2021 Maryland General Assembly Update Week 10: Bills Passing, Supporting Restaurants, Vaccine Eligibility, and Scholarships
Double Senate Floor sessions are the new normal as the race is on to move legislation before the crossover deadline of March 22. Included in legislation passed this week was Senator Carozza’s legislation to expand access to both occupational therapy and alcohol and drug counseling services. Carozza also spoke out against an amendment that would weaken the ability for restaurants to continue to do alcohol carry-out and delivery with a food purchase after the pandemic is over.
Senator Carozza’s Priority Health Care Bills Clear Senate
The Senate of Maryland voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 139—Interstate Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact and Senate Bill 646—Alcohol and Drug Counseling - Alcohol and Drug Trainees - Practice Through Telehealth.
“I would like to thank my Senate colleagues for their sensing the urgency of the passage of this legislation, which will go a long way in allowing our health care providers to continue to serve constituents,” Carozza said after the vote.
Senate Bill 139 would establish an interstate licensure compact for occupational therapists. This means that occupational therapists can work across state lines just as long as they are licensed by a member state of the compact. The Maryland General Assembly already has enacted similar legislation for nurses, physicians, and physical therapists.
“As I worked with health care providers during COVID-19 during the interim, it was brought to my attention by members of the Maryland Occupational Therapy Association that this interstate occupational therapy licensure compact would have a direct benefit in increasing access to care, especially in districts like mine which are bordered by states, Delaware to the north, and Virginia to the south,” Senator Carozza noted.
Senate Bill 646 would permit the permanent allowance of alcohol and drug trainees (ADTs) under supervision to provide services via telehealth after the current public health emergency declarations are lifted.
“Access to alcohol and drug counseling through telehealth is increasingly important especially given the devastating data from the Maryland Health Department and Opioid Operational Command Center. There were 2,025 overdose deaths in Maryland in the first three quarters of 2020. That is a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2019…These numbers make it clear that Maryland cannot let up in our efforts to provide the needed counseling services and treatment to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Senate Bill 646 would ensure that alcohol and drug trainees under supervision can continue to provide telehealth services after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carozza.
Both of these bills received unanimous votes in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and on the Senate Floor. There was no opposition during their respective bill hearings.
Carozza Supports Restaurant Owners during Floor Debate
The Senate of Maryland on Friday, March 19 considered Senate Bill 205—Alcoholic Beverages - Sale or Delivery for Off-Premises Consumption which authorizes restaurants, bars, and taverns to sell and deliver certain alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption or delivery with the purchase of food.
“I grew up in the restaurant business. I spent this entire interim on bi-weekly calls with the Maryland Restaurant Association and the Ocean City Hotel-Motel Restaurant Association members working on their very survival and keeping jobs in those restaurants,” Senator Carozza said when speaking out against an amendment that would limit the timeframe of this relief initiative, noting that other states are moving forward with making alcohol to-go with food purchases permanent.
“These restaurants were literally shut down, they only had the option for carryout…When the Governor’s Emergency Order ends, our small businesses in our local communities in each one of our districts, and they still have a long road to recovery.”
Carozza Applauds Expanded Vaccine Eligibility
Senator Carozza thanked Governor Hogan for announcing that the State of Maryland will enter Phase 2 of vaccine eligibility next week and for the Administration’s efforts to ensure that every Marylander who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one once the supply from the federal government is increased.
“I continue to encourage patience during this process as the demand still remains greater than the supply and hope you will take advantage of being vaccinated when it becomes available to you,” Senator Carozza said.
Beginning Tuesday, March 23, all Marylanders age 60 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and may preregister at one of the mass vaccination sites. They may register at http://covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).
On Tuesday, March 30, all Marylanders age 16 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness will be eligible for the vaccine. Beginning Tuesday, April 13, all Marylanders age 55 and older, as well as essential workers in critical industries (construction, food services, utilities, financial services, IT, and other infrastructure) will become eligible.
No later than Tuesday, April 27, the State of Maryland will enter Phase 3 of the COVID-19 vaccine plan, when eligibility will open to every single Marylander over the age of 16. Even though we are moving into Phase 2, all individuals who are currently eligible in Phase 1 but have not yet been vaccinated will continue to be prioritized for appointments at the state’s mass vaccination sites.
More information on the COVID-19 Vaccine and eligibility: https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/vaccine/
Constituents Confirmed by Senate
As a State Senator, Senator Carozza has the opportunity to vote on constituents who are appointed and reappointed by Governor Larry Hogan to serve on various boards and commissions throughout the State of Maryland. This week, Senator Carozza voted to confirm Steven Rakow to the Board of Trustees of the Office of the Public Defender and the reappointment of John Dale Smack, III to the Maryland Parole Commission.
Senatorial Scholarships Available
Current high school seniors and full-time or part-time, degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students who reside in Maryland Legislative District 38 (Worcester, Wicomico, or Somerset) are eligible and encouraged to apply for Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s Senate Scholarship. These scholarships must be used toward attending a Maryland college or university or an out-of-state institution only if the student demonstrates that he or she has a unique major approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.