Wednesday, October 4, 2023

New Maryland Laws Effective Oct. 1 2023

 Sexual Abuse of Children: 

            The statute of limitations on claims from those who say they were sexually abused as children was repealed.


            Beginning Oct. 1, people with concealed-carry permits will be banned from bringing their firearms into numerous public places.

            They include public and private elementary, middle or high schools, health care facilities, buildings owned or leased by the state or local government, public or private university buildings, active polling places, electrical plants or electrical storage facilities, gas plants, nuclear power facilities, stadiums, museums, racetracks, video lottery facilities, venues that serve alcohol or cannabis for on-site consumption, and private property unless the owner has given express permission to do so.

            Exemptions to these restrictions will be allowed for certain people, including law enforcement and correctional officers, security guards and members of the armed forces who are on duty or traveling to and from duty.

            A court ruling struck down restrictions that limited the law by allowing firearms in certain places like bars, private buildings and near public demonstrations.

Fentanyl Tests:

            Hospitals will be required to conduct tests for fentanyl when conducting urine screenings to assess a patient’s condition. The results of the tests are to be submitted to the Maryland Department of Health without identifying information. Hospitals without the appropriate testing equipment will be exempt from this new requirement.

Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law:   

            The law will be changed to clarify that a person experiencing a medical emergency due to alcohol or drug use will receive immunity from criminal charges if evidence of illegal possession is obtained solely because they sought medical assistance.

            Under the existing law, a person who seeks, provides or assists in finding medical care for someone they suspect is having a medical emergency is exempt.

Spouse Defense Repealed and Other Related Laws:

            Maryland’s law that prohibits people from being prosecuted for perpetrating sexual crimes against their legal spouse — also known as the spousal defense — will be repealed.

            Up to 25% of the money a person receives under workers’ compensation will be eligible to be garnished for late child support payments. This includes weekly benefits and money won in court settlements after accounting for attorney’s fees.

            Incarcerated individuals will be added to the list of people prohibited from contacting or going to the homes or workplaces of their accusers pre- or post-trial if they are charged with sexual crimes against children, crimes of violence, stalking and victims eligible to file protective orders.

Victims of hate crimes:

            Victims of hate crimes or crimes committed against a person because of their race, ethnicity, religion, disability status, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation or housing status, will be able to sue the person or group who committed the offense against them. This law only applies to hate crimes committed after Oct. 1.

Investigation of Officers Using Excessive Force: 

            The Independent Investigations Division of the Attorney General’s Office, which investigates circumstances where excessive force was potentially exerted by law enforcement, will have the authority 1 to prosecute officers if investigators deem they unjustly killed or seriously harmed civilians. Currently local state’s attorneys determine whether police should be tried in court after the division turns over its report.

Wait times for record expungement will be reduced:

            After a person has served a sentence for a misdemeanor, their record can be expunged after five years, down from ten. Felony and second-degree assault charges will be eligible for expungement after seven years and first and second-degree burglary and theft will be eligible after 10.

Protections for victims of violent or hate crimes:  

            Victims of hate crimes will be able to sue the person or group who committed the offense against them.

Behavioral health:

            A wide-reaching behavioral health bill establishes a new commission on behavioral health care treatment and access, which is tasked with making recommendations to create stronger access for on-demand behavioral health services. 

            The commission will also focus on helping specific groups, including geriatric residents, youth and individuals with disabilities, and targeting criminal justice-involved behavioral health services. The bill also extends provisions in state law that allow telehealth services to be treated in same manner as if the services were delivered in person when it comes to reimbursing providers.

            The new law also sets up a pilot program to apply “value-based” reimbursements, which are meant to incentivize providers to achieve favorable patient outcomes, rather than rewarding quantity of services. The General Assembly provided $600,000 annually to this three-year pilot program, with more funds contingent on the success of the pilot program.

Trans Health Equity Act:

             The “Trans Health Equity Act,” which will expand Medicaid coverage in Maryland so that low-income transgender Marylanders can receive gender-affirming care.

            The additional gender-affirming care coverage includes a variety of procedures and services, including voice training, hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and several cosmetic and surgical alterations for the face and body. The Trans Health Equity Act requires that the services are “medically necessary treatment consistent with current clinical standards of care prescribed by a licensed health care provider.”

            The new law means that gender-affirming services cannot be denied on the basis that “the treatment is a cosmetic service.” The Trans Health Equity Act also requires health care companies to report to the Maryland Department of Health information on the gender-affirming treatments they provided throughout the year.

Expanding access to care:

            A new law prompts the Maryland Department of Health to establish an “express lane eligibility” program that enrolls people in Medicaid and the Maryland Children’s Health Program based on an individual’s established eligibility of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which are sometimes referred to as “food stamps.”

Rare disease workgroup:

            A new law sets up a rare disease advisory council, which will include lawmakers, health insurance and industry representatives, medical experts who deal with rare diseases and people who have been diagnosed with rare diseases or are close to a rare disease patient.

            The council is tasked with surveying people living with rare diseases and their caregivers and health care providers to identify the needs of this population in Maryland. Their findings will then be delivered to the governor and General Assembly, with recommendations to expand care coverage in the future. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1, 2023

Recreational Marijuana

Under the new state law and regulations:

  • Sales for recreational cannabis use are restricted to adults 21 and older. ID will be required at the time of purchase.
  • An adult may buy 1.5 ounces of raw flower or pre-rolled joints; a maximum of 12 grams of concentrated cannabis for vaping; or edibles not to exceed a total of 750 mg of THC.
  • Cannabis may not be used in public or on federal property. It is illegal for drivers or passengers to use cannabis in a vehicle.
  • Use of cannabis can result in a DUI charge.
  • State law does not supersede workplace rules governing impairment while at work. Federal or state laws governing impairment still apply.
  • Adults 21 and older may grow two plants at home, out of public view, for recreational purposes. The law limits home growth to two plants regardless of the number of adults over 21 living in the same household.

Tax cuts for veterans

The Keep Our Heroes Home Act, which goes into effect Saturday, will expand the amount of military retirement income exempt from state taxes from $15,000 to $20,000 for veterans 55 and older and from $5,000 to $12,500 for younger veterans next tax season.

Military health care reimbursement

The Health Care for Heroes Act of 2023 — another piece of legislation prioritized by Moore — also will go into effect Saturday. The new law will create a program to reimburse members of the Maryland National Guard up to $60 per month for premiums paid through health and dental plans under its TRICARE health insurance program.

Cash for body-worn cameras

During the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly enacted a landmark package of police reform bills, including a requirement for all Maryland law enforcement agencies to outfit their on-duty officers with body-worn cameras by July 1, 2025.

But, for smaller agencies, cameras and video file storage systems are too costly.

Beginning Saturday, the Maryland Department of General Services and Department of Information Technology will be tasked with negotiating affordable contracts with companies to supply smaller agencies with the required equipment.

Title IX support

Starting Saturday, Maryland public schools will be required to inform students, parents and families about how they can file sexual misconduct complaints, what supports are in place for people who file complaints and who serves as the institution’s Title IX coordinator.

Public comments on state procurement

Beginning next week, the Board of Public Works will begin to prepare a procedure for members of the public to file comments on agenda items electronically. The system is required to be in place before Oct. 1, 2024.  The governor, comptroller and state treasurer serve on the Board of Public Works, which approves contacts for the state’s executive agencies.

Increase in Gas Tax

The state’s portion of the gas tax will be 47 cents per gallon, up from 42.7 cents, as part of an annual adjustment that links the tax to inflation.  This is because the gas tax is indexed to go up at same rate as inflation.  Governor Moore will be asking the legislature to reconsider the automatic increases in the gas tax.

Minimum Wage Increase in Montgomery County

The county's minimum wage will increase to $16.70 for people working at large employers (those with 51 employees or more). It will increase to $15 for workers at mid-sized employers, and $14.50 for those working for small employers.  Statewide, regardless of the number of employees, employers will be required to pay at least $15 per hour in January.

Primary and Secondary Education – Title IX – Notice (Hear Our Voices Act)

House Bill 16 requires each public school to provide information to students, faculty, staff and parents regarding who serves as the Title IX coordinator for the school, the process in place for filing a sexual misconduct complaint, and the support measures that are in place for filing a sexual misconduct complaint and how to access the support measures.

Nonpublic Schools and Child Care Providers - Corporal Punishment - Prohibition

House Bill 185 prohibits the State Board of Education from issuing a certificate of approval to noncollegiate educational institutions that do not have a policy prohibiting the administration of corporal punishment. This change requires regulations adopted by the State Board for the registration of family child care homes and large family child care homes and the licensing and operation of child care centers to prohibit corporal punishment.

Hunting - Snares, Traps, and Other Similar Devices - Identification Requirement

House Bill 406 makes it so that a person who is not required to be licensed or permitted under certain provisions of law to obtain a free Department of Natural Resources identification number before using a snare, a trap, or another similar device to capture wildlife.

Institutions of Higher Education - Transcripts - Prohibition on Punitive Measures Related to Student Debt

House Bill 384 prohibits higher education institutions from refusing to provide a current or former student with a transcript or taking other punitive measures regarding a student's transcript request due to the student owing a debt to the establishment.

Elevator Safety - Privately Owned Single-Family Residential Elevators - Inspection and Registration Requirements

House Bill 505 establishes that an elevator installed in a privately owned single-family residential dwelling on or after Oct.1, 2023, is subject to certain inspection and registration requirements. It is also prohibited for the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to disclose to the public any information regarding a registered elevator unit installed in a privately owned single-family residential dwelling.

Hospitals - Financial Assistance - Medical Bill Reimbursement Process

House Bill 333 develops requirements related to the reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs paid by certain hospital patients who were eligible for free care. The Commission will be authorized to impose a fine of up to $50,000 per violation if a hospital fails to provide refunds to qualifying patients; making a violation of the Act an unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice subject to penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act; etc.

Child in Need of Assistance – Neglect – Cannabis Use

House Bill 232 alters the definition of neglect to specify that the use of cannabis by any parent or guardian is not considered neglect unless a child, or their welfare, is harmed as a direct result.

Cancer Screening - Health Insurance and Assessment of Outreach, Education, and Health Disparities

House Bill 815 requires insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for certain lung cancer diagnostic imaging and limits the copayment, coinsurance or deductible that companies can require for screening and diagnosis. 

Maryland Educator Shortage Reduction Act of 2023

House Bill 1219 alters the qualifications for early childhood education teacher certification through an alternative teacher preparation program. The State Department of Education will consult with the Maryland High Education Commission to create specific goals for the recruitment and retention of teachers. Additionally, it will require that "high staff qualifications" for publicly funded eligible prekindergarten providers must be implemented by the 2027-2028 school year.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Maryland Legislative Report April 13, 2023 - End of Session

 The 2023 General Assembly is over and the bills that passed are now on the Governor’s desk to be signed.  Unlike previous years, Governor Wes Moore will probably sign almost all the bills passed since it is a Democratic controlled General Assembly. 

There were a lot of  very good bills passed.  Unfortunately, I continue to be disappointed on the lack of progress made on the issues of economic fairness (reforming our tax code), immigration rights (expanding coverage of the Affordable Care Act), labor issues (expanding collective bargaining, two person crews on freight trains), election reform (public financing of elections) and criminal justice concerns (decriminalization  of drug paraphernalia).


Here is just a small list of some of the important bills that passed this year. If you want to know the outcome of other bills, please let me know.

I hope you found these updates informative.  Please feel free to email me if you want to be taken off the list.


Consumer Protection

·         Protecting $500 in bank accounts - Exempting up to $500 in a deposit account or other accounts of a judgment debtor from execution on the judgment - SB 106

·         Emergency Management - Consumer Protections Against Price Gouging prohibits a person from selling an essential good or service for more than a specified increase in price during and after a state of emergency. HB 775

·         Prohibition On A Person Making Prank or False 911 Calls – HB 745 

·         Cannabis Reform:  The bill creates a licensing, taxing and regulatory framework for the new cannabis industry.  HB 556

Criminal Justice

·        Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practice repeals the crime of committing an unnatural or perverted sexual practice. HB0131

·        The Child Victims Act of 2023 allows a person to file a suit for damages against an abuser “at any time” going forward. The bill, which has been introduced three times over the last four years, would also create a two year “lookback window” to allow victims previously barred from filing claims to do so during a limited period. HB1

·        Repeal of Spousal Defense in Criminal Proceedings – HB 4

·        Enables Attorney General to Investigate Police Involved Incidents Resulting in Injury – SB 290

·        Prohibiting a Police Officer from Searching a Car or Person Solely on the base of smell of marijuana – HB 1071

Economic Justice

·        Minimum Wage Expansion - $15 hour Governor’s Initiative Accelerates the timeline from 2026 to Jan 1. 2024.  Unfortunately an amendment stripped out the provision indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living SB 555

·        The Family Prosperity Act - The legislation would permanently extend the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit   The bill would also expand the state’s Child Tax Credit to cover taxpayers with children 5 and under who have a federally adjusted gross income of $15,000 or less. HB 547

·        Paid Family Leave - A bill to implement the state’s paid family and medical leave law, which was approved last year. It will require the cost of premiums for the program to be split evenly between workers and employers. The program will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid time off to deal with family health issues.SB 828



·        Increase in Money Available for Tax Credits for Student Debt - This bill  increases, from $9 million to $18 million, the maximum amount of student debt relief tax credits each year and  requires that  $5 million go to  graduates of historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs); (3) requires prioritization of tax credit recipients for  low income earners; and (4) extends – from two to five years the timeframe within which the individual who claims the credit must use the credit for the repayment of the individual’s eligible student loan debt.  HB 680 

·        Service Year – Provides a service year as an option for young people to learn professional schools after high school. HB 552

·        Maryland Sign Language Interpreters Act - The act would establish a licensing and regulatory system for sign language interpreters. Licensing sign language interpreters is a vital step to ensure professionally trained and certified interpreters are providing language access for Deaf and hard of hearing Marylanders. HB 260

·        Prohibition on Corporal Punishment in Private Schools prohibits the State Board of Education from issuing a certificate of approval to noncollegiate educational institutions that do not have a policy prohibiting the administration of corporal punishment HB 185

·        Maryland Educator Shortage Act 2023 – The bill, among other actions will provide financial support for college students while doing their student learning. HB 1219



·         The Community Solar Energy Generating Systems Pilot Program requires a community solar energy generating system to serve at least 40% of its kilowatt-hour output to low-income and moderate-income subscribers and also eliminates dual billing (from the regular energy supplier and separately from the solar supplier) which prevents low- and moderate-income homeowners from using community solar. HB 908

·         Regulating Bamboo – Bill allows counties and municipalities to regulate the upkeep and containment of bamboo.  HB 90

·         Offshore Wind Energy:  Increases Maryland’s offshore wind capacity.  The bill supports the expansion of offshore wind power by setting an offshore wind goal of 8.5 GW (billions of watts) by 2031.  HB 793/SB 781


            Ballot Pre-Processing:  Requires local board to start ballot canvassing eight day before early voting and gives voters the opportunity to fix a missing signature up to ten days after Election Day.  HB535

Gun Control

·        Maryland Police Gun Center Protective Orders ensures that local police offices collect and track guns from persons subject to a protective order.  HB 3 

·        The Gun Safety Act of 2023 prohibits a person from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm within 100 feet near a place of public accommodation. Such places would include hotels, movie theaters and retail stores. The current law states that a person cannot carry a firearm at places including legislative buildings, state parks, school property, and within 1,000 feet of a demonstration in a public place. SB 1  


Health Issues

·        Trans Health Equity Act - The bill will require Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for additional gender-affirming treatments, which are currently disallowed in the state’s plan but commonly covered by private insurance. The expanded treatments include hormone therapy, hair alteration, voice therapy, physical alterations to the body, and fertility preservation. HB 283

·        The Medical Bill Reimbursement Process requires hospitals to reimburse indigent patients who were charged for health care when it was supposed to be free HB 333


·        Requiring Landlords to Have Valid Rental License Who Want to Evict Tenants - Bill will stop landlords who do not have an operating license from using streamlined court processes (Failure to Pay Rent, Tenant Holding Over, and Breach of Lease) from evicting tenants. HB 36   

·        Notification of Rent Increase – Landlords must inform tenants 90 days before a rental increase and 60 days before on a month to month lease.  HB 151



·        Enabling Union Dues to be Tax Deductible in Maryland – HB 2


Women’s Rights

·        The Right to Reproductive Freedom is a state constitutional amendment that codifies Roe v. Wade for Marylanders to vote on by referendum during the 2024 general election. (HB705)