On January 1, 2021, Marylanders awoke to several new laws that took effect.  Some of the more notable changes are:

Minimum Wage Increase: For most, the law that will have the most impact is the minimum wage bill.  Starting January 1, 2021, the minimum wage increased from $11.00 an hour and will go up to $11.60 or $11.75, depending on the business.  Organizations with   at least 15 employees will increase the minimum wage to $11.75. Those with fewer than 15 employees will see a minimum wage increase to $11.60.

The increase is part of Maryland’s plan to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2025.

Sexual Assault Victim Protection: Legislation that took effect in October 2020 made it illegal to provide sexual assault victims with forms saying they waive their rights to an investigation.  In the event that these victims request limitations of suspensions of investigations, law enforcement agencies must document the request and conduct a follow-up. Each law enforcement agency must have created policies in place for this process by January 1, 2021, and must submit a copy of the policy to the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee by January 15, 2021. These measures ensure law enforcement agencies are protecting the rights of sexual assault victims.

Voluntary Disability Self-Disclosure Card: The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) must make a card providing details of an individual’s developmental disabilities available by January 1, 2021, to any person of driving age who requests one and to the parents of a minor who requests one. The card, which is voluntary, may include written guidance on effective communication between law enforcement officers and people with developmental disabilities.

In Vitro Fertilization Coverage: A new law that took effect January 1, 2021, enables unmarried individuals to have in vitro fertilization (IVF) covered by insurance if they have met certain requirements.  Specifically, the individuals must have made three attempts at artificial insemination that have not resulted in pregnancy over the past year.  The new law also changes the time married couples and same-sex couples must wait to access the benefit as well, from two years to one year of unsuccessful attempts.

Prostate Cancer Screening: Health care providers now cannot charge co-pays or deductibles for prostate cancer screening.

Toll Rates:  Standard video toll rates have resumed at all Maryland tolls after the Maryland Transportation Authority lowered the video rate last March down to the cash rate, in response to the pandemic. Now, video toll rates will apply for any trips not paid with a valid E-ZPass account at all toll facilities.

Baltimore Banning Plastic Bags: Plastic bags will be banned from Baltimore City, effective January 13, 2021.  Businesses must charge at least 5 cents for alternative bags, according to the Baltimore City Comprehensive Bag Reduction Act.

Campaign Laws – Write-In Restriction and Caller Identification: Two laws dealing with campaigns will took effect January 1, 2021: (1) a candidate who was defeated may not run as a write-in candidate the next year; and (2) automated or pre-recorded campaign calls must identify the organization and treasurer.

Liens on Motor Vehicles:  A release related to motor vehicle liens must be filed with the Motor Vehicle Administration within five business days of transfer (an extension from the previous requirement of three days) for the purpose of publicly available electronic vehicle records.

Life Insurance Reduction Option:  Marylanders can now reduce the face value of their life insurance policy as an option to retain coverage and prevent lapse.

Health Care Bias Training:  Implicit bias training will be established for health professionals involved in perinatal care.

The next session of the Maryland General Assembly convenes January 13, 2021.  As always, Azrael Franz will keep you updated on new laws that could affect you.