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2023 Legislative Updates

Hi everyone! Thanks for following along this legislative session. Here’s where we ended up with the bills we were following:

The following bills passed:

HB9/SB19. This law will require the MD Department of Transportation to consider equity and accessibility when developing their plans and goals. This is a victory for people with disabilities because lack of access to safe and affordable transportation is one of the most significant barriers to independence and autonomy.

HB354/SB343. This law will allow Maryland to raise the age limit for setting up an ABLE account, and expand who can help an individual set up an ABLE account. ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save money for expenses related to their disabilities without losing access to Social Security and Medical Assistance. Raising the age limit for setting up these accounts is important because it allows people who are not disabled from birth (for example, people who become disabled due to military service, accidents, or illnesses) to participate in the program.

HB 456/SB940. This law will require the state Board of Pharmacies to provide alternate prescription labels or clear explanations to people who are blind, have low sight, or are otherwise impaired or prevented from reading the standard labels on prescription drugs.

HB726/SB231.This law will allow children in military families who are on the autism waiver to remain on the registry while the family is out of state for military service. This is a victory because children with autism will no longer have to “go to the end of the line” in waiting for services every time their parent is required to move for military service.

HB870. This law will require DORS (Division of Rehabilitation Services) and DDA (Developmental Disabilities Administration) to develop a “memorandum of understanding,” in order to safely and efficiently share data regarding individuals who are served by both, including medical and psychiatric records, in order to expedite the DORS eligibility process.

HB1149/SB622. This law will require that all Medicaid waiver services are included in the Waitlist Reduction Act, which set aside $30 million to be used to reduce waitlists ($10 million will be for the Autism Waiver specifically).The hope is that this will move things along more quickly for the thousands of people waiting for services.

The following bills did not pass:

HB41. This bill would have allowed for curbside voting for wheelchair users and other people with mobility challenges. Many polling locations do not have ramps, which creates a significant barrier to voting for people with disabilities. This bill was an attempt to remove those barriers until accessibility is more widely addressed.

HB95. This bill was another attempt to make voting easier for people with disabilities. It would have required voting judges to provide clear signage and provide assistance to elderly and disabled voters who need it.

HB294/SB926.This bill would have shifted the burden of proof in special education due process hearings to the school. Currently, if a parent asks for a due process hearing because they believe their child did not receive a “free, appropriate education,” the family must prove that the requirements were not met. The bill would have required schools to prove that they did meet the requirements.

HB621. This bill would have required DORS (Division of Rehabilitation Services) to post their number of open cases on their website, and update the information monthly. This bill was read by the Ways and Means Committee, but did not progress.

HB657. This bill would have required the Health Department to provide Medical Assistance for people in the Employed Individuals with Disabilities Program. This bill had a first reading in the Health and Government Operations Committee, but did not progress.

HB1176. This bill would have required counties to set up voluntary registries for people with disabilities (and other behaviors, mental health diagnoses, etc.) so that the information could be provided to first responders prior to their arrival at the home of someone who may be in crisis. Supporters of this bill argued that if first responders had this information in advance, they would be better able and more likely to de-escalate volatile situations. Detractors worried about the ramifications of a government held list of people with disabilities and mental illnesses.

Thank you all for following along. Reminder: you can find any bill, read a summary or the full text, track its progress, see its sponsors, and check the sponsor’s funding sources on legiscan.com. You can find your representative’s contact information on this website.