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Session Update - March 27, 2019

March 27, 2019

Now that crossover week has concluded, over the next two weeks, we are gearing up to see bills coming up for final passage or be shelved for another year.  I am continuing to watch some legislation that I think is noteworthy and will continue to share them with you until the final bell rings on the 2019 convening of the General Assembly.

Healthcare

HB 759-Pharmacy Benefits Managers - Pharmacy Choice  

I believe in consumer choice.  I am very pleased to say that my bill has passed out of the House and is now in the Senate.  This bill will prevent the large PBMs (Pharmacy Benefits Managers) like CVS from forcing you to use their pharmacy only. This bill will increase consumer choice and stop the practice of large pharmacy conglomerates from unfairly eliminating competition from local and independent pharmacies.

HB 819-Maryland Health Insurance Option (Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019)

I have long opposed the Individual Health Insurance Mandate because it unfairly penalizes the self-employed. I was extremely concerned when Maryland Democrats attempted to push a state version this legislative session. I am glad to report a bipartisan solution has turned a very bad bill to a good bill. The mandate was stripped and replaced with a checkbox for taxpayers to indicate if they would like to receive Healthcare information. I wish all legislation could work this way.

HB 697- Health Insurance – Consumer Protections and Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission

This bill was intended to codify the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in State Law, but this would have had the potential of causing many problems.  No one has any idea what the Federal government might do in the future regarding the ACA.  The reimbursement alone for two large programs of Obamacare is Medicaid expansion and subsidies for the individual market would cost the State of Maryland $3.2 billion respectively.  The bill was changed to a workgroup to watch for future federal changes.

Transportation

HB 1412- Transportation – Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act – Alterations

This bill has the potential to send even more money to mass-transit out of the Transportation Trust Fund by repealing the 3% spending cap on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).  In 2014, legislation was passed to protect the Transportation Trust Fund from being raided making it a “lockbox”, but this bill essentially allows for the TTF to be pick-pocketed again. Instead of requiring WMATA to stay within budget, this bill allows it to spend freely to be subsidized by the TTF and by the people that fund it.  I oppose this because rural areas of Maryland pay dis-proportionally into the TTF, yet receive no mass transit options. Furthermore, MDOT has advised that the passage of HB 1412 puts at risk its capital program by $1.5 billion through FY24. Additionally, the bill requires MDOT to fully fund the annual $167 million in dedicated capital funding for WMATA, resulting in a $793 million reduction in projects currently planned by MDOT. Combined this bill could impose $2.3 billion dollars negative effect on the states Consolidated Transportation Program, forcing MDOT to cut projects that are programmed to begin in the coming fiscal year.

Education

HB 1413- The Blueprint for Maryland's Future

Of course, I support strong schools and want the best education for our children, but simply spending more taxpayer dollars that will result in future tax increases could prove to be fiscally problematic for our citizens. The Kirwan legislation is a 28-page bill with a price tag of $324,600,000 in FY 2020 and $749,740,000 in Fiscal 2021, with the balance of the $4 billion price tag looming ahead. 

I have two main concerns about the massive increase in education spending: where is the revenue source, and where is the accountability?

The commission’s recommendations outlined in the bill are estimated to cost nearly $4 billion more each year once fully phased in, and virtually no accountability measures have been included in the legislation. In a letter to the House and the Senate, Maryland’s Dept. of Budget and Taxation Secretary David Brinkley advised that the state will experience a cumulative five-year shortfall of $21 billion from FY2021 through FY2025. Putting that another way, Maryland families will be asked to pay an additional $7,000 per family in state and local taxes over the next five years to cover the shortfall.

That’s raising the sales tax by 33%, personal income tax by 15% or property tax by 200%.

For more information be read the article: Washington Post: Maryland can't spend its way to better schooling

Scholarship

Every year, each Senator and Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly receives legislative scholarship funds through the Maryland Higher Education Commission to award to their constituents who are pursuing higher education. If you live in District 29A in the Northern portion of St. Mary's County and are pursuing a degree, you may qualify to receive an award from the Office of Delegate Matt Morgan. You must be enrolled in a Maryland Institute of Higher Education, or have an approved “unique major” status from MHEC to attend an out of state school. To apply for “unique major status” please visit www.mhec.state.md.us

You can obtain the instructions and materials for this year’s scholarships at www.voteformattmorgan.com or by calling the office at 410-841-3170

Complete Scholarship applications must be emailed to my office or postmarked by May 1, 2018.

Office Contact

If you have a concern or legislative idea, or if you have a constituent issue that you need assistance on please call my office at 410-841-3170/ 301-858-3170 or toll-free 800-492-7122 ext. 3170 or email me at matt.morgan@house.state.md.us

I look forward to hearing from you; please don’t hesitate to contact me.