ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council will launch what it calls “DD Day” tomorrow, to promote a slew of bills introduced in the General Assembly designed to help people with disabilities live equitable and fulfilling lives.

Last week, the state Senate passed Gov. Larry Hogan’s COVID relief bill, which included an amendment to provide $5 million for developmental-disability community providers, to help with pandemic-related costs.

Rachel London, executive director for the Disabilities Council, said the funding is essential because many providers are not able to meet state requirements for social distancing.

“When the pandemic started, many of the DD community providers had to close day programs,” London explained. “And we had to make sure that we continue to have a very robust system of support for all the people with developmental disabilities in Maryland.”

The amendment provides $22 million in total for a Temporary Disability Support program, which also includes grants for individuals with disabilities. The RELIEF Act now goes to the House, where it has bipartisan support.

Other legislative measures to support the disabled community include Senate Bill 61 and House Bill 321, which would require the installation of changing rooms in new and renovated state buildings.

London noted when there’s no place for people with disabilities to take care of personal care needs, they have to limit their time in the community.

“The big benefits of addressing this is that people can be fully integrated, they can meaningfully participate in their communities and they can work alongside people without disabilities,” London observed.

She added another bill that would help folks who don’t understand responsibilities when purchasing a house or car or other big-ticket items. Senate Bill 327 would provide legal recourse if someone takes advantage of them.

“Legislation that addresses civil causes for financial exploitation holds the financial institution or the mortgage company responsible and accountable instead of the person with the disability,” London clarified.

House Bill 423 would improve access to the right to vote by requiring all voters to use a ballot marking device that’s accessible for people with disabilities.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service

Diane Bernard is a digital and radio journalist based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her print and online credits include work for The Washington...

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