Lt. Governor Brown Announces 2013 Legislative Priorities

Brown to Champion Legislation to Encourage Public-Private Partnerships, Improve Veterans Employment Opportunities and Implement Health Care Reform

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 25, 2013) – Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announced that he will be leading the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s efforts to pass a series of measures during the 2013 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly, including legislation to encourage more public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects, remove barriers to employment opportunities for veterans and their spouses, and continue Maryland’s leadership in implementing health care reform. Lt. Governor Brown will also be leading community engagement efforts on the Administration’s public safety legislative package. Over the coming months, he will work closely with members of the General Assembly and stakeholders from across Maryland to build consensus and advance these critical legislative priorities.

Lt. Governor Brown will once again lead efforts to pass legislation to create a framework for public-private partnerships (P3s) that will provide the private sector with a stronger, more predictable and streamlined process that balances risks and protects public assets, while ensuring a strong workforce. The bill is prospective and revenue neutral. While Maryland has entered into three P3 deals over the past five years, the private sector, Department of Legislative Services and General Assembly have asked that the Administration improve Maryland’s P3 process before pursuing additional projects. Specifically, the legislation will add additional oversight at the beginning of a project, while reducing the amount of time for a project to receive final approval; require open and competitive solicitations for all projects; and allow the private sector to submit new “unsolicited” concepts to address Maryland’s infrastructure needs. Initial estimates have found that additional P3s could contribute between six percent and ten percent of Maryland’s $3.1 billion annual capital budget while creating as many as 4,000 jobs.

“Maryland has tremendous needs for funding transportation and infrastructure projects, and in these difficult times, it’s critical that we explore innovative tools for funding these projects. Encouraging private investment in public infrastructure has the potential to contribute millions of dollars and create thousands of jobs throughout Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “A strong legislative framework will make the P3 process in our state more predictable, streamlined, transparent and attractive to private investment while ensuring strong workforce protections and maintaining control of State assets.”

The measure stems from a series of recommendations developed in 2011 by the Joint Legislative and Executive Commission on Oversight of Public-Private Partnerships, chaired by Lt. Governor Brown.

This session, Lt. Governor Brown will also continue his leadership on efforts to support veterans and military families by working to enact the Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 (SB 273/HB 225). This proposal removes certain barriers to employment that veterans often face when making the transition from military service to the civilian work force. The bill also expedites the occupational and professional licensing process for military spouses when a military family moves to Maryland.

“Our Veterans and their families have sacrificed so much in service to our country. Through this new legislation, we can help repay that debt by ensuring that they have access to the jobs and resources they have earned,” said Lt. Governor Brown, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and the highest ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq.

The Lt. Governor will also lead efforts to pass the Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013 (SB 228), which continues Maryland’s leadership in implementing health care reform. This proposal updates the Insurance Article passed during last year’s legislative session to allow the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to be fully operational by the January 1, 2014 deadline required by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This proposal constitutes the last step in the State's three-year effort to establish its health benefit exchange, enhance access to affordable coverage, and fully implement the other protections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Maryland.  It includes: the expansion of Medicaid as permitted under the ACA; the establishment of a dedicated funding stream for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange from the existing premium tax on health insurers; provisions to move enrollees of the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) into the Exchange in a manner that eases their transition and mitigates the potential impact on rates; provisions to ensure continuity of care for those switching insurance policies and moving in and out of Medicaid and commercial insurance, and other necessary changes to become fully compliant with the ACA.

“Since the President first signed the Affordable Care Act into law, we have moved forward aggressively to forge consensus and come together to build a marketplace that will best meet the needs of individuals and small businesses throughout Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “This legislation keeps us on track to continue meeting the necessary deadlines to have our Exchange up and running by January 2014. Working together, we’re leading the way in health care reform and we will continue to maximize the Affordable Care Act in order to make Maryland the healthiest state in the nation.”

The Lt. Governor will also be taking the lead on community engagement efforts for the Administration’s comprehensive public safety legislative package which takes a three-pronged approach, focusing on gun safety, school safety, and improving mental health safeguards and services. Additional details on the Lt. Governor’s community outreach agenda will be released next week.

In addition to these legislative items, Lt. Governor Brown will be advocating for several budget priorities including funding for a new regional medical center in Prince George’s County, the Health Enterprise Zones program and the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative.

Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s efforts to expand and improve health care, support economic development, help victims of domestic violence, increase access to higher education, and provide veterans with better services and resources. In past years, Brown has worked with the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation creating BRAC Zones and the BRAC Higher Education Fund, as well as public safety legislation that took guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. He has also championed several pieces of legislation that were integral to Maryland’s progress implementing health care reform. Last year, Brown successfully led the Administration’s efforts to pass the latest in a series of bills to establish Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange and legislation to create a pilot program of Health Enterprise Zones to address health disparities.

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