Cailey Locklair - MDRA OP-Ed

The Maryland Retailers Association supports the firm stance Governor Hogan and the Maryland legislature took against selling Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or “ENDS,” to minors. Maryland retailers provide adult smokers access to healthier and safer alternatives to cigarettes, and these products were never intended to encourage teen smoking. We believe ENDS products should not be marketed towards children, and will continue to fight for common sense measures against this practice. However, we cannot support Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Sharpless's proposed regulations that would effectively end the sale of e- cigarette products in convenience stores and service stations in the state. Denying adults access to e-cigarette products would not help Marylanders. In fact, denying access to healthier alternatives to smoking would only encourage Marylanders to continue consuming combustible tobacco products. Moreover, the retail industry already goes to great lengths to keep teens from smoking. Just as we require identification to... Continue reading
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Delegate Nick Mosby - No More Taxpayer Money Until Stronach Replaces Laurel Park Housing

On Friday, March 29, I had the opportunity to tour the worker housing at the Laurel Park racetrack with Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, as the Maryland General Assembly considers taking the unusual action of mandating that MEDCO provide a $120 million loan to the Stronach Group. During our visit, I learned that pictures provided to me last week by a horse industry whistleblower were accurate. A county inspection that took place the two days earlier – after the Sun first reported the horrific living conditions – found unsanitary living conditions, non-working smoke alarms, uncovered wires and outlets, and numerous other violations. Maryland’s Racetrack Facilities Renewal Account (RFRA) law specifically stipulates that quality living conditions are a prerequisite for receiving funds. After more than $100 million in taxpayer-subsidized RFRA spending – and 16 years after a Baltimore Sun report highlighted the “slum-like” conditions at Laurel Park – the Stronach Group... Continue reading
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Consumer Energy Alliance Supports the Independence Energy Connection Project

Transmission project will deliver savings and protect Maryland consumers from power outages Washington, D.C - As Maryland legislators consider the future of energy infrastructure and regulatory changes in the state’s electric market, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) Mid-Atlantic Executive Director Mike Butler reinforced the consumer group’s support for an energy policy that can bring affordable and reliable power to the region for consumers. As the leading consumer advocate for energy, CEA works to ensure that families – especially low-income individuals, those on fixed incomes and people living paycheck-to-paycheck – and businesses have access to the affordable, reliable energy they need to meet critical budget and payroll numbers. To ensure this happens, it is essential that our policymakers and members of the community understand the importance of projects like the Independence Energy Connection (IEC), which will create access to the electric grid for low-cost energy to move to areas that currently lack access,... Continue reading
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Dr. Michael Kapsa - To Address Drug Costs, Annapolis Should Look North to Trenton

Why New Jersey Holds the Answers to State Spending on Prescription DrugsHealth care spending is the domestic challenge of our time. America is on track to hit $4 trillion in annual expenditures. And while a figure this large can seem daunting, the price tag should hit home: $11,000 each year—and rising – if we translate it to a per person cost. I urge our friends in Annapolis to turn their sights northward, to New Jersey, where lawmakers recently devised a solution to specifically address prescription drug spending and will save $1.6 billion in the process. The proposed establishment of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board is an effort to stem heath care costs in Maryland by placing caps on state and local spending on prescription drugs. Unfortunately, this proposed approach acts as if the state purchases directly from manufacturers and, in so doing, really bungles its chance to reign in escalating drug... Continue reading
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Lawmakers in Annapolis Should Demand Greater Transparency from Pharmacy Benefit Managers

If you’ve never heard of pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), that’s the way they like it. While they administer drug plans for more than 230 million Americans, PBMs thrive on secrecy and a lack of transparency. Yet PBMs’ shady business practices deeply impact the lives of Marylanders by pushing up drug prices and limiting access to certain treatments. In fact, while drug makers’ prices have roughly kept pace with inflation over the last few years, consumers have faced steadily rising prices at the pharmacy counter -- partly due to PBMs’ harmful business practices. In theory, PBMs are supposed to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies on behalf of insurance plans to lower drug costs. But their role as middlemen between plan sponsors, beneficiaries, pharmacies, and manufacturers, provides PBMs with unique insights into a series of opaque transactions, and they regularly harness their knowledge to pad their profits at the expense of their... Continue reading
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