Conway, Mathias introduce companion proposals to fund local charities, facilities

■ Associate Editor/Bayside Gazette

(Feb. 15, 2013) Legislation filed in both houses of the General Assembly by Sen. James Mathias (D) and in the House of Delegates by Delegate Norman Conway (D-38B) would authorize bond funding, in the form of a $350,000 matching grant, for Diakonia housing units in West Ocean City.

The pair also sponsored bicameral legislation to establish a minimum threshold that counties must distribute to volunteer, fire, rescue and ambulance companies.

Also proposed during the week of Feb. 4 were bills to fund a park and the YMCA in Salisbury, establish an identification card for retail customers with special medi-

cal needs, exempt police cars from a prohibition that bans certain car window tinting, and implement certain procedures for billing inmate health care services.

Companion bills SB0773/HB1164, introduced by Conway and Mathias, would authorize $350,000 in bond-funded grants for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, and equipping housing units for Diakonia, which provides emergency and transitional housing for people in need.

The organization has until June 1, 2015 to secure matching funds and have those funds certified by the Board of Public Works, in order to receive the grant funds. “The fund may consist of in-kind contributions or funds expended prior to the effective date of this Act,” according to the language of the bill. If approved the proposal would go into effect June 1.

Conway and Mathias were also the primary sponsors of SB0899/HB0778, which would establish a formula for calculating how much of the percentage of funds that counties receive from the state’s Sen. William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance Fund should be used to help volunteer fire and rescue companies.

The legislation would require each county to distribute funding to its volunteer first responders in amounts equal to either “funds distributed by each county to volunteer fire, rescue, and ambulance companies from the fund in fiscal year 2011 or at least 51 [percent] of the allocation received by each county” for public safety. If enacted the legislation would become effective July 1.

Conway, on Feb. 8 introduced companion legislation (HB1179) to a proposal by Mathias the previous week (SB 0472) that would allow moped and scooter dealers to apply to attach temporary decals to their vehicles so they could be operated on a highway, for demonstration purposes, by prospective buyers with either a driver’s license or moped operator’s permit. A hearing on Conway’s bill is scheduled before the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 5.

Conway offered two separate bond authorization bills on Feb. 8. The first, HB1163, would extend the deadline, from Dec. 1, 2012 to Dec. 1, 2015, for a grant that would make $150,000 in matching funds available for the Salisbury City Park.

The funding would pay for the repair and reconstruction of the park’s facilities, provided that a historic easement is conveyed to the Maryland Historical Trust.

Conway’s second proposal (HB 1165) would authorize the sale of $500,000 in bonds to fund a loan program to underwrite the planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, and capital equipping of the YMCA of the Chesapeake, which is located in Salisbury. The organization has until June 2015 to secure and certify the matching funds needed to make them eligible for the grant funding. The effective date of the bill would be June 1.

Retail customers with certain medical conditions would be eligible for special identification cards to allow them to use store restroom facilities that are otherwise reserved for employees under the provisions of a proposal Conway introduced Feb. 8 in response to a constituent’s request. The legislative proposal (HB 1183) would alter the circumstances under which individuals with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel, or any other medical condition would be given access to the restrooms.

According to the legislation, covered customers would be allowed to use employee toilet facilities during normal business hours when a public restroom that was not otherwise available if three or more employees are working at the time the request is made. If enacted, the legislation would take effect Oct. 1.

Delegate Michael McDermott (R-38B) on Feb. 8 introduced legislation (HB1235) that would exempt vehicles used by law enforcement agencies from prohibitions that bar the use of window tinting materials that block more than 35 percent light transmittance. Removable tinting materials, people with documented photosensitive medical conditions, and light-blocking tinting specifi-

cally designed to shade small children are already exempt for the ban. The bill would add law enforcement vehicles to the list of exemptions Oct. 1, if enacted.

McDermott also proposed a bill (HB1242) that would establish a system of medical codes and conventions for reconciling medical claims for inmate health care services. The system would require the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to implement certain measures and automated health care billing systems. It is expected to automate claims resolution and enhance cost containment for health care services in an attempt to order prevent errors or potential, according to the legislation.

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