With the uncertainty created by the Trump White House, Maryland lawmakers have taken steps to prevent their state from losing Planned Parenthood funding. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, will help to diminish the impact of potential federal cuts. Simultaneously, a new law will require teachers to discuss the dangerous of opioids with their students. Emergency services personnel will also receive a state tax break. Some of the new laws going into effect at the beginning of July will be explored in greater detail below.
Protecting Planned Parenthood
Democrats primarily control the Maryland legislature. The state became the first in the country to take steps to protect Planned Parenthood from potential federal cuts earlier this year. Supporters of the proposal believe the new measure will help to guarantee that Maryland residents are able to access preventative care services. There are nine Planned Parenthood centers across Maryland serving approximately 25,000 patients.
The intention of the measure is to dedicate 2 million dollars from the state’s Medicaid budget, as well as 700,000 dollars from the general fund to family planning services. Democrats in the legislature rallied together to generate enough votes to override a veto by Governor Larry Hogan, who is Republican. Therefore, the bill did not need his signature to become law.
Tax Protections For Consumers
Another new law will attempt to protect Maryland taxpayers from fraud and identity theft. The law will give the comptroller’s office more power to clamp down on tax fraud, while simultaneously protecting the personal information of taxpayers. The office will also have more power to punish tax preparers and fraudulent filers accountable for their actions. The responsibilities for investigating potential tax fraud are now shifted to the Field Enforcement Division of the Comptroller’s Office. Now, the agency will be able to file injunctions against tax preparers accused of criminal acts.
Tax Breaks For Emergency Services Personnel
The State of Maryland has also signed into law a measure that will give tax breaks to emergency services personnel. The tax break will primarily target the retirement income of law enforcement officers, fire, secure and other emergency services workers who are at least 55 years of age. The first 15,000 dollars of their retirement income will now be exempt from state taxes.
Opioid Education In Schools
Maryland lawmakers believe the Start Talking Maryland Act will help to curb the growing use of opioid in the state. The act makes it mandatory for Maryland schools to have education programs focusing on opioid addiction. During the discussions, schools are required to educate their students about heroin and opioids. The education can start as early as 3rd grade and will continue on into college. Simultaneously, schools now have to stock naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose. Staff trained to administer the drug must be on hand at each school.
Increase Of Craft Brewery Sales
Breweries in the State of Maryland will now be able to sell more beer annually. The number of barrels craft breweries can sell has been increased from 500 to 2,000. The law was constructed to accommodate Diageo’s decision to place a Guinness brewery in Baltimore County. Maryland breweries will also have the permission to purchase an additional 1,000 barrels from distributors for use in their taprooms. New breweries will not be forced to close at 10 PM. Current brewers are exempt and can keep their original operating hours.
Maryland Minimum Wage Increase
Maryland lawmakers voted to increase the State’s minimum wage in 2014. That increase has happened gradually and incrementally. In July, the minimum wage will increase yet again from $8.75 to $9.25.
Starting in July, Maryland will do more to protect its bee population. It will be prohibited to use pesticides on lands that have been designed as pollinator habitats. While state officials approved a bill to classify state agency lands as pollinator habitats last year, the measure did not ban the use of pesticides. The new law puts measures in place to protect the public during health emergencies by allowing for exemptions. Simultaneously, state agencies will be given the freedom to choose which lands should be protected.
Again, these new laws will go into effect on July the 1st.