2015 Legislative Preview Highlights
Advocacy Guest Speakers
Nonprofit organizations from across the State are actively moving legislation forward around key issues that affect the nonprofit sector.
• Fracking: The current executive order banning fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, could get lifted this year. Environmental and health concerns top the list as New York just announced its ban on fracking with serious concerns being raised by their health commissioner. Gina Angiola of Chesapeake Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility will provide information about fracking in Maryland and the latest legislative efforts of the health and environmental communities on this issue.
• Stormwater: The recent legislation requiring jurisdictions to charge a stormwater fee to pay for municipal projects that prevent polluted runoff from flowing into the Chesapeake is under attack. Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland will share about their predictions and actions designed to protect the current policy and move forward on other critical clean water programs.
• Health: Each year the tobacco and alcohol taxes have been increased have resulted in a major decline in teen drinking and smoking, and alcohol-related deaths. The revenue from these taxes have also paid for important community health needs. Vincent DeMarco of Maryland Citizen’s for Health Reform will share their coalition’s strategies for the coming year.
• Children’s Issues: Becky Wagner of Advocates for Children and Youth will share strategies to improve Maryland’s public policy related to children.
• Open Government: While Maryland is strong in some areas, there are major concerns with how the Maryland Public Information Act is applied, with exemptions for certain industries, excessive and inconsistent fees to obtain public information, and lack of enforcement. Jennifer Bevan-Dangel of Common Cause Maryland will share the latest efforts to advocate for reform of the Public Information Act and promote open government in Maryland.
• Mary Jo Childs of the Board of Public Works will speak on State Procurement Reform. Nonprofit organizations are heavily burdened by red tape in State procurement practices, late contracts and late payments. Reform of state procurement has been a long-term public policy priority for Maryland Nonprofits.
• Organizations that provide services to people with disabilities, and people with addictions and mental health issues rely heavily on the State of Maryland’s public policies to set appropriate rates for their services and create a policy environment that promotes access to community-based assistance and care. Providers from the Maryland Addictions Directors Council, Mosaic (mental health) and Maryland Association of Community Services (disabilities) will share their advocacy strategies for the coming legislative session.
Dialogue and Messages to the Governor
• We will conclude the morning session of the Legislative Preview with a dialogue on “messages to the Governor”. What does Governor-Elect Hogan need to know about the nonprofit sector? What ideas will resonate most with this new administration? Add your voice to the dialogue.
Advocacy for Public Health Equity
Over the past 3-4 years, the vast majority of governmental attention in the health arena has been focused on access to care and health insurance reform. Now that the ACA has been implemented, a group of advocates have come together to talk about what’s next. Aside from access to care, we are asking, what is making us healthy or sick in the first place? These issues of health cut across all areas of nonprofit work – housing, workforce development, the environment, community development, social justice, and more.
The afternoon of the Legislative Preview will provide an opportunity to widen the dialogue about health in Maryland to a broader idea of “Health in All Policies.” Land use policy is a health policy. Transportation policy is a health policy. Public safety policies are health policies. Environmental policies are health policies. How do these issues affect your nonprofit and the communities you serve?
Luncheon Keynote: Natalie Burke, Common Health Action
• Natalie Burke of Common Health Action will provide the keynote address framing the overall issues of public health equity. She will help us develop a common vocabulary in addressing health disparities. Her address will describe the “social determinants of health,” relating to all the various things that make people healthy or sick, that has surprisingly little to do with access to clinical health care. She will discuss what policies make the biggest difference in promoting public health and what nonprofit advocates can do.
The Context: Public Health Equity in Maryland
• What is the state of play in public health equity in Maryland? Rebecca Ruggles of the Maryland Environmental Health Network will frame our overall discussion related to advocacy for public health equity. Madeleine Shea of the Office of Minority Health of CMS will provide data on health outcomes and health disparities in Maryland and the changes in Medicaid and Medicare aimed at improving population health. Michael Scott of Equity Matters will provide an overview of Health in All Policies from a national and local context.
2015 Legislative Agenda
• A panel of nonprofit advocates will share the latest developments and future legislative priorities in key policy areas that affect public health equity. Anne Marie O’Keefe of Morgan State University will moderate the panel. Rebecca Rehr of Maryland Environmental Health Network will give information about a bill designed to limit “Cumulative Impacts” of multiple polluters locating in certain communities, most often low-income communities. Michael Rhein of Institute for Public Health Innovation will share the current status of 2014 legislation on Community Health Workers, a key proven strategy to improve public health and reduce disparities. Devon Payne-Sturges of University of Maryland School of Public Health will describe the importance of Health Impact Assessments for fossil fuel extraction and other major developments. Akil Patterson of Sugar Free Kids will share about upcoming legislation to limit sugary drinks and other ways to prevent childhood obesity.
The day will conclude with a dialogue on key messages for the Governor regarding public health equity in Maryland. Add your voice to create a message that will resonate with the new administration. We will also discuss next steps for organizations that would like to continue to collaborate on advocacy for public health equity.
Join us January 12th for our 2015 Legislative Preview and Public Health Equity Discussions.
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