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Steve's News from Annapolis

2014-01-26

 

Last week Governor O’Malley presented his budget and delivered his final State of the State address. As the General Assembly heads into its third week we will begin bill hearings in earnest and have more debate on legislation on the House floor.

Retroactive Health Care Coverage

The roll out of Maryland’s Health Connection was absolutely awful. In spite of the lead time for putting together a strong and responsive system, the on-line system failed miserably.  Even the supposed “fixes” have been plagued by numerous problems. As a result, the O’Malley Administration worked with all four insurance carriers offering plans to offer retroactive insurance coverage back to January 1, 2014 for those individuals who were unsuccessful in enrolling for coverage.

Approximately 500 people, who could not enroll due to no fault of their own, have signed up for this coverage. Legislation is pending in the House to provide coverage and subsidies for these individuals who could not enroll so that health care insurance is available to them. I will vote for this legislation so that more families and individuals have access to health care in Maryland.

Proposals to Raise the Minimum Wage

A number of bills are being introduced this year to increase the minimum wage. As the cost of living continues to increase and wages remain stagnant, more and more people are struggling on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. A person who works full time at a minimum wage earns just a little more than $15,000. This is below the poverty level for a family of three.

The Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014, HB 295, is the Governor’s proposal to incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016. The bill also extends the applicability to more categories as well as limiting tip allowances.

This issue will involve extended discussion and debate since there are many competing interests. No hearings have been set on this issue yet.

My Legislative Initiatives

I have filed a variety of bills to help the fisheries, communities, consumers, bicyclists and others. These include:

·         HB 240 establishes a task force to examine how we can increase recycling in Maryland and divert more materials from    landfills.  Not only are more and more materials able to be reused but such reuse and recycling can create more jobs and reduce the land needed for trash disposal.

·         HB 241 would provide greater safety for bicyclists on Maryland’s roads. Current law requires motorists to give 3’ when passing a bicyclist. The cyclist is required to stay to the right and maintain control of her/his vehicle. Some roads make such a safe passing difficult. This bill would allow a driver – when it is safe to do so – to cross the center line to safely pass a bicyclist.

·         HB 268 requires a limited liability company (LLC) to provide the name of company representative and appropriate contact information when the LLC submits its charter to the state. Currently, if there is a issue with a property owned by an LLC it is extremely difficult to identify the owner to address the problems.

·         HB 274 will protect homeowners who lose their homes in foreclosure from the potential of a deficiency judgment that can come 12 years later. Under current law, this deficiency can be pursued up to 12 years after the foreclosure, exposing individuals to unexpected and potentially devastating legal action. I have proposed that such an action must happen within 180 days.

·         HB 384 is the bill to create a “hybrid school board” in Baltimore County. This bill would change the way our Board is selected from gubernatorial appointments to partially elected and partially appointed. I believe that a partially elected/partially appointed Board will provide greater accountability to the community.

I am also working on legislation to strengthen and better coordinate regional initiatives in economic development, workforce development and housing; to provide more money for oyster restoration; and, provide more funds so that the state can gather more information on the application and usage of pesticides throughout the state.

All bill hearings are listed at the Maryland General Assembly web site, www.mgaleg.maryland.gov. 

Please feel free to contact me about any of these issues or other issues of interest and concern to you. I can be reached at 410-841-3487 and Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us.

Best wishes,

Steve

Delegate Steve Lafferty
Maryland House of Delegates, District 42
410-841-3487
stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us

Contact Steve

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By Phone: 410-841-3487
By Email: stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us

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By Email: lafferty@delegatelafferty.com

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