Two were related to health care coverage.
Annapolis, Md (KM)> It time to sign some bills in Annapolis on Thursday. Governor Larry Hogan affixed his signature to several pieces of legislation, including two health bills. They would stabilize the health care insurance market, and prevent insurance rates from going sky high. One measure taps $380-million from health insurance companies and managed care organizations which they no longer have to pay in federal taxes as a result of changes in the tax code. The second would move the state toward reinsurance to protect insurers from very high claims.
The Governor’s Office says inaction by Congress and the federal government means that in Maryland health insurance rates are set to increase by 50% or more this year. “This problem should have been solved in Washington, but nothing has been done,” says Hogan. “So our team has been working on potential solutions for more than a year.”
“I want to sincerely thank the Speaker and the President of the Senate, and legislators from both sides of the aisle for working together with us in a common sense bipartisan manner to address the crisis head on, and to prevent these massive rate increases,” says Governor Hogan, referring to House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller, who were on hand for the bill signings.
Hogan also signed some budget bills. “In both houses, this budget provides for record education funding for the fourth consecutive year, including record funding for school construction, and $40-million for immediate school safety improvements,” he said.
The General Assembly has voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of a bill to take the authority to approve school construction projects away from the Board of Public Works, and give to a commission with members appointed by the Governor, the Senate President and the House Speaker.
The budget also contains increased funding for combating the heroin and opioid crises, and historic investment in restoring the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Governor Office, which notes that this was all done without raising taxes, cutting services or raiding other dedicated special funds.
The Governor also signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Extension Act, which he says reaffirms Maryland’s strong commitment to a multi-state partnership to combat climate change. “We enacted clean air standards, tougher and stronger than 48 other states, and nearly twice as strong as the Paris Accord recommendations,”: he says. It will also “prevent future governors from undoing our legacy and strong commitment to clean air, unless legislature agrees and votes to do so,” says Governor Hogan.
The Governor’s Office says Hogan has lobbied other states, such as Virginia and New Jersey, to join this partnership to support clean air.
The General Assembly adjourns for the year on Monday, April 9th at 12:00 midnight.
By Kevin McManus