2021 Legislative Session

Stories that show legislative impact on real people are KEY to successful advocacy.

Throughout February, you can make real change simply by telling your stories...and encouraging clients, staff, supporters, partners to do the same.

Write it, record it on your phone, ask us to transcribe it for you...Tell your stories!

We may not be able to have an in-person Lobby Day, but it is super easy for you to participate and make your voice count.

Click here to tell your story. (Unsure if you really have a story? Send it anyway- Joanna will help you figure it out.)


Here are the priority issues we are moving forward together:

Telehealth | Housing Justice | Overdose Prevention Sites

TELEHEALTH

There are a number of telehealth-related bills this session that we support, including:

  • HB 551/SB 393 – Coverage and Reimbursement of Telehealth Services
    • This bill would require the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to cover certain health care services through telehealth, specifically substance use disorder and mental health services.
  • HB123/SB3 – Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021
    • This bill would require reimbursement for audio-only telehealth services and remove site provisions so both the provider and client may be "off-site".

“Because of audio-only telehealth, I could tell a client who was 71/2 months pregnant to stay at the hospital and keep her baby safe while offering support over the phone. Smartphones, tablets and internet access are a huge barrier to audio-visual telehealth. I can’t imagine asking my client [in crisis] to hang up and reconnect back on an audio-visual platform. I hope we can let part of COVID’s legacy be a lesson learned about accessibility and do everything we can to make health care accessible to everyone, including in person, audio-visual and audio only telehealth.” – Therapist Case Manager Rachel Gonzalez

Actions you can take:
  • Watch Rachel’s two-minute testimony at the Senate Finance Committee (1:22:15 seconds)
  • Tune into the House hearing on 2/10 at 1:30 p.m.
  • Have you used audio-only telehealth personally or have you provided it professionally? How has it benefited you or a client?

Submit your story


HOUSING JUSTICE

We’ve signed onto the Renters United MD Housing Justice Package, which has fact sheets and information on all the housing-related bills we’re supporting here. A few highlights include:

  • HB 18/SB154: Tenant Right to Counsel for Evictions
    • This bill would give tenants a right to legal representation in eviction proceedings
  • HB 52/SB 454: Eviction Diversion Program
    • This bill would establish the Eviction Diversion Program in district court to promote continuity of housing
  • HB 1312/SB 910: Emergency Eviction Prevention

“When my client told me last year that she faced eviction, needed to find a new apartment, come up with two months’ rent, and simultaneously remove all her worldly possessions before they were placed on the curb in a matter of days, despite her failing health, I thought it was impossible.” - Dr. Max Romano

Actions you can take for eviction prevention:
  • Tune into the Judiciary Hearing on 2/17 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Email legislators through the Renters United Maryland site

  • Attend Protect Our Homes Day on Tuesday, 2/23
  • Have experience with rent court or evictions? Or know someone who represented themselves and lost?

Share your story


OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITES

Last year we advocated in-person for the creation of Overdose Prevention Sites. This year we will build on that momentum and move this harm reduction bill forward.

  • HB 396/SB 279: Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS)
    • This bill authorizes up to six Overdose Prevention Sites in Maryland, where people can use substances with immediate access to life saving interventions, medical care, emotional support and non-judgmental, therapeutic relationships. The sites would be authorized in two urban areas, two suburban areas and two rural areas across Maryland.
Actions you can take:
  • Tune into the House hearing, date TBD
  • Have a story about overdose prevention or know someone who could benefit from OPS?

Share your story


What does it mean to share a story?

  • Stories can be in the form of an email, a phone call that’s transcribed, a pre-recorded video or a recorded Zoom meeting.

  • You can make a difference by sharing your own experience from a staff and/or personal perspective, as a client or supporter.
  • You can encourage others to share their experiences by referring them to advocacy@hchmd.org or directly helping to record their story.  
  • Reach out to Director of Public Policy Joanna Diamond with any questions!

How will these personal examples help?

  • Joanna can include them in written testimony that will influence the hearings.

  • You might have an opportunity to share your story directly with legislators as part of hearings.
  • Joanna can compile written and recorded stories and share with legislators after the hearings to advocate for their votes in favor of the bill.

"No-one wants to hear from me - they want to hear from you! People sharing real experiences with legislators is the most impactful way to influence legislation. They need to know there is a problem to be solved.” - Joanna Diamond, Director of Public Policy

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