May 9, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Clarence Lam

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Clarence Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties). In his first session in the State Senate after serving from 2015-2019 in the House of Delegates, Lam would be directly involved with some one hundred forty-one pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of forty-four meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the forty-four bills that he carried, twelve passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 36 – Health Insurance – Health Benefit Plans – Special Enrollment Period for Pregnancy

This bill requires small employer and individual health benefit plans to provide a special enrollment period during which an individual who becomes pregnant, as confirmed by a health care practitioner, may enroll in a health benefit plan. The special enrollment period must be open for 90 days and begin on the date a health care practitioner confirms the pregnancy. Coverage must become effective on the first day of the month in which the woman receives confirmation of pregnancy.

Senate Bill 249 – Regional Initiative to Limit or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Transportation Sector – Authorization (Regional Transportation and Climate Protection Act of 2019)

This bill authorizes the Governor to include the State as a full participant in any regional governmental initiative, agreement, or compact that limits or reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector. However, the State may only withdraw from such an initiative, agreement, or compact with statutory approval from the General Assembly. The bill also establishes reporting requirements for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Senate Bill 251 – Public Health – Treatment for the Prevention of HIV – Consent by Minors

This bill extends to a minor the same capacity as an adult to consent to treatment for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Senate Bill 404 – State Department of Education and Maryland Department of Health – Maryland School-Based Health Center Standards – Revision

This bill requires the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), by August 1, 2019, to revise Maryland school-based health center (SBHC) standards to (1) repeal current requirements that SBHCs have a medical director who is a physician and that a physician consultant be available to SBHC staff to discuss clinical issues as needed and (2) authorize a licensed physician or nurse practitioner to serve as a clinical director or consultant of an SBHC.

Senate Bill 537 – Higher Education – Tuition Rates – Exemptions

This bill expands the circumstances under which an individual is exempt from paying the out-of-state tuition rate under the Maryland Dream Act by (1) removing the requirement that an individual earn an associate’s degree or 60 credits at a community college prior to receiving in-state tuition at a public four-year institution; (2) extending from four to six years the time by which an individual must register as an entering student after graduating from high school or receiving the equivalent qualification in the State; (3) reducing the amount of time an individual must have attended a high school in the State from three years to any amount of time, although the individual still must have graduated from a Maryland high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in the State; and (4) altering the time period in which the individual or the individual’s parent or legal guardian must have filed a Maryland income tax return. Finally, the bill grandfathers in individuals who, on or after June 15, 2012, were exempt from paying the out-of-state or out-of-county tuition rate at a public institution of higher education.

Senate Bill 541 – Education – Personnel Matters – Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Prevention

This bill sets forth a process, including requirements for specific documentation regarding whether an individual has ever been disciplined for allegations of “child sexual abuse” or “sexual misconduct,” for the hiring of public school and nonpublic school employees who have direct contact with minors.

Senate Bill 543 – Health – Vital Records – Health Information Exchange Data Access and Security Protocols and Protections

This bill requires the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to develop and implement security protocols and other protections to ensure a person without authorization is prohibited from accessing any vital records and minimize the disclosure of and access to medically sensitive information from the vital records database by employees not employed by MDH. The developed security protocols and other protections must include an auditable record of specified information. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Health, on request, to provide the State-designated health information exchange (HIE) with specified information from death certificates.

Senate Bill 747 – Education – Removal of County Superintendents – Procedures

This bill authorizes a local board of education to remove a local superintendent of schools for the same reasons that the State Superintendent of Schools may remove a local superintendent under current law. To remove a local superintendent, the State Superintendent or local board must provide the local superintendent with (1) the reason for removal, chosen from one or more reasons allowed by State law; (2) documentation supporting the case for removal; and (3) the opportunity to request a hearing within 10 days before the State Superintendent or local board, respectively. The local superintendent may appeal the decision of the State Superintendent or the local board to the State Board of Education. The bill does not apply to Baltimore City.

Senate Bill 751 – Governor’s Appointments Office, Appointing Authorities, and the Secretary of Budget and Management – Duties and Reports

This bill prohibits an appointing authority from delegating the authority to make the final decision on the appointment of a State employee, and it establishes new requirements for a specified personnel report and for special appointment job position descriptions. The Governor’s Appointments Office must submit an annual report to the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight on the office’s activities regarding employees who are under the jurisdiction of an appointing authority. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) must operate or provide for a hotline or an email address to receive and record information about alleged violations of the bill.

Senate Bill 752 – Food Supplement Program – Restaurant Meals Program

This bill requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to create a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) to expand food access to eligible individuals who do not have a place to store and cook food, may not be able to prepare food, or do not have access to a grocery store. It also renames the Food Stamp Program as the Food Supplement Program (FSP).

Senate Bill 916 – Physicians – Dispensing Permit Exemption – Topical Medication

This bill authorizes a licensed physician to dispense a topical medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of hypotrichosis if the physician complies with specified sections of the Maryland Pharmacy Act and receives a special class of written permit from the Maryland Board of Physicians (MBP).

Senate Bill 917 – Land Use – Comprehensive Plans – Housing Element

This bill requires that a comprehensive plan adopted by a local jurisdiction must include a “housing element.” A housing element (1) must address the need for affordable housing within the local jurisdiction, including workforce housing and low-income housing, and (2) may include goals, objectives, policies, plans, and standards. The bill applies prospectively and may not be applied or interpreted to have any effect on any comprehensive or general plan adopted or enacted before the bill’s effective date.

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