From the Governor's Website Yesterday
Governor O'Malley Signs Legislation Moving Maryland Forward
O'Malley closes legislative session focused on jobs; signs legislation to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in public health plans, improve quality of care, and authorize nurse practitioners to serve as primary care providers
ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 13, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley today joined Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, and Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, to sign 170 pieces of legislation that continue moving Maryland forward despite difficult economic times.
During the bill signing, Governor O’Malley highlighted budget and legislative proposals focused on creating and saving jobs, and improving the conditions under which Maryland businesses can create and save jobs. Just weeks ago, Governor O’Malley signed emergency legislation to strategically cut taxes for small businesses in Maryland that hire unemployed Marylanders. The Job Creation and Recovery Tax credit provides a $5,000 tax credit to Maryland businesses for each unemployed Marylander it hires.
Governor O’Malley also signed legislation in late March to help small businesses by modernizing the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, stabilizing the fund that has been strained by higher-than-normal unemployment rates due to the national recession.
“Our focus this session was, is, and continues to be on creating jobs, protecting jobs, empowering small business, and defending homeownership for Maryland’s families,” said Governor O’Malley. “In times of great adversity, the people of Maryland have always chosen to make progress. And this year, we’ve chosen a fiscally responsible path for progress that puts our hardworking families first and moves our State forward.”
At today’s event Governor O’Malley added his signature to legislation that cracks down on waste, fraud and abuse in our public health programs such as Medicaid. Also signed today is legislation establishing the framework for a patient centered medical home program to improve quality of care in Maryland, and a bill authorizing nurse practitioners to provide primary care for patients in Maryland.
Under the Maryland False Health Claims Act, the State will now be able to recover damages and penalties from individuals who defraud the State by filing false claims against State health plans and programs, including Medicaid. This legislation is expected to recover millions of dollars by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in these public health programs.
“We have done a great deal this year in Maryland and across the nation to expand health coverage, lower costs and improve the quality of care. I commend the Maryland General Assembly for their partnership during this legislative session to pass a bill allowing the state to fight fraud, waste and abuse and recover millions of dollars of taxpayer money and another improving the quality of care for our neighbors,” Lt. Governor Brown, who led the Administration’s efforts to pass the Maryland False Health Claims Act and the Patient Centered Medical Home Program, said. “Because of Governor O’Malley’s vision and the leadership of Speaker Busch and President Miller, we are in a better position than most states to implement national health reform and create the jobs that will come with it.”
In addition, Governor O’Malley signed legislation creating a framework to establish a patient centered medical home program, a model of primary care in which a team of health professionals, guided by a personal physician, provides continuous, comprehensive, and coordinated care in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner. Governor O’Malley also signed into law legislation authorizing the 3,400 nurse practitioners in Maryland to be primary care providers in Maryland, joining 28 other states with similar provisions to improve primary care for our families, seniors and children.
During the 2010 legislative session, the General Assembly passed several of Governor O’Malley’s initiatives to protect middle class families during these difficult economic times, including further reforms in Maryland’s foreclosure process; helping middle class families facing the threat of foreclosure keep their homes.
The General Assembly also passed a series of initiatives to protect Maryland’s children from child sexual predators, including legislation championed by Governor O’Malley to require lifetime supervision for child sex offenders. In addition, the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation to increase the mandatory minimum sentence for first-time child sex offenders from 5 to 15 years. Governor O’Malley will sign these new reforms into law on May 4.
"Our top priorities this session were to manage the state's finances responsibly and to create and protect jobs. We passed a balanced budget that protects critical state investments, and we passed several initiatives to help grow Maryland's economy," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. "I want to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for bringing people together to pass the False Health Claims Act, which gives the State a valuable tool to crack down on fraud and save taxpayers money."
“Balancing the budget, public safety and job creation were our top priorities this session and we have taken significant steps to ensure that Maryland is among the first states to rebound after this recession,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “I commend the Governor, the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate for their hard work on behalf of Maryland businesses and families this session.”
In the past four years, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has invested record funding for Maryland schools, resulting in Education Week Magazine ranking Maryland public schools #1 in the nation for two straight years. For the first time in Maryland’s history, school construction funding exceeded $1 billion over a three-year period. The General Assembly passed the Governor’s Education Reform Act of 2010 to further reform Maryland schools as State education leaders prepare to apply for federal “Race to the Top” funding. In addition to K-12 education, Maryland is the only state in the nation to freeze college tuition for in-state students four years in a row.