June 30 – New Laws on the Holiday Weekend

On November 16, I emailed this message to Robyn Elliot, Planned Parenthood’s lobbyist.

“I’ve just started to think about what we could do in Md. if federal government defunds Planned Parenthood. We should talk.”

Several of my colleagues joined that conversation.

The result was House Bill 1083, requiring our state government to pay for those health services that the federal government would no longer be funding if provided by Planned Parenthood. Abortions are not paid for under current federal law or our legislation.

Only two Republican members of the House of Delegates or the State Senate voted for HB 1083. In 1991, when we protected a woman’s right to choose by writing the principles of Roe v. Wade into Maryland law, approximately two dozen Republicans voted for the bill.

The Republican health care bill awaiting action by the U.S. Senate would defund Planned Parenthood for one year.

HB 1083 takes effect tomorrow.

Over the last weekend in April last year, three adult males were murdered within one block of 4Gs, a problem liquor store at Liberty Heights and Gwynn Oak Avenues.

The Howard Park community was justifiably upset.

A few days later at a community meeting, my 41st District colleagues and I pledged to draft legislation to limit the hours of the 4Gs liquor store. Under the existing law, it could stay open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

House Bill 1036 limited its hours of operation to 9 am to 9 pm. We amended the bill to limit all liquor licenses in the Liberty Heights corridor to those 12 hours.

Our bill passed at 11:48 pm on the last night of the 90-day legislative session.

HB 1036 takes effect tomorrow.

PS We have already requested that a bill be drafted to impose a similar limit on the hours of operation for liquor stores in the Park Heights area.

Not this time

I usually hang up on telephone solicitors.

But not this time.

This call was from Planned Parenthood.

I did, however, interrupt the caller’s spiel to tell him what we are on the verge of doing in Maryland.

Tonight, the Senate will debate the House bill that would require the State to fund reproductive health services for the women who choose to go to Planned Parenthood.

The legislation would take effect if the Congress deprives the organization of existing federal funding.

Such a provision was in the GOP health care bill that was withdrawn on Friday.

But it will be back.

Another legislative vehicle will surely be found to push this bad idea forward.

My caller yesterday, a college student, had no idea about what we are doing in Maryland.

If we succeed here, that reinforced my idea of advocating that other blue states do the same.

Factual funding

“This is a reminder to the body that this bill puts funding in the hands of 10 clinics, instead of in the hands of 93 community health centers.”

The minority whip said this before the vote on House Bill 1083, which would preserve public funding for women’s reproductive health services if the Congress and President Trump defund Planned Parenthood.

What my Republican colleague said is not true.

The State of Maryland would not be funding Planned Parenthood clinics, instead of community health centers.

The women of Maryland would be making that choice instead.

If someone decides that she wants to continue to get health care at Planned Parenthood, she could do so and have it paid for by her insurance plan or Medicaid.

If someone decides that she wants to change providers and get health care at a community health center, she could do so and have it paid for by her insurance plan or Medicaid.

The bill passed, 90-51.

Every Republican in the House voted against HB 1083, joined by one Democrat.

Neither party has a big tent on this and other social issues.

It would help, however, if the arguments made in this debate were factual.

Un-defunding Planned Parenthood

I sent this email to the lobbyist for Planned Parenthood on November 16.

Subject: Our response if federal government defunds Planned Parenthood

“I’ve just started to think about what we could do in Md. If this happens. We should talk.” Sandy

Our conversation, joined by other legislators and key staffers, resulted in House Bill 1083, Health – Family Planning Services – Continuity of Care.

Why do we need this bill?

The legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act would end federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

For many years, the federal government has funded abortions only in very limited circumstances.

Family planning services and other reproductive health care, if provided by Planned Parenthood, would no longer be paid for.

Our bill would compensate for that by requiring the State of Maryland to fund that care for eligible patients.

I didn’t speak at the press conference today.

I spoke at the bill hearing instead.

Delegate Szeliga, the Republican whip, suggested that the services now available from Planned Parenthood would be offered by other health care providers.

When the Supreme Court struck down Texas’ restrictive abortion law last year, it discredited the state’s argument that abortion services would be adequately provided by the clinics that would not be closed by the Texas law.

I made note of that decision when I asked the Planned Parenthood lobbyist, as well as a representative of another health care provider, if the proposed federal prohibition, like the Texas law, would leave many women in Maryland without these vital health care services.

Both said yes.

I asked them to provide numbers – for the upcoming vote in my committee and hopefully, the House floor.

June 28 – From delivery to the neighborhoods

My mother’s obstetrician was Dr, Alan Guttmacher. He would later become the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation.

When I first ran for the House of Delegates in 1983, I supported Medicaid funding of abortion.   One of the incumbents I defeated did not.

I was the House floor leader in 1991 when we passed the legislation making the principles of Roe v. Wade the law of Maryland.  The voters agreed, approving Senate Bill 162 on referendum, 62-38%.

Yesterday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote: “It is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 [the Texas law at issue before the Supreme Court] could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.’”

I celebrated with Planned Parenthood at the Golden West Café’s Happy Hour in Hampden.

Then I went to the Edgewood and Hilltop 4100 neighborhood meetings.

That’s an important part of a legislator’s job as well.

Three of a different kind

At the race track, when you try to pick the first three finishers in exact order, it’s called a trifecta.

I had a trifecta of sorts this afternoon – consecutive meetings with the lobbyist for Planned Parenthood, the lobbyist for the Catholic Conference, and the Senator who is the leading proponent of marriage equality.

We talked about abortion, a tax credit for donations to parochial schools, and the death penalty, in that order.

The Catholic Church and I are on opposite sides on social issues (choice, stem cells, and gay rights) but on the same side on death penalty repeal, poverty issues, and aid to parochial schools.

You don’t always count to 71 the same way. (71 votes are needed to pass a bill in the House of Delegates.)

But when you do reach that number, you always cash your ticket.  And move on to the next race in the Senate.

  • My Key Issues:

  • Pimlico and The Preakness
  • Our Neighborhoods
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • Lead Paint Poisoning