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            The statute of limitations on claims from those who say they were sexually abused as children was repealed.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Spouse Defense Repealed and Other Related Laws: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prosecuted for perpetrating sexual crimes against their legal spouse — also known as the spousal defense — will be repealed.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.