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Del. Johnson: With session cut short, an eye toward legislation for 2021 to improve life for Marylanders [Commentary]

It is a constant challenge in Annapolis to get legislation passed in order to do the right thing. Legislation that would work to support the citizens of Maryland in their everyday lives. I am working diligently to make life better for Marylanders. There are several pieces of legislation that I put forth during the 2020 session which are very personal for me and crucial for the citizens of my county and this state. Even though our session was cut short due to unforeseen circumstances, I will continue to work in the interim to ensure our 2021 session moves forward legislation to benefit my constituents and all Marylanders.

The first is House Bill 575, which is human trafficking education. This bill would require the state board of education and certain nonpublic schools to incorporate human trafficking education on the awareness and prevention of human trafficking and sex trafficking. This would provide instruction on the awareness and prevention of human trafficking and would be incorporated into the health curriculum for students in grades 6 through 12. Because this issue is impacting the people of Maryland it should be addressed. Time was limited as we had to cut session short this year, however, I will continue fighting for this bill next year.

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Another bill that I introduced is HB1050 which would require hospitals to pre-authorize the prescriptions they write for their patients so that the patient can receive their medicine when they are released. Too often in Maryland, people abandon post-hospital prescriptions when a pre-authorization is needed but not completed. This makes it hard for patients to get the medicine that the doctors have said they need, as well as putting undue pressure on our families, when the solution is a simple one.

I also introduced HB0685. This bill is important to providing equal benefits to Harford County deputy sheriffs and detention officers in regards to workers compensation. This bill puts Harford County deputy sheriffs that are working as detention center workers on the same tier workers comp as the rest of the Sheriff’s officers.

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Additionally HB1279 expands the rights of pharmacists to authorize a one-time refill of prescriptions essential to the maintenance of life in emergency situations. For instance, insulin, a medication necessary for individuals with diabetes. In emergency situations when a prescriber cannot be contacted, people who use insulin have to go without. HB1279 is crucial to ensuring the uninterrupted use of maintenance medications, resulting in better health outcomes.

As well as HB1073 that would allow those who retired from active duty military and went into law enforcement to use up to a five-year military credit towards their law enforcement retirement.

And then there was the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Three-fourths of Marylanders have said we need better education, better teacher pay to retain quality teachers and wrap around services for kids in school. We made that commitment to Maryland’s students; to give Maryland a state of the art education system that will ensure our kids can compete on a global scale, to put Maryland back on top when it comes to national rankings and to provide more trades training for students to go into the trades instead of a college career path if they so choose. And to make sure there is accountability as the Blueprint is implemented, to guarantee the investment is going to the students in the classroom.

Through all of this, we have been thrown a curve ball that no one could have foreseen, the coronavirus. The saying that “we are all in this together” could never be truer than now. We are working together with the Governor to make sure that everything that can be done for the safety of Marylanders is being done. I am committed to continue working together to save as many lives as possible and to make sure people and businesses are given the assistance necessary to make it through this global epidemic and I look forward to seeing our citizen’s lives return to normal.

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I am working to ensure that the people of the state of Maryland are given the care they need in order to live healthier and happier lives and will continue to do so. I went to Annapolis to address the concerns of the constituents in my district and to make Maryland a better place to live. These are tough issues but by working with my delegate and senator colleagues, along with input and support from the public, we can get a lot of things done.

Steve Johnson is a Democrat member of the House of Delegates representing District 34A.

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