The legislature starts a new session on Wed., Jan. 11th.
Frederick, Md (KM). Lawmakers will be dealing with a number of issues when they gather in Annapolis next week for the start of the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) says she expects the budget to come up. “Certainly, the budget was a major issue last year as there was a shortfall. But this year it’s even larger,” she says. “There’s close to a $1-billion shortfall in anticipated revenue.”
Young says income tax revenues are not as high as projected. “Income growth in Maryland was projected to be 4.7% in 2016. But the reality is that it’s looking more like 3.7%,” she says.
In addition, delegates and senators could be dealing with ways to make college more affordable. “And I think this year what you will see some legislation to make community colleges, if not free, far more affordable than they are today,” says Young.
Teenagers and young adults are often told they need more than just a high school diploma to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow. “We’re losing jobs in large part to technology,” says Young. “I know a lot of people believe that’s due to overseas production. But I would say it’s just as much if not more so technology. So we have to train future generations for the skills for this 21st century.”
Governor Larry Hogan has said that one of his goals for lawmakers this year is repealing a transportation funding law. That measure sets up a scoring process for transportation projects to determine which ones are funded and how much. Legislators from rural areas say they would lose out compared to urban and suburban areas, which have higher populations.
But Delegate Young says the Governor’s stance has her “perplexed. “But if at the end of that scoring process, he isn’t in agreement, he can object and state ‘I would like to fund these projects.’ And as long as he states why, he has that prerogative,” she says.
Last year, a Lyme disease bill was passed which requires health care professionals to tell their patients that lab tests for Lyme disease are not accurate, and encourage them to ask about antibiotic treatment. “The more I meet people who have suffered from Lyme disease, had it misdiagnosed, treated incorrectly, I realize that we certainly need more Lyme-literate approaches to treating Lyme disease,” says Young.
Young, whose a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee in the House of Delegates, says health issues will be discussed during the upcoming legislative session. “We’re going to be dealing again with opioid overdose issues, prescription drug affordability, and the implementation of all payer model in Maryland which keeps hospital costs at a certain ceiling,” she says.
And the Committee will also talk about what to do if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.
The Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day session begins on Wednesday, January 11th at 12:00 noon.
By Kevin McManus