Lawmakers In Annapolis Busy As Legislative Session Nears End

They have passed a budget for fiscal year 2018.

 


Annapolis, Md. (KM). There’s less than a week to go in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly, and lawmakers are scrambling to get legislation passes before adjournment which is Monday of next week at 12-midnight.

Frederick County Delegate Carol Krimm says the House of Delegates and the Senate have approved a budget for fiscal year 2018. “We have a $43.5-billion budget. Education is fully funded. Tuition is capped at 2% at our public universities. Health care has been addressed in the budget,” she says.

Krimm also says the state’s “Rainy Day” fund has a balance of $860.3-million, and an unallocated fund balance $100.2-million, which she describes as “very good.”

“We’re awaiting the governor’s decisions on the capital budget. We don’t know about the capital budget at this point. But we as a legislature have passed a capital budget, and it’s on the governor’s desk,” says Krimm.

Meanwhile, she and other lawmakers are working to get bills passed before the General Assembly adjourns for the year on April 10th. Krimm says she’s pushing to get legislation passed which addresses the state’s growing heroin and opioid problem. “With this crisis that we have in heroin and opioid addictions, we need to get that bill in place before we leave Annapolis next Monday. And I believe we will,” she says.

The legislation called the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017 would require the State Court Administrator of the Administrative Office of the Courts to assess the drug courts around the state, and make recommendations for expansion. It also states that the intent of the General Assembly is that the Administrative Office will request an appropriation of $2-million for grants to expand the scope of the drug court programs. Frederick County already has a drug court program .

“It requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish at least ten crisis treatment centers that provides individuals who are substance abuse disorder crisis to have access the clinical staff,” says Krimm. The bill says the first such crisis center should be opened by June 1st, 2018.
Delegate Krimm also says she has three bills that she hopes will pass, One would require that any leftover money from agencies after the fiscal year be diverted to the Other Post Employments Benefits program, and pensions. She says OPEB has an unfunded liability of $11.2-billion.

Another bill deals with the relocation of the Department of Social Services offices in Frederick. DSS says it will vacate the William Donald Schaefer Building on East All Saints Street ┬áto a new location in the north end of the city. Krimm says this measure would make sure that DSS clients are not left without the services they need. “We’ll have more TransIT services to that new building. We’ll also have satellite intake so for people who can’t get out to the new building will a place in the core area of the city where intake can take place,” she says.

A third bill would set up a housing navigator program to help homeless population find empty buildings that could be turned into homes. That person would work with landlords and Realtors.

 

By Kevin McManus