Building Foundations for Advocacy is a Team Exercise in Maryland

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

The “Interim” or time between the end of one legislative session and the beginning of the next, is a key time to develop relationships with partners and legislators.  Much of this work is behind the scenes, but you can get involved!  We need ambassadors and other office or field employee volunteers to step up to organize district office visits, where you and I will visit key legislators in the communities they represent.  These visits are key to helping educate our legislators about the people we care for and the people we employ in their districts and build a foundation for future advocacy.  Call or email me if you’d like to get involved.

Maryland: Stronger Together

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Over the last two weeks, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) has been busy behind the scenes, building a coalition to advocate together for increased reimbursements in pediatric care.  Working together, we show that this is an issue that matters not only to us as a potential provider in this area, but to clients, their families, our trade association, and current providers.  We are stronger together than we are individually!

Using The Interim To Build Stronger Relationships in Maryland

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

The legislature is technically in recess until January, so legislators are unreachable, right?  Not at all!  The Government Affairs Office (GAO) is using this time to get to know our key legislators, those who are likely to become champions for home health care issues because of their committee assignment, position of leadership or personal experiences.  Legislators are less stressed in the “interim” or off-season, and it’s easier to have more in-depth conversations about the issues that impact our clients and the important work we do.  We’re also developing rock-solid research and advocacy materials to make complicated issues easier to understand when these conversations return to session-pace.

 

Governor Hogan Vetoes Maryland Sick Leave Mandate

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

As was widely expected, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a controversial bill passed by the legislature during the session that ended on April 10, calling it bad for business. The bill would have mandated that all employers with more than 15 employees provide paid sick leave to most employees. Because the bill passed with a large majority of votes, we expect that the legislature will override the veto at the beginning of the 2018 session in January, with the law going into effect the following autumn. BAYADA supports paid sick leave for office and field employees, having a similar benefits plan already in place.

Maryland Ambassadors Teach Legislators About Home Health Care Through Visits

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Hearts for Home Care ambassadors have been active recently, building relationships with legislators in the “interim,” while the legislature is out of session.  Director of BAL Matt Paske and I have met with Delegate Jay Jalisi, Delegate Antonio Hayes, and Delegate Ben Brooks in their offices.  Director of HFV Michele Heasley, the HFV staff and I introduced Senator Bob Cassilly’s aide to the daughter of a client in their office.  Speaking with legislators when they have more time available allows for more in-depth conversations that help legislators understand home health care and become champions on the issues that matter to our clients and employees.

Two Legislative Visits Build Champions in MD

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Photo: Matt Paske, Delegate Brooks, and Shannon Gahs

Baltimore, MD (BAL) assistive care Associate Director Matt Paske and I visited two delegates this week: Delegate Benjamin Brooks and Delegate Antonio Hayes. We shared information with both men about the extent of care that can be given at home and the types of clients we serve. Both delegates are interested to learn more and continue the conversation during a home visit with one of our clients in their districts. District office visits and home visits are two of the key ways BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) helps legislators learn about home health care.

Government Affairs Maryland Office Tour Shares Information and Finds Outpouring of Interest

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, the newest member of the Government Affairs Team Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski, and I went on a tour of every service office in the state.  We discussed current events in federal and state politics and shared how BAYADA has impacted policy decisions while getting to know the dedicated employees we have across the state.  We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and interest employees had in getting involved as ambassadors.  For more information on advocating for our clients and employees, reach out to Mike or me!

Maryland’s 2017 Legislative Session Now Closed

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Wrapping up on April 10, the General Assembly considered 2,876 bills and resolutions over the 90-day session.  Of those, 940 bills and resolutions passed.   I am preparing a full session report but, of note, the bill containing our offices’ ability to accept orders from physicians in neighboring states passed and will become law as soon as Governor Larry Hogan signs it.  The budget passed nearly two weeks before it was due, including a 2% increase in Medicaid home health care reimbursement rate.  A bill mandating paid sick leave statewide passed but is expected to be vetoed.  Finally, three separate efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 – statewide, in Baltimore City, and in Montgomery County – all failed.  Now the work to prepare for next session begins.

Mayor Vetoes Higher Minimum Wage in Baltimore City, MD

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

The Baltimore City Council voted last Monday to increase the minimum wage in steps to $15 by 2022.  The newly-elected Mayor of Baltimore, former state Senator Catherine Pugh, supported an increased minimum wage during her campaign.  In a surprise change of heart on Friday, March 24, she vetoed the bill citing an unanticipated budget shortfall, schools budget deficit and new costs for police oversight since she took office.  The increase would have cost the city an additional $116 million in wages over the next four years.  City councilmembers do not have the votes to override Pugh’s veto.

Statewide Mandate For Paid Sick Leave Continues To Be Negotiated in Maryland

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Several years in the making, a bill that would require employers offer paid sick leave continues to be negotiated within the state legislature.  The House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, carving out certain types of employees and offering different amounts of sick time per year.  Representatives and Senators now must negotiate a version that can be passed identically through both chambers before any regulation will be put in place.  Many business and industry groups, including the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association, have advocated against this legislation.