Wrapping presents with Rotary volunteers at Silver Spring United Methodist Church so all Community Bridges families have gifts this holiday season.
Happy Holidays! I hope you and your loved ones enjoy special time together this holiday season.
The 2024 Legislative Session begins on Wednesday, January 10th. While I have been crafting my proposed legislation for several months (and, for some bills, a few years), this is a busy time as we finalize details with multiple stakeholders.
Our healthcare system is one of the best–and most expensive–in the world. NPR recently spotlighted the issue of medical debt with stories of the millions of Americans struggling with crushing amounts of medical debt and the devastation it causes–on their finances, on access to medical care, and on people's psyche–even among people with health insurance.
The report noted steps taken at both the federal and state levels to address some of these problems. Working with consumer advocates, I have helped lead efforts in Maryland over the past few years to increase access to financial assistance and lessen the impact of medical debt. Our work gets a shout-out at the end of the NPR piece. I am proud of our progress and I recognize much more work remains to be done.
For example, for many years Maryland hospitals collected millions of dollars from low-income patients who were eligible for free care. I wrote and ensured passage of legislation requiring the hospitals to pay back these funds. Those repayment efforts are just getting under way, and already some hospitals have begun to change the way they bill and collect patient payments.
Can’t pay your Maryland medical bills? If you or someone you know is having trouble with a hospital or healthcare bill, you can ask the provider if there is financial aid available or if a payment plan can be developed. Help is also available through the Maryland Attorney General’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit. My staff can help get things started.
(The Baltimore Banner recently created a useful graphic for individuals dealing with medical debt.)
NCSL Energy Security Workgroup I am deeply honored to have been appointed to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Energy Security Workgroup by House Speaker Adrienne Jones. Earlier this month I traveled to Austin, Texas, to begin talks on how states can increase our electricity grids’ security and resilience.
Long Branch Library In the 2023 Legislative Session, the D20 Team secured over $800,000 in capital funds to upgrade the facilities at Long Branch Library and nearby parks. Work will be starting soon to add an awning system over the library’s upper roof plaza to enhance community gatherings and make needed improvements to picnic areas and other outdoor public spaces.
Legislative Preview (continued): I have been spotlighting some of the legislation I plan to introduce in the next legislative session. In January, you will find a complete list of all my legislation (with bill numbers and fact sheets) on my website.
Watch for these bills:
- Networked Geothermal: Using funds available through the Inflation Reduction Act, this bill will create several pilot projects to study the benefits of public utilities installing and running networked geothermal systems to heat and cool buildings and homes in targeted low-income and under-resourced communities.
- Organic Waste Diversion: This bill establishes grant programs for food waste reduction and diversion, on-farm composting, and cold storage for food rescue and distribution to area food banks. Grants may be funded through a solid waste disposal surcharge (on waste disposed of in landfill or by incineration), along with other federal and state funds.
Stay in Touch: Need help with a state issue? Please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message at (410)-841-3423.