The Arc Maryland's Weekly Legislative Update
Week of Session: March 22 - 26, 2021
Every Monday in the Insider, check out updates on key legislation affecting the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and professional supports, learn about upcoming advocacy events, and receive notices about Federal, State, and other initiatives of importance to The Arc Maryland!
Bill Tracker
You can stay up to date on all legislation The Arc Maryland is keeping tabs on through our Bill Tracker! Use the Bill Tracker to view position statements, access bill text, and check hearing times and dates.
Action Needed on Priority Legislation
HB0370/SB0225: Education - Public and Nonpublic Schools - Seizure Action Plans (Brynleigh's Act)

HB0370: In House W&M; Education Subcommittee
SB0225: In Senate EHEA

Position: Support as amended

Through Brynleigh's Act, at least 2 personnel in every school would be trained to provide training to respond to a seizure emergency. The bill would give worried parents peace of mind as there are approximately 8,000 students in the state who experience seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation notes that 1 in 10 people will have a seizure at some point in their lifetime. Critical amendments to the bill removed requirements for student training, address health services professionals’ feedback, and reduce training for school personnel from annually to once every two years. These amendments should satisfy the concerns with the originally drafted version of the bill. Six other states have already adopted similar legislation and many more are currently considering similar legislation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this bill as Seizures are in the top 3 medical emergencies that occur at schools. The AAP reports the top three school emergencies are: Seizures, Respiratory Distress, and Psychiatric/Behavioral Emergencies.
We are counting on the members of the Education Subcommittee to do the right thing and vote favorably for HB0370 as amended before we run out of time to move this bill through our legislative process. At least one student recently passed in Maryland after school personnel allegedly did not recognize the student was having a seizure during a school aquatics program. According to the claim, the "[school personnel failed to recognize the boy’s seizure activity before he entered the pool and failed to discontinue the aquatics program after noticing unusual behavior, among other things"

Our students deserve better. Please support Brynleigh’s Act and contact members of W&M and EHEA today to move it out of the committees "Favorable" as amended! Contact information, for committee members, is linked in the section below.
HB1355: Primary and Secondary Education – Repeating Previous Grade Level – Authorization (Education Recovery Act of 2021)


HB0724/SB0209: Special Education - Prolonged School Closure - Extension of Education Services

HB1355 and HB0724: In House W&M; Early Childhood Committee

SB0209: In Senate EHEA

Position: Support as Amended

These bills would present solutions to pandemic-related learning loss by allowing the option for students to repeat part of or all of the previous year's instruction in the next school year. While HB1355 expands this option to be available to more at-risk students to include more than students with disabilities, HB0724/SB0209 is aimed at extending instruction and training for transition-aged students.

We have been told that the Kirwan 2.0 Bill will take care of students with learning loss, but that is not entirely accurate. For Transitioning Youth, scheduled to exit high school in May or June this year, the Kirwan Bill will come too late to help them. HB7024/SB0209 is needed because it is emergency legislation and could therefore become effective to help Transitioning Youth as soon as it is passed!

Please contact members of W&M and EHEA today to urge that they move on these important bills! Contact information for committee members is linked in the section below.
House W&M Committee Members:
District 14, Montgomery County

Vice Chair
District 22, Prince George's County

District 41, Baltimore City

District 25, Prince George's County

District 8, Baltimore County

District 45, Baltimore City

District 1B, Allegany County

District 12, Baltimore and Howard Counties
District 12, Baltimore and Howard Counties

District 42B, Baltimore County

District 38C, Wicomico and Worcester Counties

District 35A, Cecil County

District 47A, Prince George's County

District 30A, Anne Arundel County

District 34A, Harford County
District 6, Baltimore County

District 14, Montgomery County

District 17, Montgomery County

District 28, Charles County

District 5, Carroll County

District 5, Carroll County

District 45, Baltimore City

District 20, Montgomery County
Senate EHEA Committee Members:
District 22, Prince George's County

Vice Chair
District 17, Montgomery County

District 38, Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico Counties

District 28, Charles County
District 35, Harford and Cecil Counties

District 9, Carroll and Howard Counties

District 12, Baltimore and Howard Counties

District 26, Prince George's County
District 33, Anne Arundel County

District 31, Anne Arundel County

District 43, Baltimore City
HB0581/SB0486: Labor and Employment - Employment Standards During an Emergency (Maryland Essential Workers' Protection Act)

HB0581: In House EMC; Business Subcommittee

SB0486: In Senate FIN

Position: Oppose

The House EMC Business Subcommittee continued to meet last week to work on changes to the Maryland Essential Workers' Act. The Arc Maryland has been involved with others in an unofficial health care coalition and has proposed amendments. There are several provisions of the bill that would create duplicate or conflicting guidance for employers and essential workers in the healthcare industry. Our remaining concerns include the following section of the bills:

  • 3-1601 (B)(2) - the definition of an emergency is still too broad. The broader public health definition is over-achingly broad and we would get caught up in almost any declaration of emergency. The definition of emergency under this bill should be contained in "catastrophic health emergencies" which are already defined.

  • 3-1605 (B)(2) - Definition in (II) - should reference employee rights to refusal of dangerous work that are already in place as part of OSHA.
  • 3-1607 (C) and all the references to a "communicable" or "infectious" disease need to reference the communicable or infectious disease "that is the subject of the catastrophic health emergency." The current definition is entirely too broad and would encompass illnesses such as strep throat or the common cold.
Generally, we believe that stating "during an emergency, an essential employer shall comply with and provide protections to employees as required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970” will cover the interests of the proponents while ensuring we are not inadvertently creating a law that would conflict or encumber a currently working system of employee safety and employee rights.

The bill continues to be the subject of review this week.
Updates on the State Budget Bill and BRFA
Last Friday, the Senate Budget Subcommittee reached decisions on the FY22 Budget Bill (SB0491) and the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2021 (SB0493), where they voted to accept the recommendation for the 4% increase in funding for DD Community Services in addition to the funding pools to support TYs, people in emergencies, DHS Aging Out individuals, and LISS services.

During the meeting, the Subcommittee made several key recommendations on reporting and budget allocations affecting people with IDD in Maryland. See below for details:
DDA Reporting Requirements for Transitioning Youth
Several connected reports will be required of the DDA, notably, a Report on Transitioning Youth Placements. See the reporting requirements requested by the committees by clicking the button here.
Reporting Requirements and Supplemental Funding Recommended for the Autism Waiver
Also in a surprise turn, the Senate Budget Subcommittee recommended a supplemental budget for MSDE to fund 100 additional slots for the Autism Waiver (See page 195 of the document here). If passed by both chambers, this will increase the number of Autism Waiver Slots in Maryland to 1,400. With a growing waiting list of over 6,000 children, the addition of 100 new slots is exceptionally needed.

This funding recommendation comes with budget language and requirements of MSDE to develop and submit a report on the Autism Waiver that you can review below.
Thank you to all who wrote letters and sent stories to support increased capacity and increased slots for the Autism Waiver! We will have action items for thank yous in the next week or so as this moves forward.
DDA Home and Community Based Services Funding through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was recently signed by President Biden and includes a 10% FMAP increase (Federal Medicaid matching funds for Home and Community Based Services). The federal funding increase is intended to assist states with recovery related to the pandemic and must be used by March 31, 2022. The Senate Budget Subcommittee presented a plan for the use of the increased HCBS funding provided through the DDA. Allocation recommendations (as explained by MACS) are found through the button below.

This plan must still receive full approval from the Maryland Senate and House to pass.
In the News
Marylanders Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st
Yesterday, March 21st, people across the globe celebrated World Down Syndrome Day! We kicked off the weekend on Friday afternoon with an online celebration featuring plenty of dancin' feet, sporting colorful, mismatched socks! Last night, you may have seen a spectacle of lights on some iconic Maryland architecture, as the Orioles and Ravens lit up their stadiums blue and yellow, and the Governor's Mansion shined blue for WDSD! Thank you for continuing to celebrate the lives of our friends and family with Down syndrome.
Hearing Schedule (3/22 to 4/2)
Tuesday, March 23rd

EMC, 1:30 PM
SB0307: Labor and Employment - Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program

HGO, 1:30 PM
SB0096: Public Health – Behavioral Health Programs and Health Care Facilities – Safety and Community Relations Plans

FIN, 1:00 PM
HB0718: State Coordinator for Autism Strategy and Advisory Stakeholder Group on Autism-Related Needs - Mandated Appropriation
Wednesday, March 24th

EHEA, 1:00 PM
HB0171: State Department of Education - School Discipline - Data Collection
Thursday, March 25th

EHEA, 1:00 PM
HB0247: Election Law - Accommodations for Voters in Need of Assistance

HB0392: Child Care Centers - Early Childhood Screening and Assistance

HB0656: Election Law - Early Voting Centers - Accessibility by Public Transportation
Tuesday, March 30th

JPR, 1:00 PM
HB1000: Estates and Trusts - Guardian of Property of Minor or Disabled Person - Prohibition on Distribution or Disbursement
Please note: the following abbreviations identify the legislative committees in the Assembly:

House of Delegates:
  • APP - Appropriations Committee
  • EMC - Economic Matters Committee
  • E&T - Environment and Transportation Committee
  • HGO - Health and Government Operations Committee
  • JUD - Judiciary Committee
  • W&M - Ways and Means Committee
  • HRU - Rules and Executive Nominations Committee

  • B&T - Budget and Taxation Committee
  • EHEA - Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee
  • FIN - Finance Committee
  • JPR - Judicial Proceedings Committee
  • EXN - Executive Nominations Committee
  • SRU - Rules Committee