Thursday, October 6, 2022

New Maryland Laws Effective October 1, 2022

Car Seat SafetyBeginning Oct. 1, all children's car seats must be installed rear-facing until the riders are at least two years old, unless a child meets or exceeds the height and weight on the seat's guidelines.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA ) says parents should keep their children rear-facing for as long as possible, as it's the safest position in a crash. "Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer," NHTSA said.

Car seat research shows that children up to 23 months old are about 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury in a rear-facing car seat than in a forward-facing one because the force of the crash is spread more evenly across the back of the car seat and the child's body when they're rear-facing, according to Consumer Reports. Rear-facing also limits the motion of the head during a crash, reducing the potential for neck injuries and keeps the child more contained, Consumer Reports said.

Move Over Law: The Move Over Law in Maryland will now require drivers to make a lane change or slow down when approaching any stopped, standing or parked vehicle displaying warning signals – including hazard warning lights, road flares, or other caution signals including traffic cones, caution signs, or non-vehicular warning signs, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Temporary Driver’s License: This law allows MDOT MVA to now issue a temporary driver’s license renewal for up to two years. Prior to this law MDOT MVA could only issue up to two 45-day extensions.

Slow Drivers Must Stay to the Right:  A new law states that anyone driving slower than the general speed of traffic on an interstate highway in a rural area must travel in the right-most lane. Signs will be posted on appropriate roads.

Green Flashing Lights:  Another new traffic safety law allows vehicles doing roadwork for the government to use green flashing lights to alert motorists to their presence.

No Driving in A Dedicated Bus Lane:  A new law makes it clear that you cannot drive in the dedicated bus lanes. The city government will be allowed to set up a monitoring system that takes pictures of vehicles in bus lanes, with violators subject to fines of up to $75. If you’re caught by a police officer, however, the fine is up to $500.

Limits on interrogating children:  When children are taken into police custody, officers will not be allowed to question or interrogate them until the child’s parent or guardian is notified and the child has a chance to speak with an attorney.  In the past, up to 90% of children waived their rights to an attorney “leaving them vulnerable to rights violations,” according to the ACLU of Maryland, which was among those who pushed for the measure. The ACLU estimates that children in custody, who often don’t have an attorney, give false confessions more than three times as often as adults.

Raising the age for marriage:  A new law raising the minimum marriage age to 17.  And 17-year-olds will face restrictions before they can marry: They must have permission from all living parents or guardians, or one of them must show proof of pregnancy or having given birth to a child.

A 17-year-old seeking to be married also must file a petition in court and be interviewed separately from their potential spouse and their parents or guardians before  a judge can authorize a marriage license. They would be counseled about domestic violence and sex trafficking, and if they’re marrying a legal adult, that person would be subject to a background check.

(Previously 15-year-olds could marry if they had permission from a parent or guardian and a female partner in the relationship was pregnant or had given birth; 16-year-olds could marry with parental permission or evidence of pregnancy or childbirth.)

Safety requirements for gun shops:  Firearms dealers must take additional safety precautions or risk losing their licenses.  Gun shops must have a burglar alarm, a video surveillance system and at least one of the following on their windows and doors: bars, grates, security screens or commercial-grade metal doors. When shops are closed, guns must be locked in a vault, safe or secure indoor room. If practicable, gun shops are directed to install barriers to prevent vehicles from being crashed into the building.  For a first violation, a firearms dealer could face a civil fine up to $1,000 and subsequent offenses could result in losing their state license.

Some counties, including Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County, already have security requirements for gun shops. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. told lawmakers earlier this year that the law includes “common-sense policies to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals.”

‘End the Wait’ for people needing services:  The End the Wait Act directs the state health department to come up with plans to cut in half its waitlists of children and adults needing services for intellectual or developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, autism and other medical conditions.

Tens of thousands of people are on multiple waitlists for services such as therapy and in-home care. Some children are waiting so long that they get too old for the services that they’re on the waitlist for..

Under the bill, the Maryland Department of Health must have a plan to get at least half of wait-listed Marylanders into the programs by 2024. Starting that year, the governor is required to put “sufficient funds” in the state budget to pay for expanding the programs.

Cats and Dogs:  A new law that nearly bans the practice, which animal welfare advocates say is cruel and inhumane. The only exception: Licensed veterinarians can declaw a cat if it’s “necessary for a therapeutic purpose.”    

The new law also limits the length of time you can keep your pup outside in extreme weather to 30 minutes. If it’s 90 degrees or hotter, the dog must have shelter or shade to remain outside longer, and if it’s 32 degrees or colder, the dog must have shelter

And when fire and rescue dogs are retired, fire departments will be allowed to reimburse adopters up to $2,500 per year for the dogs’ veterinary bills. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Legislation Reduces County Property Taxes by 20% for Prince George’s County Seniors Who Have Lived In their Homes for Over 10 Years

 Legislation Reduces County Property Taxes for Eligible Prince George’s County Seniors by 20% [Effective July 1, 2023 - with applications due by 10/1/2023]

 

The Prince George’s County Council, during session on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, unanimously enacted CB-29-2022, legislation proposed by District 8 Council Member Edward Burroughs, establishing a 20 percent Property Tax Credit for eligible Prince George’s County seniors. 

 

Under the legislation, residents 65 and older who have owned their homes for at least 10 years, are eligible for a 5-year, 20% Property Tax Credit. The limit on the property’s value is $500,000, indexed upward annually by 3% for normal inflation. The Property Tax Credit will remain in place for a period of up to five years.

 

Council Chair Calvin S. Hawkins, II, says CB-029-2022 lightens a financial burden for the County’s senior residents, especially for those living on a fixed income in the current economic climate.

 

“Council Bill 29-2022 allows our seniors to benefit financially from a tax credit that puts extra money in their pocket, which makes a difference during financially challenging times. Senior residents are the pillar of our community, and we want to provide them with the support they need, so we can continue to build on the foundation they have set. This legislation brings us another step closer to that goal.”

 

District 8 Council Member Edward Burroughs, III, sponsor of the legislation, says the tax credit will provide senior residents with much-needed relief.

 

 “I have had several opportunities to speak with our seniors, and many have expressed that our property taxes are just too high. They are trying to financially balance the cost of prescription drugs, gas prices, and various other responsibilities, which in many instances is extremely difficult.  This legislation will provide our seniors with some financial relief in a challenging economy.  I am grateful to my Council colleagues, and countless residents who voiced their support for this important measure.”

Sunday, July 3, 2022

New Laws Effective July 1, 2022

 ABORTION: The Abortion Care Access Act establishes the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program in the Maryland Department of Health to ensure that there are a sufficient number of health professionals to provide abortion care. It also:

Establishes the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program Fund

Establishes certain requirements regarding abortion services, including provision and coverage requirements for the Maryland Medical Assistance Program and certain insurers

Requires the governor to include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of $3,500,000 to the program.

Funding starts in 2023.

 

Repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR), along with new rules for when police may use force and how they are investigated and disciplined. The new law requires counties to assemble Police Accountability Boards (PAB) and Administrative Charging Committees (ACC), where civilians will have a role in reviewing and investigating allegations of misconduct, and in certain cases, in meting out administrative repercussions. Officers who get into trouble starting Friday will be subject to the new procedures.

 

A new use-of-force standard, one of the strictest in the nation, requires officers to prioritize de-escalation tactics and says they may not use force against a person unless “under the totality of the circumstances, the force is necessary and proportional.” Under the statute, an officer who uses excessive force faces criminal penalties, up to 10 years in prison.

 

Prohibition on public schools from using seclusion as a behavioral intervention. It allows seclusion in nonpublic schools, but with restrictions such as requiring a qualified health-care practitioner to observe the student during seclusion. The law comes after a 2020 federal investigation that found that the Frederick County Public School District improperly secluded and restrained students with disabilities.

 

New Law Allows Students To Modify their uniforms to make them more modest to conform to their religion, culture or personal preference. Among those who advocated for the law was Je’Nan Hayes, who was benched during a 2017 high school basketball game because she was wearing a hijab.

 

ATHLETE SAFETY: The Elijah Gorham Act requires an automated external defibrillator program in public middle and high schools, requires actions be taken by county boards of education regarding heat acclimatization for student athletes; requires middle and high schools to develop venue-specific emergency action plans for the operation and use of automatic external defibrillators, heat acclimatization and coordination of care for other emergent injuries and severe weather for outdoor facilities.

CLEAN CARS: The Clean Cars Act of 2022 establishes the Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Grant Program for certain vehicles and equipment to be administered by the Maryland Energy Administration. The act also:

Alters the vehicle excise tax credit for the purchase of certain electric vehicles for certain fiscal years

Decreases from $63,000 to $50,000 for purposes of the electric vehicle excise tax credit, the limitation on the maximum base purchase price of certain electric vehicles

Reduces the vehicle excise tax credit for certain electric drive vehicles

EXPANSION OF ITEMS EXEMPT FROM THE STATE SALES TAX

 

Baby products: Exempting the sale of diapers, diaper rash cream and baby wipes from the sales and use tax.

Oral hygiene products: Exempting the sale of oral hygiene products from the sales and use tax, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, tooth powders, mouthwash, dental floss or similar oral hygiene products.

Medical devices: Exempting the sale of certain thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors and respirators from the sales and use tax.

Diabetic care products: Exempting certain diabetic care products from the sales and use tax, including insulin, glucose tablets, glucose drinks, glucose gels, blood and urine ketone meters and supplies, insulin pumps, insulin pump infusion sets, insulin pump reservoirs or cartridges, continuous glucose monitors and related supplies, syringes, insulin injection devices, insulin pens, insulin pen needles, lancets and lancet devices, and testing strips for measuring blood sugar.

 

INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR SENIORS: The law creates a nonrefundable credit against the state income tax for a resident who is at least age 65 and whose federal adjusted gross income does not exceed $100,000 ($150,000 if married filing jointly).

The amount of the tax credit is equal to $1,000 for an individual or if only one of the individuals filing a joint return is an eligible individual; and $1,750 if married filing jointly and both individuals are at least age 65.

The bill also expands the state subtraction modification for retired law enforcement; correctional officer; and fire, rescue, and emergency services personnel.

988 TRUST FUND: Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services -- Establishes the 988 Trust Fund to provide reimbursement for costs associated with designating and maintaining 988 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. This law requires the Maryland Department of Health to designate 988 as the primary phone number for the state's behavioral health crisis hotline.

 

This material was compiled from various news sources in our area.

 

REMEMBER TO VOTE

       Early Voting:  July 7th through July 14th

       Primary Day:  July 19th

 

I hope everybody has a great July 4th Weekend