April 13, 2012
Dear Constituent and Friend:
The 2012 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly was filled with various obstacles and ended without the completion of the means to fund the complete capital and
operating budget for FY2013. This occurred largely due to the preoccupation with the video lottery terminals and tables games gambling bill just hours before the mandated time of
adjournment. As the budget stands, multiple cuts to the operating budget and capital budget will be made unless the legislative body can mend the situation in a special session called by
Governor O’Malley, most likely in May. I will keep you updated with any major changes that come out of any special session dealing with additional revenues.
Despite a dramatic adjournment of the 2012 Legislative Session, my colleagues and I came to Annapolis this year with optimistic goals in mind and accomplished important efforts for
the residents of the state of Maryland that include increased access to healthcare and passed the maintenance of effort (MOE) to ensure that Maryland remains the #1 K-12 public school system
in the country for the fourth consecutive year. We also worked together to empower further growth in employment throughout the state, making our current unemployment rate the lowest it
has been in three years and one of the lowest in the country.
This is my 20th year representing the citizens of District-23A, Prince George’s County, in the Maryland House of Delegates; my experience in that time has allowed me to have a strong
impact on the advancement and improvement of Maryland. Some of the leadership roles I have been involved with this year as well as the results produced in those positions include:
Assistant Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates promoting and representing the needs of Prince George’s County with fellow leaders of the State Legislature. In the first half of the legislative session, House Bill 438, the Civil Marriage Protection Act was signed by the Governor which will allow two individuals of the same sex to legally marry in the state of Maryland while prohibiting a religious body from being required to officiate at a marriage. This bill was necessary to ensure that all residents of the state have equal rights and will maintain the constitutional right to freedom of religion. This matter will likely to be brought to referendum in the General Election this November.
As a senior member of the House Health and Government Operations Committee and House Floor Leader, I am able to provide insight in committee workgroups and have priority in decisionmaking to influence my fellow colleagues. As Chair of the Public Health and Long-Term Care Subcommittee, I ensure the protection and enhancement of the public health of Maryland’s vulnerable populations by co-sponsoring and passing:
The Kathleen A. Mathias Chemotherapy Parity Act of 2012, House Bill 243, which prohibits insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that provide coverage for cancer chemotherapy from imposing limits or cost sharing on coverage for cancer chemotherapy. House Bill 288 establishes the Baby Boomer Initiative Council that will promote strategies for living and aging well in Maryland, and requires a communications tool that connects Maryland businesses, nonprofits, academic institutions, and state agencies to meet the demands of Maryland’s seniors. In addition, House Bill 556 updates regulations for continuing care retirement communities and requires specified providers to set aside operating reserves before 2023. Another piece of legislation that passed this session was House Bill 679, which will require academic institutions offering social work, public health, and allied health degrees to incorporate cultural and linguistic health care professional competency programs in their curricula.
As a Member of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council (HCRCC) cochaired by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Joshua Sharfstein, and
Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown, we conform and align Maryland law with the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of these efforts, the Urban Institute ranked Maryland #1 in the implementation of the ACA.
Through the passage of House Bill 443, the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange Act of 2012, has moved forward in creating a structure and organization for the Maryland health benefits exchanges with insight from stakeholders. By 2014, the exchange will enroll 180,000 Marylanders, and it is projected that by 2015, 360,000 Marylanders will be insured. And with the expansion of Medicaid, 730,000 uninsured Marylanders will now be covered. Currently 13% of Marylanders are uninsured and after the exchange, only 5.5% are expected to be uninsured. To learn what health reform means for you, please take the time to visit the newly launched Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website at http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/healthreform/default.aspx.
To accommodate those who will soon gain access to health care, House Bill 439 establishes a pilot program to create health enterprise zones in areas deficient in health and human services with high premature morbidity and mortality, specifically where health disparities are highest, and focuses on three priority disparity areas: asthma, diabetes and hypertension. The plan is to repopulate these zones with health professionals through the issuance of tax credits, loan repayment assistance, capital improvements, and monies to fund the patient center medical home model and the adoption of electronic health records.
Another program required by the federal Affordable Care Act is House Bill 286, a transparency bill that requires the Secretary of Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to publish information
about the loss ratio (the percentage of premium spent on Medicaid care) for each Medicaid managed care organization participating in the medical assistance program. This loss ratio will be available on the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/ by October 1, 2012.
This year while working on the Maryland Budget SB150, the Budget Bill for Fiscal Year 2013, the legislature focused on addressing the structural deficit by focusing on investments in education,
health and public safety. Maryland, for the 50th consecutive year, will maintain its Triple A” bond rating and is one of only eight states to do so. Key investments include:
• $5.8B for public schools in order to maintain excellence as Maryland was voted #1 in education for the fourth consecutive year which included $363M to build schools and modernize classrooms
across the state
• $1.2B will go to Maryland State colleges and universities and will hold in-state undergraduate to 3% for the third consecutive year
• $228 M is allotted for creating jobs through GO bond funding for environmental programs focusing on preserving and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay with an additional $372 million of PAYGO funds in the budget
• $77M for infrastructure projects that improve parks and waterways throughout the State and $43.6M to preserve open space and provide agricultural easements
• $51M in housing and community programs promotes home ownership and local business development; assists our families in the mortgage crisis and furthers redevelopment of our struggling
• $43M for the State Police, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and local jail projects to keep our officers and communities safe
• $7B for the Medicaid program and reforms the structure of long-term care services by adding more community-based care in the Older Adults and Living at Home waivers and expanding personal care services
Local budget allocations:
• $15M to provide a grant to Prince George’s Hospital or the Prince George’s County Health System
• $21,395 for the Alliance of Southern Prince George’s Communities, Inc.
• $104.4M in funds allocated to Bowie State University
• $2.4M from the Office of Preparedness and Response for Prince George’s County Hospital for emergency preparedness initiatives
• $25,000 for improvements to the Prince George’s County Dinosaur Park in Laurel, MD
As Maryland Delegate Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and as president of the National Conference of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), I defended the environmental quality of one of Maryland’s greatest treasures, the Chesapeake Bay, through activism and the sponsorship of bills such as House Bill 167, which bans arsenic in Maryland's chicken feed. House Bills 445, 446, and 987 increases the “flush” fee from $2.50 per household per month to $5 in order to upgrade wastewater facilities and controls the growth of large developments by limiting septic systems to reduce pollution from septic systems into the Chesapeake Bay. House Bill 983 requires specified local critical area programs to prohibit the location of junkyard, scrap storage yards, and other scrap metal facilities in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area. Finally, House Bill 1339 creates incentives to burn manure to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to see the work my colleagues and I have accomplished while in Annapolis this session. If you are interested in further information on anything
you have read about please pursue the General Assembly website at http://www.mlis.state.md.us. Please feel free to contact me regarding any matter of interest or concern to you by phone at (301) 858-3103 or by sending an email to James.Hubbard@house.state.md.us.
It is my pleasure and honor to represent you, the residents of Bowie, Laurel, Lanham, Glenn Dale and Beltsville as a State Delegate of District 23-A. I look forward to continuing to represent you
and seeing you this summer!
James W. Hubbard
Maryland State Delegate
Legislative District 23-A