Freshman Delegate Introduces Bills

One has been withdrawn.


Annapolis, Md (KM). He’s a freshman legislator, but Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr (D) has introduced a few bills for the 2019 Maryland General Assembly.

One would remove a sunset provision from the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. “It monitors by whom and to whom opioids, and benzodiazepines and amphetamines are prescribed. So they’re a database,” he says.

The program,which was passed in 2011 and began operations in 2014, is expected to go out of existence some time this year.  But Kerr says this program has helped reduce prescription opioid deaths in the state, and there are now 700,000 fewer opioid prescriptions being written each year in Maryland.

Another bill,  called the Career Education Act of 2019, would allow high school students pursuing training in the skilled trades to receive credit toward graduation from their courses. “That the type of formal training that they’re getting to learn to be an HVAC mechanic or an electrician would count toward high school credit,” says Kerr. “If you;re not college bound, why should your high school curriculum be tailored toward college. If you’re career bound in a skilled trade, why can’t we recognize the quality, rigor and validity of the things your studying as part of your high school curriculum.”

Kerr has also introduced a bill to help agriculture. Farmers who receive a state stipend to grow cover crops to protect their soil from erosion, such as barley, rye and wheat, would be allowed to sell those crops to Maryland’s craft breweries when the time comes. “I’m looking all of this rye, wheat and barley laying fallow in the field, and I’m looking at Frederick,  which has the largest number of craft breweries and distilleries in the state. And just thinking ‘why are we letting all of this grain die on the ground,'” he says.

But Kerr says he met with the Undersecretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture which has asked that the legislation be withdrawn until next year. “They’ were saying ‘we appreciate what you’re trying to do. We like that we’re looking out for Maryland agriculture. But we don’t have the administrative structure in place to insure that these crops that are commoditized are actually going to the industries they’re intended to go to,'” he says.

But Kerr says after conversations with the County Executive, he decided not to withdraw a bill to give local correctional officers additional weeks of workers’ compensation. He said he needed more reliable data on how much this would cost the county. The county’s risk management office put the cost of complying with the bill at $640,000.


By Kevin McManus