News

Week Five In Annapolis

February 11, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gabrielle Titow, (410) 841-3645

2022 Maryland General Assembly Update

Week Five- Worcester Agritourism Bill Senate Passage, Child Protection Bill Hearing, Support for Lifting the School Mask Mandate, and Rural and Health Advocacy Days

Annapolis, MD – This week’s highlights include Senate passage of the Worcester Agritourism bill; Senate hearing on Senator Carozza’s child custody court proceedings bill; call for the lifting of the school mask mandate; rural and health advocacy days with University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) physical therapy students; and Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week. Also, during Senate Floor proceedings this week, Taylor Gray from Crisfield High School in Somerset County was recognized as a Senate page.

SENATOR CAROZZA’S LOCAL AGRITOURISM BILL PASSES SENATE UNANIMOUSLY

The Maryland Senate voted unanimously on February 10 in support of Senate Bill 32, Worcester County local agritourism bill sponsored by Senator Mary Beth Carozza. This bill would add Worcester County to the list of 18 other jurisdictions in which farm structures used for agritourism activities are exempted from certain commercial building requirements.

 

Senate Bill 32 would be a successful tool in giving more local farm families the opportunity to offer agritourism activities on their farms. “This legislation is a win-win for both the farm families who may need to diversify and pull in additional revenue just to keep the farm and for tourists who will have more options to explore and experience our local farms,” said Senator Carozza.

 

The bill has strong support from the Worcester County Commissioners and its tourism office, Greater Ocean City Hotel-Motel Restaurant Association, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, Maryland Tourism Coalition, Maryland Farm Bureau, and Agriculture Grow and Fortify.  

 

Delegates Wayne Hartman and Charles Otto have sponsored the Worcester Agritourism bill in the Maryland House of Delegates.

 

CUSTODY EVALUATOR BILL HEARING

Senate Bill 336 sponsored by Senator Carozza received a bill hearing in the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee on February 9. Custody evaluators have an important role in assisting family law courts in determining custody outcomes in some of the most sensitive and difficult cases involving allegations of domestic violence and child abuse.

 

This legislation aims to strengthen the current training and qualifications for custody evaluators. Senator Carozza has heard from parents, advocates, and legal child custody experts over the past three years as a part of her membership on the Workgroup to Study Child Custody Court Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence, that there is no consistent training for custody evaluators in these sensitive cases of domestic violence and child abuse.

 

The bill requires that a custody evaluator meets certain professional qualifications and has completed 20 hours of training and five hours of continued training every two years.

 

“This bill can help reduce the trauma on these most vulnerable children by ensuring that child custody evaluators, whose recommendations are given heavy weight by judges, are held accountable by meeting certain qualifications and training requirements,” said Carozza during her Senate testimony. “Since the law requires animal control officers to be qualified and to complete 80 hours of training, we should take this same commonsense approach that custody evaluators who are making recommendations affecting a child’s future should meet professional qualifications and training requirements.”

 

CALLING FOR THE LIFTING OF THE SCHOOL MASK MANDATE

Senator Carozza joined with her Senate and House Republican colleagues in supporting Governor Hogan’s call for the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind its school mask policy, citing the State’s dramatically improved health metrics, the widespread availability of vaccines for school-age children, and the growing consensus among medical professionals, parents, and bipartisan state officials.

 

From the joint Senate-House Republican Leadership statement: “We were glad to see Governor Hogan join calls from our members to lift the mask mandate in Maryland’s public schools. As COVID-19 metrics improve statewide, we need to return to normal in classrooms whose teachers and students can interact and see each other’s faces.  Arguable, school children have suffered the most during the nearly two years of this pandemic, and we need to do all we can to help them make up lost ground both academically and socially. We urge the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind the statewide mask mandate at their next meeting.”

 

CAROZZA PARTICIPATES IN RURAL ADVOCACY DAYS WITH CONSTITUENTS

This week Senator Carozza met with constituents participating in the Maryland Farm Bureau and Rural Maryland Council advocacy days. During Maryland Farm Bureau day on February 9, Senator Carozza along with Delegate Wayne Hartman and Delegate Charles Otto met with Eastern Shore representatives including Tyler Hough, Eastern Shore Regional Field Manager with Maryland Farm Bureau; Zach Evans, the Community Relations Manager at Mountaire; and Shane King, Somerset County farmer and member of the Maryland Soybean Board. Carozza urges Eastern Shore participation in upcoming in-person Senate hearings on climate change and other bill hearings affecting Shore agriculture and the poultry industry.

 

Carozza also participated in Rural Maryland Council advocacy day and met with Eastern Shore representatives including Grayson Middleton, Governor Hogan’s Eastern Shore Outreach Coordinator; and Mindie Burgoyne of Salisbury, Maryland Department of Commerce’s Eastern Shore Representative.

 

HEALTH PRIORITIES WITH NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS AND

UMES PHYSICAL THERAPY STUDENTS

Senator Carozza met with Shore representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and University of Maryland Eastern Shore Physical Therapy students on important health legislation. Cynthia Gill, Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, introduced the 2022 pharmacy class. Senator Carozza heard from class members on legislative priorities including the need to reduce the cost of health insurance co-payments for physical therapy.

 

Carozza thanked Professor Gill and students for bringing attention to critical legislation to further address the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our healthcare workers, especially physical therapists.

 

“Many of our districts are hard hit by health care workforce shortages, especially in the rural parts of the state. Our hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, and community providers need our support. I look forward to hearing legislation that will provide this much-needed relief,” said Carozza.

 

EASTERN SHORE DELEGATION MEETING

The Eastern Delegation heard from U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen; Dr. Jana Davis Chesapeake Bay Trust President; and Susanne Richards, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation during Friday’s weekly meeting. Senator Van Hollen shared that Maryland will receive a total of $7 billion over the next five years through the federal infrastructure bill, and both Dr. Davis and Ms. Richards shared information on grant awards made on the Shore.

 

Senator Carozza specifically asked about ongoing partnerships between the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and the agriculture industry and higher education. With three technical high schools that have Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs, several major agriculture employers, and three local higher education institutions in District 38, Carozza urged the Foundation members to do all they can to support these key partnerships for our youth to have pathways of leadership in farming and related businesses.

 

“We are trying to make sure that once these students have an interest in FFA and agriculture-related activities that we fully support them in becoming leaders and keeping our talent here on the Shore,” said Carozza.

 

HEALTHCARE HEROES APPRECIATION WEEK

Senator Carozza joined with the Governor and Maryland General Assembly colleagues in recognizing the State’s frontline medical workers during Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week in Maryland.

 

Maryland continues to report substantial declines in key health metrics. COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped under 1,400, for an overall decline of 60 percent since peaking last month. The COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped below 7 percent, for an overall decline of 77 percent since peaking last month. Maryland also continues to report the lowest case rate of any state.

 

“Our Shore community is so grateful to all of our frontline healthcare workers across the board. I want to recognize the many sacrifices that our local health department employees; hospital, clinics, nursing home workers, and all health care personnel have made to protect the health and safety of the many thousands of Shore residents and visitors over the past two years,” said Carozza.


Opioid Treatment

MARYLAND, – “This opioid crisis deserves the same attention and focus as we’ve given to the COVID-19 pandemic,” State Senator MaryBeth Carozza said.

That attention comes in the form of legislation as Senate Bill 394, the Statewide Target Overdose Prevention Act, increases the use and access to Naloxone which is used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The STOP Act, which was originally introduced in 2015, made its way back to the current legislative session. Lawmakers hopes this push will saving as many lives as possible. “This legislation that Governor Hogan introduced is really a powerful tool allowing us to use this miracle drug to save lives  for those who have been most impacted by opioids and opioid abuse,” Senator Carozza said. “Sometimes there’s spikes and jumps with our fatal overdoses in particular locally and a lot of that we think is due to the availability of Narcan and Naloxone,” Worcester County Health Department’s Travis Brown said.

Health experts say that while this expanding access is crucial in the fight to saving lives, the focus must be on the full recovery journey. “They’re so many people in our community that can overcome and well manage their substance abuse but unfortunately they just take a medication with no treatment,” Clinical Psychiatrist for Peninsula Mental Health Services’ Michael Finegan, PhD, ABPP.

“Whenever we see Narcan and Naloxone in distribution we also want to pair it with resources. We have our safe stations here locally where people can enter recovery immediately,” Brown said.

I’m told that help doesn’t have to be left to the professionals. “You never know if you’re going to be walking through a parking lot or a department store and might encounter someone having an overdose. If you have Narcan and Naloxone with you and know how to use it, you might just save that persons life,” Brown said.

The Worcester County Health Department offers Naloxone training for free and provides other opioid addiction resources for those who need them.  To find our more information, call the health department at (410)-632-1100 or click here 

The STOP Act is currently sits in the Senate Finance Committee. The next hearing will be on February 17th. For full story & video:

Maryland lawmakers tackle opioid crisis with new legislation - 47abc (wmdt.com)


K_9 Legislation Saves Canine service dog lives

New legislation could better protect Md. K9s injured in the line of duty

MARYLAND – New legislation could mean the difference between life and death for Maryland K9 officers.

No Clear Guidelines

As it stands right now, if a K9 is hurt while responding to a scene, there aren’t any guidelines for how to give them emergency care. “We would put them in our patrol cars and we get them to the urgent veterinary care as fast as we could,” said DFC Nicole Chaffey with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office.

Peace of Mind

But, Senate Bill 70 creates guidelines for EMS providers to render emergency treatment to K9s injured in the line of duty. “This is my best friend, this is my partner, this is somebody who’s going to go into the thick of things. We’re going to be the first through the door, and he’s going to be right there with me,” said DFC Chaffey. “Now I know that if there’s an incident and a tragedy, they’re going to get the care just like we’re going to get the care.”

Bill sponsor State Senator Mary Beth Carozza says not only will the guidelines save K9 lives, they could also help protect law enforcement officers, too. “In those instances where our police canines are injured in the line of duty, we’ll know that emergency medics can come on the scene, treat the dog, and then transport them safely in an ambulance,” she said. “The proper protocols are in place, but also that liability protection is in place. So, we can allow for that emergency medical care.”

Whittington and Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis testified in support of the bill before the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Whittington says the legislation could pave the way to make first responders better prepared for any situation. “Having clear direction and expectations from Maryland Emergency Medical Services, veterinarians, and also the canine handlers allows for us the life-saving care, and the correct care, to the canine unit.”

Four Legs on the Front Lines

K9s are often some of the first to enter an emergency situation or crime scene, according to first responders and law enforcement. That could lead to potentially deadly situations for the K9 and its handler. “They may be put in situations where they may walk over glass or they may be shot or stabbed. They may experience a fentanyl overdose from walking on a drug or anything like that,” said Ryan Whittington with the Ocean City Fire Department.

Sheriff Lewis says the legislation is timely, as K9s getting injured in the line of duty has been a growing concern. “There’s been a major uptick in assaults on law enforcement officers across the country, and our canines. Just last month [in Seattle], we had a police canine – Canine Jedi – that was stabbed to death with a machete,” he said. “To be able to get our four legged partners the assistance they need – that they’ve always needed – is very exciting.”

Confidence in Passage

The bill is now onto its second reading. Sen. Carozza says there may be some future amendments. However, because other states have passed similar laws, she’s confident Governor Larry Hogan will put his pen to this bill, as well. “This bill enjoys strong support across the board. It has the support of law enforcement, it has the support of firefighters, it has the support of veterinarians,” she said.

For full story and video:

https://www.wmdt.com/2022/02/new-legislation-could-better-protect-md-k9s-injured-in-the-line-of-duty/

 

 


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Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate