Governor Hogan signs amended Executive Order for Commission for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention LifelineGovernor Larry Hogan on Thursday issued an amended Executive Order modernizing the Governor’s Commission for Suicide Prevention. The updated executive order is in response to rising national and state suicide rates and follows a request from the commission that was supported by the Maryland Department of Health.

“Every day, thousands of Marylanders struggle with mental health challenges, and we must do everything we can to support them,” said Governor Hogan. “Widespread outreach and public education efforts are integral to combating the all-too-frequent tragedy of suicide and decreasing the stigma surrounding it. If you or anyone you know is struggling, I encourage you to please take the first step and reach out for help.”

Originally established in 2009, the commission was created to strengthen and coordinate the state’s suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention services. Governor Hogan signed the amended executive order to better enable the commission to respond to increased suicide rates. Specifically, these amendments expand the existing commission membership to be more representative in age, profession, and life experience as well as more clearly align the commission’s duties with changing times.

“Education, awareness, and expanded access are critical components to helping Marylanders suffering from depression, anxiety, or other behavioral health concerns,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert Neall. “By addressing the stigma that often prevents people from seeking treatment, and by providing a platform for Marylanders in need of assistance to quickly access resources, we want citizens to know – with hope comes help.”

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“During this last year, the Commission has updated its Executive Order, drafted its two-year strategic plan, and established task forces. The task forces were created with the goal of learning the needs of the local communities and stakeholders as well as providing the Commission with a network to disseminate information to local communities and stakeholders in a timely and efficient manner. The Commission closely collaborates with county and regional suicide prevention advocates and organizations to focus its work,” stated Commission Chairman Robert Tousey.

The Maryland Department of Health recently launched Maryland Crisis Connect, a crisis response service, staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by knowledgeable call specialists. Once on the site, visitors are encouraged to call, text, or chat with a specialist or visit the robust resource hub for citizens seeking mental health services.

This announcement falls during Mental Illness Awareness week, October 7-13, which encourages mental health advocates and organizations across Maryland and the U.S. to join together in outreach and public education efforts concerning mental illnesses. While one in five Americans are affected by a mental health condition, stigma and misunderstanding are still widespread. This year’s national theme of “CureStigma” advocates for compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Learn more about the Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention and about Suicide Prevention initiatives in Maryland at https://health.maryland.gov/suicideprevention.

View the full Executive Order here.


Governor Hogan announces health insurance premium rate decreases

Health-AlertGovernor Larry Hogan on Friday announced approval of an average 13.2 percent premium rate decrease for individual health insurance plans with an effective date of January 1, 2019.

These rates reflect the impact of Maryland’s 1332 State Innovation Waiver, which creates a State Reinsurance Program to help stabilize Maryland’s individual health insurance market and prevent previously-predicted massive rate hikes.

“Rather than huge increases in health insurance rates, we are instead delivering significantly and dramatically lower rates for Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “For the first time since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, all individual insurance rates in Maryland will go down instead of up.”

Maryland’s 1332 State Innovation Waiver was the result of a bipartisan legislative effort. The waiver was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on August 22, 2018.

Prior to approval of the waiver and creation of Maryland’s Reinsurance Program, insurers had requested an average rate increase of 30.2 percent, with rate increase requests ranging from 91.4 percent to 18.5 percent across carriers. With the State Reinsurance Program in place, rate requests were amended by carriers to reflect its impact, and after rigorous review and scrutiny by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA), individual rates were ultimately approved at an average decrease of 13.2 percent, with decreases ranging from 17 percent to 7.4 percent across carriers.

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Individual Market Summary 2019

The State Reinsurance Program, coupled with the MIA’s actuarial scrutiny and review of rate filings, resulted in average individual policy renewal rates that are 43.4 percent lower than what was originally filed, and 13.2 percent lower than 2018 premiums. The savings for 2019 individual market premiums is estimated to be $481 million. The actuarial review by the Maryland Insurance Administration represented $75 million in savings and the 1332 waiver resulted in $406 million of the total savings.

“As a result of these lower rates, the health insurance market in Maryland will finally have the chance to become more competitive and dynamic. This new, innovative program will lead to increased competition and more insurers entering the market, which will help make healthcare even more affordable for all Marylanders.” said Governor Larry Hogan.

“I am incredibly proud of the bipartisan work we were able to accomplish this year under Governor Hogan’s leadership,” said Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr. “As a result of this effort, Marylanders in the Individual Health Insurance Market will receive a desperately needed decrease in premium rates. While this is a critical first step, it is only a temporary one. The MIA looks forward to working with the Governor’s team and the General Assembly to achieve long-term rate stability and to enhance competition in this critical market.”


Governor Hogan, County Executive Mohler react to Aberdeen shooting

Crime SceneGovernor Larry Hogan and Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler have weighed in on Thursday’s shooting in the Aberdeen area.

Four people were killed and seven people injured in the shooting, which occurred at a Rite Aid distribution center in the 1500-block of Perryman Road at just after 9 a.m.

According to her social media profile, the suspect, Snochia Moseley, 26, attended Overlea High School and may have lived in Parkville at one time.  Moseley died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

No motive has yet been determined.

Governor Larry Hogan has issued the following statement:

“The First Lady and I are grieving for the loss of life in today’s shooting in Harford County, and praying that those who were injured fully recover. I remain in close contact with Harford County officials and state and local law enforcement as they continue to investigate.

“We are wholeheartedly grateful to the first responders who were at the scene in five minutes, and all medical and law enforcement personnel who are helping in the aftermath of this tragic shooting.”

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County Executive Don Mohler has also issued a statement:

“Once again, a tragic act of gun violence has hit close to home as mass shootings have become the norm. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of such senseless violence, and to their families. But these words have begun to ring hollow as we have had 25 mass shootings in September and more than 150 this year. Enough is enough.

“If as leaders and communities, we don’t demand action, and demand it now, we should be embarrassed. This country is too great, its people too good, to remain in our bunkers stuck with talking points from the right or the left. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to the gun violence epidemic. It is about mental health. And although some may not like it, it is about easy access to guns. Complex issues rarely present binary choices. They are not “either/or.” They are difficult.

“‘Now is not the time’ is a weak excuse to do nothing. Doing nothing at a time when gun violence is terrorizing our communities is nonsense, plain and simple. Now, more than ever, is the time to act.

“We’ve never backed down from challenges in our nation, and we can’t back down now. If we pass this cancer onto the next generation, the blood will be on our hands.”


Hogan Administration announces $12 million in highway safety grants

I-95As part of ongoing efforts to prevent traffic crashes and save lives on Maryland roads, Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced that $12 million in federal highway safety funds will be granted to approximately 90 agencies and organizations across the state with the goal of reducing crashes and related injuries and deaths.

“The safety of our citizens and visitors is a responsibility we take extremely seriously, and our administration will continue to make investments to make our roadways safer,” said Governor Hogan. “This funding continues our commitment to address traffic safety challenges and get unsafe, impaired, and distracted drivers off the road.”

In 2017, there were 557 deaths as a result of traffic crashes in Maryland. The funds distributed through the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office will help fund the following traffic-safety efforts:

  • Increasing the use of seat belts in all seating positions;
  • Preventing impaired, aggressive, and distracted driving;
  • Increasing the safety of pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists;
  • Promoting the correct use of child passenger safety seats;
  • Funding overtime enforcement of Maryland’s traffic laws;
  • Supporting police training for highway safety and traffic enforcement; and
  • Increasing capability and efficiency of Maryland’s traffic data systems.

Maryland’s five-year Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) guides the funding of traffic safety-related projects and will be used by state and local agencies and non-profit groups to address the strategies set forth in the plan for meeting the Toward Zero Deaths goal of cutting the number of deaths on Maryland roads in half by 2030.

The state is also working with various Maryland jurisdictions to develop local SHSPs that address community-specific traffic issues and complement the broader plan.

“The only acceptable goal is to reduce the number of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities to zero,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

Secretary Rahn also recently announced MDOT’s Traffic Safety Pledge which encourages Maryland drivers to pledge to: always wear their seatbelt; have a safe and sober ride; park the phone before driving; use crosswalks and be seen while walking or biking; look for pedestrians and motorcyclists and give bicyclists three feet of clearance; wear proper protective gear while riding a motorcycle; and give themselves time. Speed is a factor in many crashes and greatly increases the severity.

The federal grant awards can only be used for traffic safety activities and are allocated based on crash data for each county and/or organization that applied for funding. Funds can only be spent during Federal Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019). A breakdown of the amounts granted across the state:

AgencyTotal Grant Amount
Aberdeen Police Department$11,000.00
Allegany County Sheriff’s Office$8,000.00
Americans for Older Driver Safety$6,220.00
Annapolis Police Department$25,000.00
Anne Arundel County Police Department$105,000.00
Baltimore City Police Department$94,000.00
Baltimore County Health Department$6,750.00
Baltimore County Police Department$334,431.00
Baltimore Metropolitan Council$471,500.00
Bel Air Police Department$11,000.00
Berlin Police Department$4,500.00
Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse$5,100.00
Calvert County Sheriff’s Office$25,000.00
Cambridge Police Department$6,978.00
Caroline County Sheriff’s Office$12,000.00
Carroll County Sheriff’s Office$25,000.00
Cecil County Sheriff’s Office$23,000.00
Charles County Sheriff’s Office$92,000.00
Chesapeake Regional Safety Council$300,839.00
Cheverly Police Department$6,000.00
City of Bowie Police Department$4,000.00
City of Hyattsville Police Department$6,000.00
Cumberland Police Department$3,000.00
Denton Police Department$3,960.00
Easton Police Department$18,000.00
Elkton Police Department$8,000.00
Frederick Bicycle Coalition$3,700.00
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office$2,000.00
Frederick Police Department$40,000.00
Frostburg State University Police Department$2,000.00
Fruitland Police Department$4,000.00
Gaithersburg Police Department$25,000.00
Garrett County Commissioners Office$6,000.00
Governor’s Highway Safety Association$98,773.30
Greenbelt Police Department$31,000.00
Hagerstown Police Department$14,000.00
Hampstead Police Department$4,000.00
Hancock Police Department$1,000.00
Harford County Sheriff’s Office$73,000.00
Havre de Grace Police Department$4,000.00
Howard Co Police Department$76,000.00
Kent County Sheriff’s Office$9,945.00
La Plata Police Department$10,000.00
Laurel Police Department$27,000.00
Maryland Chiefs of Police Association$132,710.00
Maryland Department of Health$258,255.39
Maryland Institute College of Art$43,512.00
Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems$99,938.85
Maryland Judiciary – DUI Courts$66,399
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration$16,952.70
Maryland Municipal League$4,500.00
Maryland Sheriff’s Association$17,710.00
Maryland State Police – Drug Recognition Expert Program$129,150.80
Maryland State Police – mobile Breath Testing Vehicle$36,600.00
Maryland State Police – SPIDRE DUI Team$782,450.28
Maryland State Police – Statewide Enforcement$796,110.52
Maryland State’s Attorneys Association$192,315.20
Maryland Transportation Authority Police$151,000.00
Montgomery County Police Department$228,500.00
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office$7,500.00
Morgan State University$54,360.00
Mt. Airy Police Department$2,000.00
Ocean City Police Department$30,019.00
Ocean Pines Police Department$2,000.00
Partners In Care$26,019.93
Pocomoke City Police Department$4,499.75
Prince George’s Co Police Department$252,400.00
Prince George’s County Police Department$32,000.00
Princess Anne Police Department$7,494.85
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office$9,000.00
Riverdale Park Police Department$9,000.00
Rockville Police Department$25,000.00
Salisbury Police Department$18,500.00
Somerset County Sheriff’s Office$3,000.00
St. Mary’s County DUI Court$21,194.80
St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office$42,500.00
Statewide Traffic Safety Initiatives$4,681,660.78
Sykesville Freedom Police Department$6,860.00
Sykesville Police Department$4,000.00
Talbot County Sheriff’s Office$4,000.00
Taneytown Police Department$4,000.00
University of Baltimore Police Department$6,000.00
University of Maryland College Park Police Department$14,000.00
University of Maryland National Studies Center$523,805.78
Washington College$503,321.49
Washington Council of Governments$250,000.00
Washington County Sheriff’s Office$39,000.00
Washington Regional Alcohol Program$382,918.40
Westminster Police Department$6,000.00
Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office$8,000.00
Worcester County Health Department$3,589.30
Worcester County Sheriff’s Office$1,999.50
Wor-Wic Community College$9,612.00
Total$11,999,056.62

State awards financing to develop low-income housing in Fallston

Affordable HousingThe state has announced funding recipients for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s most recent application round for federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and state Rental Housing Funds.

Twenty-one projects will receive awards, including one located at a busy Fallston intersection.

The awards will cover the new construction and rehabilitation of approximately 1,147 affordable rental units, including 167 units to be specifically set aside for individuals with disabilities.

The projects awarded will receive more than $16.6 million in state Rental Housing Funds and over $30.2 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, leveraging more than $94.5 million in private sector capital.

According to The Aegis, about 40 people attended a Community Input Meeting back in July to voice their opposition to a 56-unit apartment complex proposed for the corner of the Benson intersection at Harford and Belair roads and the Bel Air Bypass in Fallston.

The only applause noted at the 80-minute meeting, according to The Aegis,  was came when Brandon Wagner questioned the need for the project.

“Are we trying to diversify Fallston?” Wagner asked. “I just don’t see the market for this here.”

The full list of 2018 affordable housing awardees can be found here.

Bensons Corner