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Legislative Update

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Monday April 8th.  We are pleased to report that RMC and the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistant Fund (MAERDAF) grant program were included in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2014 Operating Budget in the amounts of $167,000 each.  The five regional councils also received funding of $150,000 each. This important funding will allow our organizations to continue our work improving rural Maryland.  We thank the Governor and the Legislature for their support.

We worked to restore budget funding to the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund (MEDAAF).  MEDAAF provides loans that help create jobs and encourage economic development.  While the Senate had accepted a Department of Legislative Services’ recommended cut, we worked with Conference Committee members to restore $3.5 million to the Fund.

Besides the budgetary issues, we focused on workforce development and access to health care.   We worked on the Governor’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) program (HB 227/SB 278) to ensure a regional component to this program.  Working with Department of Licensing, Labor and Regulation and the Department of Business and Economic Development, EARN will provide $4.5 million grant funding to job training programs.

In healthcare, we continued our support of telemedicine.  In joint testimony with the Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA), we supported HB 931/SB 496 – Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Telemedicine.  This new law will allow Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine used in emergency situations.