In a Tuesday morning press conference, the Democratic leadership of the Maryland General Assembly including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Mike Busch laid out an ambitious 2019 legislative agenda designed to build and boost Maryland’s middle class. The primary focus of the agenda centers on policy changes for prescription drugs, health care reform, fairer wages, public safety and the environment.
“Maryland Democrats are taking commonsense steps to protecting our middle class,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (District 27 – Prince George’s, Charles, and Calvert). “We will make prescription drug costs more affordable for more Marylanders, while protecting their health care access, and ensuring that everybody can afford to live in our state with a great education system and a cleaner environment to curb the cost of drugs for Senior citizens.”
Priority legislation is highlighted by numerous heath care policy proposals including bills to establish a commission to increase transparency in prescription drug prices, to increase the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, and to protect ACA reforms by creating a statutory right for individuals to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.
In her remarks, Senate Finance Committee Chair Delores Kelley (District 10 – Baltimore County) detailed an additional priority in reducing child care costs for parents by increasing the child care tax credit. This proposal of the Democratic Caucus increases funding by more than $20 million per year, modernizes the credit, and would benefit approximately 110,000 Marylanders who are currently struggling to pay for adequate child care. “We must modernize the childcare credit,” said Kelley. “We haven’t upgraded this for twenty years. It’s something we must fix.”
Also included in the legislative package are wide-ranging proposals designed to boost the incomes and outcomes of working families by increasing Maryland’s minimum wage to $15, banning 3D printed guns, and protecting the Chesapeake Bay by eliminating Styrofoam and other pollutants.
“Our program is about helping average working people,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Senator Jim Rosapepe (District 21 – Prince George’s and Anne Arundel). “We’re on the side of ordinary Marylanders.”
As of January 29th, 70 days remain in the 2019 legislative session. Further announcements concerning education funding and other session priorities will be announced in the coming days.
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