Reznik Report from District 39: 2020 Session is about to begin

January 2, 2020

I hope you had a great holiday season with family, good friends, and good food.

The 2020 Legislative Session is fast approaching, and I wanted to provide you with an update with what I intend to work over the course of the next 90 days. This email is long, so I apologize, but it wouldn’t be a legislative session if we weren’t ambitious and tried to get a lot done.

Much of the discussion the session will focus on expanding funding for education. This will primarily center around two pieces of legislation: (1) The Build To Learn Act, that will provide hundreds of millions of matching funds to jurisdictions for capital school construction projects, and (2) the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, legislation to implement the findings of the Kirwan Commission to fulfill our Constitutional promise of a fair and adequate education for all of Maryland’s students, regardless of geography or income. Both of these bills will be critical in preparing the children of Maryland for either college and/or career, and to become intelligent, curious, and productive members of society.

However, as we consider this important legislation, there will also be thousands of other bills proposed, discussed, and litigated. I am focusing on approximately 10-13 bills. Some of these bills are immediately impactful, while others are symbolic in nature, but as important. All focused on making the lives of Marylanders better.

Healthcare

Healthcare

Medicare Birthday Rule: Currently in Maryland, seniors on Medicare can only switch their supplemental plans by going through medical underwriting, and possibly denied new coverage. Several states have implemented the Birthday Rule, allowing a switch to an equal or lesser-valued plan without underwriting within 30 days of their birthday. We need this in Maryland as well.

Insulin Out of Pocket Costs: Did you know that a person with insurance could still have to pay thousands of dollars every month out of pocket just to get insulin to treat their diabetes. This is unconscionable, considering the generic formulas for insulin have stayed the same for decades and cost virtually nothing to mass produce. This issue is personal to me as I watched my father struggle with and eventually die, in part, due to his diabetic condition. Last year, Colorado passed a law that caps out of pocket costs for insulin to $100 for a 30-day supply and I plan to introduce legislation to do the same.

Universal Healthcare: A society with universal healthcare coverage is a healthier, more productive, and ultimately happier. Finding the right mix of policy to achieve this goal is obviously controversial, but every single capitalist, first world country in the world but ours has figured out universal health care. Finding the right solution is the absolute right thing to, and for the last three years I have been working on such a solution. My plan would provide universal coverage to all Marylanders, increase benefits for most, maintain a system of third party payers, and decrease costs for most businesses and individuals. We can argue about the details, but we need to have the discussion in a respectful and productive way.

Environment and Business

Energy Storage: Several years ago, Senator Guy Guzzone and I passed a first in the nation tax credit for residential and commercial energy storage equipment. Though a success, the tax credit has been under-utilized for a variety of reasons. It is my hope that we can eliminate some of those obstacles this year, and fully engage with practical clean energy solution while supporting a burgeoning green industry in Maryland.

Civil Rights

Menstrual Products in Schools: There is absolutely no reason to deny students toiletries used regularly for common bodily functions. Imagine telling a student that they need to go to the school nurse for toilet paper or soap. Maryland has fallen beyond numerous states that have discovered the novel concept that we should be treating a menstruating student like a normal person by providing these products in bathrooms where they belong.

Repeal of the State Song: The State Song of Maryland is a pro-confederate love letter adopted during the height of the Jim Crow era. It demands that Maryland secede from the Union, calls fellow Americans “scum,” and President Lincoln a “vandal” and a “despot.” It is long time we retired this little diddy to the dustbin and replaced it with something that better represents our State. If we do, maybe we wouldn’t be embarrassed to play it in public in its entirety (which is not what we do now).

Transparency and Governance

Net Neutrality: Keeping the internet neutral to everyone is critical not just to maintain equal opportunities for commerce, but to guarantee a free and open society where speech is respected and available to everyone. The FCC ruling canceling net neutrality and allowing internet service providers the ability to charge different rates to different websites or web traffic is a threat to those freedoms. Though a recent federal court decision sided with the FCC in challenging the right of states to preempt federal net neutrality rules, they did allow states to regulate internet service providers in areas where states have exclusive authority. For the last two years I have worked with Attorney General Brian Frosh to guarantee a free and fair internet, and hope to get it done this year.

Redistricting Reform: Redistricting is a complex issue but regardless of how the process works, the electorate should believe that the system is fair and that they are being fairly represented. I have spent a number of years proposing a simple solution to Congressional redistricting reform that will achieve just that, and to make it part of a two state compact with Virginia to make sure that redistricting favors the country as a whole, and not any one political party. It’s time to get this done before the next Census is complete.

Other Issues Outside of Legislation

As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services, I will be working to continue to protect and expanding funding for social service and healthcare programs throughout the State.

Developmental Disabilities: With the passage of minimum wage, the legislature guaranteed increases in funding to developmental disabilities service providers. I will work to make sure that is kept and, if possible, expanded.

Healthcare Staffing: Our state healthcare facilities are woefully understaffed, which contributes to an unhealthy and unsafe environment for patients, staff, and the public. We need to do so much better, and I will continue my efforts to get the appropriate personnel hired and trained.

Opioid Addiction: We have seen some improvement in the number of opioid-related deaths in Maryland, but it is not nearly enough. As the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders, I will work with my Senate counterpart, Antonio Hayes, to continue to bring that number down and save lives.

Corridor Cities Transitway: The Governor did Montgomery County a huge disservice when he cancelled the CCT. Not only would the CCT have provided a foothold for transit in the Upcounty, but it was also the lynchpin to tens of thousands of new jobs planned around the transit line. I have been vocal about the need for the CCT, and will continue to fight for it to be reinstated and built.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for any reason. My contact information can be found HERE. I will continue to send out a weekly email during session to keep you informed and involved.

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