Hogan Proposes Supplemental Budget: Funds Included For Police, Colleges

Today Governor Hogan will provide more details about his first supplemental budget of the session, to be released later today. It reportedly includes additional funding for police, colleges and economic development. Two million will go to the Baltimore Police Department to support compliance with its consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. Ten million will go toward addressing opioid addiction – the first installment of his plan, announced about a month ago, to spend $50 million on the crisis. He intends to spread the $50 million over five years. The supplemental budget also includes extra money for higher education and economic development.

Disappointing some, it includes nothing for the Baltimore City School System. From The Baltimore Sun

“There are funds available in the budget for other priorities,” Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Thursday.

Nevertheless, the head of the House of Delegates budget committee expressed surprise and disappointment that the new spending plan didn’t address the city’s plight or the budget woes in nine counties where student enrollment — and therefore state funding — also has declined in the past year.

“We’re talking about the quality of education we can be and should be committed to in 10 districts,” said Del. Maggie McIntosh, the Baltimore Democrat who heads the Appropriations Committee.

Supplemental budgets, which address spending needs that might not have been apparent at the time of the state budget’s release in January, are also a tool used by governors in their annual tug-of-war with lawmakers over budget priorities. By either including or withholding funds, a chief executive can bargain for funding priorities that the legislature may not share.

McIntosh said she made concessions to the administration on several issues and thought the funds would be coming.

 

 

WYPR Examines Status of Immigration, Health Care, Bail Reform On Cross-Over

A WYPR 88.1 FM radio discussion (2017-03-21) examined the status of several big issues and whether they met the Maryland General Assembly’s March 20 cross-over deadline.

From the discussion’s description tagline:

Monday was a busy day in Annapolis, where state lawmakers hurried to meet a legislative deadline. Any bills not passed by either the state Senate or the House of Delegates by the end of the day have to go through the Rules Committee before they can continue on. WYPR’s Rachel Baye joins Nathan Sterner to talk about what bills made the cut and what will face additional hurdles.

Baye highlighted immigration enforcement, health care, bail reform in the discussion.

Useful Links

Direct Link to Audio

MACo Supports Strengthening Drug Overdose Prevention Programs

MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu submitted written testimony in favor of legislation (HB 1549) that enhances state and local tools and helps improve the effectiveness of existing programs that help reduce overdose deaths and address addiction.

MACo’s testimony states,

The bill authorizes DHMH to revoke licenses for Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers that fail to properly register. This strengthens the Department’s ability to enforce compliance and catch rogue businesses that handle highly addictive drugs that are subject to abuse.

The bill also authorizes local overdose fatality review teams to collect and analyze information related to near overdoses. These teams perform confidential reviews of drug and alcohol overdose deaths in order to identify ways to improve system level operations. However, they are currently only able to review fatal overdose data. The information that can be gleaned from an individual that has experienced an overdose, but survived, is valuable for preventing and responding to future overdose events.

This bill was heard by the House Health and Government Operations committee on March 16.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

MACo: Increase Access to Overdose Prevention Medication

MACo Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, provided written testimony in support of legislation (SB 868), which would provide easier access to naloxone, a medication that can counter an overdose, to individuals who are most able to assist someone at risk of dying from an opioid death when emergency medical services or first responders are not readily available.

MACo’s testimony states,

SB 868 authorizes naloxone to be prescribed, dispensed, received, possessed, or administered to an individual that has not received training or certification through an overdose response program. Currently, community members must receive hands-on training and certification through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Overdose Response Program (ORP) in order to receive the life-saving medication without a prescription. The bill will make it easier for community members to have access to naloxone in cases where they are unable to attend a training through the ORP.

Naloxone is a safe means of saving lives. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent overdoses by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone by blocking opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. It is not a controlled dangerous substance. There are no adverse effects from use nor does it have any potential for abuse, physical dependence, or overdose. It will neither help nor cause harm if used on someone who is not overdosing from opioids.

The cross-file to this bill (HB 791) was heard by the House Health and Government Operations committee on February 21, 2017. Click here for previous Conduit Street coverage.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

Senate Passes Sick Leave Bill With Veto-Proof Majority

The Senate has passed SB 230, “Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act” with a veto-proof majority. The vote was 29-18. The bill would require Maryland employers to provide paid sick and safe leave for many of their employees.

The bill has significant differences from the House version and needs to be reconciled before it can be sent to Governor Hogan, who has promised to veto the bill. Most notably, the Senate version provides for 5 days of paid sick and safe leave, the House version provides for 7 days.

The bill would also require county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Useful Links

MACo testimony on SB 230

For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session, visit our Legislative Tracking Database.

Senate Subcommittee Concurs on Rejecting Local Health Department Cost Shift

The Senate Budget and Tax’s Health and Human Services subcommittee voted at the March 14 decision meeting to reject the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) proposal to require local health departments to absorb costs of contractual employee health insurance. They concurred with the House Health and Human Resources subcommittee which rejected the cost shift at their March 6 decision meeting.

The proposal amounted to a $1.6 million cost shift to local health departments. It would have further reduced state funding for health departments (already subject to a funding freeze at last year’s levels in the budget reconciliation bill), and would have likely resulted in service cutbacks.

MACo submitted a letter to the subcommittees opposing the cost shift.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street:

Subcommittee Rejects Cost Shift Onto Local Health Departments

Analysts Propose Cost Shift Onto Local Health Departments

Statewide Child Abuse Reporting Bills Withdrawn

A bill that would shift the critical responsibility of answering calls concerning child abuse and neglect from local departments of social services to the statewide 2-1-1 system was withdrawn by sponsors.

MACo opposed HB 697 /SB 945. While the concept of a statewide hotline proposed by the bill was well intentioned, it had practical shortcomings.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street: MACo Opposes Changes to Child Abuse Reporting System:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.

Subcommittee Rejects Cost Shift Onto Local Health Departments

The House Appropriation’s Health and Human Resources Subcommittee voted at the March 6 decision meeting to reject the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) proposal to require local health departments to absorb costs of contractual employee health insurance.

The proposal amounted to a $1.6 million cost shift to local health departments. It would have further reduced state funding for health departments (already subject to a funding freeze at last year’s levels in the budget reconciliation bill), and would have likely resulted in service cutbacks.

DLS proposed the cost shift at the February 1 budget hearing for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of the Secretary.

The House Appropriations Committee will have a meeting Friday on all the subcommittee decisions. The Senate Budget and Tax Committee and subcommittees will hold decision meetings next week.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street: Analysts Propose Cost Shift Onto Local Health Departments

MACo: Allow Flexibility for Opioid Addiction Medication Prescribers

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified to amend legislation of House Bill 1278, “Public Health – Health Care Facilities and Health Care Systems – Availability of Buprenorphine Prescribers” so that it would expand patient access to opioid addiction medications without putting onerous requirements on the providers and healthcare facilities.

MACo’s testimony states,

As originally introduced, HB 1278 set a burdensome and difficult to meet mandate on certain health care facilities, including local health departments, to have at least one buprenorphine provider available for every 100 patients served.

As amended, HB 1278 would require certain health care facilities to ensure their patients have access to the services of healthcare providers that are trained and authorized to prescribe opioid addiction medications, including buprenorphine-containing formulas. To comply with this directive, the facilities have the flexibility to directly employ, contract with, or refer to the appropriate providers. The facilities would not have to meet a threshold of one provider for 100 patients.

These amendments ensure that patients could have access to a broader range of providers and opioid addiction medications, not just buprenorphine.

HB 1278 was heard by the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 7, 2017.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 Legislative Session here.

MACo Supports Overdose Prevention Efforts, Seeks to Ensure Proper Resources

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified to amend legislation of House Bill 1329, “Heroin and Opioid Pevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017”. MACo supports the goal of addressing the continuing opioid overdose and addiction problem confronting communities across Maryland but offers amendments to ensure the bill will not overburden local resources.

MACo’s testimony states,

Counties support the efforts of HB 1329 to provide Maryland residents with greater access to a broader range of treatment services and support.

Counties are only concerned with language of the bill that sets a burdensome mandate on certain health care facilities, including local health departments, to have at least one buprenorphine provider available for every 100 patients served. This mandate would be extremely difficult to meet. It is unmanageable and sets unrealistic expectations on health care facilities to provide these specific services even if their patient population does not support the need for the services.

To address our concerns, the bill should be amended so that the health care facilities ensure their patients have access to the services of healthcare providers that are trained and authorized to prescribe opioid addiction medications, including buprenorphine-containing formulas. To comply with this directive, the facilities should have the flexibility to directly employ, contract with, or refer to the appropriate providers. The facilities should not be required to meet any specific provider-to-patient threshold.

HB 1329 was heard by the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 7, 2017. MACo’s Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, testified on the cross-file for the bill, SB 967, was heard by the Senate Finance and Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committees on March 8, 2017.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 Legislative Session here.