Legislative Information, Links and Annual Summaries
Over the years, NCADD-MD has celebrated many victories in the State legislature working toward the passage of bills that pursue and advocate for policy reform and legislative solutions, when necessary. NCADD-MD targets policy that may act as as a barrier to accessing treatment and recovery services; advocates for budget allocations for treatment and recovery and related support services; provides input to public policy that advances decriminalization and harm reduction as it relates to substance use disorders; and advises public officials on best practices and effective policy that involves alcohol, cannabis and problem gambling legislation.
We Are All Advocates.
At NCADD-MD, we encourage and remind all of our constituents and consumers that we are all advocates. Lawmakers want to hear from you, you are the expert, and once you learn the process you will see that it is really not difficult, and does make a huge difference. It starts with relationships and resources….first, get to know who your legislators are, meet with them off-session in your community or district. Look for them at community events and introduce yourself.
Learn the Process.
To become a law, each bill must: pass 3 readings on each chamber (House of Delegates and Senate); be identical to one another on the final vote by each chamber; not be vetoed by the governor. Each bill that is introduced must be sponsored by a legislator. Ideas for bills can come from anyone, you just need to find the right sponsor. There is an average of 2,500 bills introduced, and about 600 bills are passed, each year.
- At the First Reading, the bill is introduced and can be only in one chamber or cross-filed.
- In the Hearing in Committee, the public can testify in support, support with amendments, or opposition.
- Standing Committees are organized by subject matter.
Tell Your Story.
Your testimony can be written and/or oral. It must take a position on the bill, either Support, Support with Amendment, or Oppose. Always keep oral comments brief. Tell them your story with honesty and empathy.
Time to Vote
After that the committee votes, and reports the bill to the floor of the House or Senate.
- At the Second Reading, if accepted, the bill can be amended, killed or moved to Third Reader.
- t the Third Reading, the bill can be debated, but not amended in its original chamber. If it in the opposite chamber, it can be amended. This is an up or down vote.
- The vote on Third Reading sends the bill to the opposite chamber where the process starts over.
- If the bills are not identical after passing both chambers, it goes to a conference committee.
- In conference, if an agreement is made, the bill goes back to the full House and Senate for final approval. If no agreement, the bill dies in conference.
- After passing both chambers identically, the bill goes to the Governor for signage or veto. You can contact the Governor to urge him to sign/veto a bill. If the bill is to be signed, you can be part of history by attending the bill signing ceremony and getting your picture taken as it is signed.
- If vetoed, the General Assembly can consider overriding the veto during the next Session. Unless it’s a “pocket veto” – the last year of a Governor’s term after a certain date.
The 2021 Maryland General Assembly Session was unlike any before, with the bulk of the legislative work and all of the public interaction taking place virtually. The two issues that dominated policy discussions were those related to recovery from the pandemic and those addressing racial injustice in health care, law enforcement, education, and housing. This report highlights the budget and policy decisions that impact the recovery community and those suffering from substance use disorders.
The 2020 Maryland General Assembly Session was like no other. Cut short by twenty days, quite a number of pieces of legislation were stopped in their tracks, including ones that had no opposition. For NCADD-Maryland, there were bills that could have made more progress with more time. Any special session that may be called in the coming months to address the COVID-19 crisis will not include the bills from the regular session.
The final budget for the upcoming 2020 fiscal year provides additional funding for the 3.5% reimbursement rate increase for community-based behavioral health providers. This was the amount mandated in 2017’s HOPE Act. Future rate increases are provided for in legislation that passed to increase Maryland’s minimum wage, House Bill 166/Senate Bill 280 - Labor and Employment – Payment of Wages – Minimum Wage (Fight for Fifteen). Attached is a fact sheet from Public Policy Partners with information on both the planned wage and rate increases over the next few years. As with all mandated funding increases, while the Governor must build the rate increases into the budget, companion legislation to the budget bill called the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, is a vehicle that can be used to reduce those mandates. Given that state budget officials are projecting significant budget deficits in the coming years, it is likely providers and their allies will need to engage in significant advocacy each year to retain the rate increases.
Checking Bill Status
Visit the Maryland General Assembly Website to find out all you need to know regarding your legislators, upcoming bills, and how to reach out to your representatives. At this site, just type in the number of the bill and search. You will find information on the bill, its sponsors, when it’s scheduled for a hearing, its status, its text and amendments, etc.
Legislature Protocols for 2023
The Maryland House of Delegates have outlined a list of 2023 House of Delegates Protocols. The entire document can be viewed to answer any questions you may have regarding this year’s House sessions held in the House of Delegates Office Building in Annapolis, MD. Of interest to our collaborating advocates, the document states that full committee work will be conducted in person in committee rooms in a hybrid format, as witnesses may choose to testify either in person or online. Subcommittees will generally meet virtually.