The Arc Maryland's Weekly Legislative Update
Week of Session: March 8 - 12, 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.
In the News
Join Us for World Down Syndrome Day: Maryland's Online Celebration and Dance Party
3/19 from 3:30 t0 4:30 pm
World Down Syndrome Day is recognized every year worldwide on March 21st to celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. As March 21st falls on a Sunday this year, we will celebrate WDSD virtually on Friday, March 19th!

From 3:30 to 4:30 PM, join us online to hear remarks from advocates with Down syndrome, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, First Lady Yumi Hogan, and leaders from Maryland’s State Senate and House of Delegates. Our time together will culminate with a short but lively dance party, led by a DJ! Register for free below.
Prioritized for Vaccines, but Access Hurdles Remain: Frustration Grows for Marylanders with Disabilities Who Have Struggled to Receive Shots
While people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are in Phase 1B of the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, people with IDD continue to have trouble accessing the vaccine. In this article from the Baltimore Sun, Nadine shares her struggles to get an appointment for her son, James, who has IDD.

Rachel London, Executive Director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, shared, "We recognize the reality; we know we’re not getting enough vaccines, but we’re also dealing with a whole other issue here, which is that many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities cannot access and cannot wait on numerous websites to get a vaccine, and don’t know how to do that."
It is good news that another mass vaccination site recently opened at M&T bank stadium. This effort, combined with others, has been successful in getting "shots into arms" of many Marylanders over the past couple of months.

For people with IDD, however, it is often difficult to navigate the complicated scheduling systems. Even with the aid of a new call-in center, access to a mass vaccination site may continue to be a challenge for people with disabilities.

There is the matter of transportation. At the Six Flags vaccination site, people must drive through to get the vaccine. Some people with disabilities don't drive and have experienced difficulty securing an accessible Uber or other ride-share services to bring them to and from a vaccine appointment.

There is also the matter of awareness. With inconsistent or lacking information from some local health departments, at least six jurisdictions in Maryland fail to include people with IDD in priority 1B in their website graphics and descriptions of vaccine-eligible groups. As of this morning, Baltimore City and Carroll, Garrett, Queen Anne's, Somerset, and Talbot County Health Departments continue to omit individuals with IDD in their descriptions of those eligible for 1B. Worcester County's health department description of 1B omits people with IDD from IB unless they reside in a congregate setting, but a graphic in their slider image includes people with IDD in 1B.

Taking Action: If you live in any of the jurisdictions listed above, please continue to contact your county health departments and advocate that they make the change to their policies and registration forms to ensure that people with IDD have access to vaccines alongside other groups of people who are in their prioritization group.

Find contact information for your county's Health Department through the button below.
DDA Budget Hearings Held on March 5th
The DDA budget hearing in front of the Senate and House Budget Subcommittees occurred last Friday. Advocates testified primarily in support of the budget and shared stories of operational challenges, concern for Transitioning Youth, the intersection of other pieces of legislation, and the budget (bills that have been presented this session that would create significant unfunded mandates for providers and people who self direct their services,) and concerns with the portrayal of the Person-Centered Planning Process and timelines. See the Budget Analyst's report here.

The draft budget under consideration includes the following (please note that numbers of individuals to be served are estimates):

The Minimum Wage Act of 2019 mandated a 4% rate increase for DD Community Services funding. $51.2 million for FY22 is included in the proposed budget to continue the 4% rate increase that the Governor committed to be effective January 1, 2021 (General + Federal Funds) *of note: Providers have not yet received this increase in their accounts.

600 Individuals

EMERGENCIES- $2.37 million
39 Individuals

296 Individuals

38 Individuals

21 Young Adults

2000 Individuals and families
Top Bills of the Week
SB0756, SB0812, and SB0813: Workers’ Compensation – Occupational Disease Presumptions – COVID–19

Status: In Senate, Hearing 3/9 in FIN at 1:00 PM.

Position: Oppose

Providing that certain covered employees who are suffering from the effects of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus are presumed, under certain circumstances, to have an occupational disease the was suffered in the line of duty or course of employment and is compensable in a certain manner. Includes those working in "related institutions" under Health General Title 19 (3) which includes settings such as individual home supports and services, and small congregate settings under the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

In small congregate group homes, Direct Support Professionals may work alone or with a small number of co-worker caregivers to provide care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If a co-worker were to test positive for the virus, and then another caregiver were to test positive within a certain time frame, it may be reasonable to conclude the co-worker contracted the virus through occupational exposure, and it may be appropriate for that employee to be covered under worker’s compensation benefits. However, there are many other circumstances where it would not be reasonable to arrive at the conclusion that an employee is presumed to have contracted COVID as the result of an occupational exposure.

In some of the most recent cases, a caregiver, who has contracted coronavirus, has brought the virus into the congregate setting and exposed people with IDD to the virus. Besides their caregiver staff, many of the individuals in congregate settings have been without visitors during the pandemic and isolating, for health reasons.

We must consider that the virus has a high rate of contagion and there are people who, through contract tracing, have been determined to have contracted the illness from visits with family and friends, patronage at restaurants or bars, and even at the grocery store. These same employees may have also worked in a small congregate setting (group home), with or without other staff within the same 14-day period of these other visits and experiences.
It would be impossible for anyone to determine the source of illness under this very common scenario, much less make a causal link to their occupation. To support this position, please review this recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine which found that community and demographic factors were generally stronger predictors of seropositivity than occupational factors.
SB0921: County Boards of Education - Accessibility Standards - Digital Tools (Nonvisual Access Accountability Act for Grades K-12 Education)

Status: In House, Hearing 3/9 in EHEA at 1:00 PM.

Position: Support

Requiring digital tools developed or purchased by a county board of education to include specifications for access by students with disabilities, including non-visual access; requiring a county board to provide a student with disabilities access to digital tools that enable students with disabilities to acquire the same information and access the same services as students without disabilities; requiring each invitation for bids or request for proposals for a digital tool to require submission of an accessibility conformance report; etc.
Bill Updates
HB0581/SB0486: Labor and Employment - Employment Standards During an Emergency (Maryland Essential Workers' Protection Act)

Position: Oppose

Status: In Workgroup

See the attachment HERE to review some of the challenges we see with this bill and the danger it would pose to the healthcare industry if it passed as currently written. The workgroup plans to meet one or two more times before the bill returns to the committee for a vote.
SB0371: Special Education - Individualized Education Programs - Educational Evaluations

Position: Support

Status: This bill (sponsored by Senator Peters in the Senate and Delegate Griffith in the House version) passed "favorable" and intact out of the Senate EHEA committee last Friday. It is not yet on the Senate floor agenda, but The Arc Maryland will update you when it is!

This bill would create a mechanism for parents to obtain an evaluation paid for by the school in cases where the school has not provided the evaluation within prescribed time frames. This has been critical for families- during the pandemic many have been unable to have their children evaluated or re-evaluated for critically needed education access supports.
SB0061: Public Buildings – Changing Facilities – Requirements

Position: Support

Status: This bill (sponsored by Senator Lam in the Senate and Delegate Ebersole in the House version) passed "favorable" and intact out of the Senate JPR committee last week and is on the Senate Floor agenda for Second Reader today. The cross-filed bill, HB0321, already passed in the House so we feel very positive that the Adult Changing Facilities bill is on the road to passage this session!

This bill creates a requirement for newly constructed or extensively remodeled public buildings to provide changing stations suitable to hold the weight of bot a child and an adult.
HB0714: Special Education – Learning Continuity Plan – Requirement

Position: Support

Status: The bill, as significantly amended by the Sponsor, passed "favorably as amended" out of the House W&M Committee and is on the House Floor agenda for Second Reader today. The cross-filed bill, SB0300, is still in the Senate EHEA Committee under consideration.

This bill as amended would require that, upon an emergency wherein a student was unable to access school for an extended period of time, the school may create a document to continue learning during the emergency and the family/student would be given the opportunity to accept the continuity of learning plan or call for an IEP meeting to discuss and plan for the students' needs. In all cases, FAPE must remain intact. This bill would become effective on October 1, 2021.
Hearing Schedule (3/8 to 3/19)
Tuesday, March 9th

EMC, 1:30 PM
HB1171: Labor and Employment - Maryland Employee Protection Plan for Vaccine Refusal

W&M, 1:30 PM
HB1020: Election Law – Curbside Voting – Establishment

EHEA, 1:00 PM
SB0665: Public Schools - Self-Contained Special Education Classrooms - Use of Video Recording Devices

SB0921: County Boards of Education - Accessibility Standards - Digital Tools (Nonvisual Access Accountability Act for Grades K-12 Education)

FIN, 1:00 PM
SB0725: Workers' Compensation - Occupational Disease Presumptions - COVID-19

SB0756: Workers’ Compensation – Occupational Disease Presumptions – COVID–19

SB0812: Workers' Compensation - Occupational Disease Presumptions - COVID-19

SB0813: Workers’ Compensation – Occupational Disease Presumptions – COVID–19

SB0860: Workers' Compensation - COVID-19 Occupational Disease Presumption - Public School Employees

JPR, 1:00 PM
SB0844: Adult Protective Services - Vulnerable Adults Registry - Investigations and Records of Abuse and Neglect and Workgroup Study
Wednesday, March 10th

JPR, 12:00 PM
SB0776: Criminal Procedure – Out of Court Statements – Child and Vulnerable Adult Victims
Wednesday, March 17th

FIN, 1:00 PM
SB0727: Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – Revisions and Public Health Emergency Leave
Thursday, March 18th

JPR, 12:30 PM
HB0347: Criminal Law - Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult or Elderly Individual - Undue Influence
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