Highlights of 2019 Maryland legislative session
Last month, Delegates Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Ben Barnes, Mary Lehman, and I concluded the 2019 legislative session, working to deliver higher incomes and lower costs for working families.
Holding down health costs: Senior citizens, and all of us, fear health costs we can’t afford. That’s why we passed powerful new laws to:
~keep insurance prices under control
~crack down on drug price hikes
~protect people with pre-existing conditions
~expand access to low-cost health insurance
~cap out-of-pocket drug costs for UMD and state government retirees
Creating family-supporting jobs
Good jobs at good wages. That’s what next year’s $1.085 billion state investment in school construction, transit and roads, hospitals, colleges, and environmental cleanup provides. So does the new Clean Energy Jobs law, which fights climate change by investing in solar and wind—right here in Maryland. It also funds new apprenticeships to train Marylanders for these jobs.
Raising the minimum wage to $15
To boost incomes for almost 600,000 Marylanders, we raised the minimum wage. Who benefits? Overwhelmingly, adults who work full time (including 1/3 who have children) and the local businesses where they will spend their bigger paychecks will gain.
Reducing child-care costs: To help working parents save on child care, we expanded the state child-care credit for parents with incomes up to $143,000 and increased state funding for free full day pre-K for lower income families.
Reducing college tuition costs
College costs too much. So we worked successfully to:
~expand opportunities for high students to earn college credits tuition-free
~cap next year’s tuition hikes at Maryland colleges at 2%
~boost scholarship aid to community college students in apprenticeships and other skills training
Protecting senior citizens: Two priorities this session were giving counties the power to cut property taxes for more homeowners age 65 and over and protecting nursing home residents who move from Medicare to Medicaid to pay their bills.
Cleaning up our environment
Oysters are critical to cleaning the Chesapeake Bay. And forests and tree canopy are critical to fighting climate change. That’s why we passed new laws to protect both.
Investing in our community: We boosted state funds for local schools in Prince George's by $79.2 million. We allotted $6.6 million for rebuilding Route 1 in College Park. And we passed $175.1 million for construction of the light rail Purple Line, connecting the Metro Green Line and the University of Maryland with Bethesda, New Carrollton—and New York! To fix potholes and improve local roads, we approved $10 million for Prince George's.
We worked together on all these initiatives. New laws to help more Marylanders sign up for insurance through their tax returns, afford health insurance by holding down rates, and set up new agency for oversight of price increases of prescription drugs, sponsored by Delegate Peña-Melnyk, vice chair of the House Health Committee. Other initiatives include
Efforts to halt chicken manure runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and pass a strong statewide foam ban, championed by Delegate Lehman.
Record funding for our local public schools and greater transparency and balance on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, led by Delegate Barnes.
Repair to potholes on state roads caused by climate change, championed by Senator Rosapepe.
Join us at Beltsville Day -- Sunday, May 19
The delegates and I are always there to chat with local residents—and celebrate Beltsville. If you've never come, start this year! There are games for kids, music, food, great fellowship, and much more. Stop by the 21st District Delegation's table where we'll have free maps, guides to festivals and other fun events around Maryland, and info on how to solve problems. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your concerns Sunday, May 19, noon–4pm at the Beltsville Community Center.
Please let us know if there are other issues you have questions or thoughts about. And, of course, feel free to be in touch if we can help you. Just email 21stDistrictDelegation@gmail.com or call 301.858.3141.