Session Update -March 1, 2021

 

We are now halfway through the 2021 legislative session! As one of your representatives in Annapolis, let me assure you that we are doing everything we can to meet the extraordinary challenges our State faces in this most difficult time. We will continue to work to address vital health, unemployment, and food security issues as well as broader economic recovery.

This past week my colleagues and I proudly voted to extend the earned income tax credit, and thus our relief payments, to individuals filing taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Many taxpayers filing with an ITIN are immigrants who have been excluded from other federal and state relief payments and have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and subsequent recession. This supplements our initial relief package, ensuring broad inclusion of Marylanders who have suffered from this pandemic.

Update on some of my bills:

Heat & Eat/SNAP Benefits: HB101, my bill requiring the Maryland Department of Human Services to implement the “Heat and Eat” program, passed the House and will likely pass the Senate next week. This federal program allows individuals who pay utilities through their rent and are eligible for utility assistance to claim the Standard Utility Allowance on their SNAP application, thus increasing their SNAP benefits.

Medical Debt Protection: On February 16, my bill to protect Marylanders from aggressive hospital debt collection was heard. No one should experience financial ruin because they got sick and no one should have fear of debt keep them from getting the care they need. This bill establishes a number of guardrails to ensure this. Here is some of the news coverage from the hearings:

Fixing the Unemployment Insurance System: This past week my comprehensive unemployment insurance bill was heard. When the pandemic hit, too many vulnerable Marylanders struggled as they waited weeks and months for their unemployment payments to come through. Some people are still waiting for their benefits. While some progress has been made, the huge failures of our current unemployment insurance system demonstrated the need for an efficient, effective, and transparent process to support Marylanders at their most desperate moments and to inject money into our economy during a recession. Here is some of the press coverage of my bill.

Stay Tuned! My other bills continue to make their way through the legislative process. You can follow them here. My office continues to be available throughout the Session to support constituents who need assistance with state agencies or accessing local social supports. Please do not hesitate to contact us at lorig.charkoudian@house.state.md.us if you or anyone you know needs assistance.

Onward,

Lorig Charkoudian

 

 

 

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