these skyrocketing costs. In the richest state in the richest country in the world, no one should die because they can’t afford their prescription prices. This bill created the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to review the cost of prescription drugs and increases in their prices, as well as look a the best ways to bring down the cost of prescription drugs including bulk purchasing, upper payment limits, reverse auctions, and more. This board will have the power to recommend upper payment limits on the price of prescription drugs to help keep the costs of these medications at a level where the people who need them the most can afford them, though they will need approval before they can move forward with implementation of Upper Payment Limits for State government

SB 946 - State Employee’s retiree prescription plans

SB 946 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. In 2011, facing a massive pension liability crisis, Maryland made the decision to move retirees to Medicare Part D by the end of the decade to remove a $10 Billion liability from the state. Hearing the concerns of the retirees, the General Assembly took bipartisan action to address the issue. SB 946 will help protect retired state employees from the high cost of prescription drugs. The bill establishes a new prescription drug plan that caps yearly out of pocket costs at $1500 for an individual and $2000 for a family. Our state employees worked hard and retired with the expectation that their prescription drug costs would be covered. SB 946 keeps that promise to the people who helped make our state run every day, without a $10B liability to the state.

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.

Pharmacy bills

Last week, The Senate Finance Committee heard three House bills aimed at transparency in the prescription drug industry and the impact of the growing drug affordability crisis. While the cost of drugs skyrocket, Maryland’s local pharmacies are being forced to shut down because of the shady business practices of the middle men in the prescription drug chain of supply, known as Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs). These large, billion dollar PBMs are getting in-between pharmacists and their patients. We need systemic change to this industry but HB 589, HB 754, HB 759 are a good start.

A little background on Pharmacy Benefits Managers

PBM’s negotiate rebates from drug manufacturers in exchange for covering certain drugs. They do not pass these savings on the patient, in most cases they keep the rebate.

PBM’s also determine how much to bill your health plan per prescription and what they will reimburse your local pharmacies for. In many cases, they reimburse pharmacies below the cost of the medication and keep the difference.

HB 589 - Maryland Medical Assistance Program and Managed Care Organizations That Use Pharmacy Benefits Managers – Audit and Professional Dispensing Fees

This bill will provide transparency in the drug pricing system and hopefully save taxpayers money by requires the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to audit Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs), managed care organizations and community pharmacies for the purpose of determining the amount of Medicaid funds used to reimburse PBMs, and pharmacies. The results of the audit will be reported to the General Assembly on or before December 1st2019.

HB 754 - Health Insurance and Pharmacy Benefits Managers - Cost Pricing and Reimbursement

This bill again aims at industry transparency. The prescription drug industry has little to no standardization for how PBMs should determine drug reimbursement rates. This has led to PBMs profiting immensely at the expense of pharmacists who often are forced to dispense prescription drugs at a loss. HB 754 will require PBM’s to establish an appeals process for all cost pricing and reimbursements disputes. It also prohibits PBMs from charging retroactive adjustment fees that are not disclosed at the time of claim processing and as well as applies Maryland’s Transparency provisions to PBMs in the Medicaid management care programs.

HB 759 – Pharmacy Benefits Managers – Pharmacy Choice

This bill will prohibit a PBM from requiring that a beneficiary use a specific pharmacy to fill a prescription if the PBM has an ownership interest in the pharmacy or if the pharmacy has an ownership interest in the PBM. The intent with HB 759 is to protect consumer choice, ending the practice of PBMs forcing consumers to abandon their local pharmacy for one that the PBM has a financial interest in.

SB 516 – The Clean Energy Jobs Act

The looming threat of climate change is something that we all must take seriously. To combat this, The General Assembly voted to make changes to the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) with the goal of moving the state to 100% clean energy as soon as possible. Maryland currently requires that 25% of the energy used in our state must come from renewable sources by 2020. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, increases that threshold to 50% by 2030, with a top projected rate increase of just $1.50 a month per household. Other RPS Changes included a Power Plant Research Program study to plan ways to reach 100% renewable energy in the state by 2040.

SB 895 - Tobacco 21

This bill will increase the legal age to purchase tobacco in Maryland from 18 to 21. This will covers any tobacco product including liquids for electronic smoking devices regardless of nicotine content. Young people are the most at-risk of tobacco addiction. 80% of all adult smokers began smoking by the age of 18 and 90% did so before the age of 20. I believe this commonsense change will greatly improve public health.

SB 311- The End of Life Options Act

After vigorous and emotional debate, the physician assisted suicide bill failed in the Senate with a tie vote of 23-23. A bill needs a simple majority, 24 votes, to pass. I received countless emails, phone calls and meeting requests on both sides of this issue and I am grateful for the many constituents who took time out of their day to come to my office and explain how they feel about this legislation. I voted against this bill in its current form. Over 50 amendments were offered on this legislation to pass the House and it still lacked safeguards against elder abuse, and contained vague language regarding the way mental health evaluations would be part of the process to receive this prescription. Additionally, the six month diagnosis to qualify for this prescription was arbitrary and worrisome considering many people who testified on this bill outlived their diagnosis. I understand too many, this legislation was about having the choice to seek out this option at the end of their life but I believe physician assisted suicide is not something that should be taken up lightly and rushed through the legislature.

SB 1030 - The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan)

SB 1030 passed both chambers of the legislature and will now be sent to the governor’s desk. This bill establishes The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. A policy blueprint to transform the State’s early childhood, primary, and secondary education system into a world class system based on the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.

This legislation permanently dedicates revenue from out-of-state online vendors to sustainably fund education investments in Maryland through a new Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. The bill distributes $255 million in FY 2020, consistent with the funding priorities identified by the Kirwan Commission, and $355 in FY 2021, keeping in line with what is available in the education fund. That funding increases to $500 million in FY 2022, with $130 million of that funding contingent on the legislation passing in the next two General Assembly sessions to raise revenues to fill that gap.

In response to concerns about accountability, this bill adds two key features. It creates a new, dedicated Inspector General position modeled after the Governor’s legislation and a similar position in Massachusetts to root out waste, fraud and abuse in our local school systems. It also creates a new performance audit of local school systems to be conducted by the Office of Legislative Audits.

The principles of the Blueprint are:

Instruction and skill development based on international standards which enable Maryland students to be productive citizens and successful in the 21st century economy.

Access to educational experiences and opportunities beginning in early childhood which will enable every Maryland student to reach their full potential while graduating from High School ready for college and a rewarding career

Funding Allocation for Fiscal Year 2020- Kirwan Year 1

Total Allocation - Approx. $255 million​

Teacher Salary Incentive Grants - $75 million

Special Education Grants - $65.5 million

Concentration of Poverty Grants (including MSDE Coordinator Position) - $54.6 million

Full-day Pre-Kindergarten for low income four year olds - $31.7 million

Transitional Supplemental Instruction Grants (Individualized Tutoring) - $23 million

Teacher Collaborative - $2.5 million

Mental Health Coordinators for each local school system - $2 million

Upgrades MSDE information and Technology services - $500,000

Outreach and Training - $300,000

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will require implementation of the following Kirwan recommendations

Full day prekindergarten that is free for low income three and four year olds.

Elevate the teaching profession to be comparable to other fields with the same education by providing comparable compensation, establishing a career ladder so excellent teachers remain in the classroom and increasing the rigor of teacher preparation programs and state certification standards.

Establish a new College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standard. With the goal of getting every single Maryland High school student to a point where they will succeed in the first year of community college by the 10th grade.

Additional resources, support and services for students who need them to achieve the CCR standard, including English language learners, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families.

Establish a strong accountability system with authority to hold all entities accountable for implementing this legislation.

Why I voted for this legislation

Maryland schools are ranked 26th in the nation. The Kirwan blueprint’s goal is to turn that around and move in the direction of educational equity across the state. Concentration of poverty is an issue in Anne Arundel County and the rest of Maryland. Impoverished areas have been left behind in school funding for too long. This blueprint creates a new concentration of poverty weight for our education formula.

The reality is this: by 2020, two out of three jobs in Maryland will require more than a high school diploma and this blueprint puts the state on a strong path to get there by focusing on essential education tools starting with Pre-K. It continues by ensuring that students are career and college ready and that they have the tools and resources together to either go to college or have the career and technical education necessary to succeed. This is a once in a generation effort at comprehensively and holistically improving all parts of our public education system.

In Closing

As the session ends, my office will be open full time, 9 am to 4 pm, 5 days a week. My contact information remains the same,pamela.beidle@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3593. You can also read this newsletter online at www.pambeidle.com and follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/senatorpambeidle

Thank you for granting me the honor and opportunity to serve as your representative in the Maryland Senate. I truly appreciate your support and I look forward to seeing you in the community.

Senator Pam Beidle

11 Bladen St

Room 202, James Office Building

Annapolis, MD 21411

Phone: 410-841-3593

Email: Pamela.Beidle@senate.state.md.us

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