Every year since I joined the General Assembly in 2007, the focus of our work during legislative session has been entirely on state issues. But these are not normal times. The Trump Administration’s actions have given us no choice but to push back against the regressive decrees coming from the White House.
On January 27, President Trump issued his misguided order prohibiting refugees, migrants, and foreign residents from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.—an order that’s antithetical to our country's values and will make us less safe in the future. That’s in addition to the pervasive talk that Congress and the President will disband the Affordable Care Act and replace it with who-knows-what, leaving 433,872 Marylanders—including thousands of children and other vulnerable residents-–at risk of losing their healthcare.
These actions and others prompted the leadership of the House of Delegates and the State Senate to announce legislation this past Tuesday that will attempt to mitigate the impact on Marylanders of actions by the Federal Government. Legislation includes the following:
• Maryland Defense Act of 2017 – Legislation and Resolution that will provide Attorney General Frosh with a directive and the resources to engage in action to protect citizens of Maryland from harmful federal efforts.
• Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act – Marylanders should have access to high-quality healthcare, regardless of pre-existing conditions. In light of the President and Republican Congress pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the General Assembly will create the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission with the purpose of monitoring work on the Federal level and preparing Maryland to best react should President Trump and Congress decide to take away health insurance coverage from the hard-working middle class.
• Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Task Force Act – After the Great Recession, real progress was made to provide consumers with real financial protection and ensure that banks couldn’t hurt the American consumer. President Trump has already indicated that he wants to repeal these measures. This legislation establishes the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Task Force to monitor federal changes and keep the Governor and General Assembly updated on those changes.
Other Legislative News
There was some good news coming out of Annapolis last week. On Tuesday, the House of Delegates (joined by the Senate on Thursday) voted to override the Governor’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which increases the amount of renewable energy that Marylanders will use. I have always been a strong supporter of renewable energy, and I was proud to participate in the debate that led to the override vote.
Committees also got busy with bill hearings, a pace that will intensify in the coming weeks. I introduced bills that emphasize the importance of college affordability and reducing student loan debt:
HB 266 -- Public Senior Higher Education Institutions – Financial Aid – Reduction Restrictions -- which will prohibit public colleges and universities from reducing institutional aid when students obtain private financial aid as a way to fill their unmet financial need.
HB 770 -- Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act – Student Education Loan Servicers -- which will require student loan servicers to be licensed as debt collectors in Maryland, so that Maryland can provide oversight of student loan servicers.
HB 848 -- Community Colleges – Vocational Certificates, Apprenticeship Training Programs, and Associate’s Degrees – Tuition Assistance -- which will provide last-dollar, tuition assistance to students attending community college in some circumstances.
Constituents Visit Annapolis
Over the past few weeks, my staff and I met with constituents representing a number of groups and advocacy groups, including:
- Advocates for the Blind
- United Seniors
- Certified Public Accountants
- Baltimore County Horse Industry
- MD Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF)
As part of the Baltimore County Delegation, I received briefings on Baltimore County Public School construction and on important county legislative issues given by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance. I also had the opportunity to meet with Stevenson University’s Interim President Claire Moore.
I always look forward to meeting with constituents during session and hearing about their positions on issues they care about. If you would like to meet with me before the end of Session, please contact my Legislative Director, Margie Brassil, for an appointment: 410-841-3527.
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I am proud to be representing you in Annapolis and to be a part of the District 11 legislative team. Please contact me at 410-841-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org if I can ever be of assistance.