For Immediate Release:

January 29, 2019


Agenda focuses on building a stronger middle class for Maryland families

Annapolis, Maryland – Today, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, joined by leaders from the Senate and House Democratic Caucuses, announced priorities for the 2019 legislative session, focused on strengthening Maryland families across Maryland. The legislation, detailed below, focuses on policy changes for prescription drugs, health care, fairer wages, public safety, the environment, and more.

“Maryland Democrats are taking commonsense steps to protecting our middle class,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “We will make prescription drug costs more affordable for more Marylanders, while protecting their health care access, and ensuring that everybody can afford to live in our state with a great education system and a cleaner environment.”

“Leaders in the House and Senate are focused this year on building Maryland’s middle class so that every family has the opportunity to prosper,” said Speaker Busch. “Access to affordable healthcare, a good job and a quality school should not just be a slogan – they should be reality for every Marylander. This legislative package will move us closer to achieving that goal.”

The agenda includes the following initiatives:

Ø  Curbing the cost of prescription drugs for our Seniors – Prescription drug spending is expected to accelerate to an average of 7.0% for 2019 as fewer brand-name drugs will be losing patent protection. Per capita prescription drug spending in the United States is more than twice that of 19 advanced industrialized nations. We will pass legislation to establish a commission to increase transparency for the cost and choices of prescription drugs, as well as legislation to cap the out of pocket drug costs to State retirees.

Ø  Protecting health insurance, including key ACA reforms such as protecting the ban on pre-existing conditions – The Attorney General has advised that, if the Affordable Care Act is overturned by the Supreme Court in Texas v. United States, hundreds of thousands of Marylanders would be at-risk to lose insurance or have their rates significantly increased because of a pre-existing condition (including pregnancy and cancer). This bill will create a statutory right for individuals to health insurance without being discriminated against because of health status.

Ø  Protecting our family’s health by limiting tobacco use to those over the age of 21 years of age – Endorsed by the Legislative Black Caucus, this legislation will raise the age required to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 years old. E-cigarette vaping among teens has risen 78% year over year – the Food and Drug Administration has called the rise an epidemic. Six states and Washington D.C. have passed similar measures, and Virginia’s legislature is considering it as well.

Ø  Boosting working families’ incomes by increasing Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 – The General Assembly will pass a $15 per hour minimum wage – following the lead of jurisdictions like New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. Our $10.10 hourly minimum wage has now been exceeded by 11 other states – when big businesses like Amazon ($15), Costco ($14), Target ($12), and Walmart ($11) are already paying their workers more. This change will benefit 600,000 Marylanders.

Ø  Banning 3D & Ghost Guns – For Maryland to continue being a leader in reducing gun violence, our laws need to evolve with new technology. That is why Democrats in the General Assembly will move to ban the possession of 3D printed gun blueprints and untraceable “ghost” guns. Both types of unregulated firearms pose extreme threats to public safety, as they don’t have serial numbers, and, if made out of plastic, are able to pass through metal detectors unnoticed. By banning these weapons, we are closing a loophole where a prohibited individual can access a gun and potentially use it to commit a crime.

Ø  Reducing child care costs for parents by increasing the child care tax credit: The cost of child care in Maryland continues to skyrocket – nearly $14,000 per year on average and is the 5th highest in the country. Maryland’s existing child care tax credit has remained unchanged for almost 20 years – a family making more than $50,000 no longer qualifies for it. Our proposal increases funding by more than $20 million per year, modernizes the credit, and benefits approximately 110,000 Marylanders who are currently struggling to pay for adequate child care.

Ø  Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, by banning Styrofoam and other pollutants– Maryland will become the first ‘foam free’ state by banning polystyrene, a synthetic polymer often used in Styrofoam packaging. Making Maryland ‘foam free’ will continue our commitment to a cleaner environment and reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste in our landfills, city streets, and the Chesapeake Bay. Businesses would be required to use alternate materials such as compostable or recyclable containers which will reduce waste and result in cleaner communities across the state.

Additional announcements concerning education funding and other session priorities will be forthcoming.