Md. lawmakers rush emergency bill
Gov. Wes Moore is now working on the steps of the Government House with members of the Veterans Caucus. The breakfast meeting discussed the troubled Charlotte Hall Veterans Home for increasing the oversight of troubled veterans’ homes. The lawmakers are further preparing emergency legislation made in the final days of the General assembly session. This…
Gov. Wes Moore is now working on the steps of the Government House with members of the Veterans Caucus. The breakfast meeting discussed the troubled Charlotte Hall Veterans Home for increasing the oversight of troubled veterans’ homes. The lawmakers are further preparing emergency legislation made in the final days of the General assembly session. This is to give them more oversight of the veteran’s nursing facility in the state. The House and Senate, Veterans Caucus members met on Thursday morning with Gov. Wes Moore (D) and Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Woods. The meeting included a briefing on abuse and neglect incidents at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County. The lawmakers even expressed their concerns regarding the facility, while some people said they would press for more oversight. Sen. Jack Bailey (R-Calvert and St. Mary’s) said, “The biggest thing is we have to ensure that we can move forward with reporting requirements.” He added, “We didn’t know that this happened.”
The lawmaker’s efforts would include emergency legislation in the past three weeks of the session. That bill will offer more assurance of oversight than budget language once passed. The bill, sponsored by Bailey in the Senate and Economic Matters Vice Chair Brian M. Crosby (D-St. Mary’s) in the House, would need the operators of state-owned nursing facilities to feature a near-immediate notice to a cadre of state officials and agencies for a laundry list of violations. Crosby said, How do you even get in front of the problem if you don’t know it exists?” It added, “The bill is designed to do it for us.” Citations were issued, and enforcement actions were taken by state and federal regulators, as included in the notification list. Then it would be sent to the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations Committee, the governor, the state agency responsible for the facility, and the lawmakers representing the district where the nursing home is situated. State-owned nursing home operators will be called to offer a statement of deficiencies within a month. This proposal would even contact the Department of Health to provide an annual report on all state and federal regulator reviews and enforcement actions on a state-owned nursing home.
Bailey called the bill to be overarching. He said that it would receive support from the Senate. Crosby even assured me it would pass in the final weeks of the session. The other lawmakers were equally optimistic, though! Sen. Michael A. Jackson (D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert), the Senate co-chair of the Veterans Caucus,s said, “I think that the urgency gives a good chance.” He added, “There’s a perfect chance. It’s coming reasonably late, quite frankly, because as things are being uncovered, we realize beyond the budget language we’re putting in that there’s more to be done.” The Senate adopted budget language requiring the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs to issue quarterly reports on Charlotte Hall. The words must include residents, complaints, or any notices of abuse or neglect and offer updates on ratings or fines by federal agencies. Again, the budget language is not bound legally. Departments will need to take it seriously since the budget committees may withhold the money. A conference committee with the budget negotiators from the Senate and the House will decide the final budget. The panel will be expected to meet in the expected weeks to determine the differences between the different budget versions.