Nonprofit Advocacy Works! Success in Protecting or Expanding Important Protections and Services
Nonprofit advocates achieved major successes in the recently ended 2018 General Assembly Session. The Legislature restored planned budget cuts to providers of critical services, and to important programs. There was significant progress on numerous policy priorities affecting the people and the communities nonprofits serve, ranging from child support, child hunger and school meals, and assistance for persons with temporary disabilities, to stabilizing health insurance markets, funding mass transit and increasing access to the ballot box. Legislators also responded to threatened federal financial or regulatory cutbacks, by actions such as mandating an annual state appropriation to Head Start programs and expanding provisions of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act to cover areas of abusive financial practices.
Maryland’s Earned Income Tax Credit (“EITC”) program was expanded by House Bill 856 & Senate Bill 647, eliminating age restrictions on benefits to childless working adults. House Bill 736 & Senate Bill 576 banned “gag” rules – contractual provisions that prohibit pharmacists from advising patients how to purchase their prescription drugs at lower costs. A Maryland Community Development Program and a Community Development Fund were created by Senate Bill 821 and House Bill 109.
Senate Bill 1045 addresses an ongoing concern of many nonprofits by mandating that state-funded contracts provide for recovery of their “indirect costs” of providing public services. The legislation follows the example of recent federal OMB rules, and will allow nonprofit providers to charge these contracts at least a minimum 10% rate to sustain their management and administrative systems.
Actions on the State Budget and in the Budget Reconciliation and financing Act (BRFA) lessened or restored completely numerous funding cuts to education programs, and a $200 million special fund was set aside to provide funding for recommendations to be considered form the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Cuts to mandated provider increases were reversed, and over $44 million was ‘fenced off’ to be used only for designated legislative priorities, including $20 million to increase Medicaid and other provider rates, and to fund a variety of other education, social and cultural priorities. Advocacy by the statewide arts community achieved a highest ever $22.7 million in funding for arts and humanities. However, these budget ‘restorations’ and enhancements were possible primarily due to the unexpected revenue increase resulting from federal tax changes, and that impact is likely to diminish with time. Projections for future years show significant structural budget shortfalls will persist.
Other legislation that Maryland Nonprofits advocated for, and important bills for our partners and their missions are listed below.
HB 430/ SB 379 – Education – Child Care Subsidies – Mandatory Funding Levels (ENACTED)
Requires future budgets to include increasing state support for subsidized child care
SB 740 requires increasing state support for breakfast and lunch feeding programs; SB 818/HB 1235 go further, and mandate $8.3 million future appropriations for Maryland Meals for Achievement
HB 1615/SB1231 – Temporary Disabilities Assistance Program (ENACTED)
Establishes the “TDAP” as a permanent statutory program and mandates increasing appropriations in future years, accomplishing a major objective of Maryland Alliance for the Poor (MAP) that we supported.
Together these bills provide for the funding of a reinsurance program to stabilize the individual health insurance market and direct the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Commission to study numerous additional options for protecting and improving health insurance coverage including several options proposed in other legislation during the 2018 session. Drafted in committee following hearing on other bills, these addressed several concerns that we raised in supporting earlier bills. (below)
SB 277/HB 372 – Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act (ENACTED)
We supported these bills to mandate additional funding for both the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Mass Transit Administration (MTA); the new WMATA funding is contingent on a regional funding agreement and other conditions; imposes additional planning and reporting requirements on both systems.
SB 1048/HB 152 – Secure and Accessible Voter Registration (ENACTED)
SB 1048 establishes ‘automatic’ voter registration as the default (subject to refusal) under the current electronic registration system at various state agencies.
HB 538/SB 651 – ‘Election Day’ Voter Registration (ENACTED)
We supported this legislation that proposes a state constitutional amendment for the voters to authorize the General Assembly to permit qualified voters to register and vote at their precinct polling place on election day.
SB 373/HB 547 – Head Start – Mandatory Appropriation – “Ulysses Currie Act” (ENACTED)
Requires an annual appropriation of at least $3million to support Head Start programs in Maryland
HB 1634/SB 1068 – Financial Consumer Protection Act (ENACTED)
Adopts numerous recommendations to expand the state’s consumer protection act to cover financing and lending practices, and to support enforcement by and funding of the Office of the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to protect State residents when conducting financial transactions.
SB 647/HB 856 – Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (ENACTED)
Removes an age limitation by allowing working but childless adults ages 18 to 24 to receive the benefit of the state’s earned income tax credit. This is an ongoing priority that we supported.
SB 576/HB 736 – Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Pharmacists – “Gag Rule” (ENACTED)
Prohibits ‘pharmacy benefit managers’ from prohibiting pharmacists from advising insurance beneficiaries or discussing with them less expensive drug purchasing alternatives or the retail pricing of their prescribed medications. We supported.
HB 109/ SB821 – Maryland Community Development Program Act of 2018 (ENACTED)
Established the Program and the Community Development Fund to provide financial assistance to community development projects and community development organizations around the State. We supported.
SB 1045 – State Funded Contracts and Grants – Indirect Costs Recovery by Nonprofits (ENACTED)
Requires state- funded grants or contracts for services provided by nonprofits to recover ‘indirect costs’ at negotiated indirect cost rates under federal standards or ata minimum of 10% of their direct costs if they don’t have a qualifying negotiated rate. Adopts certain standards of the OMB Uniform Guidance (2CFR 200) for determining indirect costs. We supported.
SB 929/HB 1623 – State Policies, Guidelines and Regulations – Mitigation of Disparate Impacts (Failed)
We supported this effort to require major state agencies to adopt procedures to review and prevent policies and rules from having, or to mitigate any, disparate impacts on racial mionorities.
SB 878/HB 1312 – Health Insurance – Medicaid Buy-In Task Force (Failed)
We supported: these bills would have created a study of expanding the population eligible to participate in the Medicaid program, on a coverage purchase basis. A similar study is required by HB 1795.
SB1023/HB 1194 – Health – Drug Cost Commission (Failed)
These would have created a new state commission to monitor and regulate excessive pricing of ‘on-patent’ – pharmaceuticals. We supported in the effort to control health care costs.
SB 732/HB 1453 – Renewable Energy and Job Development (Failed)
We supported this effort by the Clean Energy Jobs Initiative to increase renewable energy standards and promote employment in the renewable energy field.
SB 1011/HB 1167 – Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2018 (Failed)
This legislation would have created a Maryland health insurance mandate and as amended would have also authorized a high-risk reinsurance pool. We supported. See HB 1782 and HB 1795
STATE BUDGET BILL AND BUDGET AND FINANCING RECONCILIATION ACT (BRFA)
For a complete review of all legislative and fiscal action, see Department of Legislative Services’ “90 Day Report”.