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Monday, April 14, 2008

Mixed Results from the MD 2008 General Assembly Legislative Session

Guy Djoken

Last April 7th, the Maryland General Assembly ended its 2008 Legislative Session. Among legislation passed was the Medicaid expansion for adults with dependent children that will go into effect July 1st. There had been talk about delaying it due to state budget problems, but the financing was approved.

Not only did we pass a historic expansion of the Medicaid system and raise the tobacco tax by one dollar a pack last fall, we also have some great victories from this spring that we should all take a moment to celebrate. This new law will work towards getting the 90,000 children in Maryland that are eligible for state health insurance programs to enroll. As one of the richest states in the nation it is a horror that we have such high levels of unenrolled children.

The second legislation worth noting was the one establishing the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment. It passed both the House of Delegates 91-47 and the Senate 32-15, before heading for a conference committee where slight differences between the two were resolved. Bill supporters included Senate President Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. This Commission is the first of its kind in Maryland, a broadly representative and diverse body charged to make recommendations regarding the future of the death penalty in Maryland.

The three very significant things that the NAACP took a position on that were not satisfactory were tax increase, the slots machine issue that is coming back into our hands for November and the DNA we find "unconstitutional".

With these mixed results, we look forward to working closely with our senators and delegates to make sure that the 2009 sessions will produce better results.

Guy Djoken is President NAACP, Frederick County, Maryland Branch

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