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New Legislation Impacting Individuals with Disabilities in Maryland

On January 9, 2012, MCDD offered a special presentation to clinicians at Kennedy Krieger Institute, providing an overview of upcoming state and federal legislation that could affect individuals with disabilities. Four presenters from MCDD partner organizations provided an update on recent successes at the federal level and offered a preview of the upcoming Maryland legislative session.

With the Maryland General Assembly now wrapping up its 2012 session in less than a week, MCDD takes stock of the developments seen so far in this legislative session and offers status updates on some of the most important legislation that we noted back in January:

In the field of Developmental Disabilities, filings and initial activities have been seen for the following pieces of proposed legislation:

  • SB 38 – Senior Housing for the Disabled: this bill would provide a $350,000 grant to the Benedictine School to build senior housing on a plot in Ridgely, MD. The most recent activity on this bill was a Senate hearing held on 3/10/2012.
  • HB 361 – Autism First Responder Bill: as predicted, this bill was filed to require police training for best practices in responding to people with autism. The most recent activity on this bill was the withdrawal due to an unfavorable report by the House Judicial Committee on 2/23/2012.  It is our understanding that the bill was withdrawn because first responders in Maryland agreed to pursue the training from their respective professional organizations.
  • SB 1081 – Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders: this bill would require insurers, health plans, and HMOs to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders and refining the limits and nature of such coverage. The most recent activity on this bill was a Senate hearing held on 3/21/2012. There was an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance committee, so the bill was withdrawn.  The House hearing was sponsor-only testimony.
  • SB 1019 – Developmental Disabilities Administration Disparity Study: this bill would require the Developmental Disabilities Administration to have an independent disparity study completed with results submitted by June 30, 2013. The most recent activity on this bill was a Senate hearing held on 3/21/2012. 
  • SB 954 – HIPAA Consistency Act of 2012: this bill would authorize, subject to specified provisions of law relating to mental health services, disclosure of protected health information as allowed under federal privacy laws. The bill passed in the Senate with amendments and there was a hearing in the Health and Government Operations Committee on 4/3/2012. 

In the fields of Education and Juvenile Services, filings and initial activities have been seen for the following pieces of proposed legislation:

  • SB 329/HB 567 – Parent-Teacher Meetings Administrative Leave: this bill would authorize employees to use administrative unpaid leave to attend a parent-teacher conference, twice per half of the academic year for up to four hours. The most recent activity on this bill was a Senate hearing in the Finance Committee  on 2/23/2012 and a House hearing in the Economic Matters Committee on  3/21/2012.  The Economic Matters Committee issued an unfavorable report.
  • SB 878 – Preschool for All: this bill would require local school systems to make publicly funded pre-kindergarten available to all four year-old children by the 2015-16 school year. The most recent activity on this bill was a House hearing held on 3/15/2012.
  • SB 1095 – Child in Need of Supervision Pilot Program: this bill would allot  $250,000 from the General Fund in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 to expand the CINA pilot in Cecil, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties. The most recent activity on this bill was a referral to the Judicial Proceedings & Budget and Taxation Committees on 3/19/2012.
  • SB 1081 – Provision of Supplemental Educational Services: this bill would require MSDE to supervise supplemental educational services in the state, assist county boards of education in developing funding applications, and develop specific processes regarding providers. The most recent activity on this bill was the withdrawal due to an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee on 3/21/2012 
  • HB 569 – IEP Meeting and Documents: this bill would authorize school personnel to  provide a copy of specified documents relating to the development of an Individualized Education Program for a child with a disability to the parents of the child in a specified manner. The most recent activity was it passed the House on 3/22/2012 and there was a hearing in the Senate on 3/30/2012.  
  • SB 989 – Administration of Auto-Injectable Epinephrine:  this bill would require county boards of education to establish specific policies authorizing school personnel to administer auto-injectable epinephrine. The most recent activity on this bill was a referral to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs and Finance Committees on 3/07/2012.

Of note in the fields of Adult Mental Health and Housing, respectively, are the following two bills:

  • HB34 – Discharge from Commitment of Person Previously Found Not Criminally Responsible: this bill would add another hearing to the discharge process. On March 8, 2012, the House passed the bill with an amendment that changes the allowance of a de novo hearing to one where the courts are authorized to receive additional evidence. The bill entered first reading in the Senate on March 9, 2012.
  • HB 168 – Maryland HOME Act: this bill would prohibit discrimination in housing based on source of income. The most recent activity on this bill was the withdrawal due to an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee on 3/20/12.

Meanwhile, two bills that were anticipated for the 2012 legislative session did not end up getting filed. A “Hospital Discharge Bill,” predicted to pilot a new panel-system for discharging patients that lack capacity and who do not have a guardian, was never filed. Also absent was an “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment Bill” that had been discussed, which raised concerns from some about running counter to best practices in adult mental health and possibly infringing on privacy and due process rights.

MCDD, along with its partners, would like to conduct a special presentation each January before the start of the Maryland legislative session and provide an update mid-late session each year. Our goal is to provide accurate information to our health care professionals and help them to become more engaged in the legislative process. For more information, please contact Maureen van Stone, Associate Director of the MCDD, at (443) 923-4416 orvanstone@kennedykrieger.org.


*The presentation featured Lauren Kallins, Esq., Staff Attorney, Maryland Disability Law Center; Rachel London, Esq., Director of Children and Family Policy, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council; Maureen van Stone, Esq. M.S., Associate Director, Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities; and, Kim Musheno, B.A., Director of Legislative Affairs, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

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