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2023 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

The 2023 Legislative Session was historic; and the LBCMD was apart of the history!

CANNABIS LEGALIZATION

HB 1071/SB 51: Criminal Law and Procedure - Cannabis - Fines for Smoking in Public, Stops, and Searches

Maryland traffic stop data indicates that Black Marylanders consistently make up over 60% of traffic stops that end in vehicle searches based on probable cause. Black drivers were 4.47 times more likely to experience warrantless vehicle searches based on probable cause during a traffic stop compared to white drivers in 2021. HB 1071 prohibits the use of odor alone as a probable cause of criminal activity and searches. This bill will prevent officers from stopping and searching motorists and their vehicles without evidence.

 

This legislation was sponsored by Delegate Crutchfield and Senator Carter.

EDUCATION

HB 1219/SB 893: Maryland Educator Shortage Act of 2023

Requires the State Department of Education to establish a strategy for the recruitment of teachers in teacher preparation programs. It also prioritizes funding and scholarships for historically Black college and university (HBCU) students and community college students entering the teaching profession. This bill will help the state of Maryland tackle the current teacher shortage while prioritizing diversity of the teaching field.

 

This bill was sponsored by Governor Wes Moore.

 

HB 680: Income Tax - Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit - Alterations

Black students bear the largest burden of student loan debt. HB 680 expands an existing tax credit that provides funds via tax credits to help Marylanders pay down their student loan debt. HB 680 increases the available funds by $9 million and reserves this amount for HBCU graduates, state workers, and community college students. This bill will help diminish the deterrents and financial barriers many HBCU and community college graduates face.

 

This bill was sponsored by Delegate Toles.

WEALTH & BLACK BUSINESSES

HB 809/ SB 334: State Procurement - Minority Business Enterprise Program - Extension and Reports

extends the termination date for provisions governing the Minority Business Enterprise Program and its application to offshore wind projects and video lottery terminals. Additionally, this bill initiates a study on the Minority Business Enterprise Program to evaluate and ensure compliance with standing precedent. In fostering an environment where Maryland’s Black-owned businesses can thrive, it was crucially important that timelines for contracts and profitable opportunities for MBEs be extended, and that the Program operates under the most recent provisions, precedents, and guidelines set by the law.

 

This legislation was sponsored by Delegate Harris and Senate Majority Whip Hayes

HEALTH

HB 111/SB 26: Maryland Medical Assistance Program, Maryland Children's Health Program, and Workgroup on Low-Income Utility Assistance

Establishes the Express Lane Eligibility Program to enroll eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients into Medicaid and/or the Maryland Children's Health Program. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, 62% of adult recipients receiving SNAP benefits identified as Black. To apply for assistance, individuals are required to submit applications and documentations for review to State agencies, and severally if applying for multiple services. By expediting the process of enrollment, SB 26 streamlines access to healthcare coverage for Marylanders in need without delay.

 

This legislation was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Augustine.

HB 214: Commission on Public Health- Establishment

Establishes a Commission on Public Health to improve the delivery and advance the quality of health services in Maryland. In effect, the commission will be tasked with evaluating the public health capabilities of the Maryland Department of Health and local health departments to offer satisfactory services to all state residents– an effort that will greatly benefit the provision of care to Maryland’s vulnerable and most underserved populations.

 

This bill was sponsored by Chairwoman Peña-Melnyk.

HB 376/SB 184: Health Insurance - Diagnostic and Supplemental Examinations for Breast Cancer - Cost-Sharing

Black women are disproportionately impacted by breast cancer and are often diagnosed at a later stage, resulting in a higher mortality rate. HB 376 reduces barriers to cancer testing and helps to close the gaps in care and coverage impacting Black Marylanders by prohibiting insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that provide coverage for diagnostic imaging and supplemental examinations for breast cancer from imposing out-of-pocket costs– establishing access to life-saving testing for those who need it most.

 

This bill was sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Sample-Hughes.

HB 815: Cancer Screening - Health Insurance and Assessment of Outreach, Education, and Health Disparities

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Black Americans. Despite a decreased incidence—the five-year survival rate of lung cancer is lower in black patients. Financial barriers leave many of these patients without access to imaging services and cancer screenings, increasing the likelihood of more Black patients dying from cancer. HB 815 mandates insurance and health plan coverage for follow-up lung cancer screenings and diagnostic imaging, helping to ensure Black Marylanders have equitable and affordable access to state-of-the-art imaging that will detect and diagnose cancer at its earliest stage.

 

This bill was sponsored by Delegate Fennell.

HB 1217/SB 805: Maryland Medical Assistance Program and Health Insurance - Required Coverage for Biomarker Testing

African-Americans are more likely than any other ethnic group to receive a cancer diagnosis and have the shortest survival rate. Access to the latest technology in testing and care is critical. HB 1217 requires access to cutting edge precision medicine, known as biomarker testing, for Medicaid patients as well as privately insured Marylanders.

 

This legislation was sponsored by Delegate Toles and Senator Ellis.

HOUSING

HB 826/SB 848: Statewide Rental Assistance Voucher Program – Establishment

The federal voucher program has been a successful anti-poverty tool - sharply reducing homelessness, overcrowding and other hardships, helping lift families out of poverty, and giving families an opportunity to move to safer, less poor neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the federal voucher program demand far outpaces supply, leaving many families without access to housing they can afford. HB 826 establishes a $10 million first-in-the-nation Statewide Rental Assistance Voucher Program, which will prioritize Marylanders on the waiting list who are seniors, veterans, families with children, homeless, and people with disabilities.

 

This legislation was sponsored by Delegate Wilkins and Chairman Guzzone

HB 669/SB 455: Real Estate Appraisers - Licensing - Qualifications

HB 669/SB 455: Real Estate Appraisers - Licensing - Qualifications Bias and racism in home appraisal steals wealth from Black families and communities. One critical step in addressing appraisal bias is diversifying Maryland appraisers. HB 669 provides an alternative pathway to appraisal certification in Maryland by allowing applicants to complete the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria of the Practical Applications of Real Estate Appraisal (PAREA) program as a means of satisfying licensure requirements. This modification helps to promote diversity in the practice‒‒opening up opportunities for Black appraisers, bolstering equal access to ownership, and providing a passageway to wealth for Black Marylanders.

 

This bill was sponsored by Delegate Holmes and Senate Majority Whip Hayes.

HB 151: Real Property - Residential Leases - Notification of Rent Increases

Rent increases across the state are putting families - especially a significant number of Black families - in challenging financial predicaments. Having more notice and time to determine the impact and options associated with a rent increase is critical. HB 151 increases the statewide requirement for notice of a rent increase to 90 days.

 

This bill was sponsored by Delegate Wells.

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