AARP Eye Center
The 445th Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly ended Monday, April 10, 2023. Over the 90 days of the legislative session, dozens of AARP Maryland volunteers reviewed hundreds of bills, from expanding broadband to behavioral health services, testified before the house and senate committees, met with lawmakers, and convened in Annapolis to discuss AARP’s legislative priorities.
“In the end, Marylanders 50 and over will have more services and resources to age in place,” said AARP Maryland State President Jim Campbell. “After the house and senate leadership slammed the gavel one last time to signify sine die, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board will be able to look at more costly pricing, the behavioral health 9-8-8 hotline will be fully funded, and folks seeking long-term care and dementia care will have access to a navigator who will help connect them to the services they need.
“In addition, if there are unlicensed assisted living proprietors abusing and neglecting individuals under their care, those bad players will be subject to prosecution by the attorney general. As we review our 2023 wins, what we know is that older Marylanders will have more resources and services so they can age in place,” Campbell said.
Here are key pieces of legislation, supported by AARP Maryland, that are headed to the Governor's desk:
Paid Family Leave
HB988/SB828 Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Modifications clarifies and alters provisions relating to Paid Family Leave passed during the 2022 legislative session. The bills set the contribution rate for the program with a cost-sharing split of 50% employees, 50% employers. The bill also clarifies effective dates for the program.
HB 244/SB 253 Estates and Trusts-Registers of Wills-Electronic Filing and Signatures requires a register of wills to accept any document, except an original will, that is filed electronically through a system established by the register and in accordance with the Maryland Rules; however, the bill does not prohibit the filing of a document in paper form with a register.
HB 760/SB 351 Maryland Legal Services Corporations – Affordable Life, Wills and Estate Planning for Seniors establishes the Affordable Life, Wills, and Estate Planning for Seniors Program within the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) to provide seniors with low to moderate financial means access to affordable civil law‐related services.
HB 774/SB 665 Assisted Living Programs – Unlicensed Programs – Resident Abuse, 3 Exploitation, and Neglect 4 (The Senator Delores Kelley Residents of Unlicensed Programs Protection Act) requires the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), or its designee, to investigate whether assisted living residents have been subjected to neglect or physical abuse when a person is found to be knowingly and willfully operating, maintaining, or owning an unlicensed assisted living program. The person operating the unlicensed program must be subject to immediate prosecution (1) on receipt of a credible allegation or after an investigation finds that residents have been subjected to neglect or physical abuse or (2) if the person fails or refuses to cooperate in MDH’s investigation.
HB 702/SB 509 Health Care Facilities – Nursing Homes -Acquisitions and Licensure requires the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), when evaluating a notice of acquisition or transfer of interest of a nursing home, to provide specified written findings and recommendations to the Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ). The Secretary of Health must consider MHCC’s findings and recommendations before taking action to approve, deny, approve with conditions, or revoke a nursing home license.
HB 614/SB 228 Department of Aging – Long Term Care and Dementia Care Navigation Programs requires each area agency on aging (AAA), subject to the limitations of the funding provided, to develop a long-term care and dementia care navigation program that consists of new or existing services. The Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) must oversee and train navigation program staff and disseminate best practices and collect interaction data to ensure statewide program integrity.
HB 497/SB 498 Rural Health Collaborative Pilot Repeal and Mid Shore Health Improvement Coalition Funding repeals the Rural Health Collaborative as a Pilot (RHCP) and beginning in fiscal 2024, the Governor must provide an annual appropriation to fund the Rural Health Collaborative within the mid-shore region (Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties) as an independent unit within the Maryland Department of Health. The purposes of the collaborative are to: lead a regional partnership in building a rural health system that enhances access to and utilization of health care services designed to meet the triple aim of (1) providing health care; (2) alignment with the State’s Medicare waiver; and (3) improving population health; mediate disputes between stakeholders; assist in collaboration among health care service providers in the mid-shore region; increase the awareness among county officials and residents regarding the health status, health needs, and available resources in the mid-shore region.
HB 278/SB 213 Health Occupations - Clinical Nurse Specialists - Prescribing Authority defines "clinical nurse specialist" and "practice as a clinical nurse specialist" for the purpose of authorizing clinical nurse specialists to prescribe drugs and durable medical equipment.
SB 534 Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2023 extends the date for telehealth services from 2023 to 2025.
HB 279/SB 202 Prescription Drug Affordability Board - Upper Payment Limits is an emergency bill that reinstates provisions of law regarding the authority of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) to set upper payment limits.
HB 271/SB 3 9-8-8 Trust Fund - Funding establishes the 9-8-8 Trust Fund to provide reimbursement for costs associated with designating and maintaining 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. It also is a statewide initiative for the coordination and delivery of the continuum of behavioral health crisis response services.
HB 1148/SB 582 Behavioral Health Care - Treatment and Access (Behavioral Health Model for Maryland) (1) establishes a Commission on Behavioral Health Care Treatment and Access; (2) creates a Behavioral Health Care Coordination Value-Based Purchasing Pilot Program; (3) extends for two years provisions relating to telehealth services; (4) requires the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) to study and make recommendations regarding telehealth and review trends and best practices from other states regarding policy and reimbursement strategies, as specified and to examine and make recommendations related to the behavioral health of the geriatric and youth populations. This bill also requires MHCC to assess the adequacy of reimbursement for behavioral health services delivered in person and by telehealth and address any other issues related to telehealth as determined necessary.
HB 1191/SB 797 Task Force on Preventing and Countering Elder Abuse establishes the Task Force on Preventing and Countering Elder Abuse, staffed by the Maryland Department of Aging. The task force must (1) study existing laws, policies, and practices relating to elder abuse and other crimes commonly committed against older adults and (2) make recommendations regarding changes to State law, policy, and practice that would aid in preventing elder abuse.
HB 37/SB 90 – Consumer Protection – Telephone Solicitation (Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023) prohibits a person from using an automated system to make a call or play a recorded message without the prior express written consent of the party being called. It requires the party making these calls to make sure the caller’s name and number are accurately transmitted, as specified. The bill prohibits the intentional alteration of the caller’s voice if the purpose is to deceive or obtain personal information for use in an unlawful manner.
HB 502/SB 2 Department of Human Services Electronic Benefits Transfer Cards-Theft of Benefits Prevent Electronic Benefits Theft Act of 2023 is an emergency bill that requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to restore any lost benefits to a household due to theft related to the use of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Those benefits include SNAP.
HB 86/SB 189 Maryland Saves Data Sharing Act authorizes the Maryland Small Business Savings Board and its authorized contractors to receive tax information from the Comptroller regarding business entities who may participate in the Maryland Small Business Saving Program also known as Maryland Saves.
Support for Veterans
HB 554/SB 553Income Tax - Subtraction Modification for Military Retirement Income (Keep Our Heroes Home Act) enhances the existing military retirement income tax subtraction modification by increasing, to $25,000 for tax year 2023 and $40,000 for tax year 2024 and beyond, the maximum amount of military retirement income received by an individual that may be exempted from Maryland income tax, regardless of the individual’s age.
HB 316/SB 354 Income Tax Checkoff - Maryland Veterans Trust Fund establishes the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF) checkoff on the individual income tax return form. After the Comptroller deducts administrative expenses, the contributions are credited to MVTF. Money in the fund may be used to provide grants or loans to veterans and their families, public and private programs that serve veterans and their families, or any other programs that the trust considers to be within the purposes for which the trust is established.
SB 32 Property Tax - Exemption for Dwellings of Disabled Veterans - Application alters the application requirements for a property tax exemption for a dwelling house owned by a disabled veteran or surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. The bill adds a rating decision of the disabled veteran’s disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including the effective date of the rating decision, to the types of supporting documents that can be included with the property tax exemption application.
HB 239/SB 382 Accessory Dwelling Unit Promotion and Policy Task Force will study the feasibility of state legislation permitting Accessory Dwelling Units, looking at the need and what is currently in force. County Council of Anne Arundel County Bill No. 6-23 Public Works Subdivision and Development – Zoning-Accessory Dwelling Units exempts accessory dwelling units from capital facility connection charges and impact fees amends the definition of density and dwelling units and generally allowing accessory dwelling units in Anne Arundel County.
SB 579 Residential Property - Service Agreements - Prohibitions prohibits, with specified exceptions, a service agreement (or any part of a service agreement) from (1) being effective for more than one year; (2) purporting to run with the land or bind subsequent bona fide purchasers; (3) purporting to create a lien, encumbrance, or security interest on the residential property of a party to the service agreement; or (4) allowing the service provider to assign or transfer the right to provide services under the service agreement to another person without notice or the consent of a party to the service agreement.
HB 551 Office of Statewide Broadband—Study of Broadband Exemption Incentives exempts the purchase of specified network equipment from the State sales and use tax and (2) authorizes individual and corporate taxpayers to claim a subtraction modification against Maryland income tax for any qualified federal broadband grant awarded to the taxpayer during the taxable year.
HB 32/SB 124 Maryland Food System Resiliency Council establishes that the existing Maryland Food System Resiliency Council is in the Office of Resilience within the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM). MDEM must provide staff for the council.
HB 70/SB16 Safe Access for All (SAFE) Roads Act of 2023 requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to implement all possible incremental and near-term safety improvements as soon as practicable when a new approved pedestrian or bicycle safety construction or improvement project is projected to take more than 12 months to complete.
HB 9/SB 19 Equity in Transportation Sector - Guidelines and Analyses requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) beginning July 1, 2024, in collaboration with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), to conduct two transit equity analyses, perform a cost-benefit analysis, consult with members and leaders of affected communities, and take specified actions based on the results of these activities before announcing (1) any service change that would constitute a major service change under specified federal guidelines or (2) any reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project.
HB 410 Election Reform Act of 2023 makes changes to State election law relating to (1) public input on changes in polling place locations; (2) the submission of a polling place plan by local boards of elections to the State Board of Elections (SBE) and related requirements; (3) expansion of an existing prohibition against willfully and knowingly influencing or attempting to influence a voter’s decision whether to vote through specific means.