State Roundup: Marylanders With Pre-Existing Conditions Protected, Even If Supremes Jettison ACA

MARYLAND LAW PROTECTS THOSE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: Even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, Marylanders with pre-existing health conditions will still be protected under a state law that went into effect on Oct. 1. The legislation prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It also maintains other popular ACA consumer protections such as allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they reach age 26, Bryan Renbaum writes in MarylandReporter.

1st BLACK WOMAN GOP DELEGATE SWORN IN: Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, swore in Del. Brenda Thiam, a Republican from Washington County, on Tuesday as Maryland’s first Black female Republican legislator, Philip Van Slooten of the Capital News Service reports. She is the first Black female Republican to serve in the legislature.

  • Bryan Sears of the Daily Record quotes Thiam, whose background is in special education and working with people with autism: “This political bug, I’ve only been really bitten by that in the last three or four years. I never thought of going into politics until having some meaty conversations with my husband over the breakfast table about how I wanted to do more in Hagerstown.”
  • According to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, House Minority Leader Nic Kipke said in a press release, “Delegate Thiam is going to be an excellent legislator … She is strongly committed to the citizens she represents and will do a fabulous job for the citizens of Hagerstown.”

MINORITY LEADER, WHIP WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION TO CAUCUS POSTS: Maryland Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings and Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey Jr. announced Tuesday night that they will not seek reelection to their caucus seats in the General Assembly. Jennings, who represents District 7 in parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, said in a statement that after serving for six years it’s “time for a new team to build on this success,” McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.

  • Sources said their likely replacements when the Senate GOP Caucus meets for a leadership election on Saturday will be Anne Arundel County Sen. Bryan F. Simonaire for minority leader and Frederick County Sen. Michael R. Hough for whip, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.
  • The Senate and its political temperament have changed in six years, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The decision by Jennings and Hershey may also signal a move to the right by the Republican caucus and some members who are less interested in collaboration with the Democratic majority that outnumbers them 2-1.

HOW SCHOOL SYSTEMS ARE MOVING FORWARD: Here’s an update from McKenna Oxenden of the Sun on how school systems across the state are managing the academic school year.

CLOSING DIGITAL DIVIDE: Maryland is making strides to close the digital divide, with a variety of government programs and private partnerships that are finding ways to connect far-flung and low-income homes to the web, broadband advocates said on Tuesday, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

OPINION: MENTAL HEALTH HELP NEEDED TO FIGHT COVID: Shobhit Negi M.D. of Baltimore, in a column for MarylandReporter, writes that Covid-19 doesn’t just affect the lungs. Anecdotal reports suggest that neurologic symptoms are common, not only for patients currently infected with COVID-19 but also for those recovering from it. Coronavirus “long-haulers“—a term adopted by patients who remain sick for months—commonly report brain fog, memory loss, difficulty concentrating and dizziness.

HARRIS WON’T CONDEMN QANON: The House voted overwhelmingly Friday to condemn the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory as the online movement identified as a potential domestic terrorist threat by the FBI has gained traction with some in the Republican Party. Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland however voted “present,” Donna Cassata of the Post reports.

  • David Lublin of Seventh State writes that “This makes him different but no less absolutely bonkers.

SEISMIC TESTING WON’T HAPPEN THIS YEAR: Christine Condon of the Sun reports that an order from a federal judge issued Tuesday says that underwater seismic testing — a precursor to offshore oil drilling that environmental advocates worry disturbs marine wildlife— will not take place this year off the Atlantic Coast. The testing was authorized in a 2017 executive order from President Donald Trump.

ROSENSTEIN SAID TO ‘GO FURTHER’ ON CHILD SEPARATION: Michael D. Shear, Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times report that in 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed President Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy. And Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general and a well-respected former U.S. Attorney for Maryland, went even further a week later, telling five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.

Optimal Solar Siting for Maryland: Maryland is making moves to meet its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandate, but land-use priorities and regulations create challenges about where best to site new solar energy projects. What are the optimal solutions? How can the state incentivize development of distributed generation in desirable locations and ensure that projects in those locations have a smooth path to permits? Panelists will discuss these questions and more during this FREE webinar on October 8th.

STATE: FACILITY FAILED TO ISOLATE PATIENTS: During an inspection of Westminster Healthcare Center, the state Office of Health Care Quality found the facility failed to isolate newly admitted residents in case they had COVID-19 and failed to promptly notify relatives or representatives of residents when a positive case was identified, Mary Grace Keller of the Carroll County Times reports.

MO CO BALLOT QUESTIONS: Montgomery County voters will decide this year on proposed changes on taxation and the structure of the County Council. Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat writes about the ballot questions that voters must decide on.

BA CO TO VOTE ON TAX FUNDED CAMPAIGNS: Baltimore County voters are deciding if the county can use tax money to finance political campaigns. The proposed change to the county charter is Question A on the ballot, John Lee reports for WYPR-FM. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon in support of the so-called Citizens Election Fund, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski brought up one of his corrupt predecessors.

SARBANES UPBEAT ON 2021 DEM PUSH ON REFORM EFFORT: Rep. John P. Sarbanes thinks House Democrats will again try to pass their “For The People” reform package in 2021, arguing that Democratic wins in the upcoming election could allow the act to succeed. That extensive anti-corruption effort, also known as H.R. 1, would have banned partisan gerrymandering and established automatic voter registration for all Americans, Bennett Lekrone reports for Maryland Matters.

BIDEN LANDS IN HAGERSTOWN: Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes that an airplane carrying Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden landed at Hagerstown Regional Airport on Tuesday afternoon. The airplane went to the Rider Jet Center, according to an employee there. Biden left in a motorcade on his way to Gettysburg, Pa., for a campaign appearance.