Ocean City Today

Mathias focuses on bills for General Assembly session

Senator continues work on some, develops others new
By Brian Gilliland | Jan 11, 2018
Jim Mathias

(Jan. 12, 2018) With the 2018 session of the General Assembly starting Wednesday and strong possibility of a contentious election in November, Sen. Jim Mathias said he is focusing on the two things he’s always made a priority: constituent services and relationships.

“What I have to do is to continue to build upon that to earn the confidence and trust of my constituents. The most intelligent aspect of an election is the voter — they know what I’ve been able to accomplish on their behalf,” he said. “They understand issues can be broad, you have to find compromise and not everyone is happy all the time.”

Small business and protecting the resort and agricultural interests are a full-time job in themselves, Mathias said, notwithstanding the other responsibilities of the job.

“The session is 90 days, but 365 days is the reality. If bills didn’t make it last session, you have to go back to the table, but then new issues emerge,” he said.

Mathias has put in three bills before the session started on Wednesday as lead sponsor. He refilled a bill that didn’t pass last year to allow Somerset County residents to attend community college tuition and fee-free, noticed a glitch in the Hometown Heroes Act that didn’t allow a pension deduction for certain workers and enhancing worker’s compensation for correctional officers.

He said he was working on two bills related to cancer treatments, one to force insurance companies to cover the cost of storing reproductive material that may be damaged during chemotherapy, and another to remove the copayment distinction between screening and diagnostic mammography.

Locally, Mathias said he was working closely with resort leadership to formulate a special event zone to better manage motor vehicle events, expanding the convention center and helping to fund projects at Coastal Hospice.

Mathias said he is continuing efforts to force the state to recognize animals as living things instead of property in divorce and criminal proceedings.

“I’m able to access the folks needed to pass this legislation as needed because of the relationships I have and whom I work with,” he said. “Some of the best bills, the genesis is constituents. I encourage anyone to reach out and bring ideas and issues to my attention.”

The caveat is compromise, and one of the most noticeable examples of that from last session is Mathias’s support for the paid sick leave act. While the bill had more than enough support in the senate to pass without his vote, Mathias said he was able to force some changes favorable to the resort business community including an extension to the time before benefits begin to accrue.

“We’re still making a better bill, and there are thousands of working families in my district,” Mathias said. “Missing a day’s work and a day’s pay is significant, but finding the compromise is what I do.”

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