HB 1230 (2020 General Assembly Legislative Session)
SURPRISED BEYOND BELIEF!
I got an email yesterday from a Delegate that surprised me, so I had to share. Here is some background. This delegate has attended several of my meetings and at one of them received some pretty choice words from me. Of course I continued my communications with the Delegate which were very heated at times, so the Delegate’s email came as very big surprise.
Essentially the Delegate sent me a bill repealing SB946 and grandfathering in all employees who vested in the prescription drug coverage plan before July 1, 2011. What! I immediately emailed back – Was this a joke? No they were looking for my support and the support of members of my group. We are in discussions now and as soon as its assigned a number, I will post the bill. Here we go at our third bite at this apple in dealing with our lawmakers. But if this benefit can be grandfathered in – I will stand up and be counted for grandfathering this in.
But before we get to happy let me remind you of two things:
What lawmakers give – lawmakers can take away. That is why we must continue with this lawsuit to ensure that the Court finds that a contract exists between the State and its employees.
This bill could die in committee. As we have seen countless times, we get behind a bill and then it never comes out of committee and dies before getting to the house floor.
If this bill is assigned a number, I will be calling on each and every one of you to flood lawmakers with voices of support to grandfather in all employees who vested into this benefit. I will keep everyone informed.
United We Matter
Yesterday the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee had a hearing on HB1230, the bill that wants to grandfather in vested state employees into the prescription drug coverage. Typical of any legislation that a committee wants to kill, it schedules the hearing at the end of the day. In this case the bill was not heard until about 4:30pm. So, I and a lot of WE MATTER folks stayed to the end, so that we could speak on this bill.
Delegate Joe Boteler (R) introduced the bill and asked for its passage. Delegate Harry Bhanderi (D) and Delegate Carl Jackson (D) spoke in support of this bill and agreed to co-sponsor it making this a truly bi-partisan effort. Ken has posted a link to the hearing. I would like to thank Dennis Cathell, Su Lappin, Kelly Auber and Mary Frye who brought some very real insight on the elimination of this benefit and affect it would have on them if the Injunction was not in place. Their testimony was powerful and moved people to tears. I believe that it was a successful advocacy for this bill, and I hope the shame of their actions will spur lawmakers to do the right thing (though my previous experiences have made me skeptical.)
As an aside. I was reviewing who has come out strongly for this bill and realize that they all are from Ken Fitch’s district. Ken invited Delegate Boteler to several WE MATTER meetings. Discussions with the Delegate Boteler about this issue is what prompted his drafting of this bill. Ken contacted Delegate Bhanderi several times inviting him to meetings and when that was not successful, emailing and calling him until he was able to get a face to face meeting. Delegate Carl Jackson replaced Delegate Eric Bromwell and as soon as Ken had his name the emails and calls began until he was able to get a teleconference with the Delegate. Even Senator Klausmeier who introduced the Senate bill last year, was the recipient of calls and emails from Ken.
The point I am making is that Ken reached out to the people who represented him. His words, his persistence is what made Senator Klausmeier and Delegate Boteler draft legislation to reinstate this coverage. Its what prompted Delegate Bhanderi and Jackson to co-sponsor Delegate Boteler’s bill. So I now ask - Have you contacted your Delegates and Senator and demanded their support? They should now your name. This kind of legislation is drafted because of constituent efforts. If you don’t make your representative represent you in this matter, then their actions will be swayed by others. You pay their salary – make them earn it! Contact them and get them to support this legislation. Ken did it – so can you.
Lastly, please contact the Appropriations Committee. Call each one every day. I have attached the list. We were told that when the new tax bill was considered the phone rang in lawmakers chambers every ten minutes. I expect nothing less from the advocates of this bill.
Call them and tell the Delegates of the Appropriations Committee:
I support HB1230
HB 1230 supports reinstatement of our prescription drug coverage
If HB1230 does not pass you are sentencing senior citizens to die.
State employees earned and paid for this benefit.
Vote No now and I will Vote you out later.
Remember you CAN make a difference. So make that difference TODAY.