Senator Eckardt’s Update: Legislative session has come to an end

By Addie Eckardt, Special to Dorchester Banner
Posted 4/14/22

ANNAPOLIS - Last week was one full of tying up loose ends, with legislators all trying to push their priority bills through their assigned committees prior to the end of the legislative session on …

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Senator Eckardt’s Update: Legislative session has come to an end

Posted

ANNAPOLIS - Last week was one full of tying up loose ends, with legislators all trying to push their priority bills through their assigned committees prior to the end of the legislative session on Monday. I am proud of all that we were able to accomplish this session, however, there is still work to be done here in Maryland and for District 37. Thank you to all the constituents who contacted our office in the past 90 days to make your voices, concerns and support be heard.

A collection of bills that tackle cyber security passed through the Senate this week to establish programs that will help protect our state from increasingly complex cyber security risks. The Local Cybersecurity Support Act of 2022 will establish the Cyber Preparedness Unit in the Maryland Department of Emergency Management and the Cybersecurity Governance Act of 2022 establishes the Office of Security Management within the Department of Information Technology.

There have also been a series of bills this week that look to increase access and availability to mental health services for Maryland’s youth. For example, the bill titled Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Support Services Program - Established. This legislation seeks to develop a program within the State Department of Education to promote positive mental and behavioral health practices for children.

Another bill, titled Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Substance Abuse Treatment - Network Adequacy, instructs the Maryland Department of Health and the Behavioral Health Administration to ensure that the delivery system for specialty mental health services under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program has an adequate network of providers available to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment for children under the age of 18.

One more youth-centric bill we saw this week was a bill that would establish a Therapeutic Child Care Program to provide funding to educators, early intervention providers, mental health providers, and health care providers to provide specialized child care and early education to children under the age of 6 who have delays in development, physical disabilities or delays in social, emotional or behavioral functioning.

Another bill that passed through the Senate this week, titled State Conservation Land - Old-Growth Forests – Management, will require that whenever the Department of Natural Resources identifies an old-growth forest on state conservation land, the land shall be managed in a way that prohibits logging. Although there are no current threats to log the old growth forests on the Eastern Shore, this bill ensures a formalized protection for these habitats.

In the week following Sine Die, you should also be receiving an end of session letter from our office summarizing the outcomes of this session and how legislation might impact District 37, all in one place.

Thank You to Pages

The Maryland General Assembly Legislative Page Program is a great opportunity for the future generation of Maryland to learn first-hand about our state’s government and the legislative process. We had five pages serve throughout this legislative session. Thank you for all of your hard work, and I hope to see you again in Annapolis soon!

Hannah Park – James Bennett High School

McCabe Piavis - North Caroline High School

Stevie Shaak – St. Michaels High School

Taylor Gray – Crisfield High School

Curstin Carpenter – North Dorchester High School

Cambridge Waterfront Development

Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc. asks all interested members of the community to provide comment on its current and near final concept site plan. In order to do so, please log on to the following website: bctdesigngroup.com/Cambridge. The website is open for 30 days from April 8, at 4 p.m. through May 8, at 4 p.m. and includes a short survey and place for your comments. All input will be anonymous and confidential. CWDI will use the input received to make final adjustments to the site plan. If you have any questions, please contact CWDI’s executive director, Matt Leonard, at matt.leonard@cwdimd.org.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Gov. Larry Hogan has proclaimed the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Maryland. The proclamation is observed annually to recognize the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Childhood trauma, including child abuse and neglect, can have a devastating and lifelong impact on one’s health and wellbeing. Preventing child abuse requires community awareness, engagement and prompt reporting of suspected abuse to authorities.

To provide every child in Maryland with access to accredited child advocacy centers (CAC), the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services also partners with statewide organizations to promote healing for children who have experienced abuse and trauma. In 2021, Maryland’s CACs served 5,474 children, averaging more than 105 children per week, increasing service by 14% over the previous year.

The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services also staffs the Commission on Trauma-Informed Care, established in 2021, which is working to develop and implement a statewide framework for trauma-informed practices. In addition, Gov. Hogan also issued an executive order last year to direct all state agencies serving children and families to actively work to address adverse childhood experiences and consider how policies can help children.

If you suspect that child abuse is taking place, report incidents to your local department of social services or law enforcement agency. For more information about child abuse prevention, visit the Maryland Department of Human Services Child Protective Services website.

Children’s Health Insurance

Medicaid enrollment is available year-round and the Connecting Kids to Coverage enrollment counselors are there to help enroll or renew.

Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot & Dorchester counties – 443-477-1009

Wicomico, Somerset & Worcester counties – 443-477-0085

Spanish or Haitian Creole speakers – 443-786-1120

Or call 844-4-KIDSNOW and they will direct your call to an enrollment counselor.

Addie Eckardt represents District 37 in the Maryland State Senate.