A look at eight new Maryland laws taking effect July 1!

Take a look at the new laws below, many of which passed thanks to Republican Governor, Larry Hogan.

Planned Parenthood Protections

[caption id="attachment_2507" align="aligncenter" width="810"]New Maryland Laws Conservatives have long made threats to revoke Planned Parenthood's federal funding; Maryland has become to first state to reimburse funds should they be cut.[/caption] Maryland is the first state to ratify protections for Planned Parenthood should federal funding for the organization be cut. The bill was one of 27 sent to Governor Larry Hogan in April, 2017. The bill would use $2 million from Maryland’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 from the state’s general fund to pay for family planning organization’s services should it lose access to federal funds, according to The Associated Press. A spokeswoman for Republican Hogan did not comment on why he chose not to veto the bill, according to The Washington Post. A big win for women in Maryland, but Karen J. Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said this:
"As Marylanders, we must remember that a state solution does not change the fact that politicians in Congress are trying to prohibit millions of people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood... It’s incumbent on all of us to keep up the fight for women. No state should have to step in to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to ensure everyone has access to care.”

Taxpayer Protections

The Taxpayer Protection Act goes into effect July 1. The act, sponsored by the President, prohibits the employment of an individual not registered with the State Board of Individual Tax Preparers. The act grants authority to enforce the law to the Field Enforcement Bureau of the Comptroller's Office; it also authorizes the Attorney General to bring a specified civil action to enjoin a person from acting as an income tax preparer under specified circumstances and imposes a penalty on specified income tax preparers for specified offenses. In other words, the act aims to protect Maryland taxpayers from tax fraud and identity theft. The law bolster's the ability of the comptroller's office to stop tax fraud, protect taxpayer information and hold fraudulent filers and tax preparers accountable.

Opioid Education

In 2016, the state of Maryland saw nearly 2,000 opioid related deaths. The Heroin and Opioid Education and Community Action Act of 2017 (Start Talking Maryland Act) seeks to counteract the epidemic through education in public schools. This new act requires specified programs established by the State Board of Education to include instruction on heroin and opioid addiction and prevention, including information on the lethal effect of fentanyl. It also prohibits specified personnel from being held personally liable under specified circumstances and requires a county board of education to consult with the county superintendent of schools before any change in the hiring or termination of personnel in connection with a school health services program. New Maryland Laws Essentially, it calls for increased-oversight in school health education programs, and rigorous curriculums on the dangers of opioid abuse to be implemented as early as third grade.

Tax Breaks for Emergency Service Workers

New Maryland Laws This bill, proposed by Governor Larry Hogan in April, will exempt retired police, fire rescue and emergency response personnel from state tax on their retirement income. The bill would cost the state $4.8 million, and would give police and firefighters $7,500 in pension income from taxes. Veterans 55 and older would qualify for a deduction of up to $10,000 and income exceeding $100,000 for a married couple wouldn’t apply.

Minimum Wage Increase

On July 1, Maryland's minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25 as part of incremental increases approved in 2014 to take place over several years. If you work in Montgomery County, the minimum wage is $11.50. Next year, the wage for the state of Maryland will increase to $10.10.

New Regulations for Maryland Breweries

The cap for annual production of beer at Maryland breweries will increase from 500 barrels a year to 2,000 barrels a year. The bill also allows current breweries to maintain their hours, but requires that new breweries close at 10 p.m. Del. Talmadge Branch, D-45-Baltimore City, one of 12 sponsors of the bill, described the bill as putting breweries back in their place in the manufacturing system, prohibiting them from functioning as bars. Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Brewer's Association, describes the bill as a step forward and several steps back. Atticks suggests that brewery bars and restaurants are a huge part of the craft-brew culture. But the bill wasn't passed to assist craft breweries; the change in the law was made to pave the way for Diageo to build a $50 million Guinness brewery in the former Seagram's bottling plant in Elkridge, Maryland. [caption id="attachment_2508" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]New Maryland Laws A mockup of the $50 million Guinness brewery.[/caption]

Protections for Bees and other Pollinators

[caption id="attachment_2510" align="aligncenter" width="900"]New Maryland Laws Honey bees are just one of many pollinators native to Maryland[/caption] The Maryland Pollinator Protection Plan, released in June 2016, is designed to help various bee-loving populations improve and strengthen pollinator health and habitat. That plan did not prohibit the use of harmful pesticides, but the new law effective July 1 will prohibit the use of pesticides on State lands. The law does allow for 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 and other pollinators.

Health Department Gets a Name Change

New Maryland Laws Last, but not least, the Maryland state health department is changing its name from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to the Maryland Health Department. Do you disagree with the passage of any of these new Maryland laws? Let us know in the comments below.

Metro's proposed purple line is facing some setbacks.