April 24, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Brian Feldman

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Brian Feldman (District 15 – Montgomery County). In his first session as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Feldman would be directly involved with some one hundred thirty-seven pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of twenty-two meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the twenty-two bills that he carried, sixteen passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 185 – Life Insurance – Life of a Minor – Statement on Disclosure

This bill allows the statement that must be included on the first page of an application for a life insurance policy on the life of a minor or an endorsement to the policy to alternatively be provided on a separate disclosure provided to an applicant at the time of application.

Senate Bill 239 – Health Insurance – Individual Market Stabilization – Provider Fee

This bill extends the existing State health insurance provider fee assessment through calendar 2023. In calendar 2020 through 2023, the amount of the assessment must be 1% on all amounts used to calculate the entity’s premium tax liability for the immediately preceding calendar year. The bill clarifies the applicability and calculation of the assessment. The Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission must study and recommend whether the State reinsurance program should be extended after calendar 2023 and, if so, how it will be funded.

Senate Bill 279 – Department of Aging – Grants for Aging-in-Place Programs (Nonprofits for our Aging Neighbors Act – “NANA”)

This bill authorizes the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) to make grants to nonprofit organizations and area agencies on aging (AAAs) to expand and establish aging-in-place programs for seniors.

Senate Bill 318 – Education – School Safety Subcabinet Advisory Board – Membership

This bill adds a representative of nonpublic special education schools to the School Safety Subcabinet Advisory Board, appointed by the Governor.

Senate Bill 391 – Civilian Federal Employees – Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Federal Government Shutdown Employee Assistance Loan Fund (Federal Shutdown Paycheck Protection Act)

This emergency bill ensures that, subject to a series of contingencies based on possible federal determinations, all civilian federal employees who are required to report to work and are not being paid because the federal government is in a full or partial shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations have access to either unemployment insurance (UI) benefits or a no-interest loan program.

Senate Bill 516 – Clean Energy Jobs

This bill increases the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030 and makes other related changes. The expired Tier 2 of RPS is reestablished for two years, in 2019 and 2020. A total of up to $15.0 million is transferred from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF) for specified purposes. An existing study being conducted by the Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) is modified to include additional topics and a supplemental study on a 100% RPS goal.

Senate Bill 517 – Public Utilities – Electricity and Natural Gas Suppliers – Information

This bill requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish residential customer choice shopping websites for electricity and natural gas, each of which must include specified related information and links to other resources.

Senate Bill 573 – Energy Storage Pilot Project Act

This bill requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish an Energy Storage Pilot Program by June 1, 2019. The pilot program may not preclude any other investment by a public service company in energy storage, and the termination of the pilot program may not affect the cost recovery by an investor-owned electric company for the lifetime of an energy storage project.

Senate Bill 574 – Maryland Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Incentive Program

This bill establishes the Maryland Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Incentive Program and Matching Fund administered by the Department of Commerce (Commerce). Subject to specified conditions, an eligible small business may apply for a matching grant for 25% of a SBIR/STTR grant, as defined, but the amount is capped at $25,000 for a Phase I award and $75,000 for a Phase II award. Every three years, the Secretary of Commerce must review and evaluate the program and may submit recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on the program’s continued effectiveness.

Senate Bill 704 – Alcoholic Beverages – Beer Franchise Agreements – Notice of Nonrenewal or Termination

This bill reduces, from 180 days to 45 days, the number of days that a brewery must wait after notifying a distributor of its intent to terminate or refuse to renew a beer franchise agreement before terminating the agreement, if the brewery produces 20,000 or fewer barrels of beer per year.

Senate Bill 705 – Organ Donation – Prohibition on Discrimination by Insurer and Unpaid Leave

This bill entitles an eligible employee to unpaid organ donation leave for (1) up to 60 business days in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor and (2) up to 30 business days in any 12-month period to donate bone marrow. This only applies to employers with at least 15 employees, and the Commissioner of Labor and Industry within the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation must enforce the organ donation leave provisions.

Senate Bill 802 – Maryland Health Insurance Option (Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019)

This bill establishes a Maryland Health Insurance Option (Option). By January 1, 2020, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE), the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the Comptroller must develop and implement systems, policies, and practices to implement the Option, which must be available for residents to use when filing a State income tax return beginning with tax year 2019.

Senate Bill 868 – Health Insurance – Consumer Protections and Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission

This bill expresses that the General Assembly finds and declares that it is in the public interest to ensure that the health care protections established by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to protect Maryland residents in light of continued threats to the ACA. The bill extends the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission for an additional three years through June 30, 2023. The commission must establish a specified workgroup to monitor actions relating to the ACA and determine the most effective manner of ensuring that Maryland consumers can obtain and retain quality health insurance, independent of any action or inaction on the part of the federal government or any changes to federal law or its interpretation.

Senate Bill 891 – Consumer Protection – Resale of Tickets – Disclosures and Refunds

This bill prohibits a ticket reseller from selling (or offering to sell) a “speculative ticket” (which the bill defines as a ticket that is not in the actual or constructive possession of the reseller at the time of sale) unless the reseller discloses specified information to a prospective purchaser at the outset of the sales transaction. The bill also requires a ticket reseller to refund any consideration or deposit paid for tickets if the reseller fails to obtain the tickets (1) within 24 hours after the approximate date of specified delivery but before the commencement of the event or (2) in conformity with the disclosures required by the bill. A reseller must make any refund required by the bill within 10 days after the final day of the event for which the tickets were sold.

Senate Bill 909 – Health Care Practitioners – Medical Examinations on Anesthetized or Unconscious Patients

This bill prohibits a “health care practitioner” or a student or trainee in a program to become a health care practitioner, from performing a pelvic, prostate, or rectal examination on a patient who is under anesthesia or unconscious unless (1) the patient has given informed consent for the examination; (2) the examination is within the standard of care for the patient; (3) the patient is unconscious and the examination is required for diagnostic or treatment purposes; or (4) an emergency exists, it is impractical to obtain the patient’s consent, and the examination is required for diagnostic or treatment purposes.

Senate Bill 1012 – Public Health – Death Certificates – Completion and Cause of Death Report

This bill authorizes a physician designated by the State Anatomy Board to complete a death certificate under specified circumstances. If a physician designated by the board completes a death certificate, the physician must enter “unspecified natural causes” as the cause of death; the board must send a specified report to the Secretary of Health if the board receives additional information about the cause of death from specified individuals.

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Feldman now looks ahead to the 2020 session when he’ll bring with him the experience of another productive and effective year in the Maryland Senate.