Report on 2018 Maryland Legislative Session

As last year, much of our work has been focused on protecting Maryland from the dangers posed by President Trump and his allies. Among the most important:
  • Restoring the personal exemption on Maryland tax returns taken away by the Republican federal tax law.

  • Based on the recommendation of the Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission, co-chaired by Delegate Peña-Melnyk, we fought Republican attacks on Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid and passed a strong law to block big insurance rate hikes.

  • Responding to Trump’s “drill, baby, drill” energy policy, we passed tough new regulations on offshore oil and gas drilling to protect Maryland's shores.

  • To help protect Marylanders’ jobs, homes, and retirement savings from another economic crisis, we strengthened protections for retirees’ savings, boosted fines on unscrupulous brokers and banks, and put more financial cops on the beat to curb the wolves of Wall Street.

To keep our families safe, we:
  • required insurance companies to expand drug addiction and mental health services through local health departments.

  • required doctors to discuss with patients the risks of prescription painkillers.

  • boosted funding Safe Streets and other programs which get guns off the streets.

  • banned bump stocks which, as we saw in Las Vegas, turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons.

  • required every public school by 2021 to have lockable doors for every classroom, a school resource officer or police, and expanded mental health evaluation.

  • gave prosecutors more tools to keep repeat, violent criminals out of our neighborhoods, with longer sentences for gun crimes and big drug dealers.

Other priorities in this year’s State budget include:
  • boosts in state funds for schools in Prince George's by $29.2 million and Anne Arundel by $9.6 million.

  • more jobs in Maryland repairing UM buildings and local schools, increasing investments in roads, bridges, and transit.

  • boosts in investment in the University of Maryland and other public colleges by $60.2 million.

  • balanced the budget, protecting Maryland's AAA bond rating.

  • $150.1 million to protect open space and $2.5 million to improve local parks.

  • $5.6 million for rebuilding Route One in College Park and $12.2 million for modernizing and expanding Route 175 in Odenton.

  • $334.9 for construction of the light rail Purple Line, connecting the Metro Green Line and the University of Maryland with Bethesda, New Carrollton – and New York!

  • $5 million for a tax cut for small businesses who provide paid sick leave to their workers.

To help Laurel, College Park, Prince George's, and Anne Arundel Counties fix pot holes and improve local roads, we approved $26.7 million for Prince George's, $26.1 million for Anne Arundel, $2.5 million for College Park, and $3.5 million for Laurel. 

To help homeless and other low-income families in Laurel, we secured funds for Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services (LARS) to help pay first month’s rent, security deposit, and eviction prevention. 

We worked together on all these initiatives:
  • Blocking big hikes in health insurance rates under new law, sponsored by Delegate Peña-Melnyk, chair of the House Public Health Subcommittee.

  • Delegate Frush relentlessly worked on the Chesapeake Bay Commission to protect our environment and the Chesapeake Bay, to make sure that it remains healthy and viable.

  • Delegate Barnes, as Vice Chairman of the Education Subcommittee, has worked to secure record school funding for Anne Arundel and Prince George’s.

  • Restoring state personal tax exemptions endangered by Trump tax plan, championed by Senator Rosapepe.

Please let us know if there are other issues you have questions or thoughts about. And, of course, feel free to be in touch if we can be of help to you.

Update on new UM/Laurel Regional Hospital
April 2018

As you know, we've worked closely with Mayor Moe and Councilwoman Lehman to save Laurel Regional Hospital -- and modernize it to provide services to meet our community needs. 

First, we convinced the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) to take it over from Dimensions. 

Second, we won $100 million in State funds to improve the hospital facilities in Laurel, Bowie, and elsewhere in the county. 

Third, we worked with UMMS and Laurel community leaders to design a new UM/Laurel Medical Center, which will replace the 40 year old hospital building. UMMS is applying for State approval to move forward with the first new building; under the law we championed, it will hold a community meeting to answer your questions and get your input. We'll make sure you're invited. 

Here are the highlights of the new UM/Laurel Medical Center. 


Click here to hear about it.

1) Keeping core community services

  • 24/7 emergency room
  • Robust labs, x-rays, CTs, MRI and other diagnostic services
  • Close partnership with Laurel Fire and Rescue squads
  • Women’s health services including obstetrical care and family planning
  • Lung cancer screenings, asthma treatment, and sleep medicine
  • Award-winning wound care center 
  • Hospital beds for overnight stays 
  • Chronic pain management
  • Mental health, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse services
  • Fast transfer by ambulance and helicopter to other hospitals
  • Coordination with Howard County, Adventist, Holy Cross, UM/Baltimore and UM/Prince George's County hospitals 

2) Expanding services
  • New emergency room with separate, secure area for dangerous patients 
  • New critical care capacity in emergency room 
  • New real time access to UMMS shock trauma doctors thru telemedicine 
  • New wellness/weight loss programs
  • New behavioral health crisis center with 4 dedicated rooms
  • New diabetes treatment services
  • New neurology services focusing on dementia
  • New 21st century building with new technology, including a new CT scanner to diagnose cardiac disorders. 

3) Protecting access to services moved from Laurel
  • Long term chronic ventilation care to UM/Prince George's Hospital Center 
  • Acute rehabilitation to UM/Prince George's Hospital 
  • Long term behavioral health services to UM/Prince Georges and other local hospitals 

4) Exploring more services in Laurel
  • Dental practice serving insured and Medicaid patients 
  • Local centers for leading HMO and other healthcare providers 
  • UM/School of Medicine research at Laurel
  • UMMS urgent care 

We're sure you may have questions. That’s why we asked UMMS to meet with the community to explain these plans. 

We welcome your thoughts and questions. 

Jim, Barbara, Joseline, Ben