The beginning of July brought more than just scorching summer temperatures to the state. According to The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, several new state laws went into effect as of July 1 that could significantly affect the lives of residents across the state. Between new tax credits, state employee raises, and the possibility of lower prescription drug costs, here are the most life-changing laws Marylanders need to know about:
All Marylanders will benefit from this new law focused on modernizing the state’s 9-1-1 systems. The legislation aims to improve features such as cybersecurity, training standards, and record retention rules to help improve emergency services for residents. These upgrades will allow residents to send photos, texts, and videos to operators for better emergency instruction before first responders arrive. Current 9-1-1 networks are operating on systems more than 50 years old.
State Employee Raises
One of the most exciting laws passed this year grants new raises for state employees. Most state employees will see a 3 percent raise in their pay in the 2020 fiscal year, which officially took effect on July 1. The new policy will affect over 5,000 employees across the state.
Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
Maryland became the first state in the country this month to create an oversight board intended to lower prescription drug costs. This board would cap the costs of certain drugs purchased by state and local government employers to make medications more affordable to residents. Prescription drug costs have rapidly risen in the last decade. According to Health System Tracker, the average prescription drug costing $90 in 1960 would cost up to $1,025 today.
Health Insurance Enrollment
This new health insurance law is a huge benefit for growing Maryland families. Health insurance companies who offer plans to small employers on the Maryland Health Connection are now required to provide a special enrollment period when policyholders or their spouses become pregnant. Previous law excluded becoming pregnant as a life event and did not qualify for a special enrollment period until a mother gave birth.
Child Tax Credits
More Marylanders will now be able to take advantage of childcare tax credits. A new law states taxpayers with a federal adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less will now qualify to apply for a refund. Childcare can be a stressful expense, particularly for low-income families. Allowing more Marylanders to take advantage of the refund will increase the number of individuals able to pursue their academic and employment goals.
John Hopkins Police
John Hopkins University will be the first private institution in Maryland to form its own police force. An uptick in violent crimes in the area sparked this new law to protect the well being of all individuals in and around the university’s three campuses. The officers will be armed and allowed to patrol within a ‘tight perimeter’, some extending up to a block away from campus property.
Increasing Transparency of Regents
The death of a University of Maryland football player last year highlighted a major concern in the level of transparency concerning information flowing through the University of Maryland Board of Regents. The board will now have to live stream their meetings online and add four new members to better inform the public of their intentions.
Electric Car Credit
If you were considering buying an electric car, now would be the time to do it! Maryland will be expanding the plug-in electric car tax credit to $3,000. The electric car credit encourages residents to reduce the use of harmful fuels that pose a health risk to Maryland communities.
A statewide ban on plastic foam cups and food containers has officially begun. Yet, residents may not see this change immediately. The law is giving companies until July 2020 to comply before passing out fines. Foam bans have been sweeping the nation to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable materials in American landfills and the harmful chemicals that can leach into food products.
The Opioid Restitution Fund is a new program aiming to fund treatment and prevention resources for Marylanders suffering from opioid abuse. The state is currently in a lawsuit with opioid manufacturers and will use the settlement or judgment money from this case to create this life-saving fund. In 2017, DrugAbuse.gov reported over 1,985 deaths occurring in Maryland- all in which could have been prevented.
Last, but not least, Maryland is loosening its restrictions on the sale and consumption of beer. Some establishments in St. Mary’s County will now be able to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday at bars. Liquor stores in Montgomery County will be allowed to sell chilled beer packaged in growlers and kegs. And breweries got the green light to increase their annual serving amount in taprooms to up to 5,000 barrels a year.
For more information on new Maryland laws, visit LegiScan to view the full list.