Sunday, April 18, 2010

Delegate Kirill Reznik's End of Session Letter

Following is Delegate Kirill Reznik's (D-39) end of session letter.

Dear Constituent,

The 2010 Maryland General Assembly legislative session has just concluded. We have been very busy here in Annapolis over the last three months and I wanted to update you on the important things we have accomplished both in my office and as an entire legislature. A more in-depth Annapolis Report from the entire District 39 team will follow as well.

As you may know, I sit on the Health and Government Operations Committee, which considers legislation relating to healthcare including emergency medical services, health and life insurance, health policy and planning, and long-term care, as well as, state government organization, procedures, and procurement, among other issues.

This session I sponsored several bills that I believe are beneficial to both our District and our State, including (1) an extension to a Task Force that studies the process in which the State engages in procurement with non-profit organizations for health and social services; (2) “Angel’s Law” which requires new or replacement window coverings after a certain date to be cordless in foster homes, family day care homes, and child care centers; (3) a bill that exempts from state procurement law unique programs in the Department of Natural Resources which provides summer jobs and outdoor enrichment programs for at-risk youth on public lands; (4) a bill requiring the State to set rates for hospital services provided at freestanding medical facilities, such as Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown; (5) another bill requires elective cosmetic surgery to be performed in an accredited facility; and finally (6) legislation requiring individual, group, or blanket health insurance policies and nonprofit health service plans to cover, as part of the minimum package of child wellness services, visits for childhood obesity evaluation and treatment and visits for developmental testing.

Unfortunately, several bills that I felt had great merit did not pass, but I intend to bring them back again next year. These bills include a prohibition on employers from using credit history or report information for hiring and retention decisions and also my bill that would mandate insurance coverage for therapies for children who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

Along with the above legislative bills, I also partnered with Senator Nancy King to sponsor two bond bills incorporated into the State Capital Budget bringing state funding into our district. These include $100,000 for the Cinnamon Woods Homes Association in Germantown to upgrade their community street lighting, and $100,000 for Residential Continuum in Montgomery Village for the renovation group homes for autistic individuals.

Along with the bills that I have personally sponsored, I wanted to update you on some of the other major issues we worked on in Annapolis this legislative session:

• The State Budget – Governor O’Malley submitted a balanced budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011, as required by the State Constitution. In keeping with our fiscal realities, the Governor responsibly presented a budget that called for negative growth, bringing the budget to Fiscal Year 2007 size. The legislature, which can only make cuts to the Governor’s proposed budget, made hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cuts, while preserving some of our State’s vital priorities such as education, healthcare, and maintaining our state’s AAA bond rating.

• Jobs Creation and Unemployment Insurance - We passed several bills to help those who lost their jobs through the economic crisis and help them get back to work as soon as possible. Maryland’s unemployment trust fund has felt unprecedented pressure this year, as there has been a dramatic increase in the number of new claims. In response, we passed legislation related to the trust fund that will take necessary steps to allow us access to $126.8 million in federal stimulus funds. Also, House Bill 92 established the Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit, providing a tax credit up to $5,000 to employers who hire unemployed Maryland resident receiving or have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

• Foreclosure Mediation –Requires an application for loan modification and mitigation be sent to homeowners 45 days before a foreclosure action is filed with information on counseling and help.

• Medically Centered Home – We created a pilot for the development of patient centered medical homes to design a new method for delivering healthcare services by creating a collaborative process between all of your healthcare providers, emphasize prevention, and lower costs.

• Gangs/Safe Schools – The Safe Schools Act of 2010 has many benefits including: requiring courts to inform schools if a child who is enrolled is under the State supervision; expands the list of crimes committed by students that law enforcement agencies are required to report to school officials; and mandates that the State Board of Education creates a policy for addressing gang activity. The Maryland Gang Prosecution Act of 2010 also strengthens our gang laws by, among other things, making organizing, supervising, financing or managing a gang a felony.

• Medical False Claims Act – The Maryland False Health Claims Act of 2010 will prohibit false claims against a State health plan or program, creates penalties, and allows the State to file a civil action against the person making the false claim.

• Sex Offender Bills – The 2010 Session saw an improvement in our State’s laws against sex offenders. The mandatory minimum sentence for committing a sexual offense against a victim of 13 or younger increased to 15 years while the maximum rose from 20 years to life. Lifetime supervision is now required for these offenders. Prohibitions on victim contact and prison sentence diminution credits were implemented, and individuals will now be able to notify the local authorities if they believe a child resides within the presence of a registered child sex offender.

• Maintenance of Effort – The Montgomery County Delegation worked hard to get a waiver for this year’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement for Montgomery County public schools. MOE requires that if the state increases funding for local public schools, the local county cannot decrease their per-pupil spending. Without this waiver, MCPS would have needed to spend between $16 and $64 million next year.

• Child Support Guidelines – For the first time in 20 years, we have passed updated child support guidelines, bringing payments to levels consistent with the current economic standards.

With another session behind us, I can say it is an honor to be able to serve you in Annapolis and continue to communicate with you via email, video, phone or by letter. As always, please feel free to contact me throughout the year with your thoughts and concerns. I would love the opportunity to personally meet you or any groups of which you are a member of in the district, to talk about the session, neighborhood issues or plans and thoughts for the future.

Delegate Kirill Reznik