From Del. Mary Ann Lisanti:
As we transcend the half way point of the 2018 Legislative Session, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on legislative initiatives I will be presenting this week. Additionally, the Economic Matters Committee of which I am a member, held a nearly 9 hour hearing this past Friday on reforms for the alcoholic beverages industry that I would like to bring to your attention.
Health care Facilities Legislative Package
From the initial announcement of a Freestanding Medical Facility several years ago, I have been a vocal proponent for access to health care for the surrounding communities in Harford and Cecil Counties most effected by the impending closure of Harford Memorial Hospital. And since I have worked with most healthcare companies in the environs of the aforementioned areas, I had the opportunity to contribute my experience at places like Marketreview.com on the insurances that the companies offer. Since that time I have watched this proposal develop and have been in continual contact with community leaders, the leadership at the Maryland Hospital Association, Upper Chesapeake Health and the University of Maryland Medical System in order to advocate for a full service hospital. I continue to have concerns and demand that the process be open and transparent to all concerned citizens and stakeholders.
In addition to HB 614 that I have previously shared regarding hospital employee retaining and replacement, I have two subsequent bills that will be heard this week. HB 1540 requires the Maryland Health Care Commission to publish a notice of the proposed closing or partial closing of a health care facility within 10 days after receiving the notice from the facility to all elected representative in the service area. The Commission will be required to ensure that the proposed plan is available to the public for review. In addition, the Commission will be required to publish the notice in a locally circulated paper for 2 weeks in the region of the proposed closure and provide a written/mailed notice of any informal meetings or public hearing. Notice will also be required to be posted at the health care facility and public facilities in the geographical area. This legislation also sets requirements of what is to be included on the notice of closure or partial closure.
The final bill heard this week is HB 1621. If enacted, this legislation would direct the Department of Commerce to conduct a study on the economic impact of the closure of Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, and the transfer of its services to another location. It also requires the Department to develop a revitalization plan for the City and report all its findings to members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Economic Matter Committee. The closure of Harford Memorial, which covers 9 acres of downtown Havre de Grace, has a direct impact on our residents, businesses, and greater tax base of the city, therefore I believe this study will be an important tool as to how we move forward after the hospital downtown closes.
Military Retirement Tax Relief
For many years legislators in Annapolis have worked to make military retirement income tax free for our veterans. I am honored to be the lead and co-sponsor on a solvent legislative package with Delegate Pat Young from Baltimore county. These bills are intended to provide veterans with income tax relief. HB 327 would phase in over multiple years until 2021, the limitation of military retirement income that may be subtracted from federal adjusted gross income for Maryland tax purposes. By 2021, all military retirement income would be able to be subtracted from taxes. Our second bill (HB 1048) will totally exempt military income from taxes beginning January 1st of this year!!! Our third bill, (HB 1051) is the new funding source.
If you are interested in supporting this bill, I ask that you show your support for this legislative package by doing one or more of the following:
1. Send an email of support for (HB 327, HB 1048 and HB 1051) to Ways and Means at http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&tab=subject3&id=w%26m&stab=01&ys=2018RS&poptype=contact&popid=comm|w%26m or email@example.com
2. Testify in person for HB 327, HB 1048 and HB 1051 at the Ways and Means Committee tomorrow at 1:00pm.
3. Provide written testimony for HB 327, HB 1048 and HB 1051 by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure it gets to the Ways and Means Committee in time for the hearing.
4. Call the Ways and Means Committee at 410-841-3469 and leave a message with the secretary that you support HB 327, HB 1048 and Harford Countyrong>1051.
5. Spread the word to your contacts.
Statewide Alcoholic Beverages Hearing
Friday was Alcohol Day in my committee, Economic Matters. In addition to the bill known at “Reform on Tap” that has been proposed by the Comptroller and alcohol regulator, Peter Franchot, there were several other important bills discussed. Our hearing began at 1:00pm and ended Friday evening around 9:30pm. A few of these important bills proposed an outright ban on powdered alcohol, repealing a state law that prohibits persons with an intellectual disability from legally purchasing alcohol, requiring “Maryland Made” wines to be produced with at least 50% of Maryland grown grapes, and adding the Harford County Farm Fair to a list of other county fairs that permit wine and beer tasting provided by local wineries and breweries.
Several other independent bills address issues such as, removing limits on the amount of malt beverages a brewery may produce, distribute, and consume off premises. Each are major public policy issues that deserve much public discussion because alcohol is a regulated product that impacts health and public safety. A task force was also proposed to bring producers, distributors, and retailers together with public policy and health professionals to examine these issues in totality in lieu of promoting one sector of the 3 tiered system.
I value your input as my sub-committee wrestles with these important issues.
These initiatives have the potential to impact a large variety of Marylanders so please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or concerns regarding legislation or how I can assist you. It’s a great privilege to serve the people of Harford County and I always appreciate hearing from you while serving in Annapolis.
Mary Ann Lisanti
Delegate, District 34A