Senator Eckardt’s update: Work continues on health care, transportation, education

By Addie Eckardt, Special to Dorchester Banner
Posted 5/13/22

ANNAPOLIS - On May 4, I had the opportunity to attend the Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Too often, those with good ideas for reforming health care don’t have a solid …

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Senator Eckardt’s update: Work continues on health care, transportation, education

Posted

ANNAPOLIS - On May 4, I had the opportunity to attend the Maryland State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Too often, those with good ideas for reforming health care don’t have a solid understanding of how the legislative process works.

Those who understand politics don’t always comprehend the intricacies of the health care system. This conference was focused on bridging the gap between health care policy and political reality. I had the opportunity to share my perspective as a speaker during the conference and reacquaint myself with many industry leaders and colleagues from the past.

I also attended the Dorchester County Farm Bureau’s legislative wrap-up, where we discussed any legislation or changes that occurred during Session which will impact the county’s agriculture sector.

I wrapped up this week with attending the Talbot County Business Appreciation Summit, which ended with a roundtable discussion at the BAAM Center in Easton. Jonathan Holifield led an engaging discussion about building a framework for structuring community systems to improve the economic productivity of disconnected humans.

Talbot superintendent finalists

The Talbot County Board of Education has identified finalists for the Talbot County Superintendent of Schools.  The four finalists, in alphabetical order are:

James C. Bell Jr., Ed.D., director of Student Services and Secondary Leadership for the Seaford School District, Seaford, Delaware. 

He began his career as a mathematics teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was recruited by Talbot County Public Schools to teach at Easton High School, where he was later promoted to assistant principal. Dr. Bell has also served as principal of Mace’s Lane Middle School and supervisor of Student Services for Dorchester County Public Schools.

Carol E. Flenard, Ed.D., interim superintendent, Spotsylvania County Public Schools, Virginia.

LeTrecia M. Gloster, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of schools, The School District of the City of York, Pennsylvania.

Sharon Pepukayi, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of PreK-5 Schools, Appoquinimink School District, New Castle County, Delaware.

Any questions regarding the search process should be directed to William Middleton, search consultant at MABE at 410-841-5414, or at wmiddleton@mabe.org. 

Rural Maryland grants

The Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund accelerates entrepreneurship, health care delivery and infrastructure development in a powerful way. By making targeted investments in economic and community development programs, the RMPIF grant program addresses critical challenges and moves rural Maryland forward.

Awarding over $2.7 million in grant funding in FY 2022, RMPIF delivers a far-reaching impact to rural communities. If you’re a higher education institution, nonprofit or local government that’s invigorating health care, entrepreneurship or infrastructure regionally or statewide, review application criteria online at rural.maryland.gov/grant-opportunities. The grant process opened April 25.

The Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund is a grant program that addresses rural challenges in our communities. The program advances the work of rural nonprofits, community colleges, career technology centers, libraries and regional councils. This year, they are encouraging applications in the areas of energy, rural broadband, youth engagement and leadership development, agriculture and forestry, and community and economic development. The grant process opened April 25.

Awarding up to $45,000 per grant recipient, MAERDAF bolsters many initiatives in rural Maryland. Review application criteria online at rural.maryland.gov/grant-opportunities

Maryland Transportation Authority

Two months after the Maryland Transportation Authority Board approved a new Customer Assistance Plan, the agency is continuing to offer a civil penalty waiver grace period for customers who pay their unpaid video tolls by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30. With the success of the program, call volumes have significantly dropped, and the agency has quadrupled its call center staff, reducing wait times to help more people with billing questions and other needs.

During the nine-month Customer Assistance plan, for every video toll transaction paid in full, the corresponding civil penalty is waived. In addition, toll bill referrals to the Central Collection Unit and MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration have ceased until Dec. 1. It’s important to remember that the Customer Assistance Plan is not toll forgiveness nor an elimination of tolls owed. Tolling remains in effect statewide, and drivers are responsible for paying the outstanding toll amount owed.

Customers have seven months remaining to take advantage of this limited time opportunity. As of April 16, $11.4 million in civil penalties have been waived for approximately 71,000 drivers and businesses that have paid their outstanding video tolls.

For customers who choose not to pay their video tolls before the due date on the notice, mailings of citations/civil penalties will continue during the grace period and will remain in effect if tolls are not paid by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30, at which time the grace period ends. On Dec. 1, all unpaid tolls and civil penalties will be due based on the printed due dates, and toll debt referrals to CCU and MDOT MVA will resume.

Customers with unpaid video tolls can pay by the following methods:

  • Visit csc.driveezmd.com/pay-tolls-now.
  • Mail the bottom portion of the notice(s) along with your check/money order (do not send cash) payable to:

Maryland Transportation Authority

P.O. Box 12853

Philadelphia, PA 19176-0853

  • Use the automated call system 24/7 at 1-866-320-9995 (select Option 1 for Notice of Toll Due, then enter the mailing number on the notice when prompted).
  • Visit an in-person Customer Service Center.

Delmarva Power

Delmarva Power is reminding customers of the millions of dollars that remains available to assist those who may be challenged with paying their energy bills.

Delmarva Power Customer Care will work with customers having difficulty paying their energy bill by helping enroll customers into available payment options, including:

  • Flexible payment arrangements that offer tailored payment plans
  • Extending payment periods for balances
  • Connecting customers with energy assistance funds

Millions of dollars in energy assistance remains available for customers. Delmarva Power works closely with its community partners to connect customers with grants and programs like LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP provides grants in varying amounts based on a household’s income size, type of fuel, and type of dwelling, with no pay back required. Maryland customers can apply for LIHEAP energy assistance through the Department of Human Services website, or by calling the Maryland Department of Human Services Office of Home Energy Programs at 1-800-332-6347.

Eligible Maryland customers can also receive assistance through the Electric Universal Service Program, which helps customers pay for a portion of their current electric bill. The Arrearage Retirement Assistance program helps customers with large, past-due electric and gas bills. If eligible, customers may receive forgiveness of up to $2,000 toward their past due bill. The Utility Service Protection Program is designed to help limited income families during the heating season. Information regarding these programs can be found on the Maryland Department of Human Services Office of Home Energy Programs website or by calling 1-800-332-6347.

Customers can contact Delmarva Power at 1-800-375-7177 to discuss payment arrangements or visit delmarva.com/EnergyAssistance to learn more about energy assistance options.

Sen. Eckardt represents District 37 in the Maryland State Senate.