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MCDD: 2013 Maryland Legislative Update

Lauren Peterson

For a more detailed summary of the 2013 legislative session and full bill texts, please see http://mgaleg.maryland.gov

BUDGET:

Early Childhood Budget

FY 2014 Budget (House Bill 100) provides Early Childhood Development with a total of $140.7 million. The Juvenile Services Education Program (JSE) will see a transfer of $137,000 from IDEA to support programs in MSDE in FY 2014. Additionally, the FY 2014 Budget will support access to health care for 150,000 women, infants, and children in need of proper nutrition.

Developmental Disabilities Administration Budget

Budget will increase in FY 2014 by $60 million; this is a 6.7 percent increase over FY 2013. Administration intends to spend $9.5 million in FY 2014 to support a full range of ongoing services for 25,000 individuals with disabilities. By the end of 2015, at least 200 additional people will be served on an ongoing basis, including employment/day services for over 600 transitioning youth leaving school.

Maryland State Department of Education Budget

MSDE’s budget includes special education, the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program, the Autism Waiver Program, and Early Childhood Development. Of note is the $1.2 million allotment for services and supports for the Autism Waiver Program. This is the first year since 2009 that the budget has included funding to increase the number of slots. However, there are still 3,900 children on the Autism Waiver registry waiting for services, so it is apparent that more needs to be done.

BILLS OF INTEREST IN EDUCATION LAW:

HB 860/SB 743: Baltimore City Public Schools Construction AuthorityPASSED

Filed by Baltimore City Delegation, this bill proposes a comprehensive approach to solving Baltimore’s school construction crisis, laying the groundwork for the implementation of Baltimore’s 10-year plan. It will provide $1.1 billion over the next decade to build 15 new schools and renovate 35 more.

HB 1161Commission on Special Education Access and EquityPASSED

Commission must study the extent to which parents and guardians of students with disabilities are made aware of their rights under IDEA and state law. Commission must study disparities and potential methods for eliminating any disparities based on race, national origin, and limited English proficiency. The commission must also study concerns about equity between the parties in special education due process hearings, and potential methods for improving the process.

HB 813: Task Force to Study the Impact of Expanding Courses for Students with Developmental Disabilities­PASSED

This bill creates a task force to study the impact of expanding courses for students with disabilities at public institutions of higher learning in the state, including costs, distance learning options, and logistics.

HB 1176/SB 461: Primary and Secondary Education—Online Courses and Services—AccessibilityPASSED

This bill requires the development, review, and approval of online courses and services, to include an assessment regarding the accessibility of the online course or service to individuals with disabilities, which includes those who are blind. It also authorizes MSDE to contract with a third party to develop and conduct specified assessments.

HB 1051/SB 694: Education—Charter Schools—Study to Recommend Improvements to the Maryland Public Charter School ProgramPASSED

Requires MSDE to conduct a study and provide recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly on or before November 1, 2013 regarding improvements to the Maryland Public Charter School Program. This bill also requires the Department of Legislative Services to review a specified methodology, data analysis, findings, and recommendations, and to comment on these findings.

HB 661/SB 995: Teaching Techniques—Students with Special Needs and Limited English ProficiencyFAILED

This bill would have required the Maryland State Department of Education to ensure that certified pre-K through 12 teachers receive adequate instruction in techniques for teaching students with special needs and students with limited English proficiency, and in appropriate behavior interventions, regardless of the teacher’s area of certification.

HB 1286/SB 691: Due Process Hearings for Children with Disabilities—Burden of ProofFAILED

This bill would have shifted the burden of proof in special education proceedings to the school system. Current law indicates that the burden should be on the party seeking relief, which is almost always the family of the student with the disability. However, other states have switched the burden to the school system, which has resulted in more collaboration without being overly burdensome to the schools. Unfortunately, the sponsors of this bill proposed amendments that would change the burden of persuasion into a burden of production. To meet the burden of production, the school system would only need to show that the necessary people were present whenthey produced an IEP. The MCDD and other advocacy organizations would have opposed the bill with these amendments because it does not fundamentally alter the due process hearing procedure.

BILLS OF INTEREST IN EARLY CARE:

HB 932/SB 832: Child Care Centers—Dispute ResolutionPASSED

This bill establishes a dispute resolution workgroup that will make recommendations to the State Superintendent of Schools regarding rules and regulations to create a dispute resolution process to resolve claims of discrimination by child care providers based on a child’s disability.

HB 443/SB 413: Criminal History Records Checks—Informal Child Care ProvidersPASSED

Individuals who provide informal child care and are paid with a child care subsidy voucher will now have to obtain a criminal background check. Additionally, anyone living in the home where the informal child care is provided will also have to undergo a background check.

HB 442/SB 415: Criminal History Records Checks—Child Care ProvidersPASSED

This bill puts existing practice into law by requiring the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to provide MSDE with the sex offender registry in order to conduct a cross reference check of employees/employers of licensed child care centers, individuals known to be residing in a registered family child care home, and individuals who provide or agree to provide informal child care.

HB 474/SB 611: Maryland Behavior Analysts ActFAILED

This bill would have required the establishment of an advisory committee to determine rules and regulations about the licensure of behavior analysts in Maryland. It would also have regulated the delivery of behavior analysis and standards of practice.

HB 925/SB 572: Maryland Early Learning and School Readiness Act—Race to the TotsFAILED

This bill would have established the Race to the Tots Program in MSDE (named after the federal ‘Race to the Top’ program) and provided for the priorities of the program. It would have allowed local districts to compete for grants that would stimulate innovation for and expand access to high-quality early childhood education in Maryland.

MISCELLANEOUS BILLS OF INTEREST:

HB 61/SB 632: State Brain Injury Trust FundPASSED

This legislation establishes a special, non-lapsing fund to support prevention, education, and awareness programs, as well as medical services, durable medical equipment, and assistive technology assessments. It also provides education, training, and other services for people with a brain injury whose incomes are no greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

HB 228/SB 274: Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013PASSED

This bill helps complete a three-year process to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who formerly had little to no access to quality, affordable health care now have options that have never existed before. This bill promotes transparency, non-discrimination, and fiscal responsibility that will help create a robust marketplace and provide feasible options for many Marylanders. The legislation also captures very significant funding from the federal government to continue the life-saving Medicaid expansion that Maryland began in 2007, which led to more than 300,000 of our residents gaining health care coverage.

SB 1010: Children with Developmental Disabilities in State Custody—Continuation of Placement and ServicesFAILED

This legislation would have required a local department of social services and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) to more effectively plan for the transition of responsibility for the case management, care, supervision, and treatment of a medically fragile child with a developmental disability when they phase out of foster care. DDA would have been required to ensure that each of these children receives an appropriate level of services to meet their needs. 

SB 22: Sales Tax Exemption for Wheelchair Lifts and Stair LiftsFAILED

This bill would have exempted the sale of home wheelchair lifts and stair lifts from the Maryland state sales and use tax.

Lauren Peterson is a rising third-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Lauren was the MCDD’s first legislative extern, and she earned four course credits for 208 externship hours with the MCDD during the spring semester 2013. She will return to the MCDD as a Project HEAL intern during the fall of 2013. Lauren will graduate in May 2014 with a Juris Doctor degree and a concentration in health law.