Friday, June 30, 2017

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1


Maryland's legislature is the first in the country to pass legislation this year to back-fill potential federal cuts to Planned Parenthood.  It will help protect access to preventive care services for nearly 25,000 Planned Parenthood patients at nine health centers in the state if the federal government cuts funding.  It directs $2 million from Maryland's Medicaid budget and $700,000 from the state's general fund to family planning services.


Safeguards aimed at protecting Maryland taxpayers from tax fraud and identity theft take effect. The law strengthens the ability of the Comptroller's Office to stop tax fraud, protect taxpayer information and hold fraudulent filers and tax preparers accountable.  The law gives added responsibilities to the Field Enforcement Division of the Comptroller's Office to investigate potential tax fraud.  It also allows the agency to seek injunctions against tax preparers suspected of fraudulent and criminal practices.    


Maryland's minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25, part of incremental increases approved in 2014 to take place over several years.


The Start Talking Maryland Act requires Maryland schools to have specific education programs on opioid addiction.  It requires public schools to include the dangers of heroin and opioids in drug education starting as early as third grade and into college.  It also requires public schools to have naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.  Schools also are required to have staff trained to use naloxone.


A new state tax credit is going into effect on retirement income of law enforcement, fire, rescue and emergency services personnel who are 55 or older.  The law exempts the first $15,000 of retirement income from state taxes.


Breweries will be able to sell up to 2,000 barrels of beer annually, up from 500 barrels.  In addition to being able to sell 2,000 barrels of beer a year, Maryland breweries throughout the state can ask for permission to buy another 1,000 barrels from distributors for sale in their taprooms.  Breweries now open will be able to keep their hours, but new breweries will have to close at 10 p.m.


In another step to help bees, pesticides known to harm them will be prohibited on state land designated as pollinator habitat.  Last year, Maryland approved a law to designate pollinator habitat on state agency lands, but it did not prohibit the use of harmful pesticides.  The new law allows exceptions for public health emergencies.  It also gives state agencies freedom to designate which of their lands are protected and which are not.  Last year's Pollinator Protection Act made Maryland's legislature the first in the country to restrict consumer use of neonics, pesticides known to harm bees.


A new law prohibits school districts from suspending and expelling 4-year-olds and limits the expulsion and suspension of students in kindergarten through second grade.  According to state figures, more than 2,200 students in that age group were suspended or expelled last year, many because they were disruptive or disrespectful.


New court rules that overhaul the state’s bail policies also become effective on July 1.  Hoping to reduce the number of poor people stuck in jail until their trials, the state Court of Appeals in February changed its rules on issuing bail. Judges will be required to consider a person’s ability to make bail when deciding on conditions for pretrial release.


The state health department is changing its name from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to the Maryland Health Department.