The Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services has declared a winter shelter warning for the period of Saturday, February 24 at 4 pm through Sunday, February 25 at 9 am. Call 211 (available 24/7) or 443-984-9540 to connect with shelter. Get more info here.

X

2023 Legislative Session

You can make real change simply by telling your stories...and encouraging others to do the same.


The 2023 Legislative Session is over! Take a look at where bills landed below. 

Our priorities are...

  • informed by our mission, core values and principles of racial equity & inclusion.
  • amplified in partnership with like-minded coalitions including Renters United Maryland, the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition and the Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition.
  • driven by client experience and on-the-ground staff perspective.  
  • able to move when we have leaders in the legislature who are driven to act.
  • influenced by the issues that gain momentum as the session progresses.

Big wins: These bills passed!

  • TRANS HEALTH EQUITY ACT (SB0460/ HB0283)

    • Expands Maryland Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care, an essential health benefit according to the federal government. This bill dramatically increases mental wellbeing, reduces suicidality and saves lives.
  • MARYLAND HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE - HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS (HB 363/SB 806)

    • Includes a report to study Medicaid coverage for everyone, regardless of immigration status.
    • Watch Population Health Nurse Shanon Riley testify in favor (1:30:36)
    • Read this Baltimore Banner article about the push for expanded health insurance
  • CONTINUEd EQUITABLE ACCESS TO TELEHEALTH (SB 534)

    • The benefit of access to telehealth (by video and by phone) during the pandemic, particularly for underserved communities, has been profound. We'll support the continuation of both forms of telehealth broadly accessible across all health professions. 
    • This bill extends the sunset on telehealth coverage until 2025
  • EXPANDed GOOD SAMARITAN LAW (HB 427/SB 546)

    • We support protections both for people who help others who are experiencing an overdose AND the person experiencing the overdose. Nothing, including matters such as parole and probation, should prevent a person from getting help in a time-sensitive and life-threatening situation. 
    • This bill extends protections to the person experiencing the medical emergency.
  • Ban unlicensed landlords from using courts' special proceedings (HB 36/SB 100)

    • This bill requires landlords to present a valid rental license at the trial of any residential eviction action. We successfully advocated to pass this bill in 2022, but Governor Hogan vetoed it. This session, it passed again!
  • Criminal Procedure - Expungement of Records - Waiting Periods (HB 97/ SB 37)

    • Also known as the REDEEM act, this bill aligns Maryland with other states by reducing the expungement waiting periods.

  • Social Work Licensing Exam Reform - STUDY (SB 871)

    • Led by our staff social workers and community partners at Social Workers for Equity and Anti-racism (SWEAR), we support inclusivity and equity in the licensure process and the elimination of harmful barriers for BIPOC social work professionals. In August of 2022, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) released a report confirming what we already knew: the social work examination pass/fail rates showed stark disparities across race, age, and language. According to Maryland data broken down by race and ethnicity, the first-time passed rate for the Clinical (LCSW-C) Exam was: Black: 53.4%; Hispanic/Latinx: 65.9%; and White: 88.4%. Licensure does not need to be based on exam scores, especially exams that are discriminatory and lack evidence that they are related to actual practice. 
    • SB 871 was amended to remove the moratorium on the licensing exam. It creates a workgroup to study the issue of licensing exams and the racial disparities in passage rates that exist as it currently stands.

    • SB 872, which did NOT pass, would have created a temporary license for people who meet all other licensing requirements except for passage of the exam (to those who choose to not take the exam).

    • Read the written testimony we submitted, including perspective from Therapist Case Manager Tammy Montague, LCSW-C

  • Additional Wins

These bills didn't pass this year...More advocacy ahead!

  • Access to Care Act (SB 365/HB 588)

    • Expands ACA/Health Benefit Exchange to undocumented immigrants
    • Watch Population Health Nurse Shannon Riley testify in favor (1:07:05)
  • allow Overdose prevention sites (HB 953/SB 618)

    • In 2011, there were 26 recorded deaths just from fentanyl in our state. By 2020, there were 2,342 deaths, with the largest increases in Black and Hispanic communities. We support the introduction of 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.
      • Watch MAT RN Sarah Barry testify (around 1:53:00)
      • Watch Senior Peer Recovery Specialist Vicky Stewart testify (around 1:04:18)
  • decriminalize DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (HB 173/SB 762)

    • We support decriminalizing the possession of items that could be used to consume drugs, such as syringes and needles. This saves lives, reduces barriers to housing and employment and prevents the spread of infectious diseases. With our partners at Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition (BHRC), we successfully advocated to pass this bill in 2021. The Governor vetoed it and the General Assembly refused to take up overriding the veto. This year, HB173 passed in the House but did not make it through the Senate.
      • Watch Medical Provider Katharine Billipp testify (around 2:44:40)
  • enable Local "Just Cause" eviction protection (HB 684/SB 504)

    • We stand with Renters United Maryland in supporting the right for local jurisdictions to prohibit evictions without a "just cause." As it stands, landlords can chose not to renew a resident's lease without a reasonable or legal justification. Evictions like these are often used as retaliation against tenants who complain or organize. (Baltimore City already has this law on the books.). Unfortunately, neither bill passed by crossover. 
  • Tenant Safety Act (HB 691/SB 37)

    • This bill would have allowed groups of tenants to join together to sue for repairs of dangerous housing defects common to multiple units. HB 691 passed the House but not the Senate.
  • Additional advocacy:


Share your story, experience or perspective

  • 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.  
  • Staff: Reach out to your respective Chief (who will be collecting relevant stories) with any questions!
  • Learn about how to find your legislator, search for a bill, and generally engage during the Maryland General Assembly session here.

How your story helps

  • We 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.
  • We 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

o o

Copyright © 2024 Health Care for the Homeless.

All Rights Reserved.

OUR HEADQUARTERS

421 Fallsway, Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 410-837-5533

FOLLOW US

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram